Work together, Know Yourself, and Keep Sharing

Response to Scott Warnock’s Teaching Writing Online, Chapters 16-18

The theme of storing communication and writing information in one place repeats n Scott Warnock’s book. While he explores the larger world of resources on the Internet in Chapter 18, Warnock ties his points together by stressing whether you store students’ responses, high-stakes assignments, or emails from students; all documents should be in teachers’ folders, subfolders, and a designated spot in the CMS system, or on a blog. The most successful teachers and professors organize their contacts or documents in one place. They give a document a precise name. For example, BeccaBridgesAnnotatedBib.doc. Everything has a label and a place. I believe this primary example connects to chapter 17 because your assessment from students and of yourself will be better if asynchronous communication and assignments have a designated spot.


Courtesy of cafepress.com.



Courtesy of apartmenttherapy.com. Just as Sheldon feels comfort in knowing his spot on the couch is always there, students should feel comfort in knowing exactly where their documents are kept. They know their professors store their emails and communications. In chapter 16, teachers value each other’s communication and resources. They also learn to store them in one place.

Warnock again stresses the importance of storing resources and communication in one place in chapter 16. This becomes an important tool for teams of teachers. I liked chapter 16 because it discusses how the online environment becomes less stressful when teachers work together by collaborating online. They share content or ideas to lessen the strain of work individually. Warnock writes that teams of teachers “can design general course materials tailored for individual sections …” (163). One strength of Google Drive, if teachers do not have a CMS system, is that teachers can create folders within the program. Teachers can upload materials from other places, including old documents, into the designated Google drive folder. Every teacher with whom you share the folder receives comfort in knowing they can access the materials.

Warnock presents an important point at the end of chapter 16, which significantly connects with chapter 17’s focus on assessment. He writes that “less than 30 percent of full-time faculty who teach online receive detailed training about how to do so” (166). If teachers fail to understand their strengths and weaknesses when teaching online, they might not know the best ways to assess themselves. For example, Warnock suggests that some professors use surveys. While they might be useful, surveys fail to give instructors a complete picture of how they’re doing with teaching online.

According to Warnock, teachers should “draw on vast number of texts” from students and those created by teachers (169). By using discussions from message boards or blogs, teachers gain information about students’ understanding of text material. Teachers see whether or not students are engaging with text, writing, and their peers. Teachers consider how students interact online based on the information from blogs, emails, or also synchronous conversations.

In chapter 18, Warnock expands on what tools and books teachers can use to improve their online or hybrid courses. As a teacher, I am interested in using Rita-Marie Conrad and J. Ana Donaldson’s section in Engaging the Online Learner about “using games and simulations” (173). When students engage in familiar content with which they find intriguing, they are more likely to interact with material and classmates. I think it will also build a collaborative environment because students may practice their communication skills with one another.

When Warnock reminds me of the colleges which provide the strengths and weaknesses of “different CMS packages” from chapter 3, I believe these websites are important for teachers because they may evaluate systems their schools use. Interested in research, I like to know which CMS work better than others and why. Which features am I most interested in? That is a question the websites can answer.

Bibliography

Warnock, Scott W. “Virtual Teaching Circles: Leveraging Teacher Time and Effort.” Teaching Writing Online. Urbana: National Council of Teachers of English, 2009. 163-167. Print.

Warnock, Scott W. “Course Assessment: Taking Steps toward Knowing How Well We Are Doing.” Teaching Writing Online. Urbana: National Council of Teachers of English, 2009. 168-171. Print.

Warnock, Scott W. “Resources: A World of Help Out There.” Teaching Writing Online. Urbana: National Council of Teachers of English, 2009. 172-178. Print.


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They’re my Words (Sort of): Plagiarism

Response to Scott Warnock’s Chapter 15

Teachers and students have misconceptions about plagiarism.

According to Scott Warnock, some teachers might have taken an aggressive approach towards students who plagiarize, but most of the time, “students often do not know they have plagiarized” (157). How is this possible? It all comes down to discussion. Let students become a part of the exploration and discussion. Ask them how do we credit others’ ideas? What style of writing should we use? What is different about giving an author credit in a news article versus an academic paper? Warnock states that this is an approach teachers should take because it promotes discussion about writing, credit, and research (157). Just as we want to teach students how to review and talk online, we want them to know that giving credit legally and ethically matters.

A comic courtesy of Randy Glasbergen at glasbergen.com. Warnock writes that the students he worries about plagiarizing is the “lazy student who buys a paper and slaps it up as his or her own …” (157).

To discourage plagiarism, OWCourses are made to encourage an open environment where everyone writes and reads each other’s work. A fresh pair of eyes make a difference. Warnock said when everyone in class participates in creating an honest culture online, it limits or eliminates plagiarism (153). The idea of an open discussion or online class reiterates Warnock’s point about the importance of peer review from earlier chapters. When students spend time looking at each other’s work, they get to know writing styles. They’re not talking face-to-face in class, so they get to know their classmates in a different way. Students may spot something dishonest in another student’s writing, and share it with the professor.

However, I prefer Warnock’s positive reinforcement of peer review, which discourages plagiarism. Students use one another’s post or blog as sources. They learn how to cite their work. Warnock states that even the student who buys a paper must incorporate classmates’ quotes or points with this assignment (155).

Another way to deter students from plagiarizing includes low-stakes assignments. Warnock writes that students often feel more pressure during high-stakes assignments, and are then more likely to cheat (159). Students can learn more, and teachers pick up on their style of writing the more drafts students’ write. Teachers also pay attention to drafts, and learn the students’ writing process. Focus on helping students’ improve.

Teachers also set the example. I am surprised to find out that Warnock said most books he’d read about teaching writing online did not have information about copyright law. It is still an area on which I’m not fully competent, but Warnock is correct in saying that we set the example for our students. “Observant students will notice this hypocrisy, and they may see the double standard as an invitation to break the rules” (Warnock 160). We must know the copyright laws and how we can use materials properly in an online educational forum.

Captain Copyright was an actual comic character created in Canada. While we should not use Wikipedia as a source, the photo is courtesy of Wikipedia.

Bibliography

Warnock, Scott W. “Intellectual Property: Plagiarism, Copyright, and Trust.” Teaching Writing Online. Urbana: National Council of Teachers of English, 2009. 152-162. Print.

Keep up the Pace and Collaboration

Response to Scott Warnock: Chapters 13 and 14

I like my schedule. In fact, I have a hard time adapting when changes occur. While changes are a part of life, Scott Warnock reiterates a significant point, from chapter 13 and earlier chapters, to keep a schedule.

Beneath the concept of keeping a schedule in an online environment, students need to know, or feel, the presence of the professor otherwise students may not keep up with the OW schedule, due dates, or search for materials. According to Warnock in chapter 13, students are creatures of habit, so the teacher must create a predictable schedule (143). Not new in Warnock’s book, he expresses the importance of predictability in earlier chapters and stresses them again in chapter 13. For example, a teacher sets up two days a week for deadlines. More than one assignment is due on a Monday, but students know when those assignments are due.

According to online teacher Stephanie Imig – whose article “Innovative Writing Instruction: Writing Rewired: Teaching Writing in an Online Setting” that I included in my Week 4 research post — students in her online high school were expected to navigate online guides and links leading them through the writing process (81). The process left students feeling lost in the online environment because they did not have a paced schedule or connection to the online teacher.


From the same school where Stephanie Imig teaches, the calendar is courtesy of connectionsacademy.com. While Warnock does not mention it in chapter 13, an online calendar is another good way for students to have a visual pacing guide for a course. Since most college students are expected to use a syllabus, a calendar can be used for primary and secondary classes.

By having a few small, low-stakes assignments due throughout the week, Warnock writes that students are less likely to procrastinate with online work (146). Students become comfortable in an online environment when they know what is due and when, and the professor makes a continuous effort to communicate with students. Warnock states that one way students know their teachers are present is for teachers to make a video of themselves every other week and post it (146). This way students know that their work is not ignored, and most importantly, they are not ignored by the teacher.

Communication online also involves group work. In chapter 14, Warnock also reiterates, from previous chapters, that group work does not end in a f2f classroom. He uses a quote that stresses twenty-first century organizations looking for technological citizens able to use online communication tools (147). An online or hybrid teacher should remember collaboration is adaptable online. I think teachers in f2f classroom where the use of technology is increasing should also teach students to collaborate in an online environment. CMS, like Blackboard, includes group functions such as message boards or Wikis. Warnock writes that the CMS allows a group of students to set their boards or work, so only the group and teacher can see it (147). In some cases, online collaboration is easier because schedules sometimes disallow students to meet at a library or for a group study. Students can work asynchronously or discuss their projects in a chatroom synchronously.

Warnock mentions a great project for students called the argument website (148). I think this is adaptable for an online high school or traditional high school class in which technology is used. Students work together to form an argument whether it’s an essay or issue connected to a reading. Students form the argumentative writing skills required by most colleges in the U.S.

The argumentative project made me think of other assignments adaptable for an online environment. Literature circles for high school students could be used in an online environment. After students, along with the teacher, select the book they’re going to read, they host online discussions on a blog, message board, or in a chatroom. If students have questions for each other, they can post it on their group blog. The writing allows students to revisit their discussions for a future project, paper or response assignment a teacher gives them at the end of the reading.

Facilitating discussions about what constitutes peer review as an online discussion early in the semester should be a part of collaboration. While Warnock discusses the need for peer review, little is said about preparing students for the type of commentary they should use in a peer review. I think reading peer reviews and practicing online allows students more preparation for the actual peer reviews, and it prepares students for the professional world of academics.

Bibliography

Imig, Stephanie, and Kinloch, Valerie. “Innovative Writing Instruction: Writing Rewired: Teaching in an Online Setting.” The English Journal 99.3 (2010): 81-83. JSTOR. Web. 27 June 2014.

Warnock, Scott W. “Pacing and Predictability: Help Students Get Comfortable in the OWcourse.” Teaching Writing Online. Urbana: National Council of Teachers of English, 2009. 143-146. Print.

Warnock, Scott W. “Collaboration: Working in Virtual Groups.” Teaching Writing Online. Urbana: National Council of Teachers of English, 2009. 147-151. Print.

Warnock Chapters 7-9

 Response Week 4

Scott Warnock continuously connects reading to writing, and stresses the importance of collaboration and organization.

The library is still alive in the twenty-first century. In Chapter 7, Warnock discusses why books are still significant sources, and the use of blogs and articles. He suggests using the library, especially collaborating with librarians about organization and copyright laws (Warnock 62). A teacher or professor builds a rapport with librarians because they know different methods for sharing articles in a CMS. The librarian may also have suggestions about sharing a clip of an article during a real-time session.

For example, if I want to teach students reading strategies in real-time, I will to model how I read. I will use a segment of an article as an example of nonfiction. The librarian assists me by informing how I can read the article and share it online because of his or her knowledge of copyright law.

Real-time teaching raises another online opportunity. Warnock discusses the value of multimodal communication in chapter 7. He writes that it creates “a different kind of ‘reading’ experience for students” (Warnock 62). Students can present writing in more than one way. Students can manipulate videos using Popcorn Webmaker, and add commentary and Google maps. A video can also be hyperlinked or embedded into a Powerpoint presentation for a more advanced multimodal experience.

Warnock discusses different prompts and ways to use message boards in chapter 8. The goal is to create conversation between students, practice semi-formal writing, and for students learn how to “accept criticism gracefully” (Warnock 72). As a high school and undergraduate student, I did not practice reading and responding to classmates’ writing enough. It was not a part of the coursse. Warnock stresses the significance of students learning to read and respond to others’ posts because it builds collegiate or peer relationships (75). For example, Warnock suggests the My Favorite Post assignment in which students select a favorite post by another classmate, and they write about it.

I am not a big fan of message boards because online learning provides a variety of options. I agree with Warnock that email is not as easy as message boards, but I like WRIT 510’s set up using blogs and hyperlinks. I think blogs and other tools allow for multimodal learning in which students can practice writing in a variety of ways.

In Chapter 9, I agree with Warnock that low-stakes grading should not focus as much on grammar. However, there should be opportunities in a middle or high school module to focus on grammar. Through teaching experiences, many students have told me, “I never learned grammar from my English teachers.” Most of these students took Yearbook and newspaper with my mentor teacher. While they engaged in low-stakes writing and real-life writing – such as newspaper or multimedia – my mentor teacher also stresses the teaching of grammar. He assigns students to edit a work, state the rule, and correct it. I believe teaching grammar can transition to an online learning environment through innovative instruction such as flipped classrooms or multimodal learning like Glogster. Students can make a multimodal poster with rules for grammar, what not to do in grammar, or even my favorite grammar rules.

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An example of a grammar Glogster. Courtesy of Medialib.glogster.com

(You may practice using a Google app on most laptops or computers because Google provides computer versions of its apps. If you want to practice on a Chromebook, the ITC in Withers has recent Chromebooks you can check out for a few days.)

Warnock argues about the importance of sharing. As teachers and students, we are not in competition. We are building interdependence along with independence in writing. I believe Warnock shows the value of interdependence when presenting the share secrets assignment (98-9). Warnock writes, “… we become co-contributors in building general course knowledge about research” (99). As our class has written about on our literary analysis pages, everyone has different ways of correcting their writing or proofreading. Instead of being in a competition, it is valuable to share writing tips or practices with classmates because we might provide tips that help one another.

Throughout chapters 7 to 9, Warnock gives the reader detailed examples and explanations of assignments. While he discusses collaboration online, he models it in his book by specifying what assignments he uses and why. He also provides a grading system in chapter 8 to make teachers’ online grading simple (Warnock 84). Do not become over involved in online discussions, but maintain a presence as a facilitator. Provide students opportunities to lead and comment on one another’s work. Each tip provides detailed reasoning as to why it should be used in an online learning environment.

Bibliography

Warnock, Scott W. “Reading: Lots of Online Options, But the Book is Not Dead.” Teaching Writing Online. Urbana: National Council of Teachers of English, 2009. 58-67. Print.

Warnock, Scott W. “Conversation: Online, Course ‘Talk’ Can Become Writing.” Teaching Writing Online. Urbana: National Council of Teachers of English, 2009. 68-93. Print.

Warnock, Scott W. “Assignments: Online, Student Texts Drive Them.” Teaching Writing Online. Urbana: National Council of Teachers of English, 2009. 94-107. Print.


Organization Online and on your Desktop (Week 3)

A few years ago, I worked for a publisher who piled newspapers, books, and glasses like a miniature, decaying New York City skyscraper. This was a man who invested in up-to-date computers to design newspapers completely in black and white. I owe most of my amateur InDesign and computer training to that newspaper, but I always wanted to do something about that desk.


Courtesy of blogs.volunteermatch.org

Maybe your emails, important Word documents, and other online communications are – in the words of Elrond from the movie The Fellowship of the Ring – “scattered, divided, leaderless.” The most important ideas from Scott Warnock’s chapters 5 and 6 in Teaching Writing Online are considering everything we, as teachers, need to take with us into an online environment. As Warnock wrote in the introductory chapter, we are not completely changing our teaching style, presentation or information. He wrote in guideline 2, “You want to think about migration, not transformation, when teaching online” (xvii). I think this guideline applies to organizing information for online classes, too.

Links, information for a syllabus, and emails might look like a pile of canned goods before organization. If you’ve had experience organizing recycling, you might know that each type of recyclable can be organized within your home. For example, my family uses a box system.  We label each box “glass” or “aluminum cans.” The same concept of organization applies to planning for an online teaching structure.

The four most important points I found in Warnock’s chapters 5 and 6 include: title, communication, availability, and planning. When you begin with any document, syllabus or paper, a title is a great starting point. I struggle with creating titles for my creative writing, but – as Warnock suggests in both chapters – a title of the syllabus or in the subject line of an email should be specific and match the course or subject matter (38, 50). For example, if I create a semester syllabus for a ninth grade English 1 class, I might give the syllabus the title “English 1, First Session.” It states the exact title of the class, and lets high school students know which session they are taking. In an online learning environment for high school students, the traditional block or period might change to session. What word would you use?

In applying Warnock’s advice to an online classroom, it is important to me, as a teacher candidate for middle and high school, to think about how the material can be applied to an online or hybrid environment for students. I have read, watched videos, and seen ways in which technology is applied to middle and high school classrooms. But, how much further do online teachers of these students need to take their organizational skills online?

Communication and availability are two of Warnock’s most important points, and it is important to find ways to adapt Warnocks’ advice for an online environment suitable for middle and high school students and teachers. South Carolina Connections Academy, a free public charter online K-12 school, and Calvert Academy, a free online public elementary and middle school, show and tell examples on their websites about how teachers communicate on a consistent basis. The video from South Carolina Connections Academy shows examples in the video.


Courtesy of South Carolina Connections Academy

At one point in the video, the teacher is on the phone with a student. In another scene, a teacher uses audiovisual during a synchronous lesson with an online whiteboard. These are great examples of day-to-day contact between students and online teachers, but how does a high school or middle school teacher adapt a syllabus for the grade levels they teach? I believe everything Warnock mentions in chapter 5 should be considered, including listing times you are most likely to reply to emails, chat rooms, or through a CMS (41). For example, some of the students at the South Carolina Connections Academy are athletes who practice during the day. Their schedule may allow for them to take classes and complete assignments at night. The teacher needs to make sure his or her schedule matches the student’s schedule in the syllabus for a synchronous lesson, phone call, text or email.

In chapter 6, Warnock presents excellent advice about planning and organizing methods. One of the most useful tools I found, and remembered, is creating sub-folders in emails or in a tool like Google Drive. Specific directions should be included in a syllabus on how to do and what is expected for online group activities. If a class or group does a project, Google Drive is a great tool for students to work on a project at once or during their own time. Folders can be created within Google Drive for the Project and then for each of its parts.

For example: The Book Thief Lesson Plan (Folder)

BookThiefNewsletter

BookThiefCharacterSurveys

However you organize your materials for online learning, Warnock provides great reminders, new lessons, and tips to staying organized. The best solution is to name everything exactly as it is: Chapter5and6ResponseBridges. Three tips familiar to most learners are using folders, filing, and titles.

Bibliography

 Warnock, Scott W. “Introduction.” Teaching Writing Online. Urbana: National Council of Teachers of       English, 2009.              xvii. Print.

 

Warnock, Scott W. “The Writing Course Syllabus: What’s Different in Online Instruction.” Teaching       Writing  Online. Urbana: National Council of Teachers of English, 2009. 38-47. Print.                     

     

Warnock, Scott W. “Organization, Redundancy, and Helping Students—and You—Keep Things Straight.” Teaching   Writing Online. Urbana: National Council of Teachers of English, 2009. 48-57. Print.

Keep it Simple: Take Your Classroom to the Internet (Week 2)

 

Courtesy of Edudmic.com

 

In my philosophy of education class, the question comes up: Can the profession of teaching have the same prestige as lawyers or doctors?

One aspect professional teachers will require is training with new technologies.

The approach author Scott Warnock takes in Teaching Writing Online chapters two through four reflects a professional, yet keep it simple approach. Teachers need not leave their teaching styles in the physical classroom. As Warnock states in the first chapter, teachers need to think of migrating their instruction online instead of being nervous about losing a part of their teaching.

To make the transition easier for teachers in an online environment, Warnock explains the difference between a hybrid course—taught partially online and then in the traditional classroom—and a 100 percent online course. I believe the hybrid course is a practical example of Warnock’s use of the migration from the traditional classroom to the online environment because the teacher and students are dipping their toes in the water. They are not completely losing comfort level. Teachers are not overly worried about all the technology tools or how to organize their content online through a school’s CMS.

As a student in undergraduate and graduate courses, I’ve experienced hybrid courses that were asynchronous and synchronous. In an undergraduate course, a small group from the class met with the professor in a chat via Blackboard to discuss course material. In the asynchronous environment, professors let me work on assignments during my time. This may also benefit the professor because he or she may experiment with new technology tools. He or she may want to introduce the Web 2.0 tool during the next traditional class.

Keep it simple. Warnock makes it clear in chapters two through four that teachers need not be an expert with all tools. They should familiarize themselves with their school’s CMS (content management system) and think about how they might transfer their teaching style and content online. One of the useful tools Warnock shows is the chart in chapter three. Teachers evaluate exactly what technology tool they can use for a particular pedagogical need, such as discussion, its availability, and if the teacher requires training. This gives teachers a way to self-evaluate what they know and don’t know.

For example, a teacher may plan the section about Chaucer. The teacher wants to have a discussion at some point during this section, so the teacher analyzes possible tools in the content system available to him or her. It maybe as simple as a listserv or email. The teacher may pose a question or even select a student leader to pose a question to begin the discussion.

One of the tools—discussed in chapters three and four—that I would like to further explore is whiteboard space online. I am familiar with some of the basics, but I think it is a great idea to experiment with it, especially if it is a place where teachers can collaborate with students. It can become a space, which is student-centered, and gives the teacher plenty of opportunities to provide individual help or instruction. For example, students could host a workshop editing their first drafts. Students could also work with the teacher during this time.

 

Projecting Personality Online (Week 1)

Write.

That is the beginning. It is a sentence. You and I know the implied noun, you, is there although it hides from the written form. Just because we, as teachers and writers, sit behind keyboards or look down at tablets while typing does not mean our personalities are missing from our text. Scott Warnock makes an excellent case about the persona teachers show in the online environment. In place of facial expressions, we are left to literally read behind the words. As Warnock states on page 1, the “text of those messages created a personality.”  Through Warnock, other authors’ research, and professional workshops, teachers can find ways to ease their nerves and create the right professional personality in an online writing environment.

In a f2f classroom, my teachers and I, as a teacher, have used icebreakers to connect with students. Warnock suggests using the same tool in an online environment. Using icebreakers online is a great idea because you show that the class is not centered around you, but around the students. You are already building a platform on which you are a facilitator because you include the students’ input about themselves.

A Policy Research Brief” by the National Council of Teachers of English presents an important point, which is rarely mentioned in other courses I’ve taken about online teaching and their course content. On page 4, the council writes that teachers need use “explicit instruction” showing students how to avoid plagiarism in a digital environment. I believe in teaching students how to cite online materials as more content becomes part of the academic and media writing world.

As a journalist, my articles and my pictures were published in the newspaper and online. The most important details with those stories was the name of the writer, from whom information was received, and the photo credit. In other blogs, pictures have been copied from other Internet sources without any credit. As students learn how to write online and create hypermedia content, how do we as teachers keep up in showing them how to cite text, photos, and video? To me, writing online is becoming a three-dimensional world in which MLA, APA, and even AP formats must one day translate into a hypermedia platform. One of my questions is how do we do this? How do we, as teachers, make sure our instruction is explicit and up to date in avoiding all forms of plagiarism in a digital environment?

For the schedule and assignments on the class website, I like how every piece of information is displayed. Just like labels and cards, everything has a neat title. It is in order, and I know exactly when something is due.  As a graduate assistant for the director of graduate studies in the education department, I work a lot with new technologies, researching the digital divide, and the latest technologies schools are using. Most recently, my boss and I have been researching Google Chromebooks in place of iPads because most school districts are switching to them. With the Chromebook I learned about a program called Read & Write Google, which is a tool helping ESL and other students with learning disabilities. It reads text out loud, provides a picture, and text dictionary. I would be interested in researching the online tools that would benefit students with disabilities who are a part of the online writing environment.

 

Becca Bridges