I teach English at GCC. Technically I teach Freshman Composition, but we say English when asked what we teach. Composition is writing. This is a very interesting considering I majored in English Literature. You know: Beowulf, Shakespeare, Austen, Joyce and Lawrence. I was never taught to write beyond ENG101 and ENG102 in undergrad, but I was expected to do it in every literature class I took. I eventually graduated with a degree in English Literature. So what kind of job does one get with a degree in English Literature? Education or teaching is the number one option. So here I am, teaching English at GCC.
What you can garner from that short story is that most college students get very few opportunities to learn how to write, even when you are studying to be an English teacher. I eventually earned a masters degree in education where I learned to teach writing, but composition classes prior to that were minimal. That is why ENG101 and ENG102 for our students is so crucial. For most it will be their only opportunity to learn to write for their college careers and life in general. Those important skills they learn in Freshman Composition include:
- Written and other communication skills
- Understanding complex ideas and theories
So the pressure is on for English teachers – ENG101 and ENG102 teachers. These are important skills that go beyond just writing an essay. We’re trying to teach students to think critically, read critically, research critically, and then write. That’s what makes Freshman Composition challenging for students. For the most part, students know how to write or they should considering they just spend four years in high school learning how to do it. But college writing is different. There’s more at stake considering this may be students only chance to learn these skills. Yet many students don’t see the importance of these two courses. They take it for granted.
As I sit here reflecting and writing, I’m all that more thankful for the English teachers I had at Phoenix College and Yavapai College. Because with out that foundation those instructors instilled in me, I really don’t think I’d be doing what I’m doing today. And I don’t just mean teaching English. I mean blogging and writing all over the internet in social media sites, writing emails to my colleagues, and writing in my profession. I’m thankful I have the skills, written and other communication skills, critical thinking skills, and research skills, to do my job and do it well.
At GCC we have another option for conducting online peer review assignments in the composition course. I previously posted about the option I use in Connect Composition, but today I want to share with you a 2nd way that a few of our faculty are using. Below is the method that Gary Lawrence uses. I posted previously about his heads up about this process, but this post will give a few more details on how it all works. He even shared a video below that he made for students to show them the peer review process.
It’s not a perfect process, but it works well enough if you don’t have access to Connect Composition. It requires that students have MS Word to be able to “track changes” and leave comments on the documents. There are work arounds for that, but it might further complicate the process. Below is an image Gary created for students to explain the peer review process to them. Read more
Below is a guest post from Gary Lawrence, adjunct English faculty member teaching online and hybrid at GCC. He shares his experience with doing peer reviews using Canvas and points out one minor flaw in Canvas that everyone should be aware of to help out this process. If you have any questions, let me know and I’ll pass them on to Gary.
This is the way the peer review process works in Canvas: As part of a draft assignment, I usually let Canvas assign the peer reviews automatically. The cleanest way to do that, I think, is to “lock” submissions, so you don’t have a bunch of late contenders to deal with. So under the draft assignment, I give a due date, and then I select “more options” (shown in blue box below) and check “require peer reviews,” “automatically assign peer reviews,” pick the number of reviews per student, tell Canvas when to assign the peer reviews (default = assignment due date), and then “lock submits after (date)” to keep it clean. I also happen to restrict inputs to .doc or .docx files so students can use “track changes” features of MS Word for line comments.
Many community colleges have experienced a growth in students over the past few years, and with a limited number of classrooms available, many colleges are trying to find a way to accommodate the needs of all of these new students. We’ve managed to meet this need by offering more online and hybrid freshman composition courses. Online courses obviously are not for everyone, but what about blended learning? This presentation will demonstrate how I created and now teach blended composition courses that meet the needs of all types of students (dev-ed to honors) by incorporated good course design, gaming, challenged based learning, self directed learning and multimedia elements. I will discuss basic design steps for developing a blended course, as well as discuss the pedagogy and tools necessary to make it a success.
- Course Design
- Self Directed Learning
Presentation Slides: TYCAWestBlendedCoursesRock.pdf
I’m about one semester away from teaching a fully mobilized ENG101 course. What do I mean by a mobilize course and mobile learning? Mobile learning is learning that happens when the learner takes advantage of the learning opportunities offered by mobile technologies. Mobile gadgets are everywhere, and just about every student has a mobile phone in his/her pocket. Why not take advantage of these learning tools, as like to refer to them?
So this semester I introduced a mobile learning opportunity to my students in the ENG101 class. I created content that could be viewed, read, watched and listened to on a mobile device. Then I created this video to tell students about it. How they take advantage of what I’ve created and to what extent is yet to be seen.
For two semesters now, I’ve written into the plans an option for students to do a video essay for the argumentative essay instead of writing a traditional position paper. So far only two students have attempted a video, with mixed reviews. In the first case, the student did a good job with using the technology, but the argument itself was a bit confusing. It’s unclear if this is due to the use of the technology or if the student just had trouble rationalizing her argument. In a written paper it is easy to quickly dismiss the argument as poorly written and unsupported by the evidence in the paper. But with a video, it is not as clear. With so few students choosing this option, it seems a waste of time to dig into supporting arguments in video form. This is something I will have to do as more and more students choose to do video.
Presently this is the only criteria I have listed in the instructions:
- 3-5 Minutes in length
- documentation required (use APA style)
- work needs to make a claim and support it (in other words, this work should have a thesis and support that thesis just like the position paper)
- research (at the very least, for images, video, and audio) required
Grade will be determined by how well video essay meets criteria and how the essay is suited/developed for the video format.
In preparation, I ask students to:
You will need to script your work. Beyond the obvious (you need to determine what claim you will make and how you will support it), you should storyboard your work. An easy way to do this is by creating a table using a wiki (why a wiki? this way, you can keep it as a resource for your final portfolio). To create a storyboard, simply create a two column table in a document. In the left hand side you may put an image or a description of an image. In the right hand side, place any notes or voice overs that you may include. I’d suggest you list your purpose in a brief heading/ abstract.
I found most of this assignment on the internet and have adapted it to fit my needs for this assignment. I also had to update the technology instructions to fit the tools available today. I give them an example of the storyboard and then give them some steps to follow in creating their video using Windows Movie Maker. Students are required to submit their storyboard and a works cited page with the video essay. I won’t have an example until we work out all the kinks or until a student knocks this assignment out of the park.
I’ve been experimenting with flash players for my weekly podcasts in my freshman composition courses. I this one from MyFlashFetish.com was pretty cool. I’ll paste the code into the course blog and see how students like it.
I made this music player at MyFlashFetish.com.