So long and thanks for all the insights!

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. 

My posts:

Unit 1: Philosophical Musings: A Series of Principles

Unit 2 : Course Managing My Pedagogical Philosophies

Unit 3: Staying Student Centered Online

Unit 4: Engaged Thesis Activity

Unit 5: Opening Up New Reading/ Writing Experiences Online

Collaborative Tech

Hello friends!

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.

Godspeed, comrades!


Towards a Technology in the Writing Class Teaching Statement


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.

UNIT 1: How Technology Can = Equityminded Acceleration

UNIT 2: Exploring the Pedagogical Value of Blogs in the Writing Class

UNIT 3: How Can I Use Technology to Enhance/Enact My Teaching Philosopy

UNIT 4: Using Technology to Help Students Understand the Reading Process

UNIT 5: : Perusall, the Reading Process, and Engaged Difficulty

Guiding Principles for Technology in the Writing Class

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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.
  4. 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?
  5. 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
  6. 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. 

The end is just the beginning…

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.  

ad paedagogiam futuri

UNIT 1: Design Troubles: Pedagogy and the Subversion of Canvas

UNIT 2: Learning Management Systems: A dash of Luddism, to go with the ludic

UNIT 3: Innovating the Classroom: Content in Online Teaching

UNIT 4: Down the Rabbit Hole: A Pedagogical Twine Adventure

UNIT 5: Conversations about Conversations: Approaches to a Post-Text World

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).

Perusall, the Reading Process, and Engaged Difficulty

         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.

Accessing Accessibility Online

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.


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.


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.


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.


Books and Handouts and Message Boards Oh My

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.

Me: What do you like to read? Students: Tweets

Sorry for such a long post. 

Equity and Accessibility (Warnock Ch 7): 

Warnock touches upon some important points or reminders here, including making texts available much earlier before the semester starts, especially when not using a traditional textbook. Even if/when I use a textbook, I give them a heads up so that they can get it through amazon or other cheaper sources and links where they can get other/cheaper editions, or give them options to get the e-book version, make copies, print out the pdf, etc.. Giving them different formats and time benefits distance learners, especially, but also our students who are waiting for financial aid.  I think this also relates to giving them the syllabus and a welcome/hello letter in different formats before the semester starts as well.  

Multimodal texts: I like the idea of this and definitely incorporate this to supplement textual analysis, but I think it’s important to be mindful of WHEN to use these and to also make sure they are accessible in terms of browser support or captioning.  I don’t like to use these up front in case of giving too much away that would lesson their “cold” analysis and original thoughts and inquiries, but maybe after their own analysis, to validate their thoughts, or get them thinking about the text in different ways as more supplement rather than scaffold. 

Library Equity: I never really thought about this until some of the colleges I work at started having these equity minded library workshops.  I usually have them start getting their feet wet with our library databased early in the semester with low stake exercises.  This kind of reminds me of my first class as a grad student when my professor made us look up a word in the real Oxford English Dictionary.  I was shocked that a dictionary was a dozen volumes long when I was used to the one book dictionary and that this one had the complete origin and history of every word.  I was sort of in shock, enlightened, and overwhelmed just from this one exploration and assignment.  This is what a lot of our students feel like when exposed to our library databases.  Some of them do not even know how to access it from the school’s website, which as we all know is like two simple clicks of the mouse.  A lot of students do not know what is available to them, the huge advantage of having a wealth of vetted knowledge at their disposal, or how to navigate those resources, to use more focused words and the huge difference an extra word in the search parameter can make or using the AND/OR in the searching.  I think it’s incredibly valuable to teach this early in the semester, again, with low stakes assignments, or schedule a library orientation early on. Something that I did not think about is using the library to double check the copyrights and open resource status of the materials I use – this is something that I will definitely start doing.


Conversation and Writing (Warnock Ch 8 & other)

I almost annotated everything in this chapter. Some of the things that I didn’t really consider is how online students have an advantage in their discussions with writing/message boards vs. a f2f class.  I always assumed they had a disadvantage not having that f2f interaction and that message boards tend to be more dry and not as vibrant or rich as in class discussions, but Warnock certainly enlightened me on several advantages such as online students given more time to digest and express their opinions, messages as practices to refine their writing skills, developing coherence and support within their discussions, etc… 

Something that I continue grappling with is my role in the discussion board.  I usually just let the students be in charge of the forums with me just being an outside facilitator with minimal interjection. I do, however, have very explicit rules/rubric for them to follow to solicit the best discussions possible.  I usually only comment regarding following instructions or not, and maybe length of content, instead of accuracy of content.  Like Warnock suggests, I let them freely “roam.”  Like Warnock says, if I go too in depth in responding to every student’s primary and secondary posts, a teacher can drive themselves mad and preoccupy all their time.  Instead, I use announcements to address all of the students’ discussions for that particular assignment, since most of the discussions have a common thread and can be applied to most, if not all the students at once.  Again, this balance or my role(s) is something I’m still constantly experimenting and grappling with.  

One idea that I really liked from Warnock is the idea of using the message boards as part of other assignments. Right now, I use them as an extension of every individual homework assignment for the pedagogy of using your own brain first, then multiple brains (collaborative learning), and then the collective brain.  I never thought about using the message boards as part of a larger or meta assignment later on. 

Annotated bibliography: I am fascinated with the tools of Perusal and Hypothesis and the whole realm of annotation technologies.  I thought the annotations of The Talmud in that video discussion were fascinating in that the commentary and meta commentary went outwards surrounding the text in a 2-D way.  This instantly made me think of how helpful it would be in annotating my favorite book  House of Leaves in this way. Collaborative annotating is something I will definitely start incorporating in my class and I think is a great way to pair with how I use Google Docs as a collaborative prewriting and outlining tool already.  Besides that, I’m going to the gym right now to start listening to those Podcasts in Teaching in Higher Education


Conversations about Conversations: Approaches to a Post-Text World

I found the readings (from the Warnock chapters to some of the bibliography texts I read, like a few articles on “Welcome to the Post Text World”) and videos fascinating this week because they broached what might be the most fundamental issue I have in most f2f classes (and suggested to me how that issue may echo in an online teaching setting): how do we get students to interact meaningfully and critically with the concept of text in a world predicated on mediating predominantly unmeaningful and uncritical interactions? (And, by extension, can we even define meaningful/unmeaningful and critical/uncritical as useful binary oppositions anymore?).

While Warnock was a little humdrum, as usual, in the chapters, I did really appreciate two aspects of these chapters:

1) That Chapter 8, especially, gave very practical advice through examples of how Warnock structures his discussion boards. I have had relative success with discussion boards in my f2f classes this semester, mostly because I unwittingly followed some of his advice, like having very specific word count criteria, and so seeing an even more structured way of approaching both formal and informal discussion board posts is really helpful.

2) That Warnock, though still attached to traditional ideas of text in some ways, did have a variety of useful sound bites here related to how online teaching can redistribute text: “think about the accessibility of the texts you choose” (59); “more equitable participation” (70); that writing online broadens definitions of audience (70); etc.

I especially liked the focus on “exploratory writing”: “[Discussion boards] allow them to practice, make mistakes, and thus develop. The message board environment represents an elegant combination of theory and practice, as it creates an ideal place to allow such exploratory or discovery writing to happen” (85). This is what process-based writing is meant to do, but (I find) more often than not doesn’t do, because students try to be perfect as fast as possible so minimal editing, they think, is required. The connection of this exploration, too, to class community is something I want to quickly adapt, via Warnock’s strategy of having students quote their class colleagues in their papers (88): this seems like a good, quick way to teach the redistribution of authority in online spaces.

Both this strategy of students quoting other students and having them engage with each other in discussion boards frequently connects to the main problem I am having in my ENGL100 this semester: “Students rarely talk to each other” (Warnock 76). We seem to be in both a post-text world and a post-conversation world. I’m on the fence about whether both of those are necessarily bad things, but they are definitely important to take into account and seem to be often deflating f2f classes. (Another problem I think that arises within such a situation is how we even market f2f classes, that are often so content-based, when content seems to need less emphasis, since if students really wanted to know something, they could find it. They are aware of this, so me pointing out information in class can generally just meet the wall of “If I wanted to know, I would have looked it up).

My guiding philosophy, then, has for a long time been connected to rethinking literacy in a post-text world. A lot is said about how much students use social media and other Internet-based applications, but I increasingly find that their literacy about interacting with culture in a multimodal world is relatively low, related perhaps to the suggestion in “Welcome to the Post Text World” that

“there’s the more basic question of how pictures and sounds alter how we think. An information system dominated by pictures and sounds prizes emotion over rationality. It’s a world where slogans and memes have more sticking power than arguments. (Remind you of anyone?) And will someone please think of the children: Do you know how much power YouTube has over your kids? Are you afraid to find out?”

As a concluding thought here, I wonder if our focus should be less on a post-text world (because of how much that still centralizes “text” as an ideal against which we are not working) and instead think about a discourse or even post-discourse world, where concepts of power and authority are more important to integrate than what exactly is said or how it is said (how do we even approach rhetoric in a world where the term seems to not really mean anything to anybody anymore? Not just “millennials” [who, I hope everyone knows, aren’t actually the majority of our students anymore], but every age bracket).

In a way, Warnock is pointing us in that direction, by centralizing conversation and “student texts” rather than the types of texts we are used to in composition classrooms—but how can we go further? How do we turn those conversations into interrogations of conversations, into conversations about conversations rather than into conversations about comprehending material that is ephemeral and decentralized now anyways?