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Apps to Inspire Transmediation

By Noreen Moore
 | Jan 14, 2016

ThinkstockPhotos-stk146244rke_x300Revision can be such a grueling process for middle school students, so I am always on the lookout for ways to make it more fun and engaging. Technology motivates my students, and I have found that if I use it in the right way, it can inspire and transform students’ writing.  One way that I have used apps is to have students to transmediate, or change, one aspect of their writing into another medium such as art, poetry, or song. The process of transmediation can help students reenvision an idea, a character, or a conflict and in turn help them revise their writing.

One app I use to foster transmediation is Faces iMake. After students write a first draft of their personal narratives, they use Faces iMake to transmediate one aspect of their writing: character’s descriptions. We have all used the mantra “show, don’t tell,” but sometimes I wonder if students truly know how to do this well. I found that using Faces iMake helps students take a step back from their original writing and consider alternative, unique ways to describe their characters and make their writing more colorful.  With this app, students create face collages using a variety of materials such as fruits and vegetables, musical instruments, different textured cloth, sports equipment, and the like.

At the revision stage of writing, I invite students to create collages for the characters in their narratives. After they create the collage, they write similes or metaphors to accompany their collages. For example, a student might drag and drop a xylophone to be the mouth of their iFace and accompany it with the simile “her speech was as punctuated as the percussion section of the orchestra.” Then I ask students to reread their drafts and contemplate whether any of the ideas they came up with during their collage making could be incorporated into their writing. I am often amazed at how students transform their writing based on this activity.

Another app I use is Lark, by Storybird. Lark is a poetry app that allows my students to transmediate an aspect of their writing into poetry during the revision stage. Students can select a background image, change the colors, and select vocabulary from a finite set of words to create a poem—think magnetic poetry set. At the revision stage, I invite students to choose a conflict in their narrative and turn it into a poem using Lark. This gives students an opportunity to consider the conflict in more depth. Often the poems produced are much more riveting than the description of the conflict in their narratives. Afterwards I ask students to consider using aspects of the poem in their narratives to bring their conflicts to life. They often use key phrases and vocabulary from their poems and imagery conjured up through the poetry and image in Lark working together.  

Transmediation is the process of transforming writing into another medium such as poetry, music, or art. This process can inspire students see their writing in a new light. Using apps to facilitate transmediation is a fun and rewarding activity to enhance students’ creativity during the revision process.

noreen moore headshotNoreen Moore is an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Professional Studies at William Paterson University.

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