I’m gonna miss our weekly discussions! Interestingly, I did the sequence out of order, but curry and all the other WwMers have made it an enlightening and gratifying experience. This time around I felt more confident in my thinking about online pedagogy, and making solid connections with the work my peers are doing. This summer, I teach online for the first time and I’m sure I will be revisiting our work here throughout the process. But, I also am already applying so many of the insights and knowledge to the daily work in my f2f classes. So thank you one and all – hope to see you in the “real” world on campus.
Unit 3: Staying Student Centered Online
Unit 4: Engaged Thesis Activity
This is the end for me! I’m so sad to depart because you’ve all taught me so much about using technology in the classroom. You’ve all been such incredible wellsprings of knowledge and experience that I can’t possibly express my gratitude for your blogs, comments, and conversations. All of this brings me to the thematic ligament that connects each of my blogs: Collaboration via Technology.
Over the course of this semester, I have been experimenting with different online learning platforms that foster collaboration in virtual classrooms. I’ve been actively trying to find informal lessons that incorporate technology in order to build communities and encourage students to work together. In many ways, the possibilities for collaboration are a lot stronger in virtual environments than F2F ones, and programs such as Perusall and Google Docs have highlighted. Finally, technology allows us to empower our students to find, evaluate, and share readings that can be incorporate into course. Throughout this experience, I’ve really appreciated how y’all have encouraged collaborating with students to shape the directions of the class. As educators, we must collaborate with our colleagues and our students in order to cultivate curiosity and discovery.
- Blog 1: https://wordpress.miracosta.edu/writingwithmachines/2019/02/11/migrating-my-teaching-style/
- Blog 2: https://wordpress.miracosta.edu/writingwithmachines/2019/02/25/peruse-all-this-post/
- Blog 3: https://wordpress.miracosta.edu/writingwithmachines/2019/03/11/well-contented-students/
- Vlog 4: https://wordpress.miracosta.edu/writingwithmachines/2019/04/02/6-minute-writing-process/
- Blog 5: https://wordpress.miracosta.edu/writingwithmachines/2019/04/22/accessing-accessibility-online/
Thank you to everyone for the opportunity to participate in our inspiring conversation over the last semester and year. It was a real pleasure as I have learned so much from you:)
My plan in this brief paragraph (we’ll see @ that) is to re-read the posts for this sequence to see if I can discern the contours of my teaching philosophy for technology in the writing class. This is a total experiment and I have no idea if it will work or not, yet ideally I can sift out some principles that I can use to guide my use of technology in the writing class.
Guiding Principles for Technology in the Writing Class
- Technology in the Writing Class enhances your equity-based teaching: for example you can embed basic skills and use technology to guide students through the reading and writing process
- Technology enables you to “capture” and “archive” the work you do as a class as you move through the reading/writing process so that all of the scaffolding and knowledge you assembled as you worked on this or that is available for students to use when they are drafting an essay
- You can use technology to open up your class towards writing that is more engaging, creative, owned by students. Laura Gibbs talks about using blogs in the writing class in her episode of teaching in higher ed and I write about this in my post for unit 2. My students now used Piktochart and Canva to create an info-graphic on an issue they selected and were totally engaged by this assignment.
- In organizing your course content–think about process–replicating in your organizational scheme the reading process, writing process, collective knowledge-building process: In designing your online courses ask: how can I organize my unit content to emulate X process? Image that underprepared students scrolling through your unit before sitting down to write the first draft of an essay: What would you want them to see?
- Technology enhances our ability to teach Culturally Responsive Courses: we can use Ted Talks, You Tube Videos, the work of historically underrepresented writers and artists–technology opens up our courses to culturally responsive content and approaches
- It is possible to create authentic caring relationships in online environments. I use “authentic caring” here in the way Angela Valenzuela defines it in Subtractive Schooling.
I think the common thread throughout my posts is the improvement of collaboration with new technologies, vetting them, and how to incorporate them effectively into my class. Likewise, I think collaborative annotation/reading analysis with equity in mind.
I’m sad that this is the end of my second semester in the sequence, so this is my last post. I have really enjoyed gathering insights from others, hearing very practical advice, getting a lot of suggested readings, and just having a space overall where pedagogy could be celebrated, whether that be online or f2f. Going through this process has allowed me to wrap my head around and reflect on a lot of different approaches to teaching—looking back on my posts, I see how often I played devil’s advocate to myself (taking the role of a luddite), how theoretical and out there I got sometimes (like talking about conversations about conversations), and how I got to be more creative than I usually would be (through creating a Twine response for Unit 4, which I never imagined doing this semester). All of this is stuff, on a day to day basis, I am not usually able to do, so thanks everyone, and to curry, for giving a space for exploration and thinking about the practical and theoretical when it comes to designing intuitive and exciting digital spaces for students!
(PS: I am also happy I got a space to use all sorts of wacky memes, images, and titles).
As digital, multi-modal texts become more and more pervasive–not just in higher ed but across our daily discourse communities–the need to shift the focus of our teaching of reading processes to include the digital is real. While Scott Warnock, author of Teaching Writing Online, might be right that the book-length modality “is not dead,” it is likely that, for more and more of our students, the analog page could be (58).
My colleagues in the WritingwithMachines Certification Sequence at MiraCosta College posted to this blog in response to a bibliography of sources on mindful, digital reading habits. We then met in Zoom to exchange ideas about how to teach and support digital reading and discussions activities more effectively in the online and onsite classroom.
The format of our meeting is a model of one such social-annotation and inquiry-based reading activity. Enjoy.
I was inspired by the video of Lisa Lane’s demonstration of Hypothesis and Perusall and immediately began to think of ways I could use Hypothesis and Perusall in my Integrated Reading and Writing ENG 100 class. Last night we were in the library working with our librarian to understand how to evaluate online sources. As I watched Lisa’s video, I thought that part of that library session next time might include students using Hypothesis to run the CRAP test on a website and annotate their work then share their evaluation work with the class. We did some practice last night, yet I can see how Hypothesis would make it so much more engaging. The other idea is to use Perusall instead of or as part of the Funds of Knowledge (FoK) dialectical reading journal assignment. The way it works now, students complete a FoK dialectical reading journal as part of an at-home reading activity. This particular journal is asking students to record or monitor how what they are bringing to the text (both their general and literary repertoires) are shaping their meaning-making process. Usually students share what they wrote in their reading journals in groups of four using the active learning stations—yet what if instead of sharing their journals—they used Perusall to annotate some of what they captured in their journals, say three to five places (annotations) per student in different colors. In the end, each group would have a map that would graphically represent the core principle in the class of reading as a social interaction in which the student is responsible for speaking back to the text, saying something of their own, constructing their own meaning and leaning to see reading as “a struggle within and against the languages of academic life” (Bartholomae and Petrosky, “Facts, Artifacts, and Counterfacts”).
The other idea I drew from both Lisa’s demonstration and from “Beyond Highlighting: How to Get the Most From Your Annotations” is to use Perusall as a way to work with the “Difficulty Essay” assignments. In the “difficulty essay” IRW teachers ask students to approach moments in the text that are striking in their complexity and begin to work through them in order to get a better idea of their purposes and work. The Difficulty Essay divides the reading process into four steps: initial observations, question (s), + Plan of action, new insights, and reflection. This sequence makes thinking visible and allows students to approach the reading process more strategically. Assignments like allow students to learn what types of things are difficult for them to understand and to begin to develop a methodology for figuring them out, as well as to practice supporting the conclusions they come to at the end of the process with evidence from the text. On the day students complete their difficulty essay, we could use Perusall to annotate and share the specific part of the text they zeroed in on for their difficulty essay, their plan of action, and what new insights they gained from the process. Since each student developed a strategy, a plan of action, to overcome their difficulty, we could use Perusall to assemble a map of the meaning construction strategies each person in a group used. Super cool right? I found the video and the annotated bibliography really helpful in thinking about how technology is changing the way we read and how to use it to teach integrated reading and writing and look forward to our Zoom session.
As Scott Warnock covered the variety of texts we could incorporate into our OWC, I was most struck by his reminder to “think about the accessibility of the texts you choose” (59). While Warnock largely discusses strategies for making texts available to students, I wondered how we could use online programs to make content accessible to students. In this blog, I want to think about accessibility from an intersectional perspective that tries to take into account social issues like class, sexuality, and learning ability.
ACCESSIBILITY STRATEGY #1: ZERO-COST TEXTBOOKS
In all of Warnock’s discussions of online reading options, I was a bit surprised to see no mention of the ways in which we can minimize how much our course costs students. The prevalence of online writing, library databases, and open-access resources allows us to reduce the cost of our courses for students. To be sure, I understand the attachment to hardcopies of books. Physical books involve different kinds of thinking and reading, but digital texts do as well. Both are valuable. Transitioning our reading materials to more digital formats allows us to engage with primary sources on an unprecedented scale. For example, in my composition class, students can use InternetArchive to explore the New England Primer (1690). Students can interact with a copy of seventeenth-century text, noticing the similarities and differences in styles from now and then.
I’ve also envisioned entire courses where I ask students to locate all the readings on their own. I have mostly seen this as a literary survey course (pre-1900) where all the materials are in the public domain. Rather than having students buy an anthology, I will have them make their own by using Google Books, InternetArchive, and other online databases to find particular versions of a work such as Moby-Dick or Frankenstein. Not only does this eliminate the need to purchase a $50 book, but it teaches students to use research techniques that they can apply to this and other classes.
ACCESSIBILITY STRATEGY #2: STUDENT-SELECTED READINGS
Building on the last point, I also envision a composition course where students do the bulk work of finding reading materials that are relevant to them. For example, MiraCosta’s library has access to a really wonderful LGBT Archive. I’ve mused about a “Queer Composition” course where I would organize the semester into various themes (like I do already). At the beginning of the semester, I would teach students how to access and use this database while also providing them different kinds of readings. Over the course of the semester, I would increasingly ask students to choose weeks where they will do research and find relevant articles that the entire class will read. These can be fictional, nonfictional, published, audio, visuals, etc. In the end, I would compile everything together into an Online Education Resource that I would share with students and make available to future students. As the course continues, we will develop our own working archive of queer composition.
As Warnock indicates, we have access to a variety of materials on the web, and, as educators, we need to make information literacy accessible to our students in ways that are culturally relevant and empowering. Through this assignment, I hope to introduce students to strategies for locating and verifying information published in digital formats. In addition to reducing costs, it aims to familiarize students more with research and reading strategies that they will need as more information migrates to virtual ecosystems.
ACCESSIBILITY STRATEGY #3: ALT-READING PROGRAMS
Finally, as we think about accessibility, we can’t lose sight of whether the content we select is actually comprehensible and user-friendly. Programs like Perusall, Hypothesis, and Voyant open up access to a text in ways that traditional reading don’t. The first two highlight collaborative reading practices that demonstrate students are reading and engaging with course materials, and the latter breaks down complicated texts into a numerical information and graphs. In the past (but I’m doing more again this semester), I would have students use Voyant to identify keywords in a novel (like Huck Finn), poems (Angel Island ones), or essays (I just did this one with students last week). Using this information, I have students attempt to infer what the reading may be about. I also ask them to find keywords that interest them and identify where they are concentrated in the text. This gives them a rough blueprint of what they may expect, and, of course, when they get something different, we can use that as a discussion opportunity. Rather than signaling the death of the book or reading, I think these programs can breath new life into it.
In the end, I feel like the proliferation of databases and online reading platforms has given us a stronger arsenal than ever before to teach writing, reading, and literature. The book isn’t dead. Reading isn’t dead. They are evolving and adapting and so must we.
So much to write about! I’ll be as succinct as possible.
I appreciate the opening discussion in Warnock about textbook choice. For the record, I am an instructor who advocates for classic literature in the composition class. I was pleased in Chapter 8 to see literature written by noteworthy authors included in sample readings: E.B. White, MLK, George Orwell. If I am required to teach texts other than fiction/novels, I will choose authors that are among the ones that students should have ‘tasted’ in their college experience All of my colleagues use brilliant texts regardless of genre; I am pleased that we have some autonomy to choose the ones that correlate with our pedagogy. Warnock brings up several salient points about assigned texts, a few of which prompt me to pull together my handouts, articles, and short stories and figure out how best to make them available. My first inclination is to post each in Pages and enumerate them. I like the idea of bundling the particular assigned reading with any correlative articles and handouts in one module. I have not yet mastered the art of creating modules, so I plan to work on that.
I like the chapter point “How Do I know They Are Reading?”
I will include multiple choice quizzes and discussion board assignments. I will consider requiring students to keep a Reading Journal and will explore options for crediting and possibly sharing it.
Chapter Eight in Warnock had so many good points. Here are a few I noted:
Regarding student posting:
- Discussion Boards (DB) get students to “write, write, write” (70). This fact aligns with my (and probably everyone else’s) position that practice makes perfect(ish).
- The cycle: this type of writing leads to more thinking and more thinking leads to more writing.
- Shy students get a voice.
- What do you all think about anonymous posts?
- Students aren’t just writing to “please the instructor” (70).
- This type of writing leads to “tantalizing digressions” (71) though, as discussed later in the chapter, the instructor/moderator may need to step in and manage.
- ***I really like this point: DB teach students to be succinct and rhetorically precise. I preach about avoiding the ninth circle of writers’ hell: repetition, redundancy, and wordiness.***
- Students develop interesting relationships through replying.
Regarding instructor involvement:
- Great point: the instructor should not be on “center stage” (120).
- S/he (they) should choose response and to whom to respond carefully
- Instructor’s response should be challenging, not “cheerleading.”
- Grading these responses can be challenging. It would be problematic to rely solely on length- I would anticipate some consequentially superfluous writing. Warnock acknowledges that reading, responding to, and evaluating DBs can be labor intensive. My initial and continuing concern with lots of DB activity is precisely the workload, so I would plan these assignments carefully, adding them to the agenda with my own time constraints factored.