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Posts from the ‘ENG102’ Category

10
Jan

Converting Files from PDF to Word for Power of Process

There’s a great feature in McGraw-Hill’s Connect Composition called Power of Process. “Power of Process guides students through performance-based assessment activities that require them to apply active reading and writing strategies while demonstrating critical thinking and analysis of a reading selection with their own writing.” It’s truly a great tool for teaching students to critically read and annotate research articles for research papers. The only problem is the program only accepts doc and docx files. The way my assignment works is students do research and then upload the articles they find into the Connect Composition Power of Process assignment. The first assignment is a web search assignment, so most students find web articles, but the second assignment is a periodical database search and many of those articles are PDF files. In both cases students must turn the content they find into a Word document.

toepubThe first is easy, as student simply cut and paste the web content in a word processing program of their choice and export as a doc or docx file. Done. I don’t even have to tell them how to do that, but with the PDF files, many students are stumped. One tool that I’ve found to help with this is To ePub. To ePub allows you to convert PDF and other types of documents to a variety of ebook formats, but it also works the other way. It converts PDF to doc, docx, text, image, and png. It also allows you to combine multiple PDF files into one.  It does the job.

If you find yourself in need of a Word document instead of the PDF file, check out To ePub.

28
Feb

The Pressure is on for English Teachers

freshmancompI 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
  • Research

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.

12
Nov

Annotating Online Sources Using Diigo

diigoIf you have any need for annotating webpages or PDFs for a research project, then Diigo is the tool for you. Diigo is a social bookmarking website which allows signed-up users to bookmark and tag web-pages. Additionally, it allows users to highlight any part of a webpage and attach sticky notes to specific highlights or to a whole page. This is especially helpful for students working on research projects, as Diigo is web based and free.

I’ve shared information about Diigo previously, Using Social Bookmarking in Research Assignments, so check that post out as well. But in this post I want to share with you how to set up an assignment for students to create a modified annotated bibliography. The gist of the assignment is: Students will search for and find web articles relevant to their research projects and create an annotated bibliography with those sources.

  1. Go to http://diigo.com and click Sign Up. getdiigo You can apply for a teacher account option here, after you have signed up.
  2. The next step is to set up in a group for your class. Watch a video to learn how to set up a group in Diigo. Groups are nice for organization by class, but not necessary.
  3. Next get students signed up for Diigo. Send them to http://diigo.com and click Sign Up. You can set up accounts for students, but that’s more appropriate for K-12 students who need more guidance and greater privacy.
  4. Then give them this assignment: Annotated Bibliography Using Diigo

PDF annotation can be done by first uploading the PDF file and then opening it within your Diigo library, or alternatively and often more conveniently, by opening it directly in the browser and using the Diigo browser extension for Chrome and Firefox. (extensions for IE, Safari, and Opera currently do not support this capability)

Diigo is free with an option to Go Pro for a few extra features. They also have educator accounts. There is a heavy focus on education with this tool, so if you sign up with an educator account, you’ll end up with a Teacher Console area where you can manage all of your classes (groups).

Here’s How it Works

14
Oct

ENG102 Research Assignment – Odyssey V: Locating Reference Sources

Back in January I blogged about the research assignments I use in my ENG102 course. I call these assignments Odyssey assignments to put emphasis on their importance. You can read more about that in the first assignment: Odyssey I. I thought it would be a nice addition to share the assignments too. So if you haven’t done so, revisit the first post and then come back and view the assignments.

We do this assignment in Week 10, and prior to doing the assignments students are instructed to view the following lessons: Reference Sources (but I haven’t created it yet), so they read these handouts:

Assignment #9 – Odyssey V: Locating Reference Sources

Instructional Objectives

In this assignment students will:

  1. refine strategies for understanding and evaluating sources,
  2. refine strategies for searching library catalog systems for reference sources, and
  3. practice note taking skills by writing paraphrases, summaries and quoting sources.

How do I find reference sources using the Library Catalog?

The Library Catalog contains records for both print and online reference sources. Below are some suggestions which will help you locate reference materials when you search the Library Catalog. Since we have already searched online sources. This assignment will focus only on reference sources housed in a physical library.

Tips for Finding Specific Types of Reference Sources

Click on the handout to access this material. Inside are some suggestions for locating specific types of reference sources based on Library of Congress Subject Headings.

  • Almanacs and Factbooks
  • Atlases and Gazetteers
  • Biographical Sources
  • Book Reviews
  • Catalogs
  • Citation Manuals
  • Dictionaries (English)
  • Dictionaries (Non-English)
  • Dictionaries (Subject Specific)
  • Directories
  • Encyclopedias
  • Grammar and Usage
  • Quotations
  • Thesauri

Assignment #9 Instructions

After you have read the handout on Finding Reference Sources Using the Library Catalog, grab the  Library of Congress Classification Outline handout to use as a guide. You can also get the handout in the GCC library. You MUST visit a local library to do this assignment. NO ONLINE sources can be used for Part I of this assignment. Using the four basic types of reference works: almanacs, encyclopedias, dictionaries, and quotation books, complete the following instructions:

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14
Oct

ENG102 Research Assignment – Odyssey IV: Scholarly Journal Search

Back in January I blogged about the research assignments I use in my ENG102 course. I call these assignments Odyssey assignments to put emphasis on their importance. You can read more about that in the first assignment: Odyssey I. I thought it would be a nice addition to share the assignments too. So if you haven’t done so, revisit the first post and then come back and view the assignments.

We do this assignment in Week 9, and prior to doing the assignments students are instructed to view the following lessons:

Assignment #8 – Odyssey IV: Scholarly Journal Search

Instructional Objectives

In this assignment students will:

  1. refine strategies for understanding and evaluating sources.
  2. refine strategies for searching online database systems for scholarly articles, and
  3. practice note taking skills by writing paraphrases, summaries and quoting sources

Searching Scholarly Journals

I. Go to the GCC library website: http://lib.gccaz.edu/lmc/ or click the Library Resources tab on the left. From the GCC Library Homepage, click on the Articles & Databases link in the left column or at the top in blue. Choose the Academic Search Premier database from the General list. This scholarly collection offers journal, magazine, and newspaper articles in nearly every area of academic study including: computer sciences, engineering, physics, chemistry, language and linguistics, arts & literature, medical sciences, ethnic studies, etc. as well as 180,000 searchable images.

If you are accessing the GCC library from off campus, you will need to log in with your MEID and password. There is help on the login page if you need it, and you can always click the link to

Once you’re in, Click on Advanced Search.

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14
Oct

ENG102 Research Assignment – Odyssey III: Locating Periodicals in Databases

Back in January I blogged about the research assignments I use in my ENG102 course. I call these assignments Odyssey assignments to put emphasis on their importance. You can read more about that in the first assignment: Odyssey I. I thought it would be a nice addition to share the assignments too. So if you haven’t done so, revisit the first post and then come back and view the assignments.

We do this assignment in Week 6, and prior to doing the assignments students are instructed to view the following lesson: Lesson 6.2 Periodicals & Databases

Assignment #6: Odyssey III – Locating Periodicals in Databases   

Instructional Objectives

In this assignment students will:

  1. refine strategies for searching the online database systems.
  2. and practice note taking skills by writing paraphrases and quoting sources

A Little Humor About Using Databases Instead of Google

Odyssey III Steps:

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14
Oct

ENG102 Research Assignment – Odyssey II: Locating Books

Back in January I blogged about the research assignments I use in my ENG102 course. I call these assignments Odyssey assignments to put emphasis on their importance. You can read more about that in the first assignment: Odyssey I. I thought it would be a nice addition to share the assignments too. So if you haven’t done so, revisit the first post and then come back and view the assignments.

We do this assignment in Week 5, and prior to doing the assignments students are instructed to view the following lesson: Lesson 5.2 Documenting Sources Using MLA Format (UHV source)

Assignment #5 – Odyssey II: Locating Books

Instructional Objectives

In this assignment students will:

  1. refine strategies for searching the online card catalog systems,
  2. and practice note taking skills by writing paraphrases and quoting sources

How to Search the Online Library Catalog

A library catalog provides information about the books, periodicals, videos, databases, and other materials owned by a library. In the past, library catalogs were kept on cards in wooden drawers. Today, it is common for the records to be kept online, allowing you to search them by computer. Regardless of the form of access, the function is the same: to describe the materials owned by the library so that you can locate them by author, title, or subject. Read the online presentation: How to Search the Online Library Catalog.

Locating Books

Successful research depends on creating and using an appropriate and useful vocabulary. You will run into many new words and ideas about your subject during your research. Add these words to your research list. Label them New Words. List at least five new words. The card catalog should give you strong access to our collection if you use the vocabulary you developed in the previous odyssey creatively in the subject, keyword, and even author fields. You may use the school library or a local public library, but you should visit a library for this assignment. Visit the school library site: http://lib.gccaz.edu/lmc/opac.cfm

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14
Oct

ENG102 Research Assignment – Odyssey I: Locating Sources on the Internet

Back in January I blogged about the research assignments I use in my ENG102 course. I call these assignments Odyssey assignments to put emphasis on their importance. You can read more about that in the first assignment below. I thought it would be a nice addition to share the assignments too. So if you haven’t done so, revisit the first post and then come back and view the assignments.

We do this assignment in Week 3, and prior to doing the assignments students are instructed to view the following lessons:

Assignment #3 – Odyssey I: Locating Sources on the Internet

Instructional Objectives

In this assignment students will:

  1. further developed their ability to read critically,
  2. refine strategies of academic research, including searching the internet using two different strategies and compiling a list of sources (working bibliography),
  3. and refine paraphrasing skills.

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28
Apr

MIL Research Project: Social Bookmarking/Diigo Discussions

The following post is part of my MIL research project and is the third of four posts that describe the asynchronous discussion assignments I used in the study: peer review/small group discussion, medium group discussion with very directive  guidelines, social bookmarking with Diigo discussions, and multimedia discussion forums. 

Giving that the ENG102 course is research based, having students collaboration and share in the research process is invaluable. This is easily done with the help of social media sites like Diigo or Delicious. Diigo is a social bookmarking web service that not only allows for one to save and share bookmarked websites, but also to highlight, take notes, grab images and write comments on said web sites and save them all with tags and categories for easy access via any web browser anywhere one has internet access. It’s a great tool for doing research. With Diigo research doesn’t have to be a solitary activity. In this case, students are beginning the research process with a pre-research activity where the goal is to discover possible topics for an argumentative essay that fits the class theme of personal freedoms. Most students at this point don’t have an idea about what to write about, so not only are they exploring for themselves, but all of their ideas are saved and shared with the whole class.

The instructor can set up a group in Diigo which provides the class with a single URL to access the group bookmarks and discussions. It also permits the instructor to limit participation to only students in the class. Students can be invited to the group via email or they can sign up individually at the group page. For the assignment, students are instructed to save 10 websites with personal freedoms themes, tag the sites with our class tag (personal+freedoms or “personal freedoms”) as well as other relevant tags, and then write a 2-3 sentence summary of what the web site is about and why it could be valuable for someone who chooses this topic. This assignment is easily converted into an asynchronous discussion assignment by additionally requiring students to read back through the group’s bookmark list and comments and then comment on bookmarks that look interesting to them. Students can also “like” saved bookmarks that they think are best suited for the class by clicking a thumbs up symbol next to each bookmark. The compiled list of bookmarks gives the students a starting place for exploring possible paper topics and a place to discuss those topics.

The first image below shows what the Diigo group list looks like with student bookmarks, comments, likes and tags. Read moreRead more

23
Apr

MIL Research Project: Medium Group Discussions – Prompt and Group Size Matters

The following post is part of my MIL research project and is the second of four posts that describe the asynchronous discussion assignments I used in the study: peer review/small group discussion, medium group discussion with very directive  guidelines, social bookmarking with Diigo discussions, and multimedia discussion forums. 

Successful discussion is all in the discussion prompt and size of the group. It’s pretty much a given that whole class discussion for classes with more than 20 students are not that effective because of the volume of content 20+ students can create, so dividing the class in half or in medium sized (5-10) groups can be beneficial and better for discussion. If students are overwhelmed with the volume of posts to read and respond to, often they opt out completely or try to participate partially. This means that they aren’t reading all the posts and thus not truly participating in the discussion. This is understandable; therefore, it’s best to create a discussion that minimizes the quantity of posts to allow students to be able to thoroughly read and participate in a discussion. Most LMS’s permit instructors to set up multiple discussions and assign students to select ones. If not, instructors can still set up multiple and instruct students as to which they are to participate. A helpful tip here is to set the options to “students must reply before seeing comments.” This prevents students from one group from reading and copying content from other groups they are not members of.

The number of participants in a discussion is not the only factor in its success. The questions or topics you have students discuss also play a factor. Discussion prompts are the written “springboard” from which online discussions are launched and are essential to encourage shared understanding (Du, Zhang, Olinzock, & Adams, 2008). Taking into consideration your purpose for the discussion, let that drive your discussion prompt. “Explicitly described and well-structured prompts support the students to interact and co-construct higher order knowledge” (Pedagogical Repository). For instance, in my ENG102 class, students are writing argumentative essays, so they are learning how to address opposing views and counter arguments in their papers. To help with this process, I have students participate in a discussion where each student is asked to present an argument that supports the thesis of the paper they are writing and briefly explain it to the group. Other students in the group are then instructed to provide a possible opposing view to that argument. Again they are asked to briefly explain the opposing view. And as a follow up each student who posted an original argument must now offer a counter argument to the opposing view that was posted in response to their argument. This gets students thinking about possible opposing view that they may not have thought of, but it also gives them the opportunity to test their counter argument skills. The discussion can end there or students can be instructed to provide feedback on whether they feel the counter argument was effective or whether or not it was presented correctly (accommodate or refute). It becomes a learning opportunity as well as another opportunity for students to provide feedback and connect with one another.

There are many alternatives to the usual whole class discussions that ask students to comment on readings in general. More focused and directive discussion prompts will get a better response from students. In her study, Nancy Bryant stated one of her biggest insights as, “The format and topic of the prompts influenced the amount of internalization for the students, as well as impacting the amount of self-directed research the students were willing to initiate. When the student had some control over their topic and format, their participation and quality of posts increased. The students asked more questions of one another and also generated more quality responses” (Brunsell). Check out the article for more common themes related to asynchronous discussion.

Related Posts: MIL Research Project: Peer Review & Asynchronous Discussion