Scott Warnock’s “Chapter 10: Peer Review: Help Students Help Each Other,” “Chapter 11: Give Lots of Feedback without Burning Out,” and “Chapter 12: Grading: Should It Change When You Teach Online?” allowed me to reflect on my online teaching, specifically my fully-online English 103: Critical Thinking and Writing” for Mt. San Jacinto College (MSJC) and my hybrid English 202: Critical Thinking and Composition for Palomar College. Critical thinking is a subject I love teaching, but reading Warnock allowed me to ask myself an honest question: Can I improve my online teaching methodologies?
Similar to Warnock, when he writes, “I am an active
respondent to my students’ messages” (122), I can’t help myself—I’ve tried not
to comment so much. I comment on all my students’ assignments; my comments focus
on proving feedback that will allow them to grow as writers and thinkers. As the
class progresses, my comments become less and less about superficial errors. Writing
feedback does not feel overwhelming (now that I am using an iPad and an apple
To be honest, about two years ago I talked to my partner,
Paulino Mendoza, to tell him, “Hon, I think I’m going to have to retire from
online teaching.” With a concerned look, he asked, “Why?” I explained
that providing feedback was draining me. He looked for his iPad and said,
“Here, try this.” When I looked at the screen, it was a student’s assignment I
could easily write on with an Apple pencil. I wrote a comment as I do for my
f2f classes and voilà the stress that made grading unbearable, which I had
never experienced in all my years of teaching f2f, went away. With my new
magical Apple pencil I began commenting on my online students’ work, and I was
happy teaching online for MSJC again. (I’ve only had one student email me a
screenshot of my penmanship to ask me what my writing said).
Warnock asks if grading online should change since students do spend the majority of their time in discussion board forums. He writes, “I have found that the informal assignments in my on OWCourse—message boards, peer review, mini assignments need to be boosted to about 30 to 40 percent of the grade” (135). (Participation in Warnock’s OWCourse is 5%—interesting.) Prior to reading “Chapter 12: Grading: Should It Change When You Teach Online?” I had not thought about participation points for an online class. I will reflect on how I will disperse grades in the future since Warnock makes a valid point I will definitely address this coming spring 2020.
What follows is a list of assignments and technology I use
to facilitate student learning in my online and hybrid classes:
iPad and Apple Pencil: To grade Metacognitive Journal Entries, I use my iPad and apple pencil to mark student writing and present constructive feedback when students upload a file. I present prompts that allow students to reflect on their writing and growth as thinkers. (I just discovered I can change the color to aqua blue turquoise. How exciting.)
Quizzes: To administer Quizzes, I create quizzes using Canvas’s Quiz tools. Similar to Warnock, my quizzes are not difficult at all. Students have an opportunity to take their quizzes two times. Most students receive a 100% on their first try. (Formative Assessments: Syllabus, Chapter Quizzes, Whole-class Workshops, and Graphic Memoir quizzes.) I craft question for #1-4, and students craft their own Q&A for question #5.
Timed Writing Essay: For MSJC students must write an essay with writing constraints, so I use the same Canvas’s Quiz tools and create a two-hour Timed Writing Essay. (FYI: In my weekly Announcement, I inform students I am not a fan of timed writing tests; however, we must meet the class’s Course Learning Objectives.)
Whole-class Workshop (Peer-Editing) Discussion Board Forums: I am not a fan of Warnock’s style of peer-editing; however, I do value and embrace Whole-class Workshops in my f2f and online classes. I had horrible experiences as a student: I could give my classmates plenty of feedback, but my classmates could not reciprocate the favor. Sigh. So instead of crossing my fingers that one or two classmates give constructive feedback for a fellow classmate, I use Ian Barnard’s Whole-class Workshops teaching methodology I have migrated to online classes. I prefer Discussion Board Forums for our Whole-class Workshops since they document students work, and everyone learns from each other’s writing. Over the years, I can say I am proud of the writing community I have created in my online classes. I present a Whole-class Workshop Schedule at least two weeks in advance and a list of questions they can address on a fellow classmates’ essays. That means at least twenty-one pair of eyes read and essay and provide constructive feedback.
Essays: To grade essays, similar to Metacognitive Journal Entries, students upload their essays, and I can now comment on their essay with an Apple pencil. I do truly enjoy reading and commenting this way instead of copying and pasting comments. Ugh.
Discussion Board Forums: Using Discussion Board Forums, students post formal response papers and free-writes throughout the semester. I also present a Thesis Workshop using Discussion Board Forum (For f2f classes, I use Google.docs to compile the work instead). I sometimes ask student to reply to one or two students. Most students present their work promptly and present their replies in a timely manner. If they do not, I deduct points.
Writing GroupDiscussion Board Forums: I attempted a group paragraph using the Canvas tools similar to the ones I administer in the classroom on paper or Google.docs. Epic failure. I ended up telling students the activity would receive credit if they emailed me to request a grade.
Phone calls: I give students my phone number. If they have any questions about my feedback, the can text me to schedule a phone call.
The options I am comfortable with in giving feedback are the following:
The comment function on Google Docs (yup)
The use of macros (for sure)
Rubric software (will explore these)
Maybe possibly but probably not Turnitin and Quick Mark (I have seen these tools in ‘action,’ and they are often not accurate, at least as the generated comments align with my best assessments)
When using Google Docs, I may request to meet the student at a specific time to synchronize our interactions re: feedback OR
Email the Google Doc back with comments within the text and endnotes
Audio feedback using screencast-o-matic ( I do like the idea of audio feedback. I’d like to hear some comments from colleagues re: students’ reception to this type of response to their work. It seems audio feedback may save some time and work when I don’t have to write comments, though I would probably write comments too: synchronistically in real time, before recording my comments, as I’m recording comments asynchronistically, or some other variation of the listed options- I’ll defer to trial and error at this point or to feedback from instructors who teach online.)
I am open to exploring options, but I like to keep things simple and students probably do too.
Inspired by the department workshop that Kelly, Jake, Jade, and Tyrone–our HSE colleagues–led in September, those of you who teach composition with technology–either online, hybrid, or onsite classes–within the WritingwithMachines community of practice will develop our own lens on ENGL 100, which we might use to support Project Voltron this semester.
Here’s the plan:
Choose a specific composition class you are currently teaching (online, hyrbid, or tech-heavy onsite). Consider the modalities of your course design, texts, and assignments. Think about specific students and their experiences. Reflect on your instructional goals at this moment in the semester. Jot down a few thoughts.
Record your thoughts using Canvas Studio and post the video to a discussion board in our WritingwithMachiness Canvas course (see links below).
Finally, using Studio’s Comment feature, highlight a moment in your video you’d like your colleagues to listen to and respond.
Participating will require about an hour of work, enough time to organize your thoughts and play around with with one of Canvas’ newest toys: Studio.
There will be three opportunities to participate this semester:
Each time you participate, you can choose which discussion you’d like to join:
Since we will collaborate asynchronously in a Canvas, you can participate whenever you have time. Time spent creating, commenting on, and responding to Sound Offs is FLEX eligible. Ultimately, we will use the insights we glean from our Sound Offs to support each other and our students this semester as well as prepare a lens we might bring to Project Voltron when we lead our department meeting next spring.
Thank you again to Tyrone, Jade, Jake, and Kelly for a great September workshop!
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.
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.
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.