Creating a Multimodal Argument

Welcome back to my blog! This post will discuss a possible way to help students get a better grasp on constructing claims, providing evidence, and creating warrants. The implementation of visual arguments can help. Visual arguments use pictures to create ideas and to persuade the intended audience to agree with the idea. I’ve had challenges in the past with getting students to understand and accurately use the CEI (claim, evidence, interpretation) writing strategy. Because the CEI writing strategy is very similar to the Toulmin model of argumentation, using visual arguments when teaching students the CEI writing strategy will probably help them understand the strategy better. I created a visual argument using Befunky.

Befunky: Befunky is a photo editing platform that allows users to apply effects on photos and create collages. I wanted to edit the photo I chose in a way that would deepen the argument that the image wanted to convey. Creating a visual argument on a poster is what came to mind. I was also able to add the claim, evidence, and warrant onto the poster as well.

Affordances:

  • There are many templates that can be used for events such as invitations, menus, brochures, thank you cards, etc… The variety can be very helpful when wanting to create certain projects.
  • There is a “popular tags” tab that generates popular images associated with the tag. This can help finding certain images easier.

Constraints:

  • I noticed that I couldn’t make the background of my poster the image that I wanted. It seems like the background can only be a color and not an image. You may have to upgrade your account.
  • There are not many creative features with the basic (but free) use of Befunky.

Below is the poster I created using Befunky:


By examining the image, you can see that the boy is upset. He looks to be crying very loudly. Above his head are notification symbols associated with social media platforms. The notifications are at 0, which seems to be the reason why the boy is upset. With this in mind, I constructed the claim, evidence, and warrant above. This argument makes sense to people who desire to be famous or popular on social media. A person who is not on social media may not agree with this argument. They may claim that a lack of virtual attention can make a person upset, but is not directly linked to one’s happiness.

Befunky in the Classroom: Using Befunky to display visual arguments could help me during the time I introduce the CEI writing strategy in the classroom because many students are visual learners. They tend to understand lessons better when visual aids are inserted. Because “images convey meaning just as words do” (Blake, 2017), students may be better able to construct arguments since they tend to understand activities better when visual aids are inserted. They could also be used to simply introduce argumentative essays. Educators may see this as an effective tool in their own classrooms by using them when discussing arguments.

Befunky was able to help me make certain choices so that I could “generate a response in viewers” (Rish, 2012). I wanted viewers to see the sadness the boy had by changing the background color to blue and using the blend mode called “vivid light” to sharpen the photo.

Suggestions for Educators:

  • It will be helpful to show students original images if you end up altering them so that they see and discuss the affect that your changes had on what you wanted to convey. Here is the original image that I altered:
  • I would suggest giving students a topic for which the should create their visual argument on when using Befunky for the first time. This could bring a diverse number of visuals and create healthy discourse among students.

Cautions for Educators:

  • Be aware of the lack of features for the free use of Befunky. I wouldn’t use it for projects that are supposed to be very creative.
  • Be cautious of students that might think inappropriate images are ok. Make sure you let students know what is unacceptable.

Questions:

  • How have visual arguments been effective in your classroom?
  • If you have not used visual arguments in the classroom yet, what texts or units do you plan to pair them with?

Comment the answers to these questions below. See you at the next post!

Resources:

Blake, C. (2017, November 08). How to Get Your Students to Understand Visual Rhetoric. Retrieved from https://education.cu-portland.edu/blog/classroom-resources/visual-rhetoric/

Rish, R. (2012, November 18). Double Exposure. Retrieved from https://ryanrish.com/2012/10/30/double-exposure/

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