ED 655 Online Pedagogy — Coursework

Final Curriculum Plan and Rationale

Lesson Plan Overview and Situational Factors:

In this lesson plan, students will read the prologue to Ben Shaprio’s Book Primetime Propaganda to understand the advantages and disadvantages of narrative in persuasive writing. They will create and workshop their own narrative arguments, paying specific attention to narrative detail. 

Up to 25 students will take the course and may include traditional and nontraditional students. Each student will have taken UAF’s introductory writing course. They will have been exposed to various revision strategies, rhetorical situations and argumentative writing contexts. 

Argumentative writing is mostly a divergent subject, with some convergent qualities. In this lesson, narrative tension, cliches, and narrative detail will all be practically taught and applied. The lesson’s inherent aspects (i.e. critical thinking, interpretation and expression) will be emphasized through model texts, discussions and examples.  

The special challenge of this lesson is its controversial quality. The challenge will be to encourage students to respectfully engage with the many perspectives in the room. 

Learning Objectives: 

This lesson plan includes 9 learning objectives. The learning objectives are as follows

1.)Read and discuss Shapiro’s argument.
2.) Explore the context of Shapiro’s argument.
3.) Understand the advantages/disadvantages of narrative in argumentative/persuasive writing.
4.) Articulate a position for or against Shapiro’s argument.
5.) Debate the significance of each of Shapiro’s argumentative assumptions and their broader social/political implications.
6.) Find/Explore personal narratives, or testimonies, that reinforce/introduce personal arguments/positions.
7.) Draft a 500 word narrative argument.
8.) Write specific details and recognize their use/power in narrative.
9.) Analyze and provide feedback on arguments within a workshop setting.

Learning Activities and Assessments Summary: 

Learning activities and assessments will include creating a grid of political values, responding to videos and readings verbally and in writing, completing a narrative details exercise, conducting a workshop, “noticing” and writing a 500 word narrative argument. 

Rationale:

My hope is that students will better understand narrative as a powerful persuasive tool in this lesson by exploring the pros and cons of a model text.  The model text will provide the class with foundational knowledge; the text will act as both a model writing assignment, and as a foundation for discussion and debate. Although students in my class may have been exposed to various writing contexts, most will have a beginner’s understanding of narrative and narrative detail. Therefore, the learning activities in this lesson will first provide examples of narrative detail and then demonstrate their impact. After these demonstrations and discussions, students will then be tasked with completing their own narrative writing assignments. In her article, “Experiential Learning in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning,” Ruth Benander (2009) claims students’ need praise as well as structured clarity in order to ”gain the facility to improve” (Benander 2009). 

For assessment, students will read and workshop one another’s work in small groups of two to three people. After an additional day covering narrative details, students will answer four specific questions for revision: What is your peer’s narrative and is it relevant to their argument? How is your peer’s narrative interesting/compelling and how is it engaging the audience? What impact does your peer’s narrative have on their positions? What details could your peer introduce to their narrative to make it more impactful? An additional question to introduce to workshop will be “What was your favorite thing about your peer’s essay?” Or, “What did your peer accomplish in this paper?” My hope is this directive will encourage positive reinforcement among the class. 

The workshop will take one whole class period (1.5 hours) and will be completed face to face. I will spend about 3 to 5 hours grading the papers based on the same assessment/guiding questions. Workshop will incorporate peer learning by asking students to share their knowledge of both narrative details and argumentative impact as they build on each others’ texts. Ultimately, the best evidence of student understanding will be their ability to create a 500-word narrative argument that uses a personal/social story to illuminate/introduce their own ideas. A strong narrative argument will capture an audience’s attention as well as use descriptive language and make a strong/meaningful claim.

Importantly, this lesson plan will feature a controversial topic for discussion. In his article, “Classroom Management in the Online Environment,” Daniel P. Stewart (2008) observes “more participation and discussion occurs” when controversial topics are the focus of the lesson. Discussions will help the class explore the nuance of model texts and videos by analyzing their themes and techniques. The class will build arguments out of their own personal interactions with these texts as well as through their interaction with peers. Free writes will help students organize their thoughts, regardless of how much or how little they participate in class discussions. Relationships are therefore essential to the success of this lesson plan.

To nurture these in class relationships, the “liberal vs conservative” values learning activity will give the class a shared, agreed upon understanding of democratic and republican values. My hope is this discussion will serve as a bridge of understanding. A communal understanding of these nuanced issues will help students mitigate future misunderstandings or judgments that might arise during the course of the lesson plan. The values activity will serve as a foundation for political discussion and help facilitate the exchange of ideas. In subsequent political discussions of Shapiro’s texts, students will not only better know and empathize with one another, but they will form and defend a perspective to write about. 

This lesson plan is informed by connectivism and three of its core values in particular. The values, which George Siemens (2005) recorded in his article “Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age,” are as follows: 1.) Learning rests in diversity of opinions 2.) Nurturing connections is needed to facilitate continual learning. 

Benander, R. (2009). “Experiential learning in the scholarship of teaching and learning.” Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. doi: https://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/josotl/article/view/1724/1722

Siemens, G. (2005). “Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age.” doi:https://jotamac.typepad.com/jotamacs_weblog/files/Connectivism.pdf

Stewart, D. (2008). “Classroom Management in the Online Environment.” MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching. doi:https://jolt.merlot.org/vol4no3/stewart_0908.pdf

Lesson plan timeline and breakdown:

Tuesday

Learning Objectives:

1.) Explore the context of Ben Shapiro’s argument from Primetime Propaganda.
2.) Read Shapiro’s argument.

Learning Activities Timeline:

Conservative vs Liberal Values

Group students in three to four groups. Have students chart a list of values as either conservative or liberal on the whiteboard. Discuss the glaring differences/similarities among each group. Establish a basic/agreed upon perception of conservative and liberal values. 

Political Messages in The Simpsons, Who Shot Mr. Burns? 

Screen The Simpsons, Who Shot Mr. Burns? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JA7lMkn-E4Y&list=PLmFoyOTOAHqBsIFMX9bD9Piqrp0ae4IRT&index=4
Discussion: Have students list and discuss the political messages in Who Shot Mr. Burns. Categorize political messages as either liberal or conservative. 

Assessments:

Class discussions.

Homework:

Assign the prologue to Ben Shapiro’s book Primetime Propaganda as reading for next class period. 
Thursday

Learning Objectives:

1.) Understand the advantages/disadvantages of narrative in argumentative/persuasive writing.
2.) Articulate a position within Shapiro’s argument.
3.) Debate/discuss the significance of those arguments and their broader social/political implications.
3.) Find/explore personal narratives, or testimonies, that reinforce personal positions. 

Learning Activities Timeline:

Free Write: Do feel Ben Shaprio made a persuasive argument in the prologue to his book Primetime Propoganda? Why or why not?

Jimmy Kimmel and American Healthcare Video Discussion:

 Introduce clip from The Kimmel Show/testimony of Obamacare and affordable healthcare coverage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqulWPljawo

Discussion: How persuasive is Kimmell’s testimony of affordable healthcare? What makes this clip persuasive (or not persuasive)? How does the story of his son (anecdotal evidence/narrative) compare to qualitative/quantative evidence, or logos? What is the role of narrative in argument? What are your perceptions of narrative in argument (is it reliable, authentic, actionable, etc.)?

Primetime Propaganda, Narrative Technique and Argument Assumptions:

How does Shaprio open his book? Do you find his argument persuasive? Why or why not?Define narrative argument as one that uses a story, usually presented in chronological order, to make some kind of point. Draw attention to two narrative arguments in the reading. What are some assumptions Shapiro makes in his argument (List on board)

Assumptions/Arguments to list on board, Hollywood does not reflect America, but transforms America.TV does not openly embrace conservative values. America is Judeo-Christian. Television is not Judeo-ChristainTelevision is impactful.Television is escapist/entertainment. The first Amendment does not apply to TV/TV is not political speech. TV should not be political in nature. 

Make an imaginary line in the class. Go down the list of assumptions. Have students “side” for or against each assumption by asking them to physically stand on either side of the imaginary line. Choose the most divided issues to discuss/debate further.

Matt Stone and Trey Parker on Charlie Rose Discussion:

Play clip of South Park and segment of Trey Parker and Matt Stone interview on Charlie Rose: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72tKdZOIZtI
Introduce narrative argument and show example that refutes Shapiro’s positions based on this video clip. Have class brainstorm/search for personal narratives, or narratives of an empirical fact to reinforce/introduce their positions. 

Assessments:

Free write.
Class discussion (ungraded).
Choosing positions by physically moving in room.

Homework:

Assign first 250 words of the Narrative Argument due Tuesday. 
Tuesday

Learning Objectives:

1.) Finish draft of 500 word narrative argument.
2.) Write specific details and recognize their use/power in narrative.

Learning Activities Timeline:

Pulp Fiction and Narrative Detail Discussion:

Show clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6YBKdmOlM8

Discussion: Who are the suited people and how can you tell they are in a position of authority? How do you think Brett and his friends feel about Jules and Vincent’s visit? How can you tell? What do you know about the suited men? How would you characterize them? What are they looking for? And how can you tell it’s valuable?  

Put definition of subtext on board:Subtext is any content of a creative work which is not announced explicitly by the characters or author, but is implicit or becomes something understood by the observer of the work as the production unfolds

Examples of details and subtext in writing:

Show Manley example 1:
What’s Manley like based on this text? What do you know about Manley based on this text? What are some specific details that lead you to believe it’s lonely? What does John expect me to do? How do you know? As a reader why do you feel the need to keep reading? Or in other words, what questions do you want answered?

Explain Narrative tension as setting up expectations in a reader and then working to meet, or undermine those expectations. What expectations did the scene from Pulp Fiction set up? What was the narrative tension of the Pulp Fiction scene? 

Effects of vague details in writing:

Show Manley example 2,
What do you notice about this second text? There are few specific details and hardly any subtext.  Explain: show don’t tell.

Writing Activity:

In groups of three, one student will describe a picture in writing and then the other two people will have to draw that picture solely from the written descriptions. The groups will compete against each other and the drawing that most closely resembles the picture will win. Winning group will read their description aloud for other students to “notice.” Pictures will get increasingly more complex. 

Assessments:

Discussion (ungraded).
“Noticing” what makes winning descriptions/details.
Write draft of narrative argument.

Homework:

Finish final 250 words of Narrative argument for Thursday workshop. Emphasize narrative details. 



Thursday

Learning Objectives:

1.) Analyze and provide feedback on the arguments of your peers within a workshop setting.

Learning Activities Timeline:

Workshop Narrative Argument

Split class into groups of three people. Give them these guiding questions to follow:What’s your peer’s narrative and is it relevant to their argument? How is your peer’s narrative interesting/compelling and how is it engaging their audience? What impact does your peer’s narrative have on their positions?What are some suggestions to better connect your peer’s narrative to his/her argument?What details could your partner incorporate into their narrative to make their narrative more clear/impactful? What was your favorite thing about your peer’s essay? What did your peer accomplish in his/her essay?

Assessments:

Workshop (peer learning).

Homework:

Turn in finish drafts by the following Tuesday.

Philosophy of Teaching & Learning

My teaching philosophy is that relationships are central to learning. My hope is to create an environment that nurtures strong relationships among students. In this kind of environment, students are able to support one another’s intellectual and emotional growth through the respectful and safe exchange of diverse perspectives, experiences and knowledge. 

To create a student-centered environment in which relationships are emphasised, it’s important to first establish clear and supportive policies. I feel it’s important for teachers to allow students to control discussions and learning by limiting their role to moderator, or facilitator. I feel controversial topics are important for class discussion because they invite students to engage with each other in meaningful ways. In his article “Classroom Management in the Online Environment,” Daniel P. Stewart (2008) observes “more participation and discussion occurs” when controversial topics are the focus of the lesson. As students navigate controversy through disagreement and compromise, they better understand and empathize with one another. Consensus, on the other hand, does not necessarily lead to more meaningful relationships. 

Reflection, in the form of free writing assignments or directed “noticing,” plays an important role in my class. Experiential learning, in the form of role-playing group projects, are also essential elements. In her article “Experiential Learning in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning,” Ruth Benander (2009) recognizes students’ need for praise as well as structured clarity in exercises. I agree that clarity and positive reinforcement help students ”gain the facility to improve” (Benander 2009). In my own teaching, I try to positively reinforce my students by emphasising their achievements proportionately to their mistakes. I also scaffold complex information and writing assignments, which allows students to practice the parts of a technique before creating a whole. 

Lastly, my classroom decisions and strategies are informed by connectivism and gamification. I believe competition enhances student engagement and learning. When introduced to competitive group projects, Chaos–in the form of new project elements, team changes, or rules–forces students to self-organize and practice navigating complex environments. I agree with George Siemens (2005) who makes many claims of learning in his article “Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age.” The claims I agree with about Connectivism and incorporate in my own class are as follows. 1.) Learning rests in diversity of opinions 2.) Learning is a process of connecting to information sources. 3.) Nurturing connections is needed to facilitate continual learning. 4.) Decision making is itself a learning process. (Siemens 2005)

Benander, R. (2009). “Experiential learning in the scholarship of teaching and learning.” Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. doi: https://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/josotl/article/view/1724/1722

Siemens, G. (2005). “Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age.” doi: https://jotamac.typepad.com/jotamacs_weblog/files/Connectivism.pdf

Stewart, D. (2008). “Classroom Management in the Online Environment.” MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching. doi:https://jolt.merlot.org/vol4no3/stewart_0908.pdf

Tool Reviews

Book Creator 

https://read.bookcreator.com/library/-LtRPmkuAlnxdyfDd75l (Links to an external site.)

The link above should take you to my class library. In it, you’ll find a single comic book: The Mysterious Case of Jason P. Lizardo.The comic is pretty crude, but only took me about 30 minutes to create. 

What I really like about Book Creator is that students can create their own books and post them to a shared library. As long as a student has the library link, then he or she can read and interact with the class’s work. Teachers can also adjust the public settings to either make the library available to the entire internet world, or keep student work contained to the class itself.

The creation process is simple and straightforward. Book Creator comes with select building tools (such as captions, panels, borders, etc.) as well as a place to upload your own pictures and graphics. By allowing creators a place to upload their own files, students can ultimately incorporate more sophisticated software–such as Adobe photoshop and InDesign–in their book building process. Even though students have to work within the parameters of Book Creator’s editing tools, the connectivity of this software means students can put together some pretty cool/sophisticated projects. 

Book creator also comes with some added perks. For example, a “read to me” option essentially plays the book from cover to cover for you, reading each caption and sentence aloud.  I’m excited about this feature as a way for students to present their work in F2F classrooms. I see it as an interactive/powerful way to teach prosody (such as sentence variation, cadence, voice, etc.) as well as visual storytelling (in the case of comics). 

As for the cons, I did have trouble first uploading work to the class library. However, after a quick email to Book Creator’s support team, they were able to troubleshoot all my issues. This is definitely a product for writing classrooms, and in general, is as easy to incorporate into an online environment as a F2F one. Book Creator will definitely be something I incorporate in my Writing in the Humanities class. It’s interactive, fosters community, and can be used to facilitate workshop and peer learning. 

Biteable

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c59Mw6A1YZE&feature=youtu.be (Links to an external site.)

The link above will take you to a brief video presentation I created in Biteable and then uploaded to YouTube. Despite its brevity, the video took about an hour to create. It took another 15 minutes to download the file and upload it to a shareable software/website. 

Overall, I’m up-and-down on Biteable. Like I said in my last post, Biteable presents itself as an animated movie maker, but it’s really more of a presentation software. Students can plug their own text over a library of select footage, animations and B roll and then mix the footage together to create a video presentation. 

Students don’t actually animate any of their own footage, which again, limits Bitable’s use to probably a lecture supplement for teachers, or a presentation medium for students (passive learning). The website also has some major kinks in its editing process. Multiple animations stacked together cause a pretty nasty lag in the editing window, which stops subsequent edits from updating and slows down the creation process considerably. Also, Biteable is pretty-self promoting (although reasonably so). All thumbnails and B-roll included in Bitable’s library carry its logo, unless of course you pay the premium subscription. 

Beyond these quirks, Bitable is pretty cool and easy to use. The video library is practically endless. All you do is type keywords into the library search such as “Circus” or “Trees” or “Idea” and Bitable pulls up related videos for you. It’s fairly easy to create a presentation/video with a strong internet connection. Plus, the moving parts make this software more dynamic than Powerpoint or even Prezi in my opinion. 

Ultimately, Bitable could play a dynamic, albeit limited, role in classroom projects such as mock advertisements, sales pitches, or other presentations. 

Penflip

https://www.penflip.com/rhf8499/online-pedagogy-product-review?invite=nftwd6Jd (Links to an external site.)

The link above will take you to a document I created in Penflip. It’s this same review of the products. 

Essentially, Penflip is trash. For starters, the password requirements to sign up for this website are ridiculous. You can only use certain combinations of letters and numbers, and for whatever reason, Penflip considers certain (but not all) characters (such as asterisks and whatnot) unusable. This wonky password requirement is leagues behind today’s standard password/security combinations, which make you type four asterisks, seven question marks and forty hyphens just to start off. This is pretty annoying considering my brain’s already committed these strange key combinations to memory. Basically, I feel Penflip wants me to forget the modern world and resuscitate old 2002 Yahoo passwords because it’s a dinosaur. At least Google Docs and WordPress make it seem like one.  

At its best, Penflip is a more expensive, a more complicated and a less accessible alternative to Google Docs or WordPress. It offers the same kind of publishing/peer-learning/workshop perks by allowing students to create shared documents and then edit each other’s stuff. But there’s also no way (or no clear way) to create private documents without paying an $18 subscription. All work is published online, which limits its use in a private class.  

As for actually creating documents in Penflip itself, it’s more or less straightforward. Essentially, it’s a coded document like WordPress, but doesn’t run so great as a word processor. It’s best to write something out in Google Docs and Microsoft Word (because they offer spell check and other editing tools) and then copy and paste your content over. Also, I don’t know if it was just me, but I had major problems with load times and 401 errors.  My old stuff wouldn’t load, and my new stuff took too long to make. This software is very buggy. 

Overall, this software is pretty limited for educational use. It’s not a great word processor and it’s not a great website creator. It’s also not a great space for students to read and engage with each other’s work through commenting. In the end, I wouldn’t recommend this website as a better or more cost efficient alternative to any of the aforementioned software/platforms.Edited by Ryan Shek on Nov 11 at 3:17pm

Curriculum Plan and Justification

Lesson Plan Justification:

In this lesson plan, students will read the prologue to Ben Shaprio’s Book Primetime Propaganda to understand the advantages and disadvantages of narrative in persuasive writing. They will create and workshop their own narrative arguments, paying specific attention to narrative detail. 

Learning Objectives: 

This lesson plan includes 9 learning objectives. The learning objectives are as follows:

1.)Read and discuss Shapiro’s argument.
2.) Explore the context of Shapiro’s argument.
3.) Understand the advantages/disadvantages of narrative in argumentative/persuasive writing.
4.) Articulate a position for or against Shapiro’s argument.
5.) Debate the significance of each of Shapiro’s argumentative assumptions and their broader social/political implications.
6.) Find/Explore personal narratives, or testimonies, that reinforce/introduce personal arguments/positions.
7.) Draft a 500 word narrative argument.
8.) Write specific details and recognize their use/power in narrative.
9.) Analyze and provide feedback on arguments within a workshop setting.

Learning Activities and Assessments Summary: 

Learning activities and assessments will include creating a grid of political values, responding to videos and readings verbally and in writing, completing a narrative details exercise, conducting a workshop, “noticing” and writing a 500 word narrative argument. 

Discussion: 

My hope is that students will better understand narrative as a powerful persuasive tool in this lesson by exploring the pros and cons of a model text.  The model text will provide the class with foundational knowledge, in both a technical/pragmatic sense (as a text to model writing after) and an abstract one (as a text to discuss and debate over). 

For assessment, students will read and workshop one another’s work in small groups of two to three people. After an additional day covering narrative details, students will answer four specific questions for revision: What is your peer’s narrative and is it relevant to their argument? How is your peer’s narrative interesting/compelling and how is it engaging the audience? What impact does your peer’s narrative have on their positions? And what details could your peer introduce to their narrative to make it more impactful?

The workshop will take one whole class period (1.5 hours) and will be completed face to face. I will spend about 3 to 5 hours grading the papers based on the same assessment/guiding questions. Workshop will incorporate peer learning by asking students to share their knowledge of both narrative details and argumentative impact as they build each others’ texts

Ultimately, the best evidence of student understanding will be their ability to create a 500-word narrative argument that uses a personal/social story to illuminate/introduce their own ideas. A strong narrative argument will capture an audience’s attention as well as use descriptive language and make a strong/meaningful claim.

Discussions will help the class explore the nuance of model texts and videos by analyzing their themes and techniques. The class will build personal arguments out of their personal interaction with these texts as well as through their interaction with peers. Free writes will help students organize their thoughts, regardless of how much or how little they participate in class discussions.

In editing this lesson plan, I explicitly listed each day’s learning outcomes at the start of lesson. I also clearly delineated between Learning Objectives, Learning Activities, Assessments and Homework. My edits focused mostly on organization as I made sure to represent the progression of learning activities as well as their interrelated themes. 

Tuesday

Learning Objectives:

1.) Explore the context of Ben Shapiro’s argument from Primetime Propaganda.
2.) Read Shapiro’s argument.

Learning Activities Timeline:

Conservative vs Liberal Values

Group students in three to four groups. Have students chart a list of values as either conservative or liberal on the whiteboard. Discuss the glaring differences/similarities among each group. Establish a basic/agreed upon perception of conservative and liberal values. 

Political Messages in The Simpsons, Who Shot Mr. Burns? 

Screen The Simpsons, Who Shot Mr. Burns? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JA7lMkn-E4Y&list=PLmFoyOTOAHqBsIFMX9bD9Piqrp0ae4IRT&index=4
Discussion: Have students list and discuss the political messages in Who Shot Mr. Burns. Categorize political messages as either liberal or conservative. 

Assessments:

Class discussions.

Homework:

Assign the prologue to Ben Shapiro’s book Primetime Propaganda as reading for next class period. 
Thursday

Learning Objectives:

1.) Understand the advantages/disadvantages of narrative in argumentative/persuasive writing.
2.) Articulate a position within Shapiro’s argument.
3.) Debate/discuss the significance of those arguments and their broader social/political implications.
3.) Find/explore personal narratives, or testimonies, that reinforce personal positions. 

Learning Activities Timeline:

Free Write: Do feel Ben Shaprio made a persuasive argument in the prologue to his book Primetime Propoganda? Why or why not?

Jimmy Kimmel and American Healthcare Video Discussion:

 Introduce clip from The Kimmel Show/testimony of Obamacare and affordable healthcare coverage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqulWPljawo

Discussion: How persuasive is Kimmell’s testimony of affordable healthcare? What makes this clip persuasive (or not persuasive)? How does the story of his son (anecdotal evidence/narrative) compare to qualitative/quantative evidence, or logos? What is the role of narrative in argument? What are your perceptions of narrative in argument (is it reliable, authentic, actionable, etc.)?

Primetime Propaganda, Narrative Technique and Argument Assumptions:

How does Shaprio open his book? Do you find his argument persuasive? Why or why not?Define narrative argument as one that uses a story, usually presented in chronological order, to make some kind of point. Draw attention to two narrative arguments in the reading. What are some assumptions Shapiro makes in his argument (List on board)

Assumptions/Arguments to list on board, Hollywood does not reflect America, but transforms America.TV does not openly embrace conservative values. America is Judeo-Christian. Television is not Judeo-ChristainTelevision is impactful.Television is escapist/entertainment. The first Amendment does not apply to TV/TV is not political speech. TV should not be political in nature. 

Make an imaginary line in the class. Go down the list of assumptions. Have students “side” for or against each assumption by asking them to physically stand on either side of the imaginary line. Choose the most divided issues to discuss/debate further.

Matt Stone and Trey Parker on Charlie Rose Discussion:

Play clip of South Park and segment of Trey Parker and Matt Stone interview on Charlie Rose: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72tKdZOIZtI
Introduce narrative argument and show example that refutes Shapiro’s positions based on this video clip. Have class brainstorm/search for personal narratives, or narratives of an empirical fact to reinforce/introduce their positions. 

Assessments:

Free write.
Class discussion (ungraded).
Choosing positions by physically moving in room.

Homework:

Assign first 250 words of the Narrative Argument due Tuesday. 
Tuesday

Learning Objectives:

1.) Finish draft of 500 word narrative argument.
2.) Write specific details and recognize their use/power in narrative.

Learning Activities Timeline:

Pulp Fiction and Narrative Detail Discussion:

Show clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6YBKdmOlM8

Discussion: Who are the suited people and how can you tell they are in a position of authority? How do you think Brett and his friends feel about Jules and Vincent’s visit? How can you tell? What do you know about the suited men? How would you characterize them? What are they looking for? And how can you tell it’s valuable?  

Put definition of subtext on board:Subtext is any content of a creative work which is not announced explicitly by the characters or author, but is implicit or becomes something understood by the observer of the work as the production unfolds

Examples of details and subtext in writing:

Show Manley example 1:
What’s Manley like based on this text? What do you know about Manley based on this text? What are some specific details that lead you to believe it’s lonely? What does John expect me to do? How do you know? As a reader why do you feel the need to keep reading? Or in other words, what questions do you want answered?

Explain Narrative tension as setting up expectations in a reader and then working to meet, or undermine those expectations. What expectations did the scene from Pulp Fiction set up? What was the narrative tension of the Pulp Fiction scene? 

Effects of vague details in writing:

Show Manley example 2,
What do you notice about this second text? There are few specific details and hardly any subtext.  Explain: show don’t tell.

Writing Activity:

In groups of three, one student will describe a picture in writing and then the other two people will have to draw that picture solely from the written descriptions. The groups will compete against each other and the drawing that most closely resembles the picture will win. Winning group will read their description aloud for other students to “notice.” Pictures will get increasingly more complex. 

Assessments:

Discussion (ungraded).
“Noticing” what makes winning descriptions/details.
Write draft of narrative argument.

Homework:

Finish final 250 words of Narrative argument for Thursday workshop. Emphasize narrative details. 



Thursday

Learning Objectives:

1.) Analyze and provide feedback on the arguments of your peers within a workshop setting.

Learning Activities Timeline:

Workshop Narrative Argument

Split class into groups of three people. Give them these guiding questions to follow:What’s your peer’s narrative and is it relevant to their argument? How is your peer’s narrative interesting/compelling and how is it engaging their audience? What impact does your peer’s narrative have on their positions?What are some suggestions to better connect your peer’s narrative to his/her argument?What details could your partner incorporate into their narrative to make their narrative more clear/impactful?

Assessments:

Workshop (peer learning).

Homework:

Turn in finish drafts by the next Tuesday’s class.

Article Review Five

Summary

As an undergraduate, I had two different attitudes towards writing, excitement and sheer boredom. On the one hand, I was surprised, even giddy, to learn Western Michigan University offered creative writing as an academic discipline. On the other, I felt burdened at the prospect of taking a freshman composition course. At the time, I felt one class bound my expression, while the other offered a flesh and blood audience and a license to just write. In the end, both classes proved essential to my growth as a person and scholar, but even now, as an M.F.A student tasked with teaching college composition, I’ve never really forgotten those early perceptions of the two modes of college writing and just how different one subject–writing–could feel. 

For my final review, I chose to analyze Douglas Hesse’s (2010) article “The Place of Creative Writing in Composition Studies.” In this article, Hesse (2010) contextualizes two academic disciplines–College Composition and Communication and Creative Writing–in terms of their shared interests and aims. Hesse (2010) also argues for a “shared borders” approach to teaching these subjects, which he believes can offer the world a “more coherent view of writing” itself. 

Analysis

In my first workshop, I remember feeling the buzz of my peer’s expectations as they responded to work they found interesting. The audience energized me and made me want to write more. In my first college composition course, the audience was limited to my instructor. The class’s emphasis on academic style and political discourse left me feeling disengaged and deflated. I was being asked to pattern my writing to a specific rubric and felt the learning goals–to competently navigate academic/argumentative style/conventions–took away writing’s significance. Even though the aim of both classes was more or less the same–to make me a better writer–they couldn’t have felt more different. 

In his article, Hesse (2010) tries to move beyond the perceptions that 1) Composition courses exist to “bring competence to the unwilling” and 2) Creative Writing exists to cultivate “genius in the unlikely” by proposing ways the disciplines can complement each other by adopting a shared approach. According to Hesse (2010), composition abandoned its imaginative roots, such as memoir and personal narrative and creative nonfiction in favor of “civic discourse, academic genres, and rhetorical moves.” Compositionists, according to Hessee (2010), could better serve their students by pairing Composition’s emphasis on logical reasoning, forceful and political analysis with Creative Writing’s focus on syntactic choices, compelling scenes, rhythm and cadence.

As for creative writers, Hesse (2010) says they ought to temper their “outdated aspersions of composition as formulaic tyranny” and consider composition’s broad “repertoire of teaching strategies” that could help them develop new ways to study and think about “writers and writing” beyond the literary scene. 

Ultimately, I think Hesse does a fine job articulating the perceptions and historical context of both creative writing and composition as academic disciplines. Moreover, I feel his analyses of each subject holds up to this day. In the Digital Age, with the advent of blogs and Youtube and social media, the old, “relatively narrow domains of published discourse” have expanded to accommodate new writers and thinkers (Hesse 2010). I agree with Hessee. To help students navigate this new discourse, compositionists like myself should adopt  more of Creative Writing’s emphasis on attention–specifically the techniques creative writers use to hold it. 

As for criticism, I believe Hesse could have volunteered more specific learning outcomes, or goals, to draw clearer comparisons between the disciplines. In his analysis, Hesse mostly articulates general themes. He doesn’t offer data, theories, or the like.  He relies mostly on his experience (a lot of experience that is) to make his points. I also feel Hessee’s notion that a shared borders approach to composition and creative writing will give the world a “richer view of writing that articulates the values of a creative, productive art” is a little like preaching to the choir. I don’t believe “a richer view of writing” is an actionable idea, worthy of resources. I believe Hessee’s “open borders” approach to writing is interesting, but only so far as it helps students become better writers. 

In the end, I found his essay helpful in sussing out the political and historical reasons behind composition’s emphasis on analysis and rhetoric. It helped me better understand myself as a teacher as well as my place in academia. To be honest, I never thought of the two disciplines as explicitly competing until I was tasked with teaching composition myself.The assignments we design in composition favor critical thinking, rhetorical strategies, and political discourse, but what makes the writing/arguments compelling themselves are things we pick up in creative writing classrooms. I do try to incorporate creative lessons in my composition classroom, but in the future, I will be even more conscious of the benefits of the creative approach. 

Hesse, D. (2010). “Creative Writing in Composition Studies.” College Composition and Communication. doi: http://www.bu.edu/wpnet/files/2010/09/Hesse-Creative-Writing-Composition-CCC-2010.pdf

Article Review Four

Summary

This semester, I’ve been tutoring an ESL student at the UAF Writing Center. She visits every day of the week and I usually tutor her for up to an hour at a time. My major difficulty has been communicating the relationships between words and meaning, how one phrase logically flows into another and how meaning itself builds in a sentence. Because I’m not the most well-spoken person, I usually show these relationships with elaborate stick figure drawings, fit with arrows and bubbles and complicated squiggly lines.

Each session, I find myself doodling away these examples on a piece of notebook paper while the student patiently watches, nodding along, waiting for me to finish. When I’m done, I’ll ask the student to show her understanding of whatever relationship I just drew in her own words. Usually, she’ll pause over her paper for a moment, look up, and ask a clarifying question about grammar. “No, no, forget grammar,” I’ll say, going back to the drawings.  “It’s not going to help you understand this.” 

Xiaodong Zhang’s (2019) article “Exploring the Relationship Between College Students’ Writing Anxiety and the Pedagogical use of Online Resources” shed some light on this experience in its analysis of writing anxiety and writing knowledge in English language learners. According to Zhang (2019), the emphasis of grammar in language learning classrooms can fail to prepare students for the rigors of academic writing while also producing a feeling of writing anxiety in later grades, or stages of education.

Analysis

For this study, Zhang and the researchers (2019) interviewed students and collected compositions to learn more about the relationship between writing anxiety and the “pedagogical design of online materials” that are incorporated in an English writing classroom. Zhang (2019) found that students’ anxiety arose “from a constrained learning and teaching context” in which grammar took precedence over linguistic intricacies. Zhang (2019) found that teachers can ultimately “alleviate student’s anxiety through teaching effective writing knowledge.”

Instead of hardcopy textbook the students were accustomed to, teachers in this study instructed their interviewees in person as well as through an online curriculum that did not emphasize grammar. Instead the point of the curriculum was to grow the students’ ideational, interpersonal and textual knowledge of writing. This curriculum was meant to “transcend” their previous knowledge that writing is merely “a grammar based activity” (Zhang, 2019). According to researchers (Zhang, 2019), the students “never had the learning habit of using online resources and conducting reflective learning on their own within such an intensive time.” 

At the end of the study, the researchers found writing knowledge affects writing anxiety through a “negative linear relationship” (Zhang, 2019). The study also showed the usefulness of online resources in “demystifying” the academic writing process in emphasizing things like semantic load, logical relationships, academic tone, cause and effect, etc.

Ultimately, I felt this research did a fine job articulating the common struggles facing ESL students and the academic constraints in which they work. However I don’t believe the authors adequately showed the effectiveness of their online curriculum versus traditional instruction. As with the last article I reviewed, the authors did not pit their research against a control group or specific mode/medium of instruction. In general, the authors were guilty of generalizing (which they acknowledge to some extent) both English language learners and the writing anxieties they face.

To sum up my thoughts, anxiety is a hard feeling to pin down in a person, let alone a classroom, as there are many variables at play. Writing instruction, comfort in teacher relationships, learner personality, style of teaching, amount of work, available time to complete assignments and new material can all contribute to student anxiety. I believe the research lumped all of these variables together in an exclusive label, “Writing anxiety.” 

To some degree, the study does discuss some of its own generalizations. For example, the researchers (Zhang 2019) observed student anxiety was higher when first exposed to the new online curriculum, but settled down as learners became more competent and comfortable. However, I felt the major finding that writing instruction can reduce writing anxiety over time was a little self evident. It’s no surprise that when novices become competent in any skill or discipline, confidence likely follows. To make this research a little more meaningful, I think the researchers could have pitted their study against some specific medium or method of instruction, or they could’ve done away with their focus on writing anxieties altogether. That said, I do feel the research was helpful in identifying learning environments that have failed ESL students, while also offering specific strategies to best address their learning.

Zhang, X. (2019). “Exploring the relationship between college students’ writing anxiety and the pedagogical use of online resources.” International Journal of Education Technology in Higher Education. doi: https://educationaltechnologyjournal.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s41239-019-0149-y

Article Review Three

Summary

In just a month, Wikipedia can sport upwards of 375 million page views. In terms of actual books, the website stores more than 15,000 volumes of information (Lauro & Johinke, 2016). The way Wikipedia works, regular people and (some) interdisciplinary scholars create content and contribute to articles. Despite crowdsourcing its content from thousands of users, Wikipedia is surprisingly no less reliable than Encyclopedia Britannica, which contains almost an equal amount of “serious errors, such as misinterpretations of important concepts” (Lauro & Johinke, 2016). 

Yet Wikipedia is stigmatized among academic circles, because it’s believed students that use it “will not pursue rigorous research practices” (Lauro & Johnike, 2016). Instead of steering students away from Wikipedia, Frances Di Lauro and Rebecca Johinke (2016), authors of “Employing Wikipedia for good not evil: innovative approaches to collaborative writing assessment,” use the website to engage their students in digital literacy and peer review. And they make a case for composition and argumentative writing instructors to do the same. 

Analysis 

Di Lauro and Johinke (2016) designed two case studies using Wikipedia, in which they asked undergraduate and graduate students to both contribute new content and revise suspect content already posted to the site. Their goal was to design group assessment work that would not only be fun, but would “measure the quality of student achievement and stand up to scrutiny.” After signing up to edit the site, as well as being instructed on Wikipedia’s community rules and regulations, students in both case studies set about editing and authoring content as well as interacting with feedback from Wikipedia’s editors/bots.

At the end of each study, the instructors observed their students were “far more meticlouse about accuracy” when assessing content for Wikipedia than (supposedly) their previous coursework (Di Lauro and Johinke, 2016). The authors  (Di Lauro and Johinke, 2016) argued that by editing content for a global audience, students working on Wikipedia assessment tasks were able to develop online competencies such as connection and digital literacy. Instead of “merely regurgitating information” students internalized the site’s editing processes for their own assessments.  Although I thought the the case studies were creative, engaging and valuable, I found the paper as a whole difficult to critique. 

On the one hand, the researchers were able to put connectivism in action by employing Wikipedia’s global audience. Instead of imagining people to write for, students in both case studies contributed meaningful content through a process of online communication with Wikipedia moderators. Their work was not abstract, or thrown away after grading; it was published to a popular website. The authors observed a “positive impact” of  project on motivation. In addition, the case studies revealed a “beneficial effect on student progress,” specifically in their ability to perceive connections between different perspectives as well as in their abilities to synthesise information. 

The authors claim that in the digital age (Di Lauro and Johinke, 2016), it’s uncreative to ask students to write assessment essays, especially when students already routinely engage with online literacy outside of the classroom. In general, the authors’ case study was valuable in that it showcased a complex, interactive assessment for students. However, the authors did not articulate their studies’ success. Instead of quantifying the efficiencies of their case study against a control group, the authors only used student narratives to contextualize the theories at work within the Wikipedia project itself.  

I think this study could have been more qualitative in general. The authors could have easily demonstrated connectivsm’s effectiveness compared to some other form of instruction/theory, say cognitivism. To do this, they could have asked students to write separate sets of assessment essays before and after the Wikipedia project and then compared them with a control group. In general, I felt the authors’ study was written in a vacuum. It could’ve offered the composition community, as well as Higher Education, broader insights into connectivism’s applicability, but instead focused more on processes, the how of things, not the how come.

References

Di Lauro, R., Johinke, R., (2016). Employing Wikipedia for good not evil: innovative approaches to collaborative writing assessment. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02602938.2015.1127322