The Future’s so bright . . .
The Future’s so bright . . . avatar



Greetings! Great to be a new member of the Writing with Machines crew!


Reading through Warnock’s text, it’s really got my neurons and synapses firing thinking about the overlap and inherent hybridity that is happening more and more as I integrate Canvas into the daily/ weekly work in my onsite classes. Though I’ve never taught an online course, since adopting Canvas over the summer, it (Canvas) has become an integral component of my teaching practicum. Specifically, in terms of assessment, SpeedGrader on Canvas is much more conducive to comment on drafts early on in the writing process. During workshop/ peer review over the summer, I started to reviewing and making short, targeted comments on student drafts while they are working in groups with peer drafts, I could then check in with each of them individually to discuss the comments I made. Granted, this was for a summer course and we had three hours to work on this, so adjustments would need to be made for a shorter class period. But with an online course, the highlighting and commenting functions in Canvas introduce many opportunities to engage in directed comments while mitigating the issue of illegibility that Warnock brings up in chapter eleven—something I have struggled with for so long.

Another exciting proposition that Warnock addresses in his section on grading in chapter twelve is the possibility of “generating an ongoing conversation with students about their progress . . . grading is too often a one-way announcement form the instructor” (137). One method I’ve employed in my f2f classes, and will continue in online courses, is the use of a Google doc to get a sense of where students are at with their thinking/ feeling about their essay drafts. I ask what they’re excited about, concerned about, or still have questions about- they respond onsite using laptops, phones, or ChromeBooks, and I also give them the choice to answer anonymously. This practice has given me valuable insights into student thinking – and better understanding of what I need to address/ adjust in the lead up to assessment. Students have a chance to comment on what I can do to better clarify or improve my expectations for an assignment and we can then work as a class to address concerns before a grade is assigned.


Future Possibilities

If I could sum up my thoughts about the future in teaching online courses, I would use one word—more! More comments from me, more low-stakes writing with responses from me, more quizzes to fire up thinking about the readings. Warnock has given me much to consider and to be excited about—some specifics.

Macros—I appreciate Warnock’s cautious endorsement of macros-having a bank of auto-fill comments would help mitigate or prevent “repetitive stress injuries.” I also take to heart Warnock’s privileging of student agency and awareness of student engagement when he cautions against an over reliance on macros that would lead to “boring mechanical routine, “ while “students most likely would sniff out the inauthentic nature of your comments” (126). Macros are definitely a strategy that I would like to cautiously attempt when teaching my first online course.

But the strategy that most excited me was Warnock’s section on AudioVisual Responses to student work. Warnock admits that “[u]sing AV feedback to respond to student writing in the composition classroom is trill a fairly novel application, but the technologies to support this are improving at a rapid pace” (131). I was holding office hours in the Writing Center on Thursday and I notice they had a separate room for synchronous online appointments and it seemed like a very effective use of AV feedback—both the tutor and tutee were discussing in real time the tutee’s paper. In a class of twenty-five plus students the dynamic would have to be adjusted, and one would have to account for the largely asynchronous nature of online teaching, but as Warnock mentions, “AV feedback cranks up the response process considerably from the simple tape recorder by including video of the paper . . .This [AV feedback] is much faster than evaluating papers conventionally, and I give the students more extensive feedback—saying nearly twice as much as I do in a typical written response” (131). Very exciting prospect here—and I hope to learn more about where we are with the technology now, as I imagine we’ve come a long way since 2009 when Warnock’s text was published.






The ‘Snapshot of Yourself’
The ‘Snapshot of Yourself’ avatar

Hi Everybody! I hope you’re all having a productive semester. It’s good to be back with the Writing With Machines gang!

The first reading assignment from Warnock’s text was a great opener to the purpose of OWcourses, as I continue to think about how to replicate the face-to-face experience via online.

The most valuable pieces of advice that Warnocks offers to understand the difference between ‘Responses versus Grading’ and keeping feedback ‘Conversational versus one-way-announcements.’

I think these are the types of interactions I feel comfortable doing in the classroom, and always questioning how to bring these interactions into OW courses. Of course it all comes down to the kinds of technology that can help manipulate more personal instructor-student experiences concerning the writing process.

A few things I already practice with students when online feedback is provided are what Warnock calls ‘in-text markers.’ At times I give students the opportunity to submit a thesis statement or body paragraph via email and most of my feedback comes in the form of highlighted comments, underlined areas of focus, arrows for direction and so forth. I find these simple tasks pretty easy for students to visually read suggestions and questions regarding assignments.

To push beyond markers, I do want to remind myself the importance of the ‘first week icebreakers’ as Warnock mentions, the ‘snapshot of yourself’ which is vital for students to feel I’m present, or more so to see myself as their AUDIENCE.  Which leads me to the ‘technologies of responses’ and how to use these resources to avoid blood shot eyes from hours of computer watching and carpal tunnel. I love the idea of using spoken comments and audio visual comments. I’m interested in exploring what apps or programs are out there that work best for providing such feedback. Any suggestions folks?

But I find VOICE and Facial Gestures, heck even hand gestures as a way to communicate my personality to students over the sterile typed comment. I know a few students have submitted their essay to the Writing Center via email and they’ve received some great video responses from writing consultants. The feedback is great since students can stop and play these videos, as the videos scroll through their essays and there’s audio in the background offering feedback. So I’ll definitely be investigating what methods the Writing Center uses to make these videos. Also I need to evaluate how time consuming it is to make videos and which apps/programs are more efficient.

If anybody has some audio/ video app suggestions please send them my way. I’m not the most tech savvy person, but I’m always down to learn!

Thoughts on Feedback — Week 1
Thoughts on Feedback — Week 1 avatar

The thread connecting the writing issues that most frequently prompt my response — logical gaps, weak support, and irregular clarity — is my role as the writer’s audience. When I ask marginal questions that begin with how or why, or when I say “this sentence is unclear to me,” I am trying help the writer understand that I am interested in their argument, and am pointing out where I become skeptical or confused. This kind of feedback is most effective in onsite classes when it is supported by a face to face conference.

Having read this week’s assigned chapter, I think that audiovisual resources, such as a Camtasia recording, would be an effective method of providing end comments and  drawing attention to specific areas in the text. I could use Camtasia in conjunction with the color highlighting tools available with the Speed Grader function in Canvas. As Warnock cautions against feedback becoming “mechanical” and “inauthentic” (126), I think voice and video responses would keep that from happening.

In addition, I would like to experiment with recording my feedback using my tablet and stylus. Perhaps the handwritten marks and notes, in addition to my voice comments, might foster a more personal, less mechanical, experience for the student.

In the past I have used the comments bank in Turnitin, and I currently use my grading rubric as a Google Doc scoring sheet that I fill out for each student’s paper and share the link with them. This practice has been effective, especially in reinforcing my expectations for their writing. But in an effort to increase efficiency, I plan to check out the different programs listed by Warnock on page 126.

Testing the Waters: A Playful Approach to Writing Response Tools

Sometimes I write too many notes on a student’s paper when I grade them electronically. It’s sad, but true. I own it. I’ve been trying to pull back, telling myself “Kellen! Don’t overwhelm them! Be judicious, but, for everyone’s sake, be pithy, mate!” That’s why I’m excited to test out some of the tools Scott Warnock glosses to see if I can give more detailed feedback in a way that is more consumable for students. Namely, I wanna try these three in particular: macros (cuz they seem easy, right?), rubric software (cuz I love me a rubric), and Camtasia (cuz wouldn’t it be nice if I could just say things?). Oh! I’m also gonna totally just add a quick something about peer review stuff at the end.

I can totally get on board with Warnock’s assertion that all writing in an OWcourse is an opportunity for improvement—an opportunity for you to respond to a student in real time without the looming pressure of a grade. However, I am equally wary of burning out—of providing really stellar feedback to the first few papers before becoming increasingly fatigued until I just quit in frustration and watch Netflix. Of course, according to Warnock, I could just create what are called ‘macros’ to input common comments using ordinary keyboard shortcuts. Stunning! I love shortcuts. But, I’m not gonna lie. I tried for a solid 30 minutes without figuring it out. So, if anyone knows how and wants to walk me through it, I’d be so appreciative!!

After failing to master macros, I moved on to playing with the rubric software that Warnock briefly discusses. Unlike the macros, these felt much more intuitive and not terribly different than the rubrics I make on Word. Well, at least RubiStar because that was the only one I could easily access. It’s free, which is something I love. That said, it looks like Rubrix looks to be a viable, perhaps sleeker version of it that is more responsive to the most recent technologies. However, it costs money so I wasn’t able to actually do more than watch an informational video that is fully of a lot of fun cartoons that will tell you about how great rubrics are (5 Stars: would watch again!). Either way, I think these both provide really exciting possibilities for providing visually organized ways of expressing expectations without overwhelming the student (or yourself) with comments. I literally just passed out rubrics this week, so I may try to implement one of these and pilot it with my students this semester to see how they respond to it.

Finally, I am most excited to try Camtasia. I didn’t actually get a chance to explore it yet, but I hopefully will soon. A representative from the writing center came to my class Thursday and told me more about how they use it for students and have seen good results from it. In terms of an OWcourse, I think this is an especially great tool to cultivate an online persona. This can be particularly important for rough draft stages. Being able to create a file that students can consistently refer back to in order to hear your feedback in real time (…well in simulated real time…) sounds incredibly productive to me.

Getting to speak directly to your students in this way can help establish a more comfortable environment in which to receive feedback. I try really really hard in my comments to make sure I sound upbeat and positive, which can lead to a lot of extra words. By being able to just vocalize these feelings, I can save myself time while still be encouraging. Most importantly, I can customize my feedback for every single student, which feels completely less viable in other formats. Maybe this could even be a way of addressing an issue that Megen raises about potentially feeling like a “brick in a wall” in her post. Through this tool, you can start talking to students through their writing in a personal way from brainstorming to outlining to drafting to revising. By making these videos really personal and attentive to the nuances of each students writing, we might be able to recreate some of that student-teacher interaction found in f2f classes.

To conclude, I wanna talk about peer review software. I’m a firm believer that teaching our students how to be effective peer reviewers will make them stronger writers. I try to incorporate peer review workshops into my f2f courses pretty regularly. Learning how to identify issues in other people’s writing can help us recognize those same problems in our own. However, while Warnock offers tons of great examples for how to recreate peer review in virtual spaces—wikis, blogs, Waypoint, etc. The idea of creating small working groups that would be organized via Canvas sounds the easiest to produce, so I’m going to try to pilot it this semester for their last essay (when they’ve hopefully had ample in-class practice with peer review). I’ll be sure to report results!

In the end, these tools sound like really great ways of improving our ability to respond to students while also saving ourselves some time. Without a doubt, there is an air of utopianism attached to some of these tools that I’m sure I’ll be disabused of when I start implementing them more fully. In that interim, I’m going to start trying to incorporate some of these elements this semester in my f2f classes to test how their limitations and affordances.

Assessment in Advance: Fostering Anti-Authoritarian Feedback
Assessment in Advance: Fostering Anti-Authoritarian Feedback avatar

Reading through Chapters 11 and 12 of Teaching Writing Online has made me realize how much my pedagogy already reflects many online teaching methods, even though I’ve not yet taught an online course. (It’s funny, this week, one of my student asked me to walk her through our Canvas site because she was still confused. Afterwards, she thanked me for helping her because “I haven’t taken an online class before.” The comment seemed bizarre to me, and she didn’t qualify it in any way. Reading the chapter helped me better understand what she meant, though. I take for granted a lot of the tools in my on-site classes that, really, are also suited for online teaching.)

Commenting through Canvas

Overall, my main form of assessment and feedback have been via Canvas’s built-in commenting functions (SpeedGrader, is it called?). I use the comment and highlighting aspects of it. Before I transitioned to Canvas last year, I used Blackboard’s similar function for a couple of years (whatever that one was called). Before that, I was handwriting comments on paper copies. I have found that I do end up putting a lot more feedback on the digital versions, mostly because I type faster and find it easier to think when I’m at a computer (oddly enough). I do think I have a tendency to overwhelm students, so would like to find new ways to approach commenting. 

I also allow students to email me versions of their essay in advance for me to comment on, which somewhat minimizes my commenting on the final draft. I prefer, too, to get trough drafts digitally to office hours, which I feel is a bit taboo, but I think the feedback is better and that I don’t actually have to sacrifice a lot of the conversation. 

However, I also try to build in a lot of assessment and feedback before essays are even submitted.

Assessing in Advance

Digital tools (and specifically Canvas, in this case) have been really useful to me when it comes to making sure students can assess their own writing without too much intervention from me (similar to what Warnock says: “good teachers can facilitate discussions onside or online that feature students prominently, but at times, students need your guiding hand” (125)). I’m a big fan of learning through example, which I’ve built into my classes by simply having students put their essay drafts on Canvas discussion boards. This allows them to explore in a way unanchored from hard draft peer review (and from peer review in general, which students often find a drag–though I still do it, since it allows me to also hold informal office hours during class time). 

I’m skeptical of concepts of standards, because they are so top-down; using forums and discussions available digitally, however, create bottom-up “standards” that students can engage with. Students, then, absorb organizational structure, citing conventions, and other expectations simply by having a digital portfolio of student writing available to them. They see what is available to their writing, rather than being told (since the latter rarely ever works, at least for me).

Along with minimizing my own role as a figure of authority in favor to student-to-student learning, I also like Warnock’s idea of seeing my role as one of engaging in conversation than simply bestowing summative comments. I use digital tools to do this to some degree as well; I assign “reading responses” that are also posted on public discussion boards. These reading responses usually address aspects of the essay or attempt to develop skills relevant to the essay (without mentioning “the essay”); especially for about the first half of the semester, I respond at length to these posts, focusing on encouraging student ideas and avoiding too much “fixing” grammar or critiquing ideas. Many of the ideas ultimately end up in the essay and, therefore, I have already added my assessments in ahead of time. This is of course all possible in paper copies, but the conversation is then much less public and the record of the conversation disappears to quickly, for both me and my students.

This has also made me think of how I could use audiovisual means to further support this conversation, making it more of a “f2f” type of conversation rather than “textual” in the way Warnock describes (although, his definition of “text-based” is both fascinating to me and also a bit limiting). I am a little wary of audiovisual means of communication; they seem too performative and awkward to me, but if more natural conversations could be facilitated, I’d want to adopt more of those means (maybe through Skype or something like that, but overall I’ve mostly rejected tools like that. I have used Google hangouts when I worked at a graduate writing center, but it just felt so clunky and unnatural).

A lot of my strategies are, then, preemptive rather than tied to a particular moment of “assessment.”

In terms of reflecting a bit on the future (though the future is scattered throughout everything I’ve written already), I would like to figure out a way to use tools to better assess one of the more important aspects of student writing to me, close reading. Things like comments (whether voice, video, or traditional) and quizzes don’t seem to be particularly useful for getting students to really understand how to better close read. Often, when my students revise their essays, the close reading still remains lacking. This is one area I’m still at a loss to figure out, and Warnock doesn’t have many answer I like (comment banks and macros are rather frightening possibilities to me–they are so impersonal).

The theme in this post seems to be that I strive for a form of assessment that feels natural, decenters my authority, and is personal rather than mechanized.

Never Just Another Brick in the Wall: Genuine Online Response and Feedback

As Warnock humbly admits (137), so shall I, too: I give a lot of feedback, probably much more than is necessary. In my f2f classes the vast majority of my feedback is handwritten—I collect hard copies of my students’ assignments and write comments on the margins and spaces throughout. Additionally, I like to compose an end-of-reading reflection paragraph encompassing my major points for consideration. I also provide students with a rubric showing them where their paper falls on the argument, development, organization, language/mechanics, and various other assignment-specific criteria. I like giving my students this variety—if one student is very cerebral and prefers the exact numbers, they can focus on the rubric, which is also useful towards showcasing the course standards. The comments and reflection paragraph are more specific and detailed to the students’ strengths and areas that could use some focus.

However, all this handwriting is exhausting. My typing speed is around 80 wpm—my writing speed, on the other hand, is probably something horribly slow like 11 wpm. With writing taking over seven times longer than it takes to type the same comment, I’m long-overdue moving towards these newfangled grading programs.

I still think there is virtue in handwriting, specifically because it takes longer for me to write than to type. Handwriting makes me think carefully over how to comment, which means I usually write a bit more considerately than I would were I to type out the response instead. I never want to compromise the integrity of my feedback, especially when my students genuinely read and care about my observations. However, maintaining this care becomes a challenge when my hand starts cramping. And my head gets achy. And my wrist becomes sore. And oh, let’s not forget the stiff neck! We’ve all been down that road—I know many of us practically have timeshares on that street! Alright, the metaphor is running away from me, but my point is that grader’s fatigue is a very real thing that we all deal with. I’m hoping that electronic response can help to alleviate some (if not most) of it.

Since I still provide mostly handwritten feedback, I’m still new to these tools. However, here are a few I’m interested in:

  1. SpeedGrader: This is the one tool that really seems to rule them all. I haven’t used it yet, but I’m excited to start and have grandiose plans. I especially love SpeedGrader’s comment feature, view rubric feature, and media file attachment feature—this last in particular is the tool of my dreams, because it translates directly into AV comments! More on that later.
    1. The rubric is lovely because students are able to specifically see how many points they achieved for each criteria. I like how dynamic the rubric is—you can give comments as well as show where each rubric score falls on a spectrum.
    2. The comments are of course extremely useful, and probably the most helpful tool available for English instructors. If some evil magician robbed me of all my methods of responding to student writing save one, I’d hope he’d leave me with my commentary. I truly feel students need to see exactly where their papers do well and where they fall short—otherwise, they’re left just guessing, which isn’t conducive to the learning-growing writing process. Besides, who of us in the past hasn’t had a teacher or professor who gave notoriously confusing feedback? I had several myself, and would never want to be considered as such! Comments are so important, and the one feature that seems to pop up in most tech teaching tools.
    3. I also really like SpeedGrader’s draw and highlight tools—I see these as being particularly useful for syntax, spelling, and other language mechanics. I imagine I’d start off trying to note everything via the comment feature, but I would probably eventually use color coding for sentence craft. For example: yellow highlighting = run-on, purple highlighting = fragment, etc. The combination of typing my comments and using coding will help to greatly reduce the time I spend on feedback while simultaneously increasing the amount itself.
    4. Finally, there’s SpeedGrader’s record/upload media feature: AV feedback!!!! I’m ridiculously excited to use AV feedback, and am already considering it for my f2f classes. I absolutely love that you can use both audio and video recordings in SpeedGrader.

I think my tools use would be a combination of all of these: comments and draw/highlight for specific response throughout my students’ papers, rubric for explaining how they did criteria and standard-wise, and record/upload media for the end-of-paper reflection paragraph I compose.

… also, this last tool (the AV feature) is the answer to the biggest concern I’ve had regarding writing response: how can we encourage our students to actually read our electronic feedback?

The one reason it’s taken me so long to move to electronic evaluation is my belief in the genuine feelings handwriting transmits. Something that continues to surprise and embolden me is how much my students seem to actually read and consider my commentary. When I’ve briefly attempted electronic feedback in the past (mostly through the comment feature in Microsoft Word), students would at times ignore or fail to read my responses. This, wonderfully enough, hasn’t been much of a problem with handwritten critiques. I really do think there is something personal in each of our handwriting styles; a handwritten note, then, seems to reach my students a bit more directly.

I think providing students with even one minute of AV commentary can make a big difference between cold, almost robotic-sounding response and sincere, personal assessment. If they hear my voice, see my face, or watch a video of me going through their paper, I think they’ll be encouraged to pay more attention to my feedback. Warnock says he has a lot of success with AV feedback (131), and from a sociological standpoint, it makes complete sense. Therefore, when considering his success, I focused on two more tools I’m thinking of using when it comes to assessing student writing: Dragon and Skype.

2. Dragon NaturallySpeaking: I know very little about this program barring what I’ve heard from various colleagues at MiraCosta. It looks promising in that it allows a user to voice-to-text their comments. That’s all I know about it so far, other than I’d personally have to go through a serious learning curve to use it efficiently. Still, I definitely talk faster than I type, so it seems like a useful program.

3. Skype: I’m old-fashioned. I know there are spiffy new ways of conducting video-chats, but Skype—despite the occasional glitching—is fairly reliable. I’d like to use it to video conference students while reviewing their papers and going over revision reports. Again, anything to make the writing response process as personal as possible is my goal. In doing so, my hope is they’ll truly consider my feedback and advice.

Circling back, one last comment I want to mention is on Warnock’s advice to change our system of grading when teaching OWcourses. I think this absolutely makes sense and completely agree; there is going to be a lot more informal writing in an OWcourse, and I’d like to encourage my students to write as much as they can. Giving more weight to these informal responses seems like a very natural shift.

A risk in moving over to an OWcourse means students might feel like a brick in the wall or part of a machine (yep—I’ve had Pink Floyd stuck in my head throughout all of these chapter thanks to Warnock’s comments on robotic voices and inauthentic feedback!). Honestly though, I think this is a real risk. When taking online courses as a student, I never felt like my professors viewed or cared about me as an individual. As Warnock advises, by commenting on my students’ informal responses and weighing such posts, they will see that I am listening: I’m actually reading their posts, and my comments show I’m paying them attention.

A random idea I had during Chapter 10 was to create “icebreaker” posts for each lesson—I already take roll in my f2f classes by asking fun warm-up questions (like “where is the best place to get Italian food in north county?”). This proves, semester after semester, to be a lovely way to build classroom community. It’s also my sneaky way of getting them to relax and start talking. I think such an exercise would translate well into warm-up posts for each online session, and it wouldn’t take me very long to comment on them.

It is my hope that by implementing these practices paired with using AV that I’ll be able to develop just as much rapport with my OW students as I do in f2f classes.

WritingwithMachines in Fall 2018
curry mitchell

The inquisitive, pedagogy-nerds at WritingwithMachines are excited to resume our conversation about teaching, writing, and technology in the 2018 fall semester.

This semester, we are following the lead of our colleagues at MiraCosta and the CUE Equity-minded Teaching Institute who are focused on equity research, culturally sustaining pedagogies, and contemplative projects that facilitate more inclusive and meaningful learning experiences.

Pursuing this work, we will host a table at the Pedagogical Breakfast during MiraCosta’s FLEX week. We will welcome a cohort of new and returning faculty to the 2nd half of our 10-week Certification Sequence, which begins September 4th. We will also host 2-3 discussions over the course of the semester focused on pertinent topics:

  • Topic 1: technology and writing in the traditional, onsite classroom
  • Topic 2: contemplative projects in the digital writing classroom
  • Topic 3: equity-minded course design that facilitates recursive reading/writing experiences

Each of these discussion will kick off with an email invitation to all MiraCosta faculty to contribute resources, perspectives, questions, theories, hopes, and dreams to a discussion board in our Canvas site, which will be collected into an annotated bibliography. Over the course of a two-week window, those who are interested will explore the topic independently via research, classroom practices, skepticism, questions, and ambitious proposals. At the end of the two weeks, those who participate will be invited to join a culminating discussion in Zoom or, who knows, maybe we will help break in MiraCosta’s new Teaching and Learning Center! All time spent in any of the activities described above can be claimed for FLEX credit. The result of this work, including an archive of the meeting, will be published to this blog.

If you are interested in participating in these WritingwithMachines Discussions, please look for emails coming to your inbox throughout the semester. Also, if you are interested in completing or beginning our Certification Sequence, please email curry at

Thank you for taking the time to consider participating in our community of practice. Have an excellent semester.

My Final Post
My Final Post avatar

Hi All,

It was lovely to be able to learn from you all. I have enjoyed reading your posts, thinking deeply, and talking back and forth. I look forward to fall and more discussions.

I think the big take away for me from all of this is how amazing it is that a community of educators can come together and share such great insights and that you have all created such a wealth of resources and things to think about. The one other central theme that stand out from my posts and the discussions in general is that our students benefit from the flexibility that online technology offers, and we have the ability to create such rich spaces of engagement with the tools at our disposal. It is exciting and a bit overwhelming, but I think we are all up to the challenge.

Here are my posts:

Post 1- Technology in the WC

Post 2 My Framework

Post 3 Student Centered Learning

Post 4 process and Feedback

Post 5 Reading in the Writing Class

Yes, the essay assigned is based on a reading from class.
Yes, the essay assigned is based on a reading from class. avatar

In a writing class, the essay is almost always based upon class readings. So when students come into the writing center and ask why they need to mention the book, I usually ask them, “why do you think the instructor had you read the book?” and “How might the book help you write your essay?” these questions are usually followed by several beats of silence and deep thinking on the part of students.

When I was teaching writing at Sacramento State and Sac City College, I focused heavily on reading. I embedded modelling of how to read a text, created reading cohorts, did jigsawing, forced students to reflect on their reading process at the end of each paper they turned in. Their portfolio cover pages almost always had a nod to how often they re-visited a book or article, what type of notes they had to make to understand the readings.

Today, I tend to ask students who come into the center metacognitive questions about the reading for their class essay:

What part of the reading fits best into your intro paragraph? Why does that quote work as a hook and not the quote from your second body paragraph? So if a hook draws us in, how do you know that quote is hook worthy?

How did you come to choose this quote to back up your view that X is…..? How does this quote go back to your topic sentence?

What did you have to do to understand this article? Why did that reading strategy work for this novel? Did it work for the ted talk you watched on this topic? No? Why?

While I agree with some of what Wornock says about quizzing, I personally hate reading quizzes. One semester I asked students to create their own reading quiz questions based on some criteria I created. Then after they wrote them on the board, we revised the questions together and tightened up the “quiz” and each group gave their reading quiz question to another group. It was fun and it worked because in order to ask a really good, nuanced question meant they had to open their book and skim the reading again, think about how they would answer the question in order to write a good quality quiz question that made the reader think. I imagine it could be used in an online class.

But back to the meta questions. I think students need more practice reading and using meta questions as they read. They can create those questions both about their reading process and the content of the reading itself.


Auf Wiedersehen, not goodbye!

In German we have this wonderful word that means, until we meet again (in the Fall). So, it truly is not goodbye.  First and foremost a special thanks to Curry and Sullivan and the team for helping us navigate through the adventures of online teaching.  Secondly, thanks to all of you, my classmates, for your creative insight and feedback. I’ve certainly learned some great new methodologies, practices and ideas that I plan to implement into my online teaching.  Thank you and I wish you all a wonderful summer and I look forward to part two!

Below are my reflections on our class discussions: