Multimodal Argumentation

As I started creating my product for this post, it quickly evolved into what may seem to be a political argumentation. I would like to first state that I have no intent for this to be political, and if these comments reflect any political belief, that is not my intention. The comments, pictures, and audio are all actual events, words, etc. that happened (although the words on the last frame are indeed summarized but are nevertheless based on actual words that have been said directly to me or around me and are the inspiration for this multimodal argumentation seeing as how there were little children around – but I digress). You can access my video here. With all of that being said, this post is going to focus on the use of multimodal argumentation in the classroom and the three elements from the Toulon Model of Argumentation: claim, evidence, and warrant.

For this product I used several different tools to help me create this video. All of the pictures were found through Google Images, and the audio was recorded from an excerpt from a YouTube clip you can watch in full here. I added, edited/adjusted, and inserted text using Microsoft PowerPoint. Once I was finished adding in timers and transitions, I used Google Chrome’s Sreencast-O-Matic to record the slideshow into a short video. Finally, I uploaded the video to my Google Drive to share with y’all. (Whew! That was a long process, but I am very pleased with the outcome.)

PowerPoint allowed me to apply my pictures and text upon one another to create a layered photo that contained a direct meaning. Although there are some limitations to the editing abilities within PowerPoint, there were plenty of options that allowed me to incorporate various modes within this product. This product was constructed in layers and ultimately turned into a video; however, the slideshow itself could have been the multimodal argument finished product, but I felt it would look better as a video that played for the audience.

Using a screen casting tool gave me the ability to record this PowerPoint. You may have seen teachers record themselves presenting their Presentations to their students before for online classes or material that students should watch independently. I basically did the same thing except I did not speak. I let the slideshow play and it became a short video. One constraint that was difficult to maneuver around was the audio. If I turned off the narration, then the screencast would not record ANY of the audio even from the clip embedded in the slideshow, and if I had the narration turned on, then I (and the cats and other humans) had to be silent or it would be picked up on the recording (needless to say, it took us several recordings to get it without any interference). Even with that one hick-up, the process went really quickly and smoothly.

Toulmin’s Model of Argumentation contains three elements: claim, evidence, and warrant. The claim is a conclusion that must have evidence. The evidence is a fact that is the foundation of the claim. The warrant explains why the evidence supports the claim (shows the progression from the evidence to the claim). If you look at my product, what would you say my claim is? My evidence? My warrant? Let me tell you. My claim is that children are learning from us. My evidence is they hear and see the things we say. My warrant is we need to think about what we say and do because the children are learning from what they see and hear from us and how we treat others.

My warrant is probably accepted by most individuals (although there are some people who may not care), but I definitely think that the words and examples I chose to include are not accepted or agreeable with all cultures even here in the United States. These are audio, pictures, and words that I chose to include because of a personal experience. When creating a multimodal argumentation, I think it is important to create something you believe in because it can give the students more creative freedom to express themselves. (Although, it would be really cool to have them do the opposite viewpoint of what they choose – if applicable – to help them see different sides – note: this would be good for a debate or relating to a story).

This would also be a great tool to use in pairing with an argumentative essay. The students can create a multimodal argumentation over their topic in their paper and present/show that to the class. The tools that I used are easy to navigate, but there are also other tools and product styles students can choose to use/design. They can make a poster/picture (with text and pictures – show them examples from culture jamming); create a video like I did; make a slide show through PowerPoint, SWAY, or an on line tool; or they can make a voice over with images or a video. I found PowerPoint to be a great tool to combine different modes that would all express my argument in one place.

Advice for teachers:

  • Have students plan out their argument first, then plan out their vision of their product in order to access which technology would best help them.
  • The tools used to create my product are usually available on school computers and easy to learn and navigate quickly (most students have worked with PowerPoint before).
  • Try to let students have creative freedom.

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