Reading in the Digital Age
Reading in the Digital Age avatar

In Chapter 7, Warnock’s Guideline 19 talks about the “millions of Web readings and multimedia materials on the Web.” I think that everyone has discovered this and uses this approach to be able to include rich, up-to-date materials in our f2f or online courses. I know I spend hours every year updating my readings to include current, hot topics for discussion and as fodder for student writing. My opinion is that texts devoted to readings are out-of-date before they are printed and cause unnecessary expense for students.

I found the more important issues contained in this week’s videos and readings were getting students to learn to read deeply with the goal of being able to critically talk about the ideas, discern the important issues, and then to springboard to their own thinking and then ultimately to their own writing. This is truly a life-skill or survival skill for any serious student and actually for any mature adult.

This week’s readings further moved us from simply having students read online articles or online texts to looking at teaching reading strategies specific to digital environments. I have to say I wish more research was devoted to this practical aspect and focused on college courses both f2f and online because reading has changed. Although the research delves into showing the differences, I see the need for research that actually deals with the change and how to teach it.

As I pondered what to post this week, I kept coming up with questions rather than any answers, so I’ll include some here.

How do we teach students to read deeply on a device that has been seen as a great skimming device?

Will students really learn to read deeply on a device that includes links in every article to so many other locations or to so much other information?

Will deep reading take place on the same device that connects to social media or provides so much entertainment?

Opening up New Reading/ Writing Experiences Online
Opening up New Reading/ Writing Experiences Online avatar

In Chapter 7 of Warnock, he focuses on many different possibilities for incorporating reading into the online class. And while I do value his reassurance that it is still okay to use a book in an online course, the two sections that really got me excited about reading online were his sections on Multimodal Texts and Student Texts. As Warnock points out: “The array of audio and video materials on the Web can be used in conjunction with conventional texts to create a different kind of ‘reading’ experience for students” (62). What I like about his approach is it seems additive rather than a substitution, that is, he still values “traditional” texts while also opening up the possibilities of texts that we can point our students to in an online space.

This connects nicely to an interview with Laura Gibbs on the “How to Create Engaging Online Classes” episode of the Teaching in Higher Ed podcast. For Gibbs, the most important feature of an online course is its openness, and she urges us to design our online courses to be open-ended spaces. She suggests that the nature of the Internet is one of openness, and as teachers we should ask ourselves- is my course open or closed? One method she shares is to have students create their own blogs that belong to them, the students create blogs and then engage with each other’s blog posts, and she emphasizes the importance of building choices into the weekly workflow. Gibbs uses student blogs in place of discussion boards in hopes of motivating students to engage with ideas and share with each other while developing a place (the blog) that belongs to them- and everything they do takes place at the blog- her ideas are very compelling and links Warnock’s focus on multimodal approaches and his suggestion to make student writing a central text in the online space. 

I’ve also been super inspired by John Warner’s book The Writer’s Practice. Warner calls for us to create writing experiences that give students increased agency in the composition classroom while providing opportunities for the kind of multimodal readings that Warnock highlights. Next semester I plan to borrow Warner’s “What’s So Funny?” (Rhetorical Analysis of a Work of Humor) writing experience/ assignment in my ENGL 100 course. In the experience students first identify their audience as “a curious bunch of people who enjoy being shown aspects of [our] culture they may not have immediately grasped. Your goal is to have the audience exclaim, ‘I never would have thought of that,’ after reading your analysis”(91). The cool connection to both Warnock and Gibbs is Warner’s suggestion that students choose their own texts to analyze, they can choose a bit from a stand-up comedy routine, a sketch from SNL, Key and Peele, or other sketch show, they can analyze cartoons, comics, and even memes. This would increase both student agency and engagement while emphasizing the openness of the online space- I know that I consistently watch excerpts from Late Night with Seth Meyers on YouTube, and based on anecdotal observation, students engage with authentic texts in a similar way. Students then go on to process the text, they react to the text answering questions, “where did you laugh? what kind of laugh was it?”, students then observe, “look for details . . . who [else] would find it funny? what does the audience have to know to find it funny?” Next, students analyze, “start to shape some of the observations into a theory,” and then synthesize “[students] work from those observations and bits of analysis” (93). After this sustained engagement with the text, students move on to the drafting/ revision process. My goal in an online course would be for students to engage in blog posts/ discussion boards detailing their choice of texts, their process of analysis and synthesis while getting feedback – the student writing and engagement will be privileged while the students explore their choices and the analysis of their texts. 

Writing Process Overview
Writing Process Overview avatar

The way I structure my class is that I go through things pretty slowly and methodically for the first paper in order for my students to build their writing “toolbelt.”  After they have the foundational tools in place, then every unit after that speeds up and the process of assignments progresses.  So, for this video, I’m giving an overview of how I teach the writing process that leads up to our first essay.  Each Module and page is a step by step approach from building the foundational concepts to the reading assignment, to writing process, essay anatomy, and revising/editing/proofreading steps to achieve their final draft and reflection.  Each assignment has a corresponding discussion board and some assignments I use with Collaborations/shared Google Docs, mostly for thesis revisions and class brainstorming/prewrites.  Here is my youtube link:

My homie, Socrates
My homie, Socrates avatar

  • I apologize for being so late with this unit.  As an adjunct at 4 different schools, all my different spring breaks messed me up a bit, including my daughter’s, in which she pretty much preoccupied all my time.  

Socratic Method – This is the philosophy I center my pedagogy around the most.  I love the socratic dialogue/dialectal and constructivism approaches to learning as opposed to the fill your brain up and regurgitate or lecture based methods.  However, translating a socratic method to online courses is a tricky one.  What I really like about Tony Burman’s video is that diagram of using cms/online tools to facilitate collaborative learning.  I like the idea of individual exploration wikis/blogs, mini lectures of patterns in responses, collaboration through discussion boards and google docs, and how that diagram can be shifted around and work cyclically and not linearly.  In my class, I use individual assignments and then into discussion boards and sometimes google docs in bigger collaborative assignments, but I have yet to use wikis, blogs, or listservs as Warnock suggests. 

*** In my critical thinking class, I like to start with the socratic dialogue as a means of a critical thinking strategy.  I use the classic Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, A conversation between Waldo and Carmen San Diego on the concept of love, and a socratic dialogue on fait, which also play into a research paper on ontology and self-awareness.  They create their own socratic dialogues and also role play characters to generate different perspectives and “lenses” as a scaffolding exercise. 

Warnock Text: Some things I definitely want to incorporate and build in both my online and f2f courses is service learning and group projects with a service learning component. I’ve also always wanted to turn my entire course into a video game as I have already mentioned in other blog posts, but this is a lofty goal that may take a long time and resources I don’t have to accomplish. As far as syllabus design goes (Chapter 5), I’m actually pretty confident in my syllabus and reading this chapter gives me some validation and peace of mind that my syllabus addresses most of what Warnock recommends.  Some things that I definitely want to incorporate better is messaging rules. My organization, the way I name files and the rules I have my students name files is a bit messy still and can use better organization. One thing that I’m not present enough about is the section on technology, especially regarding how slow/fast they upload large files, or even accessibility to large files using old outdated technology.  I assume that students have the most updated technology or can use the school’s computers, so I don’t really take into account students who use old slow computers or do not have the current software like microsoft office or pdf readers.  Along this tangent of the time it takes like connection time/lag, I also want to incorporate time expectations for all my assignments to help them better manage their time.   

Prewriting, Synchronicity, and Presence
Prewriting, Synchronicity, and Presence avatar

I’m glad to have had the opportunity to work through this exercise and to think about ways to get students to exchange their work in our unit/discussion of the writing process. In my presentation post (is it typical to really hate one’s voice in a computer recording?), I focused on prewriting (where, I tell students, the real essaying–using writing as a tool for discovery–occurs). The brief presentation is not in connection with any one assignment (I hope that’s ok as it veers a bit from the instruction for this week); rather it is part of a longer discussion early in the semester about the writing process and applies to all assignments generally.

In my onsite classes, I often ask students to exchange work that they have written in class (brainstorming upcoming writing assignments, e.g.), and I will work at nailing down similar exercises in an online class. I’m not sure if I want students to work synchronistically on that sort of assignment, so I may use Collaboration. Having stated that (about synchronicity), Chat can also work, but I don’t want students to feel pressured into a time/punctuality constraint for a low-stakes activity.

Re: my synchronous exchanges with students, yes yes yes. I will use chat to conference short writing assignments. Syrnyk uses the phrase  “embodied presence through texts,” and though I’m not certain we need a face-to-face exchange with students to recognize this presence, it’s useful to contemplate if Syrnyk’s concept is a bit lofty. I frequently use the term “presence” in my written comments: “strong voice and presence here,” “a bit more commentary can strengthen voice and presence.” I have not felt a need to address “presence” in that same context in any other manner. I acknowledge that my use of the term may slightly differ from Syrnyk’s. I will work at acknowledging that “embodied presence” via chat or even some version of video chat (skype? Sounds kinda awful), but it seems that meeting at an arranged time on the student’s Google Doc may be perfectly suitable for the objective.

Here is my presentation:

Using Technology to Help Students Understand the Reading Process
Using Technology to Help Students Understand the Reading Process avatar

Hello Everyone, Happy Spring:)

 Our task this week is to share how we teach the writing process in one example for one specific course. I am going to approach our task by showing you how I scaffold my student’s reading in ways that use technology to guide them through the Integrated Reading and Writing process (sorry no video I am doing this between drafts and on a super clunky computer)

The questions guiding my inquiry are: How do we use technology to scaffold the reading, writing, and thinking process? What kinds of process, scaffolding work, can we do better with technology?

The technology enhanced process-based reading work I am going to share with you is in conversation with the following excerpts from Warnock’s Chapter 4:

Meta Learning: the idea thatTeachers should maximize the inherently archival nature of OWI as much as possible…[and]…metacognitive activities are ideal opportunities for process-based work…” (165)

Building Assignments: “technology facilitates the division of work into process components. Some simple asynchronous technologies—message boards, blogs—facilitate the kinds of conversations that help build dialogue around course projects”

“All our work becomes an artifact for the course that we refer to through the process of developing a writing project which is a useful way of teaching students how to scaffold their own thinking and writing” (168)

“Rather than just learning best practices [or best examples] from me—one voice—they see strategies their peers use” (169)

“Also, quiet students now “are much more likely to make their opinions known in an online environment where they can contemplate their words before the rest of the group has access to them” (170)


My examples of process-based reading work are also in conversation with the following folks thinking about what reading is and what it is we are doing when we read:

 Mariolina Salvatori “Conversations with Texts

“This view of reading enables us to imagine a text’s argument not as a position to be won and defended by one interlocutor at the expense of another, but rather, as topic about which interlocutors generate critical questions that enable them to reflect on the meaning of knowledge and on different processes of knowledge formation”

“theories that turn text and readers into “interlocutors” of each other…such theories construct reading as an activity by means of which readers can engage texts responsibly and critically”


Kathleen McCormick “Text, reader, ideology”

“Readers therefor must be regarded as inhabitants of particular socio-cultural formations, with particular literary and general ideologies, who appropriate from society, both consciously and unconsciously, their own particular repertoires…The way readers respond to texts will depend on how their general and literary repertoires interact with those of the text”


Anderson and Pearson “A schema theory view of basic processes in reading comprehension”

The idea that a reader’s schemata or a reader’s Funds of Knowledge shapes their reading of a text

and from Rose & Hull “This Wooden Shack Place”

students have a right to their own reading


Below is an attempt to sketch out my Integrated Reading and Writing Process with embedded examples. It is an overview of how I use technology to scaffold my student’s reading in ways that guide them through the Integrated Reading and Writing process. The idea for the diagram is from previous work on the Integrated Reading and Writing instructional cycle and what I’ve found floating online about the California Acceleration Project.


The Integrated Reading and Writing Process 

Using discussion forums, shared google docs, and active learning stations 

Pre-Reading Activities: Videos of authors or sometimes students giving a talk or discussing the subject of the reading; PPPC_ Let’s Pre-read Anyon Together–PPPC Reading Strategy work in groups; A 5 minute internet search (something like a quickie version of the I-search paper); A free-write discussion post to activate prior knowledge (KLW+ what do you know about X, what do you want to know?)

Post-Reading Activities: Freire Graphic Organizer and Anyon Graphic Organizer;In-class work on assigned key terms or reading questions; in-class sharing of your initial responses free-write/share in groups; group discussions; group presentation of assigned pages in the article (2-3 pages) per group

At Home Reading Activities: Students complete a one page, Reading Responses, Questions for a Second Reading, Critical Reading Log, Take Home Reading Quiz.

In-Class Metacognitive Work: After students spend time using writing to work on the readings at home they share their work with their peers  (Group Work to Break Down Kozol and Riley) and spend time reflecting on how the writing helped us develop our first draft of the reading. We talk about a “Shitty First Draft” of a reading, a second draft, a revision of our first reading, in the same way we talk about process in writing.   Students also use this metacognitive activity to set reading goals for the second and maybe even third draft of their reading. Students do this metacognitive work in a  “Reflections” journal in google docs that they use to track their learning (and assemble their tools) and will use this at the end of class to write their own “Theory of Reading and Writing” a la  Writing Across Contexts (56-58) Teaching for Transfer Approach

In-Class Practice Applying the readings: Using discussion forums, google docs and ALSS: We spend time in class practicing how we might use the framework, ideas, key concepts in the readings towards our own purpose; We use discussion forums to practice writing a Topic Sentence where we are engaging X reading; We also use discussion forums to develop possible essay outlines that include each reading and how we will engage it towards our own purpose

Formal Essay Writing: Students move to use the readings clustered around each essay towards their own purpose in a major essay assignment.

Esto es todo por hoy–back to reading student essays–I look forward to reading your posts:))

The Writing Process
The Writing Process avatar

I am not teaching online, so I used my ENG100 f2f assignments as examples of how I teach process.

Essay 3 starts with students doing preliminary research on their own, and then in class working in groups they create the overall organization and write an introduction. The group process continues for a couple of classes with them revising and continuing to research to build the essay. This group essay has worked well in the past with stronger students really teaching weaker ones how to put an essay together. It also relies on handouts and my PowerPoints that mirror the process.

Essay 4, the lens essay, has two parts. I use Maslow’s Hierarchy as the lens for both assignments. First they use Maslow to analyze their own lives and write a brief analysis essay. They then apply Maslow’s Hierarchy to the characters in Barbara Kingsolver’s novel The Bean Trees. This process requires several drafts with peer review and one review requires a one-on-one session with me.

Here is my video.