Inspired by the Zulu greeting, Sawubona (I see you), and this week’s Black Lives Matter Training by awesome professors Bruce Hoskins, Shawntae Mitchum, and Edwina Williams, I have been reflecting on what I’ve done and what more I can do to make research projects more inclusive of diverse epistemologies, voices, and histories. Check out my video for more, and please let me know if you have recommendations or want to share any of your research practices, especially in online classes. Thanks!
Happy Juneteenth, Letters community!
Since my last post, have you checked out our Letters Department Online Teaching site? There, you’ll find our department’s principles for online teaching, as well as a wealth of resources, including the Writing with Machines blog where you can find the following info and so many more of our colleagues’ great pieces to inspire your online pedagogy and practice.
This week, I’m bringing you Letters-relevant realness from our 10th annual United Black Student Conference (UBSC) and the California Community College’s Online Teaching Conference (OTC).
Adventure #1: Cooler than Radio
If you’re looking for a holistic centering of equity and empathy in your class, the OTC’s panel on “Becoming a Warm Demander” referenced Zaretta Hammond’s podcast that defines culturally responsive pedagogy as it is evolving into instructional equity. In it, Hammond calls us to question, “How are we making sure that all students, particularly the most vulnerable, historically marginalized kids, get the most powerful teaching that helps grow their brainpower, so not just the content […] I mean, the teaching to move through the content.”
Adventure #2: Love a Nerd, Be a Nerd
If you’re looking for readings or multimedia that introduce students to stereotype-breaking works created by self-identified Black Nerds, dabble in these works shared by Student Equity’s JD Banks’ UBSC presentation titled “Black Nerds are more than Black Hobbyists.”
Adventure #3: “That’s what I look like? Where’re the filters?”
So, you want to create your own content for your classes? I just got hip (a phrase that shows how painfully unhip I am) to an app called “Clips,” which allows you to record and edit videos with live captioning–a major plus for keeping your online classes accessible! This would be a useful app if you’re having students create videos for discussion boards or assignments too.
Adventure #4: Peace through Poetry
If you’re working on revising or creating new writing assignments, turn to Soultry Sisters, a North County-based empowerment collective for women of color. During their Juneteenth UBSC presentation, the Soultry Sisters presented creative writing as a method of healing soul care to embrace, embody, and empower. Featuring the poetry of Langston Hughes and Maya Angelou, the Soultry Sisters’ workbook leads our students–and ourselves–through self-caring reading and writing process.
****Note that the last two pages of the workbook indexes community resources such as Black-owned businesses, educational organizations, and healers. How might you work these community partners into a Service Learning project? Or a reflective writing assignment that centers students’ self-care? Or just as an extension of the MCC family that takes care of our students?
Finally, one of the OTC panels briefly mentioned the Open Pedagogy Notebook. Click on “Examples” for great–you guessed it–examples of every aspect of an open classroom, from student-generated syllabi to activist zines, the latter of which I have witnessed to be beautifully, powerfully incorporated into curriculum by our fearless leader Maria Figueroa.
Until next time, enjoy a safe and healthy summer with your loved ones!
Your interim Technology Coordinator,
This video shows two activities that students complete the first week of the semester that embrace culturally sustaining pedagogy. Authentic student examples provided.
In this video, I share an activity that uses group writing to generate engagement and collaboration, introduce rhetoric, and give students a more meaningful sense of their first major essay.
Hello, Letters colleagues!
I’d like to introduce myself as curry’s humble substitute for our department’s Technology Coordinator as he goes on sabbatical for the fall. If you’re like me, you’re spending a lot of your summer prepping for an online fall semester in our COVID-19 world, so I wanted to reach out to you now with some Letters-relevant highlights from this week’s PROJECT Online Teaching Institute. You can self-enroll in the PROJECT Canvas course for extensive resources, including recordings of all the Zoom sessions.
The worldwide protests seeking justice in the names of George Floyd and countless other people of color have no doubt been at the forefront of our hearts and minds, and this ongoing conversation will inevitably enrich what, how, and why we teach. In that spirit, social justice, equity, and our community college system-wide call to action were the center of PROJECT’s institute.
As Ibram X. Kendi writes in How to Be An Antiracist, “What we say about race, what we do about race, in each moment, determines what–not who–we are. […] [B]eing an antiracist requires persistent self-awareness, constant self-criticism, and regular self-examination” (10, 23).
So let’s get to work.
If you learn best through audio/video, enjoy my quarantine hair in this recap. If you’re a reader and hyperlink clicker, keep reading!
Choose the adventure that meets you where you’re at:
- If you’re still feeling fledgling in online education and issues of equity, start by exploring…
- Unit 0 in PROJECT’s Canvas course for the basics of online instruction. For composition instructors in particular, the embedded videos about Zoom annotations are useful for critical reading exercises and peer review activities, and the breakout rooms are also great for group discussions and activities.
- Unit 4.A1 for Social Justice and Equity Center Director Jodi Mulhall’s extensive intro to Equity-Minded Online Instruction. Visit her slides and/or Zoom recording for key terms and best practices for creating an equitable online classroom.
- If you’re brainstorming how to develop content and assignments for your fall courses with equity and social justice at the fore, get inspired by…
- Sociology colleague Sean Davis sharing of Opportunity Agenda’s 8 Lessons for Talking about Race, Racism, and Racial Justice, many of which–counternarratives, solutions, specificity (distinctions), and descriptions–inherently dovetail with our discipline. Consider adding a quick post to the Writing with Machine’s blog about how you incorporate one or more of these 8 lessons in your teaching. Here is an example of how I did that in under 5 minutes.
- How the institute suspended synchronous sessions on June 10th to demonstrate solidarity with the #shutdownacademia movement. Click the hashtag for necessary reading.
- How your colleagues have already deepened this ongoing, necessary conversation in Department Chair Maria Figueroa’s email from Thursday, 6/4 (also attached to this email), as well as Aaron Roberts’ blog and Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy archive.
- If you’re already writing/revising syllabi and assignments centered on social justice and equity, work with…
- Five Tips for Equitable Syllabus (Unit 1.B4 in the Canvas course)
- Religious Studies colleague Chase Way’s talk on active learning strategies in the context of social justice and equity, inspired by the work of Paulo Freire and Civil Rights activist Septima Clark, both of whom championed treating students with love and support so they could see themselves as capable. Chase provides concrete examples of how to design discussion boards, quizzes embedded within Canvas Studio videos, Work-Based Learning assignments, and ePortfolios.
- Unit 2.C2 curry’s Intrusive Practices for monitoring student participation and progress, especially in Weeks 1-3.
Lastly, check out our Letters Department online resources page that will go live on Monday, the 15th. Here, you will find tons of resources to help you (re)shape your online courses to best support our wonderful students through these challenging times. Please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any questions: email@example.com.
Inspired by the activism in the worldwide George Floyd protests, I used an image from the peaceful demonstrations as a culturally relevant text for students to practice critical reading skills. In this short video, I’ll show you how I use Google docs and Zoom breakout rooms to create a collaborative communication, reading, and writing group activity centered on a culturally relevant text. I’ve found that this strategy gets all students involved and creates a useful scaffolding exercise/document for bigger papers and projects.
Since attending the Center for Urban Education Equity-minded Teaching Institute in 2018, I have explored methods for monitoring student progress and invested in high-touch, just-in-time interventions during the first 3 Weeks of the semester.
There are pros and cons to using Canvas’ analytics and progress monitoring tools, like the Notes and “Message Students Who…” features, just as there are pros and cons for developing your own informal techniques for monitoring your students’ engagement with the course. I share 3 approaches I have explored in the video above.
The following questions frame my evaluation of how I monitor student progress:
- What system fits best with my workflow for preparation, interaction, and assessment?
- Do these systems allow for a macro and micro-level view of individual student progress and the emerging class community we are forming?
- How am I able to observe and document affective elements?
- How am I able to apply race-conscious, gender-conscious, and other intersectional lenses to my students’ engagement with the course?
By documenting this information, I am finding more opportunities to intervene in my students’ learning experiences, especially during the first 3 weeks of the semester.
CUE places a significant emphasis on the first 3 weeks of a semester as the time in which habits for learning are formed, relationships are established, and a class culture takes shape. During these first three weeks,
- I invite students to consider and then commit to the class
- I target and equip reading and writing processes
- I schedule synchronous/asynchronous opportunities for collaboration
I describe my progress-monitoring techniques and intrusive practices during this time in the video above.
As I continue to reflect on and evaluate these practices, I find I’m returning to these considerations:
- Once I have the information about a students’ progress, what will I do? For whom? Why?
- Do these intervention practices increase confidence, a sense of belonging, and agency in my classes?
- Which students or student groups emerge as active contributors and community leaders because of these practices?
Here are a few resources to explore further
In this video, I share a simple way to generate pre-semester engagement using student favorites and Google Docs.
The tools and features in Canvas’ SpeedGrader allow students to respond to instructor comments. This creates the possibility for one-on-one conversations with students about their writing and about our feedback on their writing.
Here is a simple, additional requirement I have added to the major essay assignments in my ENGL 100 class that promotes the potential for these conversations.
To meet this additional requirement, students must complete three steps. Here’s the language I use:
Respond to Instructor Feedback
After your essay has been graded, review the feedback you received and write or record a response that identifies 1) one comment you found helpful, 2) one comment you plan to work on or that you found unclear, and 3) please state if you plan to revise or move on to the next project.
The additional 10 point I assign to this requirement amounts to 3% of the total course grade, which means a student who chooses not to complete this additional step is not penalized and can still earn an ‘A’ in the course overall.
I discuss the major benefits of this assignment in the video above. In addition to these, I also find that I am
- leading students directly to my feedback in Canvas with instruction on how to use Canvas’ tools
- dialoging with my students about their writing and my feedback in the same space their essay drafts reside
- understanding who in the class is really benefiting from my feedback and who is not accessing my feedback, which helps me to be more effective in my intrusive practices and to use my time more efficiently
For tutorials on SpeedGrader, check out
As you consider how to develop Culturally Sustaining Pedagogies (CSP) on top of (re)building your online classes, remember that the internet can be a helper rather than a hindrance. What students use the internet for reveals a lot about their multifaceted, intersectional cultural identities; as such, it can be a great inspiration of assignments and activities that engage and empower student voices. Check out my video about three examples of my ongoing work with CSP.