Friday, March 30, 2012

Connection completed!

Hello all,
I have one great thing to report. Yes, ONE, uno, UM! I managed to link up with MAT115.1699 and the students completed the pre-survey.

What worked this week?
Having the pre-survey link ready to go always makes completing the pre-survey a smooth process.

What didn't work this week?
An url link originally as the title that didn't want to cooperate, meaning, it didn't send students direclty to the pre-survey link. Thankfully I was able to edit the post and within minutes the MAT115.1699 students were able to complete this crucial step...just in time before we have one week left for Spring Break (a much deserved break we all need ASAP).
I will never never post a link as a title on Tumblr or any Blog platform. I was lucky students were
patient for the whole 30 seconds it took me to fix that minor glitch. (Know that 30 seconds in the classroom feels like an eternity. Gosh technology, indeed, is a double edge sword.)

Next week, Prof. Meangru and I shall be analyzing the first comments and experiences students
reported on our blog two weeks ago. Our goal is to be able to evaluate students positive and "feelings of apathy" comments regarding Math in general.

And with that, happy
Prof. De León

Student Feedback on Interclass Activities

I want to dedicate this post to student reactions to the analysis review we did with Ximena's class and the thesis review we did with Jason's class. A complete set of responses can be found on my ENG 1o2's class Facebook page but I chose these six to show a range of reactions. Most students found the exercises to be useful, both in understanding the meaning of the poem and in honing their thesis statements for clarity and relevance. They liked interacting with other students and while some would have preferred a more personal connection, others liked the anonymity of it. Some pointed out other flaws as well (such as overly brief responses and technical confusion) and I will keep those in mind as I continue to develop these sorts of assignments.

I will add that the essays my students submitted after doing these activities were fairly strong -- most had clear thesis statements and presented and defended a clear analysis of the poem (rather than summarizing each stanza or making broad generalizations). Even the essays that floundered a bit evidenced real thought and struggle with the ideas being presented in the poem, and I consider that to be a successful piece of writing, regardless of the grade earned.

Here's the prompt I gave them:

What did you think of last week’s online interactions -- commenting on the analyses of Dr. Gallardo’s students and getting feedback on your thesis statements from Dr. Smith’s students? Did the process have an effect on how you began drafting Essay #1? Why or why not?

Here are some of their responses:

I like the feedback I received. I think it's a great idea for students to share their work with other students and then give their opinion to help out the student. Some of the students who commented on my thesis disagreed. The students disagreed on the fact that the speaker of the poem "I Felt a Funeral in my Brain", had no fearful expectations of death. The students believed the speaker was going insane, or sad and depressed. These comments made me reevaluate my thesis, and change it.

It is always good to have an opinion of an outsider because sometimes they catch things that the writer does not catch. I have to say that some of the comments were very short and brief, but there were other ones that went into detail and that really helped.

In my opinion I felt that last week’s interactions had its positives and negatives. One positive thing was that we were able to get feedback and ideas from others which helped me to understand the poem more than I did before. But one negative thing that happened to me was that I was not able to see who commented on my thesis because on my computer it showed all the comments together so it was really hard to distinguish who commented on my thesis. After finally finding the comment I was able to see that my thesis was not the strongest and I made a new one and I feel as if it is much better than the first one.

One of the most difficult parts of writing an essay is coming up with your thesis statement. I feel that this activity does help determine if your initial thesis is clear or not and if your ideas reflect the question being asked. For me, I felt that this small activity of a revision of other works by commenting will be beneficial to all by making our thesis statements clear so we can organize what we should and should not write about.

I actually liked the fact that we are able to give and get feedback to and from another English classes that are learning the same material I am. It helped me see other sides and other ideas about the Emily Dickinson poem we read last week. There’s never only one right idea or opinion about poetry and it’s always good to see other perspectives. I must admit that it was a little confusing in the beginning looking up all the documents on Facebook; so many things going on all on one page. I am slowly getting a hang of it though. Interacting with the other English classes did have a positive effect on drafting my essay. I’m not too comfortable writing essays and it just put me more at ease. It helped me focus on the smaller ideas of the poem rather than just worrying about the essay as a whole.

I think that the last week`s online interactions were interesting. I never experienced that in any other class. Many people are shy to show their work and have it viewed by other people. However, here our work was discussed and commented by people in other class. They do not know us, so they comment on our work based on what we did write. In addition, I think that it is a great experience to work on one poem in a large group, where people have different thoughts, sometimes very different from ours. It let us think about the poem more deeply. By getting feedback on my thesis statement I could see if other students understand the poem the way I do, or if they have very different opinions.

Commenting on Dr. Gallardo`s class analyses was a great opportunity to focus on each important word of the poem. We had read the opinion of the student, then we came up with our ideas of how to explain each word, and what does it mean. In my opinion we should do the online interactions more often, in order to understand each poem deeply, and get as much as possible from each of them

This experience was a totally new to me. Since we did it in groups, it wasn’t so stressful. Also the fact that we didn’t know that class, make me write truthfully thought. On top of that there was some information that I didn’t think about while reading the poem. When I post my thesis statement, I was curious what other people would say about it. I think that this method is great because it helps to correct our thoughts or to feel stronger about it. I would like to continue with this method of representing and discussing our work.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

ENG 220 meet ENG 101

Bloom's Taxonomy: Application, Analysis, Evaluation
How Did It Go
Last spring I had my ENG 220 Peer Tutoring students comment upon and tutor the blogs and students from ENG 099, basic writing. This year I paired them with my ENG 101 class(es) for the first time. I first put them with my ENG 101 cluster, "Global Politics," where during the first two weeks the students read Walter Mosley's wonderful polemeic Workin on the Chain Gang. For the first blog assignment, the 101's had to summarize the introduction to the text and meditate informally on a correctly cited quotation from the piece in 250-300 words.

I paired my 220 peer tutor students with my 101s first last week. The 220 students were nervous at first and I threw them right into the mix. We had been studying how to approach working with students for three weeks at that point. Yet when it came to actually conversing with students, the peer tutors became anxious with the awesome responsibility that really comes from commenting on other students' work. Some of them were commenting upon blogs that the 101 students had already commented upon between themselves; in a couple examples below, you can compare the differences. The peer tutors encountered very real writing issues right away, including a student whose English-language issues curled into possible plagiarism(here) (please note you're looking at a blog that's been revised with the comment beneath it in mind already). I had to sit down next to each peer tutor and walk through templates for responding and even work through their emotional reaction to the subject matter (Mosley is intense!). See the following links: EXAMPLE EXAMPLE EXAMPLE


The most difficult aspect of this was getting the peer tutors to focus on higher order concerns. We re-did this exercise yesterday and I changed how I gave them instructions and where I told them to focus their efforts: focus on higher-order concerns and always have the 101s stretch their critical thinking. For the peer tutors, the biggest issues were their fears of hurting people's feelings and their confusion about what to do if the blogs 'were good already.' Again, I sat beside everyone and worked out their confusions and suggestions. Some people had more difficult tasks than others. Tutors that finished early I allowed to comment upon other blogs. Here are some examples from the second week to contrast with ones above.

Overall, I'm satisfied with how both classes have evolved. In the future, I would lay out some general guidelines to follow for the peer tutors beyond my description of the activity itself on our 220 course blog. I also believe there's real practical value in the students learning by doing and by my conferencing with them one on one.

Next week, I plan to have the tutors reflect on their 101 comments in their blogs (so far, if you click on their names (220 course blog, on right) you can see their observations of tutors on the Writing Center.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

One Centralized Blog v. Many Individual Blogs

As we are doing here in Community 2.0, I am now using a "one shared class blog" model instead of having students each create their own blogs.  The reasons for doing so are threefold:

  1. My ESL097 students have a lower level of writing and comprehension than some other levels I've worked with, and I wanted to make the use of a blog in class easy for them.
  2. I have liked how the communal blog works for Community 2.0 - and I feel that I am more likely to read through everyone else's posts when they are all in one centralized location, rather than needing to click links to visit separate sites.
  3. I wanted to try something new - I have been having students create individual blogs for the past few semesters.
I have been waiting to see how it is going before posting anything about the difference.  My biggest issue at first was that there were no computer labs available - so the first few weeks of class, I didn't have access to a lab.  I had students look at the blog and Blackboard on the first Lab day in a computer lab, but felt that it would be hard to help and support students enough without a class day in a computer lab.  I just got the great news, last week, that I could have a lab for 2 hours on Thursdays, and so we had our first class day in a lab last week and it helped immensely to be able to troubleshoot with students, get a few of them on the blog who hadn't been able to yet, and to help monitor the way they were doing commenting.  With the lab that I will now have weekly, I will finally be able to confidently give blog assignments.

At first, some students didn't understand how to do their own posts (and were instead doing "comments"), but I think we have worked out the kinks and students now know how to both post their own posts and comment on others'.

In some ways, I think that the centralized blog is much better.  Everyone goes to the same site, can easily see each others' posts, and can immediately compare the length of their writing with others.  Some posts look much shorter than others, and I hope that this encourages students to write a little bit more.  On the other hand, do students feel that they "own" this site like they do when creating and designing their own blogs?

So far, so good... so I will simply have to wait to see the results from the whole term!


Article on College 2.0 and using "enemy" feature on Facebook (The Chronicle)

I found this article interesting, not only because it questions the censorship on Facebook (the inability to "dislike" something), but also because it is an interesting social experiment.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Grading Online Work

From Teaching College English

So, since most of us use a rubric or holistic scale to grade online work (see HERE for several models), I thought I would try to transform my scale into a checklist of sorts using Google Forms to evaluate my ENG099 blogs this week end.

As I was putting together the form, I realized that if I included the descriptions for every category, the resulting paragraph that I would then paste into the Blackboard comments would be enormous and therefore off-putting.

Besides, I wanted to include a sentence or two of encouragement, either for a job well done or a sincere attempt at getting the work done.

So I decided that I would give my students the evaluation scale HERE, and key the comments to it, as in these examples:

For Quality:
  • Excellent job! Your discussion of ideas others is relevant, thoughtful, insightful, and fully developed. Your level of online work is Exemplary. OR
  • You need to push yourself a bit more. Your discussion of ideas is somewhat relevant, but sometimes also superficial, incomplete, or general. Your level of online work is Developing. 
For Quantity:
  • Thanks for writing all blog entries. OR
  • Notice that you missed two blog entries. Please let me know if there is a problem that is not allowing you to complete the work on time.

Of course, all categories in the form had the option for filling in extra comments, as particular students may have something else going on in their writing that we need to expand on.

A typical overall evaluation created by the form, then, would look like this (keep in mind that I also give feedback on individual blog entries via the Comment function on students' blogs):
You are starting to get good at this! Your discussion of ideas is at some points quite relevant and thoughtful. Your level of online work is between Developing and Proficient. Thanks for writing all blog entries.Your work during class (Group Work, Reflections) as well as homework (Writing Tutorials, Grammar Exercises) is outstanding. 
To improve, in the next unit aim for longer blog entries with more concrete examples and ideas. Use what you know!

By the end of the next unit, you need to complete at least one quiz on Articles.
The last part, where students are directed to work on a writing/ grammar problem is keyed to the class blog's Writing/Grammar page, such as this one HERE.

  • What I like most about this use of the form is that it allows me to take time to write encouraging feedback (I tend to get critical as the grading hours roll on). 
In terms of advantages over regular rubric/scale grading:
  • If you add an option to fill in the unit, it keeps a record of your feedback for every student per unit. Because the results go to a spreadsheet, you can isolate your responses to a particular student, thereby getting a pretty good picture of how the student is progressing, what you told her to do at every step, and what kind of help she still needs.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Week 3 Reflection

Both of my classes took their first field trip this week to the Museum of Modern Art. They viewed the exhibits "Contemporary Galleries: 1980 - Now" and "Cindy Sherman" for their writing topic, "Art and Identity". You can see the writing prompt on the course blog:

Many students were having a problem taking their weekly quizzes using the Test function on Blackboard 8. They would get an error message with hotspot questions (click on the correct image questions), that read "NaN: invalid response". This would result in the students receiving 0 credit for the response. Blackboard support on campus did not have a solution, so I did some troubleshooting of my own. I determined that the latest version of Firefox (version 11) does not work with these types of questions. Internet Explorer 9 does seem to work, though. IE 9 is not on Blackboard's "approved" browser list, but then again, neither are any current versions of the major browsers.

Blog Publishing

I just came back from CCCC, where since I was presenting on peer review through blogger, I also attended sessions with similar concerns.

The reports (both my own and of other presenters) about the benefits of multimodal peer-review are encouraging--the focus on written communication that such platforms encourage fosters student responses that are both qualitatively and quantitatively better than the paper counterpart. One of the concerns audience members in my presentation had, however, was about the practice of publishing a draft. I believe in some other form the same concern had come up when Jason and Ximena had presented on the issue, and so I think it is worth exploring.

The concern is as follows: even people who have a blog of their own only hit "publish" when they feel that post is ready to hit the public. That is also the case in print--writers send articles to journals which we call peer reviewed, but the writer having submitted the article is not claiming they are sending an unfinished product, no matter what comments they get back. Yet such is not the case when I ask my students to publish a rough draft so others will read and critique it. One suggestion I received was to have a limited audience for the drafts (perhaps only class members) and a wider, public one for final drafts. I am not averse to the idea (though I think the logistics of it may be nightmarish) yet I am also concerned this can be a step backwards--one of the benefits of public posting on blogger is that students consider them a real writing situation. If they limit them to classmates and perhaps those of another section (again, not easy to do), doesn't that change the dynamic? So these are the questions I was left with as I was flying back from St Louis. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

The ball is rolling but not without complications!

My perfect plans to get Prof. Gutierrez’s MAT115 to take the pre-survey went out the window when a quiz took precedence last Wednesday, 3/21/2012; and the MAT096 section I
needed to invite to co-collaborate with our MAT115 course was canceled due to
the professor falling ill. I had to reschedule for next week and that in my innate planner mind, didn’t sit pretty at all. So, I inhaled and exhaled (I &E) repeatedly back to my little nook in the B-building because these things happen and are simply out of my control.

I’m a big fan of checking off To Do lists electronically and on paper. To sit here and type this
is a big deal, but I find comfort in knowing that at least Dr. Meangru’s MAT115 is getting the hang of doing problem sets on the blog and that sometimes a step backwards can only ensure to move two more steps forward. And, at least this section has completed the first interaction and pre-survey! (I guess today, I still need more I &E… :(! ).

So with this, I learned, once again, that I must adjust and just be flexible… for the best
plans sometimes just have to wait one more week!

Next week will be full of checking off things on my To Do lists!!!

Happy Spring 2012

Mrs. D.!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Getting Started With Online Activity

My class meets once a week for two hours with one hour in a computer laboratory. The last two sessions were used to get students registered and performed a mock session for an online management system and do a trial run on Tumblr. At the same time, they were asked to post a short paragraph about their prior experience with mathematics.

Today they were given a problem to solve and then ask to post their solutions in Tumblr. I commented on their results and give them an opprotunity to correct any mistakes. If on the second try they didn't get the right answer, I suggest that they look at one of the postings for possible hints.

The session went very well, given the fact that they never seen such problem in class. I next step is to have students post at least one response to any student in the class for a weekly online activity. Let's see how it goes!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Results of First Inter-Class Connection

This week my ENG 102 class connected with students in Ximena's and Jason's classes. It was a three-part process squeezed into one week. Late Monday, Ximena's students read the common text ("I Felt a Funeral, in my Brain" by Emily Dickinson) and wrote a brief analysis that was posted on Google Docs. On Tuesday morning, my class read and discussed the poem and then formed groups to review and comment on what Ximena's students had written. Finally, that same day my students created thesis statements about the poem and posted them on a separate Google Doc that Jason's students reviewed on Tuesday afternoon, also providing comments.

My students tried hard and the first part -- where we reviewed analyses created by Ximena's class -- went really well. They used the "comments" function on Google Docs to explain why they agreed or disagreed with what Ximena's students had posted. As I walked around the room, the discussion was lively and on point and their comments were thoughtful and specific.

Part 2 felt a little more labored. They had to work fast to create thesis statements and post them by the end of class so that Jason's students could access them later than afternoon. It felt like a bit much to do another new tech-based activity during the same class session though most students were able to post and did get interesting comments back from Jason's class. I went back and added my own comments as well, mostly in the form of clarification questions.

In retrospect, it was probably too much to do in one week, during one three-hour class session, and during the second week of classes. I had never used Google Docs before and with so much else going on at the beginning of the semester, this felt like a lot of extra work for me. I probably communicated some of that stress to my students. Another quirk of Google Docs is that I couldn't always tell which comment went with which thesis statement, which could be confusing.

Now that we've tried it, I would adjust the pacing before doing it again. I would definitely do it again, though, since despite some rough patches, I think the results were quite useful. My students are now working on formal essays about the poem and I plan to ask them this week how the interactions affected their writing process (if at all). I can share their responses next time.

To refresh your memory, here are the learning objectives as posted last week (all of these objectives were met):
- to identify and understand key poetic terms in use (such as rhyme scheme, metaphor, etc.)
- to analyze the poem using those terms
- to read and comment on the analyses of other students
- to draft a thesis statement about the poem

Interesting Observation

In working with my students this semester, I find it amazing how little technology they understand beyond Facebook, iPod their Iphone. Getting everyone enrolled in gmail when you are working from a fully online setting presented more challenges than I thought. There knowledge of google, except for the search engine is very limited. However, we have had success and everyone is now on line and ready to post their first assignments.
As we only meet every other week in this seminar class the first real assignments will come due in 10 days. The seminar is on the Future of Work and how the work world will evolve in five to ten years time. Each blog will focus on one aspect of a changing workplace and how it might directly affect their working practices. A couple of the blogs are listed on my link already in preparation for the students having to post in them.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Not ready to learn one more platform?

I remember Dr. Sanchirico mentioning how much of what we do with Google Docs can be done with Windows Live. And since our students all have live e-mails, here is an article for those of you that want to make their lives easier by working with technologies they already know:

Windows Live As Alternative to GoogleDocs

March 16, 2012, 3:00 pm

Week 2-Interactions Galore!

Well, well...week #2 has been tough and super busy, but luckily we got Prof. Meangru's MAT115 to interact with Prof. Gutierrez's MAT115 via the comments sections. We finally simplified the process and students are way more eager to share their Math frustrations and successes. Check it out here! We got 46 comments and replies between students in two sections of MAT115! :)!

Prof. Meangru and I are happy that we assessed what worked last semester and what didn't; thus far--we're progressing and utilizing our past experiences to make the sharing and learning much more interactive. Despite being one of the busiest weeks I can recall in the pats two years, I think it was very productive!

Our next goal is to get MAT096's students to interact with the MAT115 students. Wish us luck!

Happy weekend!

Best-Mrs. D.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Flipping the Classroom-Seeing it in Action

This is a followup to Priscilla's recent post. If you missed 60 Minutes last week you might want to see an example of  flipping the classroom in a Math class. This segment shows how teachers and parents are using the Khan Academy to help their children learn. But it's not just for kids!  The short story- Sal Khan began tutoring a cousin who was having trouble in Math. Soon hundreds of people were using his videos including Bill Gates who used it to help his son learn Math. He ultimately provided funding for its expansion. The Math modules are used to flip classrooms and in this 60 Minutes segment you can see it in action. (The Khan Academy offers thousands of free video lessons on Basic Math,  through Calculus, Art, Chemistry...) This segment is fascinating and inspiring but I couldn't figure out how to bypass two brief commercials  (if anyone has tips on how to accomplish this, please let me know.;topnews

Week Two Reflection

Week two went smoothly in both of my sections of Intro to Art. Thanks to Jason for the explanation of why some students were not able to create Blogger accounts in the lab last week. Since all of the computers in the lab are connected, Google thinks that there is one person trying to hack the system and create multiple accounts. Everyone else was able to create their blogs from home without issue.

This week we spent time in the lab learning about the basic functions of Adobe Photoshop in order to create the second project, "The Narrative Digital Collage." This can be a somewhat stressful technology to teach, even with the most basic functions. However, most students are willing to learn, and it really is a great skill to have.

You can see the guidelines for this project on our class blog site: . Here, you can also link to the individual blogs of my students, and see their first posts for the writing prompt "Good Art/Bad Art."

PS: check out the art exhibit on the 5th floor of the E bldg. It includes work by Priscilla, Nozomi & myself!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Blogs and Plans

Justin Rogers-Cooper

In my two ENG 101 courses, students have set up and written their first blogs. My cluster ENG 101 has a lab hour (just one!) and I've found that a much better space to instruct them with online assignments than the class without a lab. My lab-less ENG 101 has a harder time learning to set up blogs and add new posts because the teaching isn't interactive. I have to show them everything by projector and then leave them with instructions to refer to later. Given the technology we now have, I'm sort of surprised looking around the room and seeing people still using good old fashioned notebooks. I'm not surprised economically - laptops are still expensive, after all -- but only somehow in a fantastic, utopian sense. We have so much technology in our culture and my students work from paper notebooks.

This semester I started a blog with ENG 220 students, too; the course is called Seminar in Teaching Writing. It's basically a tutor training class for future teachers. All but one of the students are education majors. They observe tutors in the Writing Center and they will work with ENG 099 basic writing students. I've also decided that I'll have them work with my ENG 101 students. They shall be put to work. I taught this class last year and I didn't have them keep blogs. I'm looking forward to seeing how this will facilitate vertical communications this spring.

I have two thoughts at the beginning of this semester: 1) having the students log into blogger and leave comments for each other isn't going well in the labs. When they sign in and leave a comment, the screen refreshes itself and the comment disappears. What's happening? and 2) I know that in some composition classes around the country the digital humanities initiatives are teaching students basic coding as a kind of literacy. This seems like something that Community 2.0 might have some thoughts about. Those same programs also tend to emphasize visual elements of composition, too, as in video and photographs. I wonder when the cost of video equipment and software will come down enough that we can easily each use all kinds of composition tools with our students -- not just keyboards. I have an idea for a new course that would be called "advanced comp" and it would include video essays, self-coded wikis, and research projects with visual components. How hard is it to build interactive websites? I'd like to learn this stuff quickly and pass it along. What's the easiest coding possible?

My final thought is about Pathways. In all the learning outcomes, did anyone see anything related to technological literacy? I can't remember.

Being flexible and reflective in ELL 101 Honors

There were a few glitches at the beginning of the semester--technological and otherwise. On the first day of class, I thought I'd check out my computer lab a few hours before class--just to get to know the tech, see whether it was a PC or Mac lab, my access to turning on and off the projector. (I find that working in a lab needs to be choreographed a bit beforehand--setting up videos so they've already buffered, "publishing" blog posts I haven't wanted students to see beforehand, etc.)
To my shock (!), it wasn't a computer lab! And here the first class lesson was shaped all around creating blogs, posting, learning how to create documents in Google Docs and linking them to blogs, etc. Fortunately, that was settled by the second week (i.e., this past Tuesday), but I've fallen away from having them use Google Docs (wonder if I'll recover the time...?) because I can't let this class be about technology.
Having said that, things are going smoothly and the students seem to be enjoying learning to use and practicing on these platforms. (I'm using Google Docs, spreadsheets/forms, surveymonkey, etc.)
The blog list on Blogger has a glitch that we're needing to work around and I guess that "needing to work around" is the big theme in my teaching now. Things might go wrong, they certainly won't be perfect, but if I can model to students that it's worth having visions/ideas of how things can be, taking risks, succeeding in some, failing and/or fixing others, AND that I can tolerate it in myself and in them, then I think I've succeeded in something about teaching and learning. Maybe it's the value of being flexible and reflective and how much room it leaves to be playful even when you're setting the bar high.
More particulars in ensuing posts!  

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Rizzieri-opening week blog assignments

My students are in the process of setting up their blogs and linking to my blog.  Out of 52 students only 29 have completed the task in its entirety which is a bit troubling.  Each day in class we have spent the first 5-10 minutes trouble-shooting the setting up of a blog.  Many students were undone by the google chrome browser.  My main concern with these two classes is that too many students are not admitting in class that they are having trouble.  Hence, it is difficult to trouble-shoot.  Furthermore, the ones that are all set are beginning to get frustrated with the continued talk in class of what they take to be a simple task.

I basically set up a blog, and gave them the address to that blog in class.  The rest of the directions for setting up their own are on my blog.  Any suggestions on how to better facilitate blog set-up with those that  are having trouble?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Blogs and use of class time

I meet with my ENG 99 students in a lab once a week (my original twice a week in a lab class was cancelled) so on Tuesday I asked students to create a blog. I just put on screen "" and told them to click on "create a blog" and go through the process. I expected that when  we would meet in a lab on Thursday I would at least have some of them who would have gone through the process. Instead, 21 out of 27 students had blogs on Thursday, and of the 6 without one was not in class Tuesday so he did not know he was supposed to.

Now, granted the 6 who did not have them took class time to create the blogs but this time I only had to deal with 6 students and they all had someone around who could guide them through the process. A search through my past posts on the issue on creating blogs shows that this used to be a very frustrating process because I would take all of the students through the process step by step, yet an amazingly large number of students were able to do this on their own without asking questions or any snags (while there were many in the lab--the same others have reported like the locking out of phone numbers etc). There is an obvious point here about students turning into dependent puppies in the setting of a classroom and being independent adults outside of it (for which teachers share responsibility) but more importantly after using blogger for so many semesters in class I had forgotten that the tool was actually supposed to be easy enough to be set by anyone out there, else there would not have been such a proliferation of them--an advantage I had almost eliminated by guiding students through the process using class time. 

Our First Inter-Class Connection

Hi everyone! I am planning a class connection between my ENG 102 and Ximena and Jason’s students to begin this week (hopefully). We are all asking our students to discuss the same Emily Dickinson poem. The learning objectives are:

- to identify and understand key poetic terms in use (such as rhyme scheme, metaphor, etc.)
- to analyze the poem using those terms
- to read and comment on the analyses of other students
- to draft a thesis statement about the poem

We haven’t started the official interaction yet but I’ve already “borrowed” a slide show discussing poetic terms from Jason and Ximena and used it in class last week. This week I hope to have my students look at X’s blog, discuss the findings of her students, and use that discussion to create their own thesis statements. My biggest concerns are timing (I don’t have a clear sense of how long all this will take) and technology (What if I forget to post the right link? What if we can’t access it for some reason? What if students find the technology to be cumbersome? etc).

The work they do will lead directly into their first formal essay so I’m hoping to be able to gauge how effective the lesson was based on what they submit. So far, the slide show was a success as demonstrated by their clear understanding of the terms in the Diagnostic Essays they wrote last week. I'll let you all know how the class connection goes in next week's post.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Google Forms for Brainstorming


So, this past week I used Google Forms both in ENG099 and ENG102 for the students for the students to brainstorm on a topic before we actually discuss it. I use the method we used in the February meeting: Form + Spreadsheet. In 102, I hid the column with students' names; in 099, I left the column open to view, just to see if it made a difference (it did not seem to).

Objectives and Bloom's

For ENG099*:

  • to define what annotation is, describe how it is done, and explain for what purpose (Knowledge Level; Comprehension Level).
  • to implement this understanding of annotation to produce group and individual annotations (Application Level).

For ENG102*:

  • to interpret, report on, and discuss the meaning of symbols (Comprehension Level).
  • to select one possible meaning of the word "rose" and explain its significance to themselves (Analysis Level).
*there's way more to the lesson, but these are the objectives connected to the brainstorming. If curious , the ENG099 lesson is HERE, the ENG102 HERE.

Google Forms is very effective as a brainstorming tool. Advantages over discussion + writing on whiteboard (which we did anyway afterwards):

  1. Every single student engages with the concepts to be discussed, as they have to fill out the form. 
  2. As ideas come in, I get to flag three or four good ones to begin the conversation or mention during the discussion. Once I get to know the students' names, I will be able to say "as so-and-so wrote..."
  3. Students get to view everyone's responses before we discuss, so they are better prepared for the discussion.
  4. The shy students get to contribute to the conversation.
  5. It quiets down the room in 0.5 seconds, as students are intent on answering the questions. 
  6. Students become intensely focused on the task at hand because they are turning their notes "in" to me. (Now that they realize their notes can be made public, the pressure to complete the task will be higher). No more "I'm pretending to brainstorm on my piece of paper, but I'm really doodling and have no idea what the conversation is about").
  7. Because the instructions are written beforehand, late students can jump in right away to answer the questions with no need for an explanation beyond "Click here. Answer the questions." Or they can fill the form after class.
  8. I can review it later to see how much each student is contributing or understanding. Students that did not come to class or had a hard time following the discussion can review it and derive understanding from our collective wisdom.
  9. If you do it at the beginning of class, it creates an instant attendance list, complete with at what time the late students came in.

099 Form HERE; Spreadsheet HERE.
102 Form HERE; Spreadsheet HERE.

Wiggy Chrome? Blogger Hurt?

If you are using the computer labs, you may have encountered problems when students tried to get their blogs, etc. Part of the problem is that the labs now have Google Chrome as the default browser, and for some reason, Chrome at school is having trouble rendering websites, including Blogger, correctly. In some labs, Explorer is doing the same.

Solution? Ask students to use MOZILLA FIREFOX as their browser.

Also, now that Blogger is updating to a new interface, you may have some trouble helping students navigate their dashboards, etc. You may want to become familiar with the new interface by clicking "Try the updated Blogger interface" on the very top of your Blogger dashboard. You can switch back to your old interface by clicking the Cog Wheel icon on the right.

Plus, if you are trying to create a Blogroll, the Blog List gadget may not let you rename the blogs. We're sure the folks at Google will fix this bug soon, but in the meantime, you may want to use the Link List to create your student blogroll that uses their names.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Flipping the Classroom!

Lately, maybe you've heard of "flipping" the classroom - or maybe you've already flipped yours! Basically it's a "reversal" of the standard use of class time to "deliver" course content.

So in a flipped class, students are learning the material independently outside of class and class time is used for activities like q & a, small groups comparing their interpretations of material, problem-solving, games, etc.There's no a cookie-cutter; there are many models for using class time this way, and as Andrew Martin points out in the Chronicle of Higher Ed, it's not new. The comments also bring in some interesting points about context and learning styles on both sides:

And here's a YouTube video from Penn State that walks through the basic logistics of Flipping the Classroom: .

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Week 1-Spring I 2012-Constructing and communicating undestanding for an authentic audience!

What a great advantage it is to have one semester of "constructing and communicating understanding for an authentic audience" under our belts.

This time around, we knew how to target the classroom and sell our blog as an educational tool for Prof. Meangru's MAT115-Hybrid and the other MAT115/MAT096 participating sections. We had the ability this Spring I 2012 to go directly to MathBlogLagCC and show our new students how we will be using the blog to nurture a more interative learning experience with their Math course. The Fall I 2011 archives came in very handy and Rudy's MAT115 Hybrid course were very eager and welcoming to the blog and the exercise.

The students were eager and jumped on board once we requested they complete the pre-survey. The next day, I visited Prof. Gutierrez's MAT115 course. This section will complete the pre-survey next Wednesday.

I have a couple more sections of MAT096 to visit next week, and needelss to mention, it's going to be a busy ride next week (and for the entire Spring I 2012 Session, as matter of fact). We will continue to work on creating an “authentic audience” trough every post and interaction in person, as well.

In regards to access to technology; so far, so good! We haven't had trouble with our blog, but then again, we use and not blogspot/google. I will, however, keep my fingers cross in hopes that we don't encounter technological glitches and difficulties!

Happy Friday; for this first week was intense!


Mrs. D.!

Monday, March 5, 2012

First Week: Blogger Issues

My first section of Intro to Art for the semester had problems regarding students creating their own Blogger pages. 6 of the 20 students in my class were not able to create new blogs from the computers in our classroom lab. These students were able to do the following: they signed-in to their Google accounts, selected "Create New Blog", and input a page name and url. On the next page, when they were asked to provide a phone number to be texted a verification code, the code or page was "invalid". I had these students sign-out and try again at another computer with no success. After a few attempts, Google also said that their phone numbers were locked out of any future attempts.

Does anyone know what the problem may be, or how to avoid this in the future? Could this have anything to do with the fact that these students did not have Google accounts before today?