Contributing to the American Dream

Gatsby_1925_jacketThis semester, I am enrolled in a course called Popular Culture in the ELA classroom taught by Dr. David Bruce. As part of the course we read the classic novel The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Based off of an emergent theme within the book, we have explored commercial and personal notions of the ‘American dream’ through multimodal responses.

For the current multimodal composition assignment, we were asked to reflect on the following question:

How will your life help contribute toward “a better and richer and fuller” place for everyone?

Be-the-change-you-wish-to-see-in-the-world-Gandhi-quoteThis question holds great significance for me because I am very adamant about ensuring that what I do makes a difference. I hope my actions effect others in a positive way and one of my favorite quotes by Mahatma Gandhi signifies this value of mine.

To respond to the assignment question, I have created the following list…

I strive to help create a better world for others to live in by:

Creating Connections

I decided to write a blog post for this assignment because my personal website and online social network interactions are
multimodal by nature and align with my belief that sharing information and experiences helps make the world a better place through collective learning. If I can take what I learn or what I’m expected to do within a class and expand that to a broader application where it can be useful for others, I jump at the opportunity! By sharing posts online, I’ve also expanded and strengthened my professional networks allowing me to become a more networked learner. Such online practices extend my webinar_graphiclearning so it is active, authentic and participatory as addressed by Morrell, Duenas, Garcia and Lopez (2013) in their book Youth and Critical Media Production in the 21st Century. While Carr has addressed online engagements to a large extent as well, I do not wish to go into his work in this specific post. I have however, written about my thoughts on his book The Shallows in
my blog posts: My Technology Evolution and Country Roots in a Computer World.

Producing Documentaries

Through documentary production I aim to bring others’ stories to light. One of my films, Expressions of Hope (shown below) gives insight into the lives of families with nonverbal children and the communication initiatives that are being taken to help such individuals. By creating films that focus on topics often overlooked, I believe I help an audience better understand and connect with people and issues they previously did not consider or fully comprehend.


While I love creatively telling other peoples’ stories through the art of documentary, I also want to help youth tell their own stories through media production. For this reason, I became interested in teaching. I am particularly interested in helping adolescents who are marginalized, at-risk, or disabled share their voices through media. I have taught courses in video production, animation, web design and video game design. I have been so amazed by how the students grow as learners throughout the creative process and the work they are able to produce. My experiences of the importance of youth as producers aligns with points Burn makes regarding the benefits of having students construct media messages to better understand authorship, purpose, narrative and audience.

Below are two examples of students websites they’ve created:

Developing Curriculum

While I’ve witnessed firsthand the benefits of incorporating media production and media literacy in education, I think in
order to have a larger impact on making the world a better place, I need to share insights I have gained with other educators. For this reason I have worked with organizations such as Project Look Sharp and Green Living Project to develop media education curriculum.

and Volunteering

Lastly, while a majority of my perceived contributions to bettering the world are through professional endeavors, I also like to contribute through community service. I have been very involved with Guiding Eyes for the Blind over the years and have raised four guide dogs to assist the blind. My love for animals has carried over into other volunteer work I have done with Lothlorien Therapeutic Riding Center and several horse rescue facilities.

I hope you have enjoyed reading my multimodal response to the American Dream assignment. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments through email, any of my listed social networks, or simply by commenting on this post!

One thought on “Contributing to the American Dream

  1. Kelsey-
    In keeping with the spirit of the assignment, I wanted to post my comments here rather than email. I think you have perfectly captured the spirit of this prompt in both the content and style of the presentation. In a world that seems to value “self” and “getting ahead”, your response shows the value and worth of sharing and helping with others. I love the video–not only is the production beautifully shot and edited, it really captures wonderful moments of a child with different abilities. My favorite shot is the boy laughing while his therapist is reading the book to him–precious! I also loved the websites the students created, particularly the 10 things I hate list that Jenelle posts about her life experiences while in a wheelchair. I think the thread that connects those is the chance you have given these students to give voice to their experience. In terms of the assignment, I really appreciate how you have used a “word-based” format (traditional blog) to incorporate visuals, audio, links, video, etc. to create your response. Thank you so much for the time and effort you put into crafting this. Well done!

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