Crafting a Personal Narrative with Adobe Spark Page

Students design and compose a personal narrative
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About This Strategy

This 5-hour strategy helps students begin investigating social issues by writing and designing personal stories in Adobe Spark Page. You can use this strategy as a standalone assignment or as the topic-finding step for a larger research project. Taking cues from Gregory Ulmer’s “Mystory” genre, students will reflect on and locate recurring patterns in the following discourses: family, entertainment, community, and school.

Because Adobe Spark enables students to seamlessly embed a variety of media, this strategy empowers students to experiment with design, exercise multimodal creativity, and express their lived experiences in multiple registers. An iteration of this strategy could also be done in Adobe Acrobat.

Supporting Tools and Resources

  • Student Sample
  • Adobe Spark Post

  • Adobe Acrobat

  • Editable Resource Bundle

  • PDF Resource Bundle

Outline for Teachers

300 minutes

Learn. 

Students recall and examine formative moments in their lives related to the discourses of family, entertainment, community, and school by responding to a series of freewriting prompts, listed below. (30 minutes)

Reflect.

Students reflect on their freewrite by considering guiding questions. (30 minutes)

Compose.

Students deeply describe and investigate these moments from each discourse, using sensory details and a first-person perspective. (150 minutes)

Reflect.

Students reflect on what they wrote and locate a single word or visual metaphor that ties each discourse together. (30 minutes)

Create.

Students convey these insights in an Adobe Spark Page. Students can examine a student sample here, and watch a tutorial on Adobe Spark Page here. (60 minutes)

Share.

Students share and publish their webpages.

Steps for Students

Using Adobe Spark Page, you will compose and design a personal narrative based on experiences related to family, community, entertainment, and school. 

Adobe Spark Page’s easy-to-use interface allows you to work efficiently and creatively as you bring your narrative to life through images, text, and other embedded media. You can also use Adobe Acrobat to complete this assignment, though all guidance below will only address Spark.

Steps:

1. Think through formative moments in your life related to family, community, entertainment, and school—what we’ll call “discourses”—by freewriting brief responses to the following prompts: (30 minutes)

  • Family: How do the things I was born with (e.g., race, body, gender, place of birth, etc.) shape the way I saw/see the world? What guiding beliefs (e.g., family culture, religion, traditions, etc.) directed my initial worldview? What vocabulary did my family give me to describe myself and those around me?

  • Community: What outside community (e.g, social groups, sports teams, organizations, hobbies) do I belong to? How did I come to know it/them? How do its members or activities provide me with meaning and purpose? What distinguishing language or behaviors do we use to identify ourselves?

  • Entertainment: What sources of entertainment (e.g., music, books, comics, video games, movies, TV shows, etc.) have had the biggest impact on my life? Why does it appeal to me? How and when did I discover it? How might it figure into my larger identity or give me a vocabulary/outlet to express or understand myself and those around me?

  • School: What is my relationship with school like? How has it evolved over time? What specific ideas and/or skills have I gleaned from the classroom? How did academic language train me to think, behave, write?

At this stage, responses to these questions can be in paragraph form, bulleted lists, diagrams, doodles, and/or a combination of these or any other free writing strategies. Select the method that works best for you. The goal is to generate as many ideas and memories in each discourse as you can.

2. Reflect on your freewrite and select key experiences or ideas that stand out in each discourse. (30 minutes)

As you revisit your writing, ask yourself,

  • What experience(s) or idea(s) were especially formative for my past or current identity?

  • Are there multiple memories from one discourse that speak to the same idea? If so, which one is most representative of this idea? If not, what themes am I noting, and how might they be related?

The goal is to find a memory or experience that encapsulates each discourse, one that you can point to and say, “This is what I remember/feel/note when I think of X.”

3. Choose 1-2 experiences/ideas from each discourse and unpack them by writing more detailed and thorough responses to the questions in step 1 and using sensory details (e.g., what those moments sound, smell, taste, feel, or look like) that set the scene for readers who may be unfamiliar with your experiences. Don’t feel pressured to knock out this writing in one sitting. Give yourself time to write, step back, and revisit your ideas and descriptions. Additionally, be sure to write them from your perspective. In other words, don’t be afraid to use first-person pronouns. (2.5 hours)

Before you get started, be sure to consult the rubric below to better understand expectations for your writing.

4. After composing at least four scenes from each discourse, reflect on what you wrote by drawing connections between the four areas. Try to find a theme or pattern that repeats within your narrative and encapsulates who you are and how you perceive and move about the world. Condense this theme/pattern to a single word or visual metaphor, and explain how this word/visual connects to each discourse. Say, for example, that you moved locations a lot as a kid, listened to music that made you dance, joined school clubs that made you active in a community, and had teachers who inspired you to be an agent of change. A pattern that might connect these experiences could be the word “motion” or the image of a “spinning wheel.” From there, you might ruminate on how this word or image applies to each discourse and your overall identity. (30 minutes)

If you’re having trouble selecting a single word or image, consider zooming out and getting more abstract. Keep in mind that the connections you’re making don’t need to immediately make sense. They can be more random at first. In fact, you may have to stretch a word or image as far as it will go to accommodate the meanings you uncovered in each discourse. Don’t be afraid to get creative and experiment with these potential meanings! There may be many pathways to your theme/pattern, and some may exist deep beneath the surface of your word/image. 

5. With your discourse descriptions and reflection written, open Adobe Spark and transfer your writing into a web page. Supplement your text-based descriptions with at least ten personal or stock photos or other forms of embedded media (e.g., videos, links to other online content) that bring your words to life. Ultimately, your page should be organized in the following way: (60 minutes)

  • Title

  • Introduction

  • Discourse descriptions (at least four distinct sections)

  • Reflection

Here’s an example of what this Spark Page could read and look like. If you’re unfamiliar with Spark, see the guidance section below to get started. This project could also be completed using Adobe Acrobat, so consult this learning guide if you would like experience creating in this application.

6. Share your Spark Page (or PDF) as directed by your instructor.

Rubric for Successful Analysis

Consult the attached rubric in order to evaluate students' narratives.