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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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.