Thank you!
Thank you! avatar

It is not often that we get an opportunity to play and share ideas on pedagogy and I am so very grateful for the knowledge that I have gained from each of you this semester. I am thankful for the creative, non-judgmental and wholistic space created by Curry and Jim. I have grown tremendously from the insights you all shared and my teaching tool kit is full to overflowing with new techniques, technology and approaches. I truly wish to continue the dialogue with you…even though I must admit that it was time consuming and sometimes difficult to make the deadlines. Whooohoooo! I am glad we made it to the end of this sequence. Happy summer y’all. Here are all my posts:

Post 1 – Framework 

Post 2 – Use Tech, Don’t Let it Use You

Post 3 – Video – Backward Design

Post 4 – Teaching the Writing Process – Thesis Journey

Post 5 – Print Book Need Not Fear

Print book need not fear, for new technology makes you better my dear!
Print book need not fear, for new technology makes you better my dear! avatar

I beg to argue that the print book is being re-enforced rather than murdered by new technology. According to this article published in the Chronicle of Higher Education, “more books are produced in print each year,” since the advent of digital formats. Whether you hold a physical book or an eBook the opportunities to engage with text has positively increased with the rise of technology. Rather than forcing students to choose the only option that many generations had before the end of the 90’s we should build classes that give students the opportunity to choose the kind of book that support their learning style. I personally, love highlighting and taking notes in an eBook and then being able to search for key words when I want to find a particular quote. I love the convenience of having my whole library on a tablet rather than in an extra suitcase.

As I design my future online classes I will keep in mind that our changing environment is not going to wait until we are comfortable, so it is better to embrace technology rather than run from it. I am very inspired by the inventions taking place at public and college libraries where you can rent books right from your smart phone with apps like OverDrive. I’ve recently gotten hooked to this app, which allows book rental in audio or eBook format. The down side is, I check out many more books than I can actually read. But at least I never have to worry about returning them since they expire automatically after a certain period of time and I always have the option of renting them again.

Is the Audiobook an appropriate class text?

I resisted audiobooks for a while but with the rise of programs like audible I couldn’t help being sucked into the experience. Although I was a late adapter to Audiobooks I now enjoy listening to them for pleasure because it is faster and more convenient on the go. I’m still deciding whether or not I would use audio books for Comp classes because it eliminates the interaction with words on a page, which is really important for critical reading.

I think I would use an audio book in conjunction with a physical or eBook, therefore the students can listen to the book and then annotate, take notes and create dialectic journals using the eBook or physical book version.

Social media and the written word

I prefer a text message over a phone call. I surveyed my class with this question last week and found out that 90% of my students prefer to text than talk. Some people might think this is bad,  but I think the popularity of text messaging helps our craft more than it hurts it ….if you’re not driving and texting that is lol. Even though texting is often shorthand, bad grammar and riddled with emojis it is still a form of written communication and the most effective form of communication with today’s generation. Text messages, social media and interactive apps on our phones have opened up a new avenue of communication. Nowadays everyone walks around with a keyboard in their pocket because they might need to write a response to something at any particular time. This just means that more people are writing and reading. I often ask my students to review their last social media post and think about the rhetorical strategies they used to convey their intended message. This is always interesting because they do not realize how deeply they consider their audience’s reactions, emotions and interests. I also ask them to review their time line and pick out the people who writes those “book chapter,” posts and bring in a sample to tell us what they like or don’t like about it while exploring the rhetorical strategy that this person used. We all have those annoying people who write “book chapter” posts ….hmmmm wait a minute….I might fall into that category on Instagram.

Videos, Podcasts, Audios

My class materials often consist of these three formats in concert with the written format. I use these formats as pre-reading exercises. I have the students listen to audio interviews and then read a transcript of the audio they just listened or read a chapter associated with the ideas. As they read the transcript or chapter they are instructed to practice a particular critical reading strategy. Each semester I share a list of critical reading strategies and each week we pick one to focus on.

Here’s an excerpt from the critical writing assignment sheet:

Directions: For every assigned reading, choose 1 reading strategy (you can vary them, or use the one or two you feel works best for you). You will turn this in every class for each assigned reading. Below are the strategies you may choose from, along with a detailed description of each.

1. Outline: Across the top of your paper, write down all of the bibliographic information about the source (author full name, title, where it was published, when it was published, etc.). Next, create an outline of the author’s work in which you use their main points as your Roman Numerals, and their supporting details as your letters and numbers. Below is an example of how you might visualize what this outline looks like. Please note, your outline will vary according to how an author organizes their work. Also, you may want to write down page numbers next to main ideas/quotes so you know where to find it later.

I. Introduction

a. Background Info

b. Background Info

c. Background Info

d. Author’s thesis

II. Body Paragraph 1 Main Idea

a. Supporting Reason/Detail

i. Evidence

1. Explanation

b. Supporting Reasons/Detail

2. Q & A (minimum of 8): Across the top of your paper, write down all of the bibliographic information about the source (author full name, title, where it was published, when it was published, etc.). Ask 8+ thoughtful questions about the text, and attempt to answer these questions based on the information contained within the text. For example, you might ask, “What is the author’s point in their article?” Your response to this question may be a short summary of the article/reading. You might also ask, “What reasons does the author give to support their ideas?” In this case, you might list some of the author’s main points that support their thesis.

3. Annotations: As you read, you will make notes in the margin, underline key points, and write down the dictionary definition of any words you do not know. Your marginal notes may consist of you marking areas you think are important, questions you may have as you read, or responses you have while reading. You will either turn in the reading on the day the reading strategy, show your book to your instructor, or photocopy the pages with your notes to turn in. Most reading strategy assignments are handed back within the same class period so they can be used with exercises.

4. Paraphrasing (minimum of 8): Across the top of your paper, write down all of the bibliographic information about the source (author full name, title, where it was published, when it was published, etc.). Next, you will choose 8+ passages from the reading and paraphrase those ideas in your own words. A paraphrase should be approximately the same length as the original passage, and will be the author’s idea(s) explained in your own words. Make sure you write down the page number with the quote so you know where to find it later.





Guideline 21: Message boards can create a powerful and effective writing and learning environment for your students.

I like the discussion boards but I find that sometimes it becomes a place of dread for many online students. They feel like they are required to talk about “bullshit” just to show that they are participating in class. Weekly discussions are great but they should tie into bigger projects so that if a student does not diligently participate in the small discussions they will be behind in composing their larger projects. Warnock advises that there be very clear guidelines for discussion boards because after a while it becomes repetitive (88)…but is that the students’ fault? I don’t think so. I think we should give them many different scenarios to respond to and that might eliminate the repetition and the empty posts that do not add to the conversation. I appreciate the useful advice shared on this topic and I will be using some of your ideas in my future class. I like Warnock’s idea of student led prompts. Has anyone done this? How did it go?


Use the tech, don’t let it use you.
Use the tech, don’t let it use you. avatar

Warnock really knows his audience and therefore starts the chapter off with the perfect guideline for someone like me who is often frustrated and overwhelmed by tech. “Don’t be any more complicated technologically than you have to be.” (19). Sometimes I place too high an expectation on tech tools and become frustrated when it cannot do what I expect it to do. As I read through this chapter I came up with this simple mantra, “use the tech, don’t let it use you.” Therefore as I work on adding more online features to my current f2f and plan my future online course I will focus on simplicity, functionality and purpose for the students while keeping this mantra in mind.

 The LMS Battle – Blackboard, Moodle and Canvas


During my second year in college my chemistry professor introduced Blackboard as a component of the class. I found the platform difficult to navigate, not intuitive and terrible to look at. I think that experience left a bad taste in my mouth, coupled with the fact that chemistry was not one of my favorite subjects. Thankfully I never had to use Blackboard again…although I know it has evolved over the years.


When I first started teaching at the college level I was introduced to Moodle. Since my classes were f2f I used Moodle only for attendance and the gradebook. I was forced to dive deeper into Moddle two semesters later when I was teaching a fully online American Lit class. I really loved Moodle. It was my favorite LMS because it was easily customizable, their turnitin feature was more seamless than Canvas and quiz building was easy. However navigating Moodle is difficult on mobile devices.


I love Canvas support! And for this reason Canvas wins over all the other platforms in my book. Whenever I call the customer care line there is always a knowledgeable and patient service person on the other side to help me. Canvas is also more intuitive than Moodle and more customizable with graphics (although I still think it’s a bit static and can borrow some customization ideas from WordPress). Navigating Canvas is easy on mobile devices and you can almost do anything on your cellphone that you can do on a computer. I think this gives Canvas the biggest edge over the other platforms because mobile is the way of the future. I love Canvas’ mobile interface because I usually ask my students to use their smart phones to look things up or even to complete assignments.

Canvas is the LMS that most closely fits my teaching philosophy and framework because it most closely mimics the in person feel. Canvas’ intuitive tools and environment allows me to customize the experience for my students and myself.

My Comp. Tools:

Canva design tool

Canva (not the LMS) is a design tool that allows you to create beautiful and quick infographics and designs for free on a computer or mobile device.

I love this tool! I usually ask my students to create memes, quotations and graphics from their readings and work. This helps to put them in a creative space so that they can see the work outside the box. Some of the students end up posting their quote images etc. to social media….instagram, twitter, pinterest.

Creative Commons

This site offers music, art and photography in the public space that students can use to make their projects more interesting.


I use this resource to get free images for my content pages for Canvas, my WordPress site and for guest blog posts. The images are amazing and you can find almost anything.

SWANK – Miracosta library

Sometimes we watch movies for class. I usually watch 30-40 minutes of the movie in class as a shared experience and then I share the Swank link so that they can finish watching at home.


Since Zoom is free I was also thinking of incorporating it into group work activities. The groups will be required to meet online at a time convenient to them and record the meeting as evidence. I am also thinking of doing online Zoom meetings as extra credit for my in class group to test the effectiveness of this idea.

I want to offer a few live Zoom meetings in my online class because I believe that communicating in real time through media such as this enhances learning and creates social connection, which is a very important part of the college experience that gets lost in online education.


GoogleDocs, Youtube,

 In Canvas Tools I Love

The Gradebook

Before I discovered the Gradebook I asked my husband to build complicated excel sheets to store my students’ grades and that was just a nightmare. I rely on the Gradebook to store and figure out my grades since it makes the transfer from points to percentage seamless.


This week I worked with a colleague to figure out how to add a rubric to my turnitin assignment…that was loads of fun. Having the rubric directly in Canvas will save me a lot of time and I am so happy that I finally transitioned to online grading rubric (although I haven’t officially used it yet… I will give you guys an update on my experience in the week ahead). I haven’t tried the Canvas rubric tool yet but I intend to try that out for my next assignment.

 Group work and collaboration

Canvas group selection tool is more arbitrary and takes away the work of manually assigning groups. Each group gets their own homepage where they can chat, collaborate on documents and share ideas. This home page allows me to get access to each group’s project and creates a central place for them to share the project on the projector in an f2f class or on a discussion board in an online class.

Peer Reviews

I am thinking of incorporating online peer reviews in my f2f class as practice for my online class. I found tutorial videos on YouTube and I am fascinated by the versatility of online peer reviews. I used to think that I’d have to give this up for an online class but Canvas makes it just as effective and easy to do online as in class.

Here are some interesting tutorials

 Assigning Peer Reviews

Collaboration in class

Setting up shared Google docs

Embed Google slides directly to canvas

Grading discussions

How many new tools per unit?

I think more than three tools per unit is too many. Sometimes too many choices can lead to confusion especially in an online course where you and the students are only communicating on the page. A page that is overcrowded with tech diminishes its usability. As I plan my online course I will try to keep two to three tech options per unit. I will maintain a practice of testing options to see which ones are more favorable with the students. I am not sure if Canvas has any A/B testing features but that would be a great add on to see which resources are most valuable to students so that the course can evolve and reflect the best tools. I want to stay away from the assumption that since I like a tool, the students will also find it effective.

How do you measure if a tool is effective?

This is a great question and it leads me to ask whether or not Canvas has A/B testing capabilities. I think for now the best way to measure is by student feedback. I am using this semester’s f2f as a beta group to test certain tools and get the students’ feedback while we are in the f2f space so that there will be less problems in an online class.

 New tools I learned in this unit:


OMG! Thank you Curry for introducing me to Padlet! Poster boarding is a huge part of my class and I was worried about loosing that in the online space

I signed up for Padlet and I’m going to experiment with it. My only issue is that it seems like I will have to ask each student to sign up and it doesn’t have a doc sharing option like GoogleDocs where more than one student can build a board together. I use poster boarding as a collaboration tool and without this ability it kind of diminishes my purpose.


I love how prezi looks and I would like to experiment with it but I don’t think I want to pay $7/month for something I’m not going to use all the time. I could really see myself using this tool to increase engagement and learning.

On page 26 Warnock suggests that publisher sites can be a great resources for tools through interactive texts and add ons. I haven’t found a text I love yet but as I look around I will bear this in mind. I think having an interactive text with frameworks already built by the publisher is a great added bonus.

P.S. Curry the last FERPA link on the unit page does not work

Also can we get access to a course shell where we can practice the techniques we are learning here in real time?

What I want my online class to look like- Framework
What I want my online class to look like- Framework avatar

Hi my name is Vanessa O’Connor and this is my second semester teaching at MiraCosta. I currently teach ENG 100 and ENG 50. Although I have never taught composition online I have taught American Literature online and that was a very interesting experience that helped me to dabble a little in online quiz building and discussion boards. I also teach all of my English 100 and 50 classes as partial hybrids where most of the resources are housed on canvas as well as quizzes, text book materials etc.

“If you have your why for life, then you can get along with almost any how.”I love that Warnock starts out with this quote from Nietzsche. In chapter one he encourages us to develop our own online teaching persona and I realized that my online persona is not much different from my onsite persona. My “why” is to promote personal development through Mastery and Emotional Intelligence. I always start with my “why” and I allow the climate of my class to determine my “how”. On the first day of class I always tell my students that I teach what I most want to learn. I let them know that although I am their teacher, I am a learner first and I am excited to learn and grow with them. I always share what I am working on (right now it’s my book) and I show them all the marked up pages from my editor and expose them to the fact that writing is a process and a collaborative effort. Like Warnock I would also create an introduction discussion but I would use video rather than writing. By creating an introductory video I can communicate the same message I try to send on the first day of in-person class. Video also allows the students to see me and experience me as a person first before they begin their online interactions with me. I will also ask each class member to make a camera phone video introducing themselves and their reason for taking the class. I think that this will be a good way to pull back the veil of the computer screen and get to know each other as people and not just as words on a page. I would also like to do some live zoom calls but I am not sure how I would design that since there is not set time for an online class meeting.

In his introduction Warnock posits that the online teaching space is perfect for writing since so much of the communication for the class is done through writing. (xi) Although it can seem difficult to make the transition from in person teaching to online teaching the fact that students are constantly communicating through writing in an online class makes me hopeful because that in itself is an exercise that enhances practice.

My framework for teaching online or what I want my online class to look like:

Environment – My purpose for taking this online teaching class is to learn how to mimic my online class for the social environments of the world by incorporating what it takes to succeed in the real world outside of the college matriculation standards. My intention is to create environments that evolve emotional intelligence as well as intellect. I want to create an environment where students are constantly practicing and applying concepts with each other and in their world. As I design my online environment I plan to take Warnock’s advice that “you can approach teaching online more confidently if you view it as not being that different from teaching onsite. (xiii)

Collaboration – I have often heard that promoting interaction is one of the difficult tasks with online classes since the students never really get to see each other. I like the student centered approaches Warnock shares in the introduction and I am excited to explore ideas on how to create more of an in class feel with an online class. The online environment is more than fancy graphics, videos or detailed modules. It is a space to practice and apply the concepts with each other. I love how Canvas gives students the ability to collaborate through online peer reviews, group work and shared documents. I am happy to be living in the Internet age that has taken learning outside of the classroom and has made it even easier to collaborate remotely. Most of my in-class students use remote tools like Google docs to collaborate with each other.

Self-Awareness – I know that online teaching relies heavily on public sharing in discussion boards but I also believe in private writing. I want to explore ways in which I can encourage students to practice private writing to evolve their own self-awareness rather than having to always share with the public on a discussion board. I believe that as we deepen our self-understanding we increase our ability to succeed. Through journaling and personal writing we get the opportunity to explore our inner world and uncover our “why”. I do not think that this writing should be subject to the review of others as is usually necessary in an online course. When I teach in class I can instruct my students to journal and I can walk around and make sure that they are journaling without having to read their writing. I will not have that ability to keep them accountable in an online class so I would like to explore ideas on how to keep the emphasis on personal writing and journaling in an online class.

Sharing – I would like to explore ideas on how to create an online environment with resources so that the students can share their work outside of the classroom and be exposed to publication opportunities if they so desire. I really like the blog posting idea that Jim shares in the intro video. This gives students an opportunity to put their ideas out into the world and use them for things outside of class like scholarships and publications etc. I would really appreciate any other suggestions of resources and links I can share with my students that will give them opportunities to share their work with the world. My class room environment is built on the idea that writing is meant to be shared and I want to give them the opportunities to use their writing for more than just a grade. I try to encourage students to share their work and also help them to find publication for notable pieces.

Customization – The issue that I usually find with online courses is that it is usually a one size fits all approach however, every group of students is different and even though we teach the fundamentals they might need a different approach from us. Therefore as I design my online class I will be cognizant of leaving room for adapting to each group of students as well as evolution and constant growth.

Mastery – I always ask students to submit a two-sided folder with all of their pre-writing, writing and editing documents. This is easy in person because they are able to hand it to me but I am interested to explore ideas of how to do this online. I seek to develop a process oriented online course that rewards those who practice as well as rewarding the end results. Therefore I want to create games and interactive activities that encourage process sharing and creative ideas… if you have ideas of games, apps and software that can integrate with Canvas please share.

I want the online class to closely reflect my in class structure by encouraging practice and process activities, therefore helping students to understand that if you place more emphasis on mastering the process rather than the end result it is almost guaranteed that your end result will be great and you will be able to hit your mark not just once but over and over again. As I encourage mastery in this way I am encouraging them to understand that the writing process is a metaphor for success in any area of life because the process rather than the end result is the true treasure.

Here’s a sample of what I am doing in Canvas