Thirty Days of Making: rhetoric manual

I’m in Day 5 of a short series: Thirty Days of Making. Every day for the next thirty days, I intend to make something.  I’ve decided that artwork counts, but not writing (unless it’s part of the art, like calligraphy). Digital work counts, but it has to be useful or publishable.

Some days there will be pictures, some days there won’t be. Each blog entry will contain a list of some of the materials and tools, a quick review of the success or failure of the Making, and a reflection on what I think I learned from the endeavor.

Reason for the work: yesterday’s failure and a planning lapse

After yesterday’s failure with the printing of the manual that I wrote, I spent today’s maker time rebuilding it. There were bits and pieces of it that I didn’t like, and there was a lot of text that didn’t for nicely on the page. So, I fixed some bits of the layout, used more bullet points, and made a clearer distinction between the text for the speakers and the advice to the evaluators who are watching the speech.

Also — although I put aside parts and bits and pieces for something I wanted to make, I forgot to put them in the car before traveling. Whoops.


I think, as a result of spreading my public speaking materials over 25 pages instead of fifteen pages, I’ve made a better product. There is more open space, and a clearer set of directions. The material is better organized and laid out, and there are some new sections which help integrate the material better.

Reflections on my learning

Of course I made improvements to the work. Of course it’s better. I put in more time. And I engaged the assistance of my HGA, as the wise might say. The work becomes better, the more practice we have and the more clear the effort.

Reflections on general learning

I think the big takeaway for me is that it’s pretty darned hard to lay out a book as you’re writing it, in two days. These twenty-five pages might easily have taken someone else months to put together. Even for me this was pretty challenging. A year ago I don’t think I could have done it — I didn’t have enough experience with either layout or design to write it; and I hadn’t seen someone else’s version of the same sort of manual.

So one of my big takeaways is that if we want kids to be graphic designers, or even graphic-design literate, we have to teach a range of basic skills in font identification and layout possibilities. We have to train the eye and and and cunning mind to do more than just read and write and do mathematics. We have to teach kids to care about the visual elements of their work. Which means that we the teachers have to care.


The project isn’t done yet. I’m going to say 4.4 of five stars. I think this may well be the home run of my work this month.

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