Monday, July 24, 2023

Universal Design for Learning for Heartland Community College

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Strategies and Reflection for Heartland Community College

The goal of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is to design curricula that will engage each student with a wide variety of information and activities.  Rather than simply rely on lectures or texts, UDL urges instructors to use combinations of visual and audible modes to convey information, and then provide students with options for how best to show their learning.  Developing this website was possible through the UDL training grant I received through Heartland Community College.

Unfortunately, much of the development for this website was interrupted by Covid-19, so I haven't had a chance to fully update it with the courses I teach at Heartland.  However, the site does have helpful tips about how to build a course following UDL guidelines, and hopefully that can provide instructors with ideas they can use in their classrooms.

English Language Arts for YouthBuild McLean County

It's been a few years since I've updated the IFP page here, but I've been very busy with teaching in the meantime.  Currently, I'm developing two online teaching resources.  The fun part about developing new websites is figuring just how best to convey information, but it's also a major challenge trying to make everything work together coherently.  This is especially a challenge when building lesson plans — it's difficult trying to scaffold the material in a way that students will easily understand the content so they can apply new skills toward their assignments.

Here's a look at the main curriculum page I'm building right now as part of my teaching position at YouthBuild McLean County (YBMC):

English Language Arts Curriculum

On this website, I'm building the core curriculum for high school students attending a vocational charter school.  Given the nontraditional and asynchronous approaches we take toward education, it can be difficult finding common interests among our students.  We have new students entering our program four times a year, and each student arrives with different needs and expectations, so I'm putting together a wide variety of courses that follow a modular format.  With the modular format, students can enter a course at any point, learn a key skill, and then apply that skill to a given task.  This way, we can have workshops with groups of students who may be at very different points in their learning.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

English 101 and 099 - Fall 2017

Syllabus Links:

Braided Approach

Richard A. Gale describes "braided practice" as work that combines pedagogy with scholarship to produce not only excellence in teaching, but a systematic contribution to the institutional understanding of learning.  "For when disciplinary knowledge, pedagogical expertise and scholarly inquiry are combined, not just in tandem but entwined,  connected with and reinforcing each other, they become a braided practice that is stronger, more coherent and more likely to lead to the kind of teaching that will in turn lead to significantly improved student learning" (from "Chapter 2: Braided Practice" in International Perspectives on Teaching Excellence in Higher Education, ed. Alan Skelton, 2007).  He describes a "cycle of inquiry," wherein instructors follow up their questions about student learning with investigations that often cross the lines of disciplines.

For a long time, I've been working on a pedagogy that I considered as the "braided syllabus," but I was unfamiliar with works by Gale and others.  My conception of "braiding" has been very different, less centered on a cycle of research and more centered upon the pragmatics of instructional goals: assembling a syllabus that would weave together lessons on grammar and style with lessons about research and lessons on cultural issues.  I like using the term "braided" to describe this interweaving of lesson goals, but I hesitate to use this term given its established meaning in prior scholarship.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Initial Research: Project 1

One of the most important parts of researching any topic is deciding what exactly you'll research.  For this, you'll want to start with an open-ended approach, and then use your initial research to narrow-down your topic and your genre.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

ENG 101 - Fall 2015 - Composition as Critical Inquiry

ENG 101 - Fall 2015

One of the most difficult challenges facing student writers today is the need to reconcile the literate skills learned through social media with the formal demands of academic genres such as essays and term papers. Often, neither the social nor academic genres prove very helpful in occupational settings - you can't learn resume writing from the five-paragraph essay any more than you can learn it from Facebook. This becomes still more complicated as you factor in the variety of disciplines represented in English 101 - I frequently teach students in business, nursing, the humanities, and other majors, and each academic field has it's own demands for "good" writing.

Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" and Copyright

Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" provided a pivotal moment in the Civil Rights movement, and the message of his speech continues to resonate with the longstanding issues of race and racism in America.  As a text, the speech and its video footage offer an important example of how CHAT applies to writing in the real world.  However, another issue is the copyrighted nature of the speech, which can limit it's Distribution while also reflecting the economic Ecology of the Civil Rights Movement.

Group Quiz Links
Read More

Monday, July 20, 2015

Menominee Indian Tribe: Creating Genres with Social Purpose

One of the most important aspects of writing is understanding that every writing situation can be approached in multiple ways.  This week, we'll be looking at how the Menominee Indian Tribe in Wisconsin uses online genres such as websites, YouTube, and Facebook in order to spread awareness of tribal customs and improve the financial security of the tribe as a whole.

We'll be using these examples to help understand different approaches we can take in our Project 2 genre examples.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Status Reports: Brainstorming with Your Classmates

In a status report, you'll briefly tell your classmates about your work.  What topic are you focusing on?  What are a couple surprising things you've found?

One of the most important parts of your status report isn't the topic itself, but your progress in the writing.  Talk about what you've done to make time for your research.  Describe how you chose your sources.  Ask questions - find out what your classmates think about your topic.  If you're torn between different ideas, mention those.  If there's something about your project you just can't figure out, ask your classmates for ideas.  This is the perfect place for brainstorming.

Project Workshops: Feedback for Writing Research

As writers, we can only truly succeed if we are able to revise our writing to meet the needs and expectations of our readers.  The workshop provides three important experiences to help you do this better:

  1. Reading the work by your peers will help you better understand how different works of writing connect with audiences (such as yourself.)
  2. Providing Feedback for your classmates helps you better articulate the writing process.
  3. Receiving Feedback from your peers will provide new perspectives to help you revise your current project.

Outline Types: Bubble Maps, Roman Hierarchies, and Freewriting

Depending on what I'm writing, I use three different types of outlines to help me brainstorm ideas:

  • Bubble Maps: these are the least formal, but I find them the most helpful for working out new ideas.  I typically write these using pencil on paper.  I like them because it's easy to add in new stuff and then draw lines linking back to other ideas.
  • Roman Hierarchies: these are more formal, and I rarely use them.  If I do this approach, I'll use a computer because it allows me to move sections around and add in new lines where needed.
  • Freewriting: These are longest "outlines," and they often look like drafts.  But they aren't drafts - you don't need to include full quotes and citations.  Instead, I'll often put something like (CITATION) or (AUTHOR _____) to mark places where I know I want to put a quote later.  If I don't remember something offhand, I just use underscores ____ or hashtags ###### to remind me to fill in those gaps later.

Outline Fundamentals

One of the most important parts of writing involves planning.  After you've begun your reading and taken notes on your sources, you need to come up with a "plan of action" for how to start your writing.

For my purposes, there are only three basic things I look for in your outlines:
  1. The broad topics and secondary topics are easy to see.
  2. Each broad topic either has secondary topics or a connection statement.
  3. You've noted which quote cards are related to each of your broad topics.
Just note that every writer follows different outlining practices - I myself use different types of outlines depending on the type of writing I'm doing.  So for this course, I don't require any specific style of outline - instead, I present three different outline approaches that I tend to use, and you can pick any of these choices.  Or you can use a different approach entirely - that's perfectly all right.  I encourage you to follow an approach that's comfortable for you.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Trial By Fury: CHAT and Amanda Knox

In Douglas Preston's Trial By Fury, we see an example that's very close to the types of writing research I'm expecting you to do for your projects.  Although Preston doesn't directly reference Cultural-Historical Activity Theory, his work shows the interplay between social media genres such as websites and Wikipedia and the social factors surrounding the writing.  For our discussion, we want to look at the relationships he's found the ways in which he's organized these into a coherent narrative.

Research Quotes: Organizing Information

One of the keys to good research is collecting large quantities of information, and then organizing that information into a coherent narrative that others can understand.
  1. Direct quotes have quotation marks, indirect quotes (paraphrasing) won't.
  2. Each quote must have the author's last name listed (following MLA in-text citation)
  3. I encourage you to give a line or two of your personal thoughts about the quote, but this is not required.  (Something like "I like this quote because..." or "This indicates that..."
  4. For each quote, include 1-3 keywords (think hashtags).  Something like "genre convention...." or "CHAT term..."

Quick Note: If this feels like busy work, you’re doing it wrong. Seriously. Write down the weirdest / most interesting quotes you find. Don’t worry about how they’ll fit. That’s what the outline is for.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Avoiding Plagiarism through Good Research Practices

For today's discussion, our goal is to look at how effective research practices can help us avoid plagiarism and protect us from false accusations.

Topic 1: Research Practices
Here, we consider which research practices help avoid plagiarism. Think about how some of cases were accidental versus purposeful. And what about the case where no plagiarism occurred? How might an author defend his or her work against a false accusation? What documents would be needed to provide such a defense?

Topic 2: Why Plagiarism Hurts Scholarship
In this topic, we're going to look at how plagiarism hurts research as a whole. In what ways can plagiarized papers "cheapen" the work of others?

Topic 3: How Do We Identify Plagiarism?

This is a complex topic. I'm not looking for "right" or "final" answers here - instead, we're just bringing up the issues as a way to understand the difficult complexities here.

Research Sources: Primary, Secondary, Scholarly

In writing research, we have three types of sources we look at: Primary, Secondary, and Scholarly.  Although our definitions are very close to the definitions you've used for Primary and Secondary sources in content research, we apply these terms a little bit differently because we are researching how writing is used rather than simply using writing to research a topic.

For Project 1, you'll follow these requirements for your sources (minimum 15 sources total):
  1. Primary Sources (5 total): think of this as the type of writing you want to teach someone else how to do (e.g. Twitter posts, financial reports, resumes.)
  2. Secondary Sources (5 total): sources that talk about the Primary Sources, but they come from everyday media (e.g. websites, newspapers, magazines.)
  3. Scholarly Sources (5 total): These are thoroughly researched discussions of how knowledge words. (Typically, you'll get these through Milner or Google Scholar. Wikipedia citations are also a good place to learn about the scholars and keywords you can type into a Milner search.)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Project 1 Proposal

The discussion for Project 1 is very open. There's no specific research component required - I'm mostly checking to see that you know the difference between writing research and content research in terms of how you'll approach you project. So describe the writing genre you want to research for Project 1, and I'll post replies to let you know if you're on the right track.

Overall: Genre, Topic, Details
The main things I'm looking for are that

  1. You've identified a genre of writing you'd like to study.
  2. You can talk about the topic where you've seen this genre and why that's important to you.
  3. You're able to give some details about how you'd research the genre.

Emperor's Soul as a Metaphor for Writing

Brandon Sanderson's The Emperor's Soul offers one of the best metaphors for the writing process that I've seen.  For today's discussion, we're going to consider how this metaphor works within our differing fields of interest, and then we'll follow-up with research approaches for Project 1.  By the end of this discussion, you should have four posts that provide potential research sources for your Project 1:
  1. A Main Post, where you describe your field of interest, and then relate writing in this field to a quote from The Emperor's Soul.  This main post should also include an attached PDF of a scholarly article you found via Milner Library.  (see the next blog post for Videos on Finding Scholarly Sources via Milner.)
  2. Three Response Posts.  As in past discussions, each response should refer to a specific point made by one of your classmates (or to my initial post), provide your own thoughts, and then an outside quote or example to support your point (see #3 below).
  3. Three quotes for Outside Support.  For each response post, your outside support can be any one of the following: a new quote from Emperor's Soul, a link to a website that you find interesting, or a quote from your Milner article (see #1 above).

Finding Scholarly Articles on Milner

Next week will largely focus on finding good sources for your Project 1 research.  One of the key components for the project is finding useful scholarly sources via Milner Library.  Here's a series of videos that use the example of Trayvon Martin and Twitter to provide tips for finding useful sources. Note that the videos also reveals some of the frustrations of research - not every search will bring up what you're looking for.  These videos are not required for the course, but hopefully the can be helpful as you start thinking about Project 1.