Warnock Says Professors Can Burn Out from Grading—Good to Know It’s Not All in My Head!
S. Gutiérrez

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 pencil).

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:

  1. 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.)  
  2. 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.
  3. 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.)
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Writing Group Discussion 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.
  8. 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.

Feedback, etc.
Feedback, etc. avatar

Thank you for the short video on feedback 🙂

Here’s a few comments on the Warnock:

Ch 10: Peer editing:

I like the guidelines on p. 116

Ch 11: Feedback:

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.)
  • Meeting f2f 

I am open to exploring options, but I like to keep things simple and students probably do too.

WritingwithMachine in Fall 2019
curry mitchell

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:

Writing with machines, Sound Off!
  1. 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.

  2. Record your thoughts using Canvas Studio and post the video to a discussion board in our WritingwithMachiness Canvas course (see links below).

  3. 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:

  • Online,
  • Hyrbid
  • Tech-heavy Onsite

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!