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Posts from the ‘Teaching’ Category

10
Feb

Peer Review Writing Assignments Online with Connect Composition

Three years ago when we did our last book adoption, one of the features we were looking for was a way to do peer reviews on student essays in an online environment. We chose a McGraw-Hill text because they had a tool that does this well. The tool is called Connect Composition and it comes packaged with our traditional textbook. Also built into our version of Connect is an online handbook, The McGraw-Hill Handbook. But within Connect we have the ability to set up peer review writing assignments. We can schedule the number of drafts we want to have for the writing assignment, choose pre-made review questions or write our own, and choose the size and makeup of the groups. It’s a pretty slick way to do peer reviews, and it’s really easy for students.

Below I created a video for students showing them how to participate in our most recent peer review writing assignment. Feel free to use this video with your own students if you are using Connect in your classes.

27
Jan

Turn Q&A into Discusions in Your Online Class

QAI’ve talked about Piazza before, but that was before I really had a chance to use it. I introduced it to students in my online ENG102 course last semester, but I think students asked about 3 questions all semester. They resorted to texting and emailing me most of the semester, and I pretty much didn’t enforce the “Ask Piazza rule.” But this semester, not only am I insisting that students use Piazza to ask questions, I’m also using it for discussions. This is part of my MIL project I’m working on this semester.

Using Piazza is very easy, especially since Piazza has an LTI that lets you integrate the tool right into Canvas. So I have a button on the menu bar that opens Piazza right in the Canvas window. It also takes the user information from Canvas to authenticate the user in Piazza, so they only have to log in once (to Canvas) and then they can go straight to Piazza without having to log in again there. I think I’ve already talked about how the Q&A works in Piazza. This post is more about using it as a discussion forum.

In Piazza instructors and students can ask questions or post notes in the Q&A forum. If they post a question, users are prompted to supply an answer to the question. Instructors have a place to answer and students have a separate box to answer in. Student answers are like a wiki. Other students can edit the answer to try to improve it. The instructor can then mark the answer as a “Good Answer.” I plan to use this feature in some manner later down the road. For now, I’m using the “notes” posts for small group discussions. When you post a note, users are not prompted for an answer, but are encouraged to post “followup discussions.” Follow up discussions let students post their own responses and then let’s others reply. Each student can post a followup discussion within a note. Read moreRead more

26
Jan

Common Assessment in ENG102 – Evaluating Web Sources

For two years we’ve been discussing a common assessment tool to use in all of our freshman composition courses at GCC, from ENG071 all the way up to ENG102. I participate in the ENG102 assessment group since I teach that course every semester. The course competency that we decided to focus on was: Find, evaluate, select, and synthesize both online and print sources that examine a topic from multiple perspectives. Our course competencies are so broad, as you can see, so we started by writing several Student Learning Objectives (SLO).

We then choose SLO 3: Locate at least one online source and determine the credibility of it by evaluating the validity of information contained within each source. We came up with a few tools that we could use for this assessment in our individual classes. This semester we have started to collect data from this common assessment, but I think we still have some ironing out to do.

Screen shot 2013-01-26 at 6.20.43 PM Read moreRead more

25
Jan

Send Students on an Odyssey When Doing Research

Screen shot 2013-01-26 at 5.31.41 PMIn my ENG102 Freshman Composition course I have 10 assignments and four papers that students do before they submit their final research projects. Five of the assignments are research assignments and are required in order to submit a final paper. I named the research assignments Odysseys, something I borrowed from a colleague years ago when I first started teaching at CAC. The whole idea of the Odyssey assignments is to get students practicing several research skills in one assignment that are directly related to their final projects. This is how I introduce these assignments to students.

What is an Odyssey?

An odyssey, famous for a Greek epic poem (attributed to Homer) describing the journey of Odysseus after the fall of Troy, is a long wandering and eventful journey. This is a perfect description for writing a research paper. It’s not something that we put together in a day. Writing a research paper is a long wandering and eventful journey, so some of the key journeys in this process have been labeled odysseys to indicate their importance. All Odyssey assignments are required and must be submitted in order for your final paper to be accepted. No skipping Odysseys. They are mandatory.

The Odyssey assignments include: Read moreRead more

22
Jan

What Do Students Learn by Using Social Bookmarking Site Diigo?

Initially students don’t care too much for Diigo when I introduce it in an assignment in Week 2 of the semester. They’re still trying to get used to all the other new technology in the online course, and Diigo is almost the stone that breaks the camel’s back. But not quite. They warm up to it as the course moves on. I’ve questioned whether having students use yet another technology tool is too much for them to deal with, but the advantages of what they learn and experience by using it out weighs any reservations I may have had.

So, what exactly are the advantages of having students use this social bookmarking tool? First, they are in the exploratory phase of their research projects. They’re still trying to figure out what good topics are, so in order to not have them wondering alone in this process, I have them sharing ideas. Diigo allows for students to share bookmarks with each other in a group area. All of the sites saved in the group show up for all to see. Screen shot 2013-01-22 at 10.59.01 PM

As shown in the image above, I teach students about taxonomy. Taxonomy is a way to group things together using tags. It makes it easier for students to find common topics within the group posts. Students are supposed to use the class theme tag: “personal+freedoms” along with 5 of their own tags based on the subject of the site bookmarked. Diigo then creates a tag list (right below) for the group so students can look at the most popular topics that emerge during the search process. Rights, laws, health and the constitution are all popular with students. Read moreRead more

22
Jan

Social Bookmarking in the Freshman Composition Research Class

I can still remember when Delicious was all the rage. Remember when you had to remember where all the periods went – del.icio.us. I’m not sure I got it right, but those were the days. Then Delicious got bought by Yahoo! and was shelved. Then Yahoo! sold it to the current owners who have, to their credit, tried to regain the hold on the social bookmarking space. But that is all for not, as Diigo took the opportunity to step in when Delicious struggled and created a more education centric service that still thrives today.

I’ve used Diigo in my Freshman Composition ENG102 courses now for about 5-6 years. It’s a research class, so I like to get students started in the research process with something easy – Googling and sharing what they find with each other. I set up the assignment to get students to explore the course theme: personal freedoms to help narrow the focus of their individual research topics. I’ve posted the meat of the assignment below.

Setting Up & Using Diigo

We will use Diigo throughout the semester to keep track of the websites we find during the research process. When you save a webpage, it’s called bookmarking. Diigo is a social bookmarking site. It’s social because it allows for all of us to share our bookmarks with each other. It’s like a big researching party!

Watch this screencast: Setting Up & Using Diigo to learn how to set-up and use Diigo.

Assignment Steps Read moreRead more

14
Jan

They’re Here! They’re Here! Finally

We’ve been talking about the so called Digital Natives and the Millennials being the tech generation for years. But I just haven’t seen them in my classes. My students have not only not shown an interest in technology, but often struggled with the technology I used in my classes. But not this semester. In the first class of the Spring 2013 semester, the Digital Natives showed up! Yippee!

First, while Cindy (Co-Teacher) was talking about critical thinking with the class, she asked what a word meant. I wasn’t paying attention (Ha!), so I missed the word, but the student sitting in front of me grabbed her phone and started “messing around” with it. I didn’t pay her any mind either until Cindy called on her. She took one last look at the phone and then apologetically said “I was looking it up,” and then recited her answer to the class. She thought she was doing something wrong, but I was secretly praising her. It wasn’t like it was a vocab word she was supposed to have learned before coming to class. It was a spur of the moment, what does that mean type of question, and she gave the answer. Nice work young lady.

ENGCRECircle

Our Learning Community Circle on Google+

During my part of the learning community class, I was teaching students how to get their Google+ accounts set up, and a student asked if she could get G+ on her phone, and if I knew how to get her school email to forward to her regular Gmail account on her phone. I think if I’d let her, she would have asked me how to do a bunch of other stuff too. We didn’t have time, but I was thrilled that she wanted to know, and thrilled that she is already thinking about managing her tech life. Read moreRead more

10
Jan

How Do You Check for Website Validity and Plagiarism?

I got a question yesterday from a colleague about checking website validity. I wasn’t sure I understood the question that was asked, so I’m not sure I answered it correctly. She asked: Is it possible that we could learn more ways to “clear” websites as to content validity. I took this to mean that they wanted to be able to run website content through a plagiarism detector to see if the site was using content without properly citing it. I had heard of a few tools, so I shared the following.

We used to be able to run text through the plagiarism detector in Bb, but not any longer now that we’ve moved to Canvas. We should have a new district wide plagiarism detection tool by the end of this semester or summer, so there could be a way to have students check text using this tool once we get it. There are also a few online plagiarism detectors. I haven’t used them yet, but I may this semester.

I think the last two get at what the questioner was asking, at least I hope. If you’ve used any of these plagiarism tools, leave me a comment to let me know how it worked out for you.

9
Jan

Making Online Lit Classes Work – The Secret Sauce

I’ve been teaching online literature courses for four years now. My lit of choice is ENH295: Banned Books and Censorship. I’m still scarred from traditional American and British lit from college, and those courses were already in the capable hands of my colleagues who also teach literature online at GCC. So I went for Banned Books. Makes me feel like a rebel or something, but I like it and the students seem to as well.

Many often wonder how we make online literature courses work when the core element in the face to face class is discussion. We read, analyze and discuss. Well, we also have to write, so moving a course like this online is quite simple actually. We use discussion forums and blogs. This was problematic in the past with our LMS, so I moved the course over to a WordPress blog years ago. I’ve since moved the core content back to our new LMS Canvas, but the blog still remains a central part of the online course. I only moved the core content back for a secure gradebook. I was always nervous about having my grades in the cloud of a non-approved web service in past.

So let’s talk about this blog and how it works for the online lit class.

enh295web Read moreRead more

4
Jan

Playing with Google+ in my Hybrid Class

gplusLast year I taught two semesters in a hybrid learning community with my colleague and friend Cindy Ortega. We met one day a week for 2 1/2 hours. The other 2 1/2 hours was spent online. I taught ENG102 Freshman Composition and she taught CRE101 Critical Reading. Both classes when you look at the competencies are very similar, focusing on critical reading, writing and thinking. And of course we both teach research because we have to have something to read, write and think about. Our theme for the course was Food Waste and Sustainability, so we had students read the book American Wasteland and watch several movies about sustainability. This semester we watch Lester Brown’s Plan B movie and in the fall we watched No Impact Man. All of our content revolved around the ideas from the book and movie.

So with such an important topic, we thought it would be great to encourage students to be transparent in their work in the course, as what they were discussing and writing about would be relevant to all. With that in mind, I suggested we use Google+ as a blogging platform for students not just share their journals posts with us, but with the world. We did it for two semesters and students loved it. I’ll try to explain how it all worked out. Read moreRead more