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.

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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.

 070114_0225_WarnockChap1.png


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.


High School Teacher Confesses Fears, Finds Solutions


Research Post, Week 4

High school teacher, Stephanie Imig, who teaches at Connections Academy in Oregon, writes an insightful, introspective essay about doubts and successes of teaching writing online. “Innovative Writing Instruction: Writing Rewired: Teaching Writing in an Online Setting” by Imig and Valerie Kolich feeling alone online. (You access the article by clicking on the last hyperlink. Sign in with your last name and Winthrop id number. Once you’re signed in, you will see the article.)

I chose “Innovative Writing Instruction” for this week’s research post because Imig admits fears teachers have when they are new to online teaching. I enjoyed discovering how Imig uses differentiated instruction solutions in her online classroom. As an English teacher, Imig admits she was –and remains uncertain – of the online environment. It is not a replacement for “brick-and-mortar classrooms” (Imig and Kinloch 81). She uses synchronous and asynchronous instruction making students more comfortable in the online classroom through exploring and understanding process of writing.

According to Imig and Kinloch, a weakness in the curriculum Imig taught in 2010 is that students were expected to read guides and click on links that led students through the writing process (81). Students felt lost, and they were satisfied with a C (Imig and Kinloch 81). After reading Scott Warnock’s suggestions in Teaching Writing Online about online class organization, the teacher should be involved as an active facilitator, and have links organized in a way students can find them. However, Imig discovers differentiated ways to teach students.

  • Constructive Comments. After Imig’s students had experienced frustration at the beginning of the curriculum – wandering through links and guides – Imig’s commentary on their posts provides student guidance with which students do not feel aimless. More importantly, Imig suggests that it is important to write commentary with the next writing assignment planned (81). This allows the teacher and the student to plan for the future.

I wanted them to consider my comments and engage in reflective inquiry, but this was as successful as assuming more testing would raise student achievement” (Imig and Kinlock 81).

To demonstrate a plan for writing in the future, the student learns the teacher is not thinking from week to week. The teacher considers the student’s future in the course, which may help the student feel important.

  • Workshop. Imig uses whiteboard technology to model for students how to write introductions, proper use of quotes, and writing conclusions. This method is done synchronously while students watching the teacher in real-time. Imig provides students the chance to write, and she gives immediate feedback (82). The workshop on the whiteboard provides another solution to students feeling alone in the online environment. According to Imig and Kinloch, students participate in a communal environment (82). The teaching tool brings a valuable f2f to the online environment by encouraging student participation.

  • ORCA. Scott Warnock writes a lot about asynchronous teaching, such as message boards in Chapter 8 of Teaching Writing Online, but Imig presents an example of a virtual classroom tool. What is the importance of an online virtual classroom? It offers students the chance to participate as they would in an f2f environment, and two, to think about their questions in real-time or consider questions they might ask later.

    Oregon Connections Academy provides teachers ORCA,
    the virtual classroom. If students miss being in a classroom with their classmates, I think the virtual classroom provides live-time opportunities to participate and share. Through this method, students also practice writing on the spot, and provide comments about each other’s writing.

  • Chat Room. The chat room should not be underestimated, according to Imig. It is another communal opportunity for students to interact with the teacher and classmates. Imig makes an important point. She allows students the first few moments to converse casually in the chat room before switching to semi-formal writing (Imig and Kinloch 83). While Imig does not mention it, all students’ interactions are written. They practice casual writing and then switch to semi-formal text, which allows them to recognize the difference what qualifies as writing conversation versus classroom writing.

Imig and Kinloch’s article is a valuable to read because Imig confesses fears of teaching writing online, but she offers a variety of instruction solutions. Differentiated teaching provides students the opportunity to practice their writing in different ways. They participate in chat rooms, virtual classrooms, posts and prompts. Can we, as teachers, use any of these tools? Do any of us have a current CMS with virtual classroom opportunities, or would we need another option? These are questions Imig also asks in the article.

Bibliography

Imig, Stephanie, and Kinloch, Valerie. “Innovative Writing Instruction:

             Writing Rewired: Teaching Writing in an Online Setting.” The

English Journal 99.3 (2010): 81-83. JSTOR. Web. 27 June 2014.

Behind the Whiteboards: Online Teacher Experience (Week 3)

I had to know.

You know?

I really had to know what K-12 online teachers’ experiences were after reading Scott Warnock’s chapters 5 and 6. After reading about organizing material for college distance learners, I needed to know what online teachers had to say about their experiences in K-12 virtual schools. Two articles shed light on the K-12 online teaching experience. Both articles stress that online is not easier, but requires more involvement in writing and communication through emails, discussion boards, whiteboards, and gradebooks.

Virtual Schoolteacher by Karen Faucett in
Educationnext

The narrative article – written by Florida seventh and eighth grade virtual teacher, Karen Faucett – shows even in a math class, students and teachers have to do writing. Faucett mentions she takes time in the morning to write in her gradebook (para. 3). The gradebook writing produces instant communication for parents and students about their progress in the class. Faucett states that she thinks about writing positive feedback first, and then productive feedback (para. 3).

The online gradebook is an essential tool for online K-12 learning, and not one I had thought about until reading Faucett’s article. The gradebook is another tool the teachers use to communicate students’ progress. The gradebook may show a student’s written progress over time. Academically, it provides a record for the student, and the comments are tailored for what the students have accomplished.

Since the article was written in 2011, a few parts of online learning have changed, including the program Elluminate. During the same year, Elluminate changed names when Blackboard bought it. Other audiovisual and whiteboard combination tools are also provided by a virtual school’s CMS or through apps like Google’s Movenote.

Fauccet discusses how she uses the whiteboard tool to show students the steps in a problem using what was Elluminate (para. 6). How is it important for an English and writing teacher? A program combining audiovisual and a whiteboard can help students with grammar lessons. If a student struggles, then the teacher can model it for him or her, and the student can respond verbally or through writing.

What DOES an online teacher do? By Rob Darrow

I wanted to include perspectives from two different articles because I disliked the fact that Fauccet said that she communicates with some students weekly and others monthly (para. 6). To me as a teacher, that is not enough communication with a K-12 student. Some students may work great independently, but I think that weekly communication is essential to keep up the (professional) personalization between teacher and student.

Rob Darrow’s blog “What DOES an online teacher do?” focuses on 2011 Online Teacher of the Year, Kristin Kipp. She is a high school English teacher, and she uses synchronous sessions with her students (Darrow para. 2). Kipp writes about her experiences, but what is fascinating is how she presents the perspective of her students. To me, her way of using audiovisual and whiteboards more often make online learning more personal for the students.


Courtesy of Pearson Foundation and Rob Darrow

Kipp mentions that discussion boards allow students more than 45 minutes to respond to a question. Students who are shy may take the time to respond. According to the video above, Kipp says students can think more deeply about what they want to say. This is important because I have been in a classroom where the same six students will answer a question, and other students, who are always quiet, remain quiet. What if those same students are given a chance to thoughtfully respond in an online environment?

For example, a high school student who has Asperger’s Syndrome sees the answers in his head. He may communicate the answers very fast, and spin off on what interests him about the subject. If he is in an online environment, such as responding to a discussion board, he has the chance to think about the question, and answer what it asks through a thoughtfully written response.

In the video, Kipp says that the online structure allows her to differentiate instruction because students are working at different levels in the course. There is not an expectation for all students to read or write the same assignment at the same time.

What I like most about Kipp’s video is how she maintains an online presence through her written responses in email and gradebooks, and also through her video teaching.

 

By Becca Bridges

Bibliography

Darrow, Rob. “What DOES an Online Teacher Do?” California Dreamin’ Blog (2012): WordPress. Web. 23 June 2014.

Fauccet, Karen. Educationnext 11.3 (2011): Educationnext. Web. 22 June 2014.

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.