Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Agenda: 29 February 2012

Community 2.0 Agenda
29 February 2012
10:00-01:00 E255

10:00-10:15 Welcome!

10:15-11:50 Peer Critique of Collaborative Activity

  • Overview
  • Presentation of Activity & Peer and Self Critique using Google Forms HERE

11:50-12:00 Break

12:00-12:15: Checking “the other side” of the Google Form HERE

12:15-12:45 Checklist to Rubric Discussion

12:45-01:00 Reflection Blog Post (Reply); Course Code Verification HERE 


  • Student Pre-Survey HERE
  • Reading Assignment HERE
  • Spring Class/Project Descriptions HERE
  • Weekly Posting
  • Activity Application

Revised activity for MathBlogLaGCC

1. What is the revised activity?
MAT115-Hybrid and MathBlogLaGCC submit your post!
2. What are its goals? (please use Bloom’s Taxonomy)
-Submitting a post about students experience with MAT115-Hybrid and MathBlogLaGCC
-Have students engage in a conversation about each other’s experience in class
by reading and then viewing the posts.
-The final experience.
3. Describe what types of connections are being made. (Across courses, across
disciplines, with the wider college community, with the world?)
The connection aim was to have student share their work with their classmates,
faculty, and the rest of LaGCC student population and any reader of our humble

4. How are these connections meaningful?
The student voice is
a powerful tool and we had to encourage this exercise. Students welcomed and we welcomed the good,
the bad and the ugly. Not every student enjoyed the hybrid (and highly use of technology
to work on MAT115), but they did enjoy the fact that they learn that they learn
best with a specific instruction model.

The strongest message across students was those priceless “ah, ha” moments. I
know how I learn best now and that I can make other choices regarding my course
selection and prepare for all the demands of a course that requires high use of
technological tools

Revision for next time:
We will have more of the submission earlier in the course.

Cheers-Ingrid & Rudy!

Best of Class

Teaching a hybrid course for the first time during the fall semester was both a challenge and a good experience for me. Compared to other courses that I have taught, I had to develop a more definitive plan on how to deliver my lessons. Even though, technology was an essential part of this course I had to skillfully devise a way to integrate it through out the semester. I had to connect the online activities of my students with my face-to- face interaction in class. Most of the time it worked out very well, but at times I had to go over some of the lessons that were either too difficult or just need to go over again.

Looking back at my teaching experience and the feedback that I have received from my students, I have gained a significant amount of information that will help me reshape the design of my hybrid course for this spring. At the very minimal, I will need to integrate the use of technonlogy more frequently and effectively. From the mixed reviews of students, a little more advisement and guidance to students on who to fully take advantage of an online course is very crucial. Also this experince has evoked a need for my department to begin to establish policies and guidelines on the admission of students to such type of courses and develop support for them to be sucessful.

Overall, it was a good learning experince for me.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Revised Activity

1. What is the revised activity?
"Bad" Drawing on blog. It was initially created to use it on the ePortfolio system.

2. What are its goals? (please use Bloom’s Taxonomy)
I created my "'Bad' Drawing" and revised it for my Fall 2011 courses:

The original "Bad" Drawing assignment.

The revised version.

The result.

3. Describe what types of connections are being made. (Across
courses, across disciplines, with the wider college community, with the
Across courses and disciplines. Potentially with the wider college community and with the world.

4. How are these connections meaningful?
The hidden purpose of this assignment is that having my students start thinking about what is a so-called "GOOD" artwork, so in the way, I am trying to create a forum of young artists who re-define what art is, for their own generation. This is an open and on-going question. I am just hoping that my students will eventually get there at some point of their artistic life.

Best of Class.

Art in New York.

This "finding the Best of Class moment" was the hardest assignment I ever received in Community 2.0, so I asked my students for help! Their answer was "[our] favorite assignment/blog post would have to be the Artist interview."

Hey, that Artist Interview was OUR CLASS FINAL. I wonder how many of LaGuardia students were fortunate enough to say that "my final was the best."

In any case, I decided to share sample finals with the seminar group. Enjoy!

Final Project: Artist Interview:

Additionally, just in case you need to see this:

A. Learning Objectives.
Students will be able to:
Evaluate works of living artists in NYC for a face-to-face interview.
Describe elements in Contemporary Art and generate meaningful questions.
Explain why they "like" or "care about" certain types of artworks/ artists.
Analyze how and why certain artworks were made.

B. Reflective Description.
The Final Project for the course was an artist's interview. Students had to prepare a 250-word summary with a link to a blog post (of the interview transcript, images, etc) although the style was wide open. I was also physically available in our regular classroom during the final so that they can ask me questions or seek extra help. The only rule was that they cannot interview a LaGuardia student for the Final Project. They could interview any faculty or staff members. Students started to ask me what they should ask artists or where they can meet artists, so I sent out many many emails about free art events/open studios and posted sample questions on the course blog. I wonder if my students ever looked at them, but the information was available for the class.

C. Conclusions.
I think students had problems talking to strangers, even at art openings and even for their assignments. This amazed me. I started to think "Wait, is this a failed assignment? Wait wait, this is the Final and I made this because I thought this is easier for them, but is this in fact much harder than a regular research paper?" Then, one report came in: "I interviewed my high school art teacher." Here you go! You do already know artists. In fact, artists are everywhere in this city and you interact with them every day.

Revised Activity: Attempted Rape of a Nonexistent Child

HUP 109 Philosophy of Law Spring I 2012
Dr V. Albrecht

Part I
Due: Sunday March 18, 2012

Police had information that Steven Peterman, age 45, was involved in a child pornography ring. Police worked with a female acquaintance of Peterman to arrest him. They invented a ten-year-old girl, whom the acquaintance then pretended to know. The woman indicated she would give Peterman access to the girl if he would come to her residence. Peterman arrived at the woman’s home with several photographs, characterized by police as child pornography, along with a variety of sex toys. Peterman was arrested and is now charged with attempted rape of a child.

Students with last names A – L are prosecutors.
Students with last names M – Z are working for the defense.

You have to argue that Peterman is guilty of the charges and convince the jury of his guilt. Recall the concepts of actus reus and mens rea and apply them to this case. Explain their relevance for Peterman’s guilt. Explain the notion of an attempted crime and convince the jury that Peterman is indeed guilty of attempted rape. In your conclusion, you should note the legal and moral implications of the jury’s decision to find Peterman guilty.

Make your case in about 300-600 words, and post it on our class blog as “new post” with the title “Peterman/ Prosecution”.

Defense lawyers:
You have to argue that the charges against Peterman do not hold up and convince the jury (please keep in mind that you don’t have to be friends with Peterman, but that it is your sworn duty to defend your client to the best of your ability). Recall the concepts of actus reus and mens rea and apply them to this case. Explain their relevance for the fact that Peterman cannot be properly charged with this crime. Explain the notion of an attempted crime and convince the jury that Peterman cannot properly be found guilty of attempted rape. In your conclusion, you should note the legal and moral implications of the jury’s decision to find Peterman not guilty.

Make your case in about 250-500 words, and post it on our class blog as “new post” with the title “Peterman/ Defense”.

Part II
Due: Sunday March 25, 2012

Go to the Blog and select at least one but no more than three posts titled “Peterman/ Defense” and write a rebuttal. Please post your rebuttal(s) as comment under the post. The total word count of your rebuttal(s) should be at least 200 words.

Defense lawyers:
Go to the Blog and select at least one but no more than three posts titled “Peterman/ Prosecution” and write a rebuttal. Please post your rebuttal(s) as comment under the post. The total word count of your rebuttal(s) should be at least 200 words.

OBJECTIVES (using Bloom’s taxonomy, new version):

Remembering: Students recall and define the terms actus reus, mens rea, and attempted crimes, important concepts in criminal law.

Understanding: Students explain and recognize these concepts in context.

Applying: Students have to apply these concepts to case law and use them for their arguments, thereby deepening the understanding of the concepts.

Evaluating: Students have to evaluate a specific case and defend a point of view that may not be their personal standpoint based on reasoning.

Moreover: Students imitate the adversarial nature of our legal system that is based on reason and argument, thus strengthening their critical thinking skills.

Note: This is an online class now. Students are using Blog as discussion and participation tool, and about 10 very strong former students also participate in the blog with comments. I am not quite sure how to connect this to the rest of the cyber world, a perfect class to link would be a criminal justice class.

Revised activity


The revised activity is a group discussion activity on an essay students will read ("The Man on The Moon" by Annas) and also on the movie, Gattaca, to which the essay connects. Students will use google groups to discuss the following questions (they will have to post replies to one from the first two and one from the latter two :

1.     Discuss Annas' claims about holy wars from the era of the crusades to Columbus and labelling the enemy as "other." Why do you think religion is used in this way?
2.       Discuss what was different about WW II and the process Nazis used to think of Jews as "other."
3.     According to Norman Mailer, the voyage of Apollo to the moon can be seen as either grandeur or madness. Discuss how the possibility of grandeur can be supported.
4.     According to Norman Mailer, the voyage of Apollo to the moon can be seen as either grandeur or madness. Discuss how the possibility of madness can be supported.


At the end of this lesson, students will be able to

  • Use google groups for discussion with other classmates (Application)
  • Examine Annas' claims in the essay (Analysis)
  • criticize the validity of Annas' claims (Evaluation)
  • connect evidence and ideas offered by Annas with evidence and ideas from other readings (Synthesis)


At the first iteration of the activity, students will connect with classmates from the class. Such connection contains an element of artificiality I dislike, yet there are advantages to some discussions happening in writing—students do not take good notes during class discussion so if a discussion is to be the first step in a paper scaffolding process (which this activity is) then having the responses in writing helps students immensely. Nonetheless, over time this activity will allow students to also examine ideas of students from previous semesters who have responded using google groups. Ideally, in the event that I am teaching two sections of the same ENG 101 class, students will also be able to connect across sections

Revised Activity: Understanding How Language Lives in the World

My revised activity, Understanding How Language Lives in the World, is geared for the Honors section of ELL 101 (Introduction to Language) that I will be teaching this semester. (I only just found out it is running. Phew!)
The goals in terms of an updated-for-the-21st-century Bloom’s Taxonomy are: 
Applying: can the student use the information in a new way?
During this activity students will apply the knowledge they have gained about sound production, language structure, and language change to describe the language they are researching
Analyzing: can the student distinguish between the different parts?
… they will analyze data about at-risk languages…
Evaluating: can the student justify a stand or decision?
… they will present and evaluate how language “lives” (and dies) in the world and express an opinion about this.
Creating: can the student create new product or point of view?
… the student will create a multi-linked "written" report (blog post/Google Doc/Google Spreadsheet, etc.) to present the new knowledge they have constructed by learning about and reflecting on how language lives (and dies) in the world. I write "written" report with quotations because it can and I hope it does include images, video, sound, etc. (I just don’t know if I will know how to help them do all that—hopefully some will be Web 2.0 literate--I am open to how they want to create their final report.)
Background to the activity: 
What makes language alive? So far in this course, students will have studied how language is produced and structured (sounds, words, sentences, meaning) and have begun to study how it is used in the world among different groups of people and how it changes—how some languages evolve, how some die.

In this activity we will explore what impacts language change, language survival, and language extinction (and even if those metaphors of living and dying are appropriate to use with language). We explore views of language that may have been previously unfamiliar to students: that it is a right that some will fight for, a heritage, a cultural artifact, a source of scientific study, and a focus of social and political decision-making. While it may be evident that language is a living system that impacts us, how aware are we that we have an impact on language?

Relevant facts will have been raised in the video we watch, The Linguists (and reinforced in our discussions of the video Do You Speak American as well as the book, Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue) are:

·   7,000+ languages are spoken around the world.
·   Most of the world's languages are spoken by small groups of people and approximately 85% of the world's languages have fewer than 100,000 speakers.
·   A language dies approximately every two weeks.
·   A language dies (ceases to be spoken) when there are no living native speakers.
·   A language is endangered when only a very few, elderly native speakers remain.
·   Language is intimately connected to culture and history.
·   Language documentation consists of recording linguistic and cultural information in the community that speaks the language.
·   Language revitalization work strengthens endangered languages by fostering positive language attitudes and language teaching. (from:

The activity asks students to apply, analyze, and evaluate how language lives in the world (e.g., What are the characteristics of languages we don’t necessarily hear about everyday and what can we learn from them?) and to take a stand in terms of their own relation to language.

1. Exploring: Using the Ethnologue, students will work in pairs to find one language that they have never heard of from at least three of the five global areas on Ethnologue. (They will focus on languages that are spoken by fewer than 500,000 people.)

2. Creating a language profile: They will choose one language to investigate further on their own. What questions emerge about the group(s) who speak(s) the language they have chosen? What are their beliefs? How does the language figure in their identity? Their economy? What might keep this language intact? What might allow it to die? If it dies, what artifacts are left of it? (Is it written? Are there oral stories)? What will be lost if this language dies? What will remain? If it were to remain “alive,” what would it take? What other questions emerge that students can explore? Students will fill out a table on Google Spreadsheet.

3. Discussing: Students will present their findings to the class. As they listen to each other’s presentation, they will discuss what their reports have in common, what aspects are different: facts about the linguistic communities, dominant language, descriptions of the language characteristics/classifications, etc. They can have an opportunity to look more closely at their own language and research/fill in further information.

4. Writing up their report: Students will post a blog entry that connects to a Google Doc page that details the language they have chosen. Their report will need to have a title, and be organized with the following sub-headings: Summary (the "first page" will be a summary of the language’s characteristics and facts from the class spreadsheet); Analysis: (the "second page" will be an analysis of how the language figures in the lives of its users); Reflection (the "third page" will be a reflection on what students have learned about language in this activity). For the reflection, they will respond to the following questions: What do you know now about languages in the world that you did not know before? How does this impact your perception of language in your own life? In your family? With your friends? At school? At work? In your neighborhood? What further questions does it raise for you?

The connections will be made within the class and with some bilingual education sections being taught in my department. (I hope!) 

The connections will be meaningful across semesters as I hope to archive the postings and eventually share students’ findings and expressions about how language lives in the world with a broader audience of linguists, applied linguists, and with those interested in global studies.

Revised Conversion Collaborative Activity

Description of Activity: The concept 'natural' and its close relative 'unnatural' appear in many arguments for and against the use of various foods, health supplements, technological interventions, agricultural methods, and medical interventions. Hence, an important skill for both the bioethicist and the environmental ethicist is to be able to discern when being 'unnatural' or 'natural' is morally significant. The purpose of this activity is to get you (my medical ethics and environmental ethics students) to understand the nuances of meaning that are associated with the words 'natural' and 'unnatural' so that you can discern the conditions under which the fact that an object or process is unnatural has moral significance. This will help you distinguish legitimate arguments from mere rhetoric that appeals to the secondary connotations that these concepts have.

Step 1: Students in each class will be divided into groups in order to generate a list of sentences and/or phrases that contain the words 'natural', 'unnatural', or close relatives such as 'artificial'.

Step 2: Students in these groups will then analyze each example that the group has come up with in order to discern the meaning of these words on each occasion of use. This will be followed by a class discussion of these issues.

Step 3. For homework, students will then find examples of the use of these terms online in articles, speeches, and advertising that have to do with either promoting or resisting the use of a product or process because it is either 'natural and 'unnatural'. They will analyze these examples in a two-page essay on their own blogs.

Step 4. Finally, every student from each class will be paired with one other student from the other. They will read each other's examples and analysis and offer critical feedback on that analysis.

Objectives from Radio James:

At the end of this lesson, you will be able to:

* (Analysis Level) discriminate between different senses of word 'natural' .

* (Analysis Level) explain the conditions under which these senses of the word 'natural' have moral significance.

* (Evaluation Level) appraise whether or not an author has legitimately employed these terms in a rationally persuasive argument or has merely appealed to the secondary connotations that surround these words.

Revised Activity

1) What is the revised activity?
My revised activity is a curatorial blog project. In this scenario, students are hired as Junior Curators at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and they must curate a themed, online exhibition of artwork from the Met's vast art collection. In previous semesters, students wrote an accompanying curatorial statement that describes the content of their exhibition, and why they selected certain artworks. They posted their statements, along with images of the artworks, to their class blog sites. Then they orally presented their blogs to the rest of the class.

What would then be interesting to add, is if students had the opportunity to peer-evaluate these projects. Students can comment on each others blog postings, and provide links to further suggestions of artwork from the Met's collection that may fit within the curator's vision.

2) What are its goals?
* Create a curatorial theme based on work that interests you at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

* Select 15 images from the Met's online database that best describe your curatorial theme.

* Compose a curatorial statement that explains your theme as well as your decisions for including specific works.

* Design your blog post and arrange artworks in a thoughtful presentation.

* Describe your project through an oral presentation.

* Analyze the effectiveness of a peer's curation, and research further examples of artwork that would fit within the curator's theme.

3) What types of connections are being made?
The connections would tentatively be between students in the same class. However, there is the possibility for students to comment on postings between classes. I will be teaching two sections of Intro to Art next semester, so this may be the easiest way to connect classes together. The only issue would be that students in different classes would not be able to see each others oral presentations, unless we film and webcast them.

4) How are these connections meaningful?
In my studio art classes, I foster the skill of critique. Analyzing the work of others is the best way for an artist to learn how to analyze his/her own practice. Curation is its own art form, which can be as subjective as any art-making practice. Peer-evaluation requires critical thinking, and gives constructive insight into the creative process.

Best of Class

The best assignment last semester in my hybrid-online Intro to Art was the blog project, Art Food Yum. I described the project to students as a "Community art project/international recipe book." Students picked a favorite recipe, documented the preparation of this dish, and then posted the results to Blogger. The resulting compendium can be shared by any participant, and can be added-to by student in future semesters. The students loved this project because they recognized the ability of food to express their individual experiences. I loved the project because it represents the cultural diversity of LaGuardia's student population (and I got to steal some of the incredible recipes for myself!). Rebekah Johnson & Hugo Fernandez's "Language of Art" cluster students also participated in this blog for extra credit.

See it here:

Monday, February 27, 2012

Best of Class

My online experience did not actually turn out that well last semester. So, I suppose, I learned a lot about what not to do. I am going to call the moment of awakening to what not to do my best moment in regards to the online portion of my classes. Here is a short list of what not to do. First, do not allow for significant lag time between when students first set up their blogs and when they actually use it. Second, do not expect that they will come through in the clutch on a big assignment when they have not gotten into the habit of using the blog throughout the course of the semester. Third, do not post similar assignments for two different classes and expect that all of the students will do the correct assignment. Now, in my defense, I did clearly state the name of each class for each distinct assignment posting. Yet, several students simply did the first new assignment that they saw.

Revised Collaborative Activity - "Ask the Expert" regarding Cancer Research

First, I have to apologize - I thought that had I posted my collaborative activity from the Fall I semester, but apparently not!

Since the one I had decided on from Fall I is long ago in memory (as I taught in Fall II), I would like to post about a different collaborative activity I did in my ESL099 class in Fall II, based on the common reading, "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks."

The class blog can be found here:


As we read the "HeLa" book in class, I tried to scaffold the reading with a lot of vocabulary work, discussions about major issues in the book, and many Internet research projects about cancer research in the 1950s and more recently, issues in ethics and informed consent.  We also researched segregation, Jim Crow laws, and issues in race in the United States from the 1940s through the present.

Near the end of the term, I invited a guest expert to our blog - my mother - who had a long career as a cancer researcher in a branch clinic of the well-known Mayo Clinic.  I had students write questions (as comments) about cancer, modern cancer research, informed consent, and any other related questions for my mother to answer.  My mother answered all of their questions, and students told me in class that they really appreciated her answers and time and then they wrote thank you messages to her.

Here is the post/assignment with student questions and the "expert's" answers:

I think that this type of collaboration is very important for students using blogs - seeing that someone else out there is reading what they post and interacting with them through the blogs.


At the end of this activity, students will be able to:
 *  (Synthesis Level) compose critical questions based on the content from the book
 *  (Synthesis Level) integrate common themes from the book into their queries
 *  (Analysis Level) connect the things they have been reading and discussing to a real-life interactive situation
 *  (Analysis Level)* select appropriate and relevant questions

Revision for the Future

To do such an activity again, here are my thoughts (based on the Effective Connections Checklist):

I think the students need more support in formulating good questions.  To scaffold the activity, in the future, I think that I will need to discuss the formation of good questions and how to succinctly include a lot of information in one question.  In addition, there should be a discussion about interesting and critical questions rather than simple questions.

To be more collaborative, perhaps students should work in small groups to formulate good and interesting questions.

I believe that it is good for students to connect with people outside the class, particularly for my ESL students, who need input and interaction from native English speakers.

To expand this, perhaps students could write questions for other classes for discussion or in place of a quiz one week.  For something like the common reading, there should be many other courses also reading the same book.  This could be done prior to the interaction with the expert.

I assess the activity verbally in class to students by going through some questions and pointing out some things, but there was no individual feedback.  Perhaps a more rigid rubric for assessing the questions should be used, so that students have clear expectations laid out and also a clear way to then assess the questions formulated.

I also had the students discuss and give me a verbal reflection on the activity in the class, but a written reflection could best round out the activity.

While setting up an activity with this attention to detail in the description before, collaborative work during, and assessment and reflection after the activity is the best possible way to do such an activity, the reality is that it is not feasible to set up every activity in class with all these steps.  However, I will try to incorporate more of these elements into all future activities in my courses!

I think that for a variety of class topics, experts could be asked to respond or participate.  I want to consider who I could ask to be the "expert" in future classes and how to minimize the time they need to spend on it, but yet build an activity that the expert also enjoys participating in.


Revised Activity: Critical Thinking Chat

Justin Rogers-Cooper

1. The revised activity is a critical thinking chat session. It would address the element of critical thinking in student essays before they're turned them in as final drafts. I would allow students to either Skype or chat depending on their learning style.

Advanced organization would be key. Students would have to set appointments to talk at least one week in advance. Students would submit two paragraphs from their essay to their partner three days before the chat. Each student would be responsible for reading the two paragraphs before the chat.

2. The goals of the activity are for students to recognize the presence or absence of critical thinking in the writing of another student, to offer suggested revisiosn for critical thinking, and to be able to identify the type of critical thinking employed by another student writer. At the end of this lesson, they would be able to:

* analyze whether or not a student has produced critical thinking after quotation and citation

* criticize the critical thinking strategies used in student essay

* discriminate between the types of critical thinking students use to expand on quoted passages

3. The connections being made circle around discovering critical thinking, noting its absence, and suggesting possible revisions. I would like to assign students into pairs from the same class. Each student would read the other student essay in their group prior to their conversation on critical thinking.

4. These connections are meaningful because after the chat the students could incorporate the critique into their revision to specifically refresh their critical thinking in an essay. I find the relative quality of critical thinking to be a mature indication of a student's ability to successful advance out of ENG 101.

Bloom's: Understanding, Analyzing, Evaluating

Best of Class

Justin Rogers-Cooper

The students and I had a great afternoon when we watched some segments from the PBS documentary Citizen King. We paused several times during segment to discuss what was happening; in the account, King's attempt to force a crisis in Birmingham didn't really work even after there were initial arrests and his famous letter. Then he allowed children to demonstrate, and from there the police attacked with dogs and hoses. It was a marvellous discussion and I told the students to Tweet their responses for awhile. While they did so, I projected my Twitter account on the smart screen. I felt incredibly joyous watching the Tweets appear and fall down, one after another. Each student was Tweeting several at once, and it appeared like a emerging stream of ideas, one after another, like the Twitter account was the flowing thought of the class, as if we were writing together as one bubbling organism.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Best of Class and Worst

My assignment consisted in connecting two Intro to Philosophy classes on the blog. They had to comment on various philosophers’ views on the soul or self, namely Plato, Descartes, Locke, Hume, Kant, the Phenomenological Approach, the Materialist View, and the Buddhist. This was a low stakes assignment, and I created a blog entry for each philosopher with a picture. It did look good. My little good moment was when I wrote the blog address on the board, one of the students with a laptop went to the blog immediately and exclaimed, “Did you do this? – Wow!” So all students checked out the blog just out of curiosity. The result of the assignment was mixed, some students left rather short comments, especially when commenting on other students’ comments; they mostly just said that they agree with the other student, so in the future I need a more specific interaction. The bad part came when one of the students commented on Descartes based on a misunderstanding; it’s a bit funny, as the student strongly disagreed with Descartes on the grounds that someone in a coma does exist even though that person does not think. It caught on like wildfire before I could intervene. I realized that it is important to check that blog on a very regular basis.

Best class 2.0 experience

After a collaborative activity across sections, I posted here I was able to have ENG 99 students switch positions in the peer review process--they were able to go from reviewers who were giving feedback to writers (of another ENG 99 section) to writers who received feedback (from my ENG 101 students) on the same kind of activity they had critiqued before.

A lot of composition theory addresses the simple reality that college students at the start of their career are very self-centered--not as a generational flaw or a sign of the decline of Rome but because that is where young adults are, developmentally, at that point of their cognitive development. Activities which allow them to see themselves as others see them and, more importantly, to see others as having the same needs (even simple needs for feedback on their work) they do help students both as writers but also as public citizens. Yet conducting such exchanges within a single class brings its own set of challenges, not the least of which the artificiality of it. One of the advantages of 2.0 environments is that we are used to receiving feedback, often even unsolicited, on items we post. So when students are called to critique blogs of people they do not have as classmates it feels as a more authentic real-world experience than a classroom activity to pass the time.

As I was looking at posts (my own and others') from so far I realized we often tend to focus on technology problems or discuss using technology in general, yet when I looked back at activities like the one I mentioned I realized that there are greater advantages to 2.0 platforms than the fact they are non-proprietary or that anyone can join and follow (qualities that are nonetheless important). 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My Best Post

I taught during Fall 2 and gave my students to give their viewpoint on real live Job Discrimination/Harassment cases that I had handled during my career. I gave them details about the situation and then ask for their recommendations on actions the employee should take. Here is a brief description of the case that caused the widest range of outpouring from the class.

Liu works as a Ramp Agent (called Ramp Rats) for a regional airline in the northeast USA. She is very much in a male dominated world and every one of her co-workers is a male most in their mid to late 20s. Liu is in her late 30s and had been frequently hassled by a younger male (ZACK) in the group. Sexual innuendos are frequently made by the guys and Liu has for the most part just ignored them as she wanted

to "FIT IN."

One night while they were on their way for a break at the local Dunkin Donut, Zack picked her wallet out of her uniform and was tossing it around among the guys. Unknown to her, he had taken her credit card and charged all the purchases at Dunkin Donuts to her card for the whole group taking the break.

They all laughed about it but Liu was rather upset that they had taken her wallet and made unauthorized purchases. She is afraid to report it because then all of the guys in the group might turn against her and make it even more difficult.

What should Liu do?

Statistically I had a pretty well split class between male and female. This allowed me to do a balanced review from both perspectives, or at at least I thought. Life experience has taught me that the two sexes will not always see the situation in the same light and guys will often side with guys. Here however, with an academic community that did not know the parties involved, I found a much stronger viewpoint among the males than the females.

1. Most of the males felt that Liu should have not tried to fit in and take a strong stand against the guys for the harassment that took place. In particular the issue involving the stolen wallet, the guys felt she should have taken them all on by personally addressing it.

2. Some of the guys felt she should file sexual harassment charges against the guy.

3. Females had a split viewpoint, feeling she should file sexual harassment charges against the guy through the correct channels in the company.

4. The remaining females were sympathetic to her and felt she should try and work it out.

What I learned from this experience is because they did not know any of the parties personally, they felt like they should be able to work it out on their own.

This ran very contrary to what took place in the workplace, where the Liu did file a harassment suit against Zack and then one against the company.

This was a great learning experience for me about intellectual rather than personal sympathy thinking.

Great learning

Revised Collaborative Activity

Looking through the checklist, I was happy to see that the exam review activity I created already covers many of the desired features. The objectives are clear, it uses a web tool that’s creative, visual and interactive, it connects students with diverse learning styles and web capabilities, it allows for sharing and commenting between students, and it’s accessible across classes, colleges, and countries.

However, there are things that still need to be done. For starters, I need to create the Exploratree template in advance and provide students with the link so that they have easy access to the web tool being used. And I need to address the final part of the checklist – the Feedback/Response/Assessment piece -- by 1) devising an assessment piece and communicating that to the class, and 2) adding a process by which students can reflect on the activity.

The revised activity would have the same goals as before, with one addition (all on the Analysis Level of Bloom’s Taxonomy):

· Analyze an array of essay prompts and choose those that are most relevant to the work done in class

· Decide which essay prompts are appropriate for a two-hour in-class essay

· Examine each potential prompt and choose one or more to discuss at length

· Outline a possible response to one or more of the selected essay prompts

· (New) Read and respond to the work posted by other students

The initial connections are being made between students in my ENG 102 class but it could easily be expanded to include my ENG 101 class, 102 classes taught by others, and/or any class teaching the same text or using similar exam topics. These connections are meaningful because they provide students with a larger model for analysis and critical thinking while preparing them for an in-class essay exam. They will be able to study for the test as they develop the skills necessary to prepare for subsequent exams or assignments.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The best post!

My favorite post came to life by using my I-phone to upload a concise yet powerful statement from one of our students--in less than a minute. The user-friendly Tumblr application, LaGCC's wifi and our wonderful student Ximena made it all happen! Click here to check it out!

How did I do it?
-I found a well lit office (Professor's Meangru's office)
-Made sure my I-phone was fully charged
-Pre-arranged with Ximena the best time to do the post
-We recorded her script, twice. We opted for shot #1, as we felt it was less rehearsed and genuine
-Opened by Tumblr application and uploaded the video
-Watched with Ximena and other students before their final exam review!

Our mini-footage didn't need editing. I'm a fan of short and straight to the point, always. And, since the wi-fi was in its best behavior, this took us under a minute to record and under a minute to post.

Ximena and I agreed that it was the most productive ("The Best"!!!) time we had that Thursday morning. Her classmates watched it immediately and gave it a thumbs up!

Why did I think it was the best?

It was easy and all the students who were shy and didn't want to be on camera, actively supported their classmate.

Aftewards, the students took their final exam review online and their (qualitative) experiences were successfully recorded in writing and via a short video for us to watch from here onwards. We hope to use this as examples with our new Spring I 2012 classes.

Happy Presidents' Day!

Mrs. D.!
Check out Professor Meangru's best post here!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Best Moment: The children are now working as if I did not exist.

The greatest sign of success for a teacher... is to be able to say, "The children are now working as if I did not exist."

I attended a lecture the other evening given by Leo Van Lier, a researcher/professor at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. His focus on an ecological view of the classroom is based on his work with language learners, but I think it applies to all teachers since everyone is a learning through language--as evidenced here on this blog, in our class discussions, our students' writing, etc.

As Van Lier summarized a history of education through the lens of curriculum theorists, he projected the above quote by Maria Montessori and it resonated with me. Clearly we don’t teach children, but some times in the computer lab I have to wonder... (As you guys may or may not remember, I was grappling last semester with my students’ attention spans in front of a screen. It was almost turning into the Battle between the Medium (Web 2.0 platforms) and the Outcome (learning).) I wouldn't want to throw the baby (no pun intended) out with the bath water by giving up on computer labs, but I had to wonder: How could I design lesson plans and sequences that engaged them and could actually harness and even promote playfulness in the lab? How could I layer in intrinsic motivation in the face of Facebook addictions…? 

One A-ha! moment came when I had them collaborate on a Google Docs doc (much like we did at our last Comm 2.0 meeting). This was my ESL 99 class and you can see the post for the class activity here. The part that I loved the most was when, after they were divided up in groups, they began writing responses on this Google Docs doc. The room was electric as the groups generated their answers. I had portioned out sections of the Google Docs doc for each group to write on. Not only did they do what they were *supposed to do, they were having fun doing it: they were reading each other’s answers (and sometimes sneaking in words and phrases in their own languages into each other’s sections). I wish I had a “film” of the screen as different colored cursors like little army ants moved about filling the document with language, making edits, going back to make insertions, moving whole blocks of texts to suit their purposes.

As I walked around the room, I saw no one on the dreaded Facebook although I did notice some cut and pasting comments in Chinese into Google Translate to figure out what their classmates had written in their text. (NOTE: I did it too—a little scared they might have written something inappropriate—it translated to an innocent, “Hello, Kitty!”) They were checking their spelling and consulting with each other.

When we went back to full group to look at the answers, the students seemed more energized than when they had started. They had read, written, talked, and listened—practiced language in its modes—but they had taken it a step further and forgotten for a while that they were in a classroom, doing an assignment, needing to pass the course. Good prescription (or should I say description) for learning.

During the lecture, Van Lier also quoted Lawrence Stenhouse—another radical curriculum dude—who observed that, “Education as induction into knowledge is successful to the extent that it makes the behavioral outcomes of the students unpredictable.”

I’ll be exploring again this semester ways to harness (old verb, sorry!) the power of Web 2.0 participatory platforms for learning—I know it has so much potential—but also addressing the lure of other sites and screens… Re-envisioning/remembering that the classroom is a place for learning to happen as a social practice is one step toward that; another is that learning becomes intrinsically motivated, and finally, that with all this emphasis on detailed learning outcomes, I need to leave wiggle room for the unexpected, the unpredictable.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sensationalism in the world of technology and pedagogy?

The Chronicle's 2/12 article  "A Tech-Happy Professor Reboots After Hearing His Teaching Advice Isn't Working" sounds like big news - Professor Michael Wesch of Kansas State University, renowned for his innovative, student-centered, tech-integrated approach to teaching and learning, acknowledges that what he does with students is not working for his colleagues.

The article, especially the headline, infers that Wesch, somewhat of a teaching with web 2.0 technologies guru, is now rethinking (or renouncing?) his pro-technologies approach after learning it did not work for some of his colleagues. He's also been thoroughly inspired by the teaching of  a colleague, Chris Sorenson, who uses tech-free, good old fashioned lectures.

But the real story is much more nuanced than Wesch's supposed turn-around on whether technologies help students learn and professors teach. Some of that story is even more obvious in the Comments. Here's an excerpt of one from Wesch:

"Not everybody has to teach with technology, but it does need to be deeply embedded throughout the ecosystem we create on campus - and not because "that's what students want" or "that's where the students are." The surprising-to-most-people-fact is that students would prefer less technology in the classroom (especially *participatory* technologies that ask them to do something other than sit back and memorize material for a regurgitation exercise). I use wikis, blogs, twitter and other social media in the classroom not because our students use them, but because I am afraid that social media might be using them – that they are using social media blindly, without recognition of the new challenges and opportunities they might create. I use social media not only as an effective teaching tool that encourages participation, but also as a way to broaden the media literacy of our students. In this regard, we still have a great deal of work to do. We need to embed new media literacy more deeply into the curriculum so that it isn't just this "one crazy Anthropology class" (as I have heard my class fondly referred to by students) that showed them how they can effectively use these tools in ways they had not yet imagined, while also allowing them to see a little more clearly how these tools are using them, altering their habits, sensibilities, and values as well as the larger structural contexts in which they live."