Common First Week Video

Assignment Summary

In this assignment, you will create a 60-90 second video to introduce yourself, identify the course you are taking, and articulate a challenge you anticipate facing in the coming semester of ENGL 1101/1102.

IMPORTANT: If you completed a similar video in a previous class (ENGL 1101 or ENGL 1102), you should create a new video that speaks to the class you are now in and the specific challenges you see in this course. Why? Because this is a different class, with different expectations and different projects; plus, you’ve grown as a writer and communicator since completing that previous video—what you know about the modes, what you see as challenges, and how you might overcome those challenges have changed.

Further, submitting assignments that have been submitted to another class constitutes a special form of plagiarism called self-plagiarism—and so constitutes a violation of Georgia Tech’s Honor Code. Videos that appear to have been submitted in a previous course may receive a zero for this assignment and/or may be referred to the Office of Student Integrity.

Content of the Common First Week Video


Review the syllabus for the class. Read “Critical Concept Three: Communication Is Multimodal” in WOVENText Chapter 2 (pp. 39-44).


Create a video (60-90 seconds).

Begin by introducing yourself (name, major, hometown) and identifying your course (teacher, theme) in 10-15 seconds.

Your video should articulate a challenge relating to one of the modes—written, oral, visual, electronic, or nonverbal communication—that you’ll be engaging with in class projects this semester. What challenges do you expect to face in relation to this particular mode (use specific examples from your past experience)? How might you overcome these challenges (again using examples from your past experience)? You might also use this assignment as an opportunity to set goals for yourself in terms of a specific mode of communication or in terms of development of a specific skill.


An important aspect of any video is its design. Think about how you will not only deliver your argument to your audience but also present it in an engaging manner that uses the affordances of the video genre. If you speak directly to the camera, consider the angle and placement of the visuals, the setting in which you’re speaking, your appearance, your body language, and your eye contact. Or, consider if a slideshow, stop-motion, time-lapse, or other kind of creative style might be better suited to representing your argument. For any video, ensure that your voice is clearly audible and easy to follow.


To record your video, use an easily accessible technology: your (or your friend’s or classmate’s) smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer with webcam and mic. You can also use resources available to you on campus:

  1. The Presentation Rehearsal Studios in the Clough Undergraduate Learning Center (CULC), in which you can work with a presentation coach and also record yourself and then send a link to the video to yourself (or anybody else):
  2. The Library’s gadget-lending service, which allows you to check out a range of equipment, including laptops, tablets, and cameras: (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Rhetorical Situation for the Common First Week Video


Imagine your audience to be other first-year students at Georgia Tech and other faculty members. They’re interested in your supported opinions, not your ability to summarize materials with which they are familiar.


In planning this video, you need to create a script (or at least elaborated talking points). Consider that for most people speaking at a normal conversational rate, a half-page paragraph (in 12-point Times New Roman, double-spaced, with 1” margins) is equivalent to about one-minute of talk, so your 60-90 second video will have a script that’s one-half to three-fourths of a double-spaced page long.


Do NOT just wing it. Do not have the first recording be the final take. Rehearse. A LOT. Maybe five or six or even ten times. In your video, you want to appear and sound relaxed, poised, and confident.

Submission of the Common First Week Video


Submit your video in two ways: (1) Upload it to Canvas or, if the video is too large, upload it to YouTube or Vimeo (as indicated by your instructor) and submit the link to Canvas. (2) Create a Mahara page with your video embedded and submit the Secret URL to Canvas.

  1. To submit the Secret URL, under the Portfolio tab, choose “Shared by Me”
  2. Choose the Pages tab (next to “Collections” under the large “Share” title)
  3. Next to the page you want to submit, click “Secret URL”
  4. Add a secret URL and copy it.
  5. Paste the URL into the textbox on Canvas and submit it.

During the class period after you submit your assignment, your instructor will ask you to reflect on the project. “Reflecting” in this case means that you’ll respond in writing to a set of prompts or questions that ask you to consider how and why you made the choices you made in completing the diagnostic assignment. You’ll then save that reflection and return to it later in the semester as you prepare your final portfolio.

Why is reflection important? Because when you take a step back to critically review the ways you approached a problem and implemented a solution, you learn how to generalize that process—that is, you learn how to apply those critical thinking, communication, and project management skills to other subjects and areas of your life.

Grading for the Common First Week Assignment

This diagnostic assignment is worth 5% (between 1% and 5% of the total grade, as determined by the instructor) and will be assessed using the Writing and Communication Program’s programmatic rubric. (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Paper 1 (10%, Due 9/17)

Your first paper, due 9/17, is a 3-4 page (900-1200 word) comparative analysis of “Pocahontas Was a Mistake, and Here’s Why!” and “Odysseus’ Scar.” Both essays make arguments with historical, formal, and ethical components. Identify each of these components in a brief summary of Ellis and Auerbach’s arguments. Then, discuss the essays’ genre, audience, and medium of communication. How do Ellis and Auerbach establish credibility? How do they make a case for the timeliness of their work to the audience of their moment? How do they engage their readers’ and viewers’ reason? Their emotions? End with your impressions of why Ellis and Auerbach engage in the analysis of film and literature. How do they think it matters and why?

Papers will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • “A” papers will develop a claim logically and coherently, offering relevant evidence and persuasive analysis. It will adapt its stance to the audience at hand, adopting the conventions of the genre of the academic paper. It will answer every aspect of the prompt.
  • “B” papers meet the requirements of the A paper, but falls short in one or two respects
  • “C” papers have an argument of average quality, but miss important aspects of the rhetorical situation. Its effectiveness may be compromised by problems with grammar, mechanics, or organization.
  • “D” papers fall short in the same ways as “C” papers, but lack an argument and include many grammatical, stylistic, and proofreading errors
  • “F” papers have no argument, poor organization, and many grammatical, stylistic, and proofreading errors. They do not attempt either to analyze the rhetorical situation or to make the required rhetorical moves.

Paper 2 (12.5%, Due 10/24)

Throughout the semester, we will engage in class discussion, Piazza posting, and in-class essay writing. Our prompt for Paper 2 will be drawn from student submissions from these sources. You can expect to choose from 3-5 prompts, writing a paper of 4-5 pages. The paper will compare a film of the Disney Renaissance to Hamlet or Comedy of Errors.


Pick a scene in The Comedy of Errors and a scene in The Little Mermaid in which water is visually or verbally prominent. In 4-5 pages, compare and contrast how the film and the play use water (tears, the ocean, rain, etc.) metaphorically to say something about identity, community, rebirth, or some combination of these themes. You may reference other parts of the film or play, but you should focus in depth on the selected scenes and explicate them carefully.

Short Video Essay (10%, Due date varies)

The video essay assignment is designed to:
* Give you experience with the tools of video editing
* Exercise your ability to identify and adapt to audience
* Invite you to explore the affordances of the video medium
* Practice nonverbal communication
* Receive, understand, and integrate peer feedback

From mid-September through October, most classes will begin with the screening of two student video essays, followed by a guided discussion on the videos’ strengths and areas for growth. Use these short video essays (about 2 minutes) to set up a question or controversy regarding the Disney film we are studying that week. You won’t have time to fully resolve the debate, but you should pique your audience’s interest to learn more, and spur on class discussion for that day. The debate you introduce should be something arguable and specific, a point of conflict that people in our class might reasonably take different sides on (i.e. not an obvious truism such as “women are important in society”). Some examples of recent debates about Disney movies include “Pocahontas did more to undermine than advance respect for Native American people” and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame ultimately promotes an ableist worldview.” Assume that your audience has basic familiarity with the film, and don’t spend much of your allotted time giving plot overview.

On your assigned day, I will screen your video, and the class will spend 3-5 minutes giving you feedback. Make note of the feedback and think about how to integrate it into a longer version of the essay. For your final project, all of the video essays on a film (probably 4-5 essays) will be revised, extended to 4-6 minutes, and collected into a single group web project on your film. In this version, you should show that you have built on the feedback and discussion generated by the initial questions you posed in the short video.


You will be graded on:
Rhetorical Awareness
• Do you have a clear sense of audience? Are you making assumptions based on your own knowledge or value system, or do you adapt your message to take into account what they might know and believe?
• Does your tone (casual or formal) match the anticipated audience?
• Do you answer all of the aspects of the assignment?

• Do you make an argument? Could someone reasonably disagree with it, or is it an obvious statement of fact?
• Do you make clear the stakes of your argument and why it matters?

Development of Ideas
• Do you pair evidence with analysis persuasively for each claim?
• Do you anticipate potential counterarguments and address them?

• Do you transition between your analyses in a logical sequence? Do your analyses build upon previous points and support the overall argument?
• Does your video essay have a beginning, a middle, and an end?
• Does the footage sync up in a logical way with the narration?

• Are there errors (this does not include intentional, audience-driven decisions to use casual speech) in the written or spoken elements of the film?

Design for Medium
• Does the text take advantage of the video essay medium by combining images, sound effects, narration, camera techniques, editing techniques, etc. in order to produce meaning?
• Are the images and sound in the film of high quality?

Group Project and Long Video Essay (15%, Due 11/12)

The web project will be a jointly produced, curated resource on a Disney movie. In addition to the revised video essays, each site will feature a blog page (or other written resource) with at least one 300+ word contribution from each group member. The site will also include hyperlinked introductions to the topics covered and a resource/works cited page.

Group Project: Work Plan Guidelines 


You will be assigned two grades for your project, a product grade and a process grade. The product grade is determined by the quality of the end product. The process grade is determined by your involvement in the making of the project. If you don’t do any work, you can receive a 0% for the process portion of your grade and a 100% for the project portion, for a final grade of 50% on the assignment.  

  • Product: How well does the product meet the expectations set for it in the group work plan? Does it appeal persuasively to a specific audience? Is the video of high quality? Are the blog posts well-written and engaging? Does it answer real questions rather than restating the obvious?  
  • Process: This grade will be determined by the students in the work group. Each student will anonymously assign each other student in their work group a grade. I will take the average of the grades for each group member and use that to assign the process grade. You will decide upon grading criteria before you begin work as a group (see below).  


The plan must include: 

1. A description of the final product. Your description should include a list of features classified by “must,” “should,” and “could” to rate their importance to the final product.  

Example: “Rescuers Down Under: The Musical!” web project 

  • Must: incorporate video analysis of Rescuers Down Under, with attention to plot holes and possible story fixes, offer guidance for how to adapt the film to a musical, and include one video or musical score for a number based on the movie.  
  •  Should: include analysis of existing music, such as “Home, Home on the Range” adaptation, and explanation of how new songs added will be tonally cohesive with existing music.  
  • Could: include three to five fully adapted songs from different character points of view, advice for casting roles, and directorial guidance for amateur drama clubs.  

2. A list of tasks that need to be accomplished to develop the product. Some of these tasks may include: 

  • Liaison work: talking with anyone outside of your group from whom you need to get information, interviews, grant money, legal advice, permission, etc.  
  • Web design and layout work (i.e. choosing a template on WordPress, finding images or video, putting all of the elements of the website into a visually-pleasing order) 
  • Technical tasks such as writing code, editing video, writing music 
  • Writing blog posts, scripts, other content features of the site 

3. An estimate of how long each of the tasks will take 

4. A timeline that puts the tasks in order and includes multiple “sprints,” or phases 

5. A list of teammates and the tasks assigned to them for the first sprint. After your first sprint, you will revisit the teammates and tasks for the second sprint.  

6. Rules regarding communication, feedback, and attendance. Decide on your grading criteria for process (50% of your final project grade). For example, 

  • An “A” teammate completes all tasks on time. The teammate offers constructive feedback to other group members, attends all classes, and attends all out-of-class group meetings, and communicates well with the rest of the team, responding to messages within 12 hours. 
  • A “B” teammate does all the same things as an “A” teammate but falls slightly short in one respect 
  • A “C” teammate completes their task, but either does not offer feedback (or offers feedback that is not useful), misses several classes and out-of-class meetings, or responds slowly (48+ hours) to messages. 
  • A “D” teammate does not complete their task, or completes the task in a sub-standard way and also falls short in other areas such as communication, attendance, and feedback 
  • An “F” teammate does not complete the task and has major issues with communication, attendance, and feedback. 

Fairytale Critical Edition (12.5%, Due 11/26)

Learning Objectives:

  • To gain experience identifying and replicating rhetorical strategies to instruct and delight
  • To explore the affordances of the book as a material object
  • To practice rhetorical awareness with different audiences, purposes, and contexts
  • To express the concept of Renaissance (i.e. rebirth, self-fashioning, adaptation, transformation) through art
  • To practice self-analysis and integrating peer feedback through critical introduction and footnotes

Assignment Overview

This assignment asks you to author your own fairytale that both instructs and delights the audience you designate (i.e. ten-year-old boys, preschoolers, elementary school soccer players, children with non-traditional families, politicians). As long as you meet the learning objectives listed above, you may take a number of approaches to its physical design. For instance, you may handwrite and hand-illustrate directly on the book you’ve made, or you may type and print, or image-search and print the story and accompanying illustrations, then paste those into the physical book. Your fairytale may be either sincere or satirical in nature, provided it meets the learning objectives to teach and entertain, as well as engaging in some way with the concept of Renaissance. For inspiration, you can look at the art books on display in the ground floor of Clough.

Your book project will take place in three phases:

Phase 1: Prewriting and Initial Feedback

  • Brainstorm about the virtues that you think are important, and the audience for whom you think these virtues might be important (5-10 minutes of freewriting)
  • Choose 2-3 virtues and brainstorm about ways in which you could teach them in an entertaining manner
  • Discuss with your classmates your ideas for teaching and delighting your audience. Offer feedback to them on their idea
  • Read the Wikipedia page about fairytales ( for a working definition of the genre
  • Read 5-10 examples of fairytales to get a sense of plotting, story arc, thematic elements, etc. Take notes – you may reuse them for the 11/5 Asynchronous Virtual Class assignment

Phase 2: Writing and Re-Writing

  • Compose a draft of your fairy tale. There is no set length requirement, provided you tell a full fairy tale. As you write, make note of the specific places in which your story engages with the virtues in question.
  • Circulate the fairytale to your peer review group. Ask them to identify the places in which your story engages with the virtues you’re considering, or the places in which you could use marginal notes to clarify or expand on specific concepts (look at your Folger edition for examples of this)
  • Using the feedback generated, write a critical introduction to your own fairytale of at least 450 words.
  • Using the feedback generated, write footnotes to explain major tropes, difficult words, historical context, etc. Refer to your Folger texts of Comedy of Errors and Hamlet as examples

Phase 3: Presentation

  • Complete and exhibit your book on the class day specified
  • In a separate word document, include your introduction, the full text of the fairytale, and at least four footnotes. Append a Works Cited page and attribute any external content. After the Works Cited page, include a reflection on the creative project explaining your artistic decisions
  • Submit both the white paper and the physical book on 11/26


There are no strict requirements for size, orientation, or word count. I am looking for fairytales that are strategically developed (you can explain each decision you made, such as paper type and size, choice of images, and choice of handwriting or font) and well-executed (your binding is tidy and complete, there are no problems with turning pages, and the object feels like a book as opposed to stapled pages). Acknowledge any sources from which you gained images used in the Works Cited page of the reflection. Citations should be in MLA style. You will turn in:

  1. A physical book that you made and that contains the fairytale you wrote
  2. A document including:
  • Critical introduction
  • Full text of fairytale
  • At least four footnotes
  • MLA bibliography
  • Reflection

Alternative Assignment:

If you and 3-4 other classmates would prefer to work on a musical adaptation instead of a fairytale collection, see me. You may do so, provided we meet the same learning objectives. This includes creating a physical version of the music and lyrics for the musical, along with the scholarly apparatus explaining the virtues being taught (either sincerely or satirically).



Complete Phase I requirements


Read Cover to Cover file on Canvas and come to class for a book-binding workshop


Focus groups and workshopping for fairytale ideas


Draft of fairytale due for peer review


Final submission – fairytale book and accompanying document due


You will be assessed according to the following criteria:

Rhetorical awareness: Do you have a clear sense of audience? Have you specified in your reflection the age and type of audience to whom you are appealing? Does your tone match the anticipated audience? Are all aspects of the assignment addressed, including peer review?

Stance: Do you use the project to teach and delight, either satirically or sincerely? Is it possible for the reader to identify the virtues that are being taught? Is your approach original (not a transcription of Frozen, for example – some archetypical elements such as wicked stepmothers are fine)

Development of ideas: Do your footnotes and the critical edition improve the reader’s understanding of your meaning? Do they explain your fairytale’s deeper meaning, as well as obscure words or important concepts communicated in your fairytale?

Conventions and design for medium: Does the text take advantage of the affordances of the physical book? Do the physical features of the book support and extend the textual meaning? Is the binding of high quality? Do you have a book cover and pages that turn easily, without damaging the book’s structure? Are there unintentional errors and typos?


Cover to Cover Bookbinding scan available on Canvas under “Files”

Coptic bookbinding tutorial:

Pamphlet book tutorial:

Final Portfolio (15%, Due final exam date – Dec 7 for HP3 and Dec 12 for J and G3)

All sections of English 1101 and 1102 will complete a portfolio project in lieu of a final exam. The portfolio will include a reflective essay and several examples of your work throughout the semester with brief introductions for each example.