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.



Down the Rabbit Hole: A Pedagogical Twine Adventure
Down the Rabbit Hole: A Pedagogical Twine Adventure avatar

This week, rather than making a video, I decided to experiment a la what curry said in relation to his Prezi. I have made a Twine that explores, a little, Twine as an interface for learning but that most heavily focuses on my reinterpretation of an assignment I use in English 100, the “Writing Scrapbook.” 

Twine projects are not the easiest to share, but here is a Google doc link to it: You will need to download the file and open it on your computer. You then need to open the file using the “open with” a web browser option. If this doesn’t work well, I’ll host the link elsewhere. (Also, it’s opening fine via Firefox on my computer, but not Microsoft Edge).

Also, in the name of process, here is what the overview of the Twine game looks like from the meta-position:

Unit 3 – Developing Content
Unit 3 – Developing Content avatar

Full disclosure — I am wayyyyy behind. That being said, I am going to catch up because I love this class.

The reading this week (ch 4 and 5) got me thinking a lot about books. Wornock says to use books and being that this week is also all about being student centered, I am struggling with these two things as I design my online summer class. Here’s why…

In noncredit programs we cannot require students to purchase books. We provide everything, whether that is a loaned paper book while in class or free online resources. I love that, but it does take a little bit more creativity on my end if I want to use a book for an online class. Now, of course there are fully online books, but students cannot write in them and annotate and so on. Research shows that students comprehend more from printed books than they do reading online and, frankly, so do I. So, then I think about the free novel I could give them. We purchased many new books with a grant last year and we have the ability to give away books to students. Maybe I should do that. But the books are 300 pages and the class is 6 weeks long and online. Is that asking too much? It feels like it. I do not want my students to be completely overwhelmed and I don’t want to be overwhelmed by their overwhelm and I don’t want to be the one overwhelming them. You get my drift.

So, maybe articles. But, then it’s not books. Do I short-change them by not assigning a book? I don’t think so, at least in this particular scenario. If I am thinking about my average student who may not yet have strong digital literacy, and I am asking that person to complete an advanced English class online in 6 weeks…maybe I need to be okay with articles and recognize that will be the best for them in this particular case. And, maybe I let go of books for now. 

There was much more going on in the readings this week, but this is what I thought most about, and still feel like I need to consider more before making a final decision!

“Your People”
“Your People” avatar

When I look back at teachers and classrooms that I felt the most connected to, there are a few charateristics that they shared.  The intructor/teacher: never stood behind a desk or a podium, the desks were almost never in perfect rows, and student did more talking than the teachers.  I was very sure that I wanted to be the kind of instructor that had no barrriers. I struggled at first to find the balance of being a part of the learning environment and being the person assigning grades, but I seem to be more ocmfortable with the balance each semester.  I once had a review at another school and the report said, egaged, passionate instructor, but she should not wear converse because her students will not respect her position and they will think she is a student.  I was thrilled. 

An example of a community based assignmnet we use is the sharing of resources.  When we work on a common theme or share a video and then discuss it together, I ask students to post a source on out blog.  Currently our 100 class is reading a memoir and I ask that each group post a discussion to the blog with a theme that stands out to them in the assigned pages.  Additinally, they are asked to loceate an outside source that might be helpful in supporting the assertions they make,  By the time we are finished with the memoir, our blog has dozens of posts with discssions, responses, possible outside sources, and really in depth conversations.   Warnock discusses this when he asserts, ” He would warm up with easy questions, building our confidence and creatiing a classroom energy before delving into the difficult issues that were the objective of the class lesson” (31).  I have not used this in my online classes, but I have employed it successfully in my hybrid classes because we can then discuss the results in a face to face group setting.  I am fearful of trying this in my fully online classes, and even Warnock discusses concerns, “Truth be told, group assignments in fully online classes can go aery” (33) The sharing of the information with low or nostakes assignments seems to be working well.  What I am eager to learn is how to help my students find “Their People”  (What I say in class when they have each other’s back during prep and research). Below is an example of a group that decided to write about police brutality. 

Police Brutality

Title One: Police shot and killed an unarmed black man in his own backyard. All he was holding was a cellphone.

P.R. Lockhart (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

            This particularly website will help us learn about the past cases where African Americans had been wrongly accused and then had been violated by white Policeman. This one case is one of many, and it help to shed light on multiple cases where African Americans were wrongly shot or wrongly accused to be holding “weapons”  and after, most were wrongly handled by white police  officers.


Title Two: The Root// All Black People Are Victims of Police Brutality

Michael Harriot (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

              This newspaper is very useful because this news’ article lets readers know that African Americans are the almost always the only ones affected when a case of police brutality is involved. Where does one see white people wrongly Affected by Police brutality? You don’t. One only sees on the news how many African Americans did something wrong, even if they were innocent. They wanna make it look like African Americans did do something, to mask over what was really done. They have put a bad name on them because of the past. There doings back then are not what it is now. Police should not carry those past details and past situations on to the future. Police should have an equal thinking about everyone.

How to Know and Intervene for Our Online Students
curry mitchell

On March 1st, WritingwithMachines hosted a workshop on how to know and intervene for online composition students. Our goal was to consider the agency we have as instructors to increase access and equity for our students, and then share experiences and strategies for getting to know and intervening for specific student groups and individuals in our online classes. 

Watch an archive of the discussion:

Some reflection from me:

In my own onsite classes, I set a goal to know every students’ name by the 3rd class meeting. Online, that’s harder (because sometimes, I never have a face to put with a name) or it’s way easier (because I always have a student’s name available and proximate to the work I’m responding to). To get a better sense of who my students are, I use an excel sheet to keep notes on names, pronunciation, pronouns, and personality traits. After attending the CUE Equity-minded Teaching Institute last summer, I added columns to track participation (engaged / distracted; talkative / quiet) based on gender and ethnicity. This allows me to really see who I’m responding to or calling on (or ignoring), who volunteers information (or doesn’t), and who participates differently based on small group dynamics. It’s been a game changer.

This excel sheet looks like this:

In my online composition classes, I use my first week, “introduce yourself to the class” assignment to collect information on each student. For students who describe themselves as busy or worried about English, or who submit a very short response, I set up a 10 minute Zoom meeting where I ask them about themselves, their past experiences online and in English, and their sense of the class so far. This is something Jim does with all his students in the first week. Again, a game changer.

After Week 1, I track the number of discussion responses each student contributes, and I track when I have featured a student’s work in a weekly announcement, lecture, or synchronous meeting. I try to feature every student at least once during the semester, and for students who seem less engaged or worried about the course, I try to feature their work early on.

When a student realizes their name is the answer to one of my announcement quiz questions about “whose amazing work is featured this week?” they’re stoked.

As I said, I’m stealing most of these practices from colleagues as well as from the institute with CUE. For a little more on the agency we have to increase access and equity for our students, please view the CUE Equity-minded Teaching Institute, follow-up webinar on “Areas Instructors Have Agency Over Equity,” starting at minute 3:29.

Questions and topics we explore:

What do you do to identify, track, and actively get to know each of your online (or onsite) students by name, personality, and circumstance?

Within your ability to affect mindsets and create equitable conditions, who in your online writing class, specifically, is on your radar? Which specific student, by name, whom you feel you have an opportunity to intervene for and support this semester?

Review our notes from our meeting


Staying Student-Centered Online
Staying Student-Centered Online avatar

Many thanks to Tony Burman for his rendition of the classic Coca-Cola theme from my childhood- I remember Tony mentioning integrating these kinds of “commercial breaks” or pauses into both his onsite and online courses. I tried that this semester in my onsite class- I put up some memes about essay writing in my ENGL 100 class and students really got a kick out of them- so to keep it student centered, I had them work in groups to develop their own memes about the day’s reading which they then posted on a discussion thread on our course Canvas page. It was super fun and the students were definitely engaged, working to make decisions both about which meme template to use, and also about how to best represent core ideas from the text.

This also ties into Warnock’s focus on “chunking” in the OWS. In my nascent planning for my first online course, and admiring curry’s ability to parcel out information in an accessible and digestible manner, Warnock, in his citation of Smith, reinforces the importance of chunking in the online course: ” ‘Content presented in one long segment is much less effective for learning than the same content broken down into several smaller segments’ ” (31). As I consider this advice, I think I will keep a weekly schedule at the forefront of student’s access points to the course, that is, do it much like curry does for WwM- each week will be “live” as the week arrives- on Sundays or Mondays. Students will then access the week’s work as it comes up. For longer projects (essays), students will get reminders and can consult the syllabus for dates.

Also, Tony’s modeling of how to import onsite strategies for student-centered content really seemed to be a useful and viable path for getting students engaged with the daily/ weekly work. I could see using Google Docs and Discussion threads to start to activate their ideas about readings- using columns on the Google doc to chart connections between challenging texts- and then opening up a discussion thread for students to respond to one another and ask questions. 

Interestingly, in Chapter 4, Warnock brings up a lot of compelling options/ suggestions but then seems to kind of move on without developing the category much. In the Games and Simulations section, he suggests, “Part of our class ‘workshop’ could involve, at some point, offering and perhaps taking part in these kinds of games with our students” (35). I would’ve like to have him expand on this more, why would this be a useful or compelling modality for getting students more actively engaged. I guess it’s time for me to do further research. Also, I know a lot of the WwM peeps are using games as a way to initiate class activities and discussion- how would this look in an online course?

How Can I Use Technology to Enhance/ Enact the Principles of My Teaching Philosophy?
How Can I Use Technology to Enhance/ Enact the Principles of My Teaching Philosophy? avatar


In Tony’s video, I really appreciate the way he defines student-centered teaching using Frerian concepts.  More specifically, Freire in “The Banking Concept of Education” says that in traditional educational settings “Education …becomes an act of depositing, in which the students are the depositories and the teacher is the depositor.  Instead of communicating, the teacher issues communiques and makes deposits which the students patiently receive, memorize, and repeat. This is the “banking” concept of education, in which the scope of action allowed to the students extends only as far as receiving, filling, and storing the deposits.” Instead, Tony argues, we should think about ways to deliver course content so that it is student-centered and students are involved in the production of knowledge and development of critical consciousness.  The question then is how do we do that in an online course? How do we use the technologies and modalities available to us in an online environment in ways that are student-centered, so that “when I enter the classroom I should be someone who is open to new ideas, open to questions, and open to the curiosities of the students as well as their inhibitions. In other words, I ought to be aware of being a critical and inquiring subject in regard to the task entrusted to me, the task of teaching and not that of transferring knowledge” (Pedagogy of Freedom, 49).  

Some of what was most important for me from Tony’s video:

  1. The question of how to use the technologies and modalities that are available in online teaching in ways that are student-centered?
  2. Don’t let technology dictate pedagogy: Instead think of how you can use technology to enhance the ways your teaching enacts your teaching philosophy
  3. Certain modalities are not necessarily more/less student-centered: it’s more about what you do with each tool; developing a student-centered habit of thought around your use of technology in the class
  4. Don’t Lecture too much, provide short mini lectures about a single topic and provide opportunities for students to practice, question, and apply
  5. Don’t design your entire course, design your materials then teach the course so that each week is dynamic
  6. Most importantly: enjoy the experience and give yourself permission to play: be silly, sing, wear a funny hat, read a good poem, include a video of you dropping into the biggest bomb of the winter…

In response to Warnock’s Chapter 5, I really appreciate the way this chapter is structured: He boils down “teaching strategies to several basic approaches” (28) and then dedicates a chunk of this chapter to a discussion of how you would migrate each approach from a f2f course to an online environment.  This is supper practical as I can see myself, reaching for the book as I am trying to figure out how to migrate x online:)

Warnock includes a quote by Elizabeth Ashburn, that is worth repeating here “teaching content that is central to the discipline and also relevant to student’s lives is a …fundamental attribute for designing meaningful learning experiences.”  When I read this I immediately thought of a conversation I am totally immersed in within Writing Studies around the theme of our writing courses and more specifically, the movement towards Writing About Writing themed courses. When I first read about the idea of having the “theme” of the writing class be writing knowledge, an introduction to Writing Studies, I was very unsure–because it would mean, for me, doing away with the culturally responsive themes I use in my courses–yet the more I read and the more I listen to what Douglas Down, Elizabeth Wardle, and Howard Tinberg have to say the more I see how I can do both,  teach culturally responsive Writing About Writing courses in which, for example, rhetoric is a threshold concept, yet my introduction to the concept includes both its Greco-Roman roots and what Damian Baca calls Rhetorics of the Americas. While this may seem like a tangent,  I am reading Warnock at the same time that I am rethinking my courses, so that everything Warnock is teaching me about teaching writing online is through this filter of the really exciting conversations about Writing About Writing and Teaching For Transfer I am sort of caught up in.


Here is the idea I included in the google doc asking us to write about one student-centered activity: Students in my class complete a “funds of Knowledge” (FoK) double-entry reading journal in which they keep track of how their home “funds of knowledge” are informing their reading of a particular text.  On the day we are to discuss or work with the reading in class, we begin that discussion by sharing in groups, using the active learning stations, what we recorded in our FoK double-entry reading journal. This way the discussion begins with us thinking about reading as an interaction between literary and general repertoires.

Here is how I might migrate this activity online:

  1. I would have students watch a YouTube video by one of the folks in multicultural/bilingual education who coined the term
  2. Then I would do a mini video lecture taking students through handout I have that explains what a dialectical reading journal is and how this particular journal is asking them to include their response and emphasize their funds of knowledge i.e. how what you are bringing from “home” is informing your reading
  3. Students would then read the text on their own and complete/submit their dialectical reading journal assignment on Canvas
  4. Students would then get into groups of 3 or 4 and respond to the reading journals using the collaborations tool on Canvas
  5. The activity would end with a short paragraph where each student responds to a discussion asking them to reflect on how this assignment and the conversations they had with their peers changed or shifted the way they think about reading

Just because I loved Tony’s Frerian description of online student-centered learning, I am ending with my favorite Freire quote: “In problem-posing education, people develop their power to perceive critically the way they exist in the world with which and in which they find themselves; they come to see the world not as a static reality, but as a reality in process, in transformation”

Just because I loved the singing in Tony’s video