• 6x16

    To Notebowl, or Not to Notebowl…

    I started using Notebowl in my composition classes over the summer in the hopes that it would increase student engagement in discussions. Here we are, at almost the mid-way point in the fall semester, and the jury is still out. Notebowl definitely has some great features, but there are also some significant drawbacks to the user experience. Notebowl promises a better discussion experience for students–one that will increase engagement by looking more like the social media platforms that students are used to. I’m not so sure that Notebowl is significantly better in this regard. Here’s a look at a Notebowl discussion vs a Canvas discussion: Visually, the two discussions are…

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  • 6x16

    An Experiment with Badgr

    Last summer, I implemented a new component into all of my courses–Badgr. My goal is to incentivize behaviors that I know will increase my students’ ability to succeed in my course, in their academic careers, and in their futures. I started by making a list of activities that I know increase student success. As I made my list, I included activities that would engage students in the culture of YC, as well as those that are simply habits of successful people. So, students will find options from goal-setting to joining a YC club. Then, I created simple assignments to go along with each activity–take a selfie at a YC event…

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  • Grammar,  Questions from Students

    What is an Adverb?

    I received this question from a student this week: “She is a very smart girl. Very is a/an _____________. The correct answer: adverb. I said: adjective. Would you please explain this to me? I thought that all adverbs ended in -ly?” Here is my response: Many adverbs end in -ly; however, not all of them do. Sometimes words that end in ly are not adverbs at all. The function of an adverb is to modify a verb, adjective, or another adverb. An adverb answers the questions how? when? where? why? So, in this sentence, “very” answers the question “How smart?” Therefore, it is modifying the word “smart,” which is an…

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  • Questions from Students,  Writing Tips

    How to cite a work in an anthology…

    Here’s another question from a student. “Could you remind me on how to cite a poem from a textbook, or do I just cite the chapter the poem is in for our poetry explication paper?” Usually, composition textbooks include some sort of appendix or a chapter on citation formatting. Here is the citation that our textbook (Exploring Literature) gives in Appendix C. Author Last, First. “Title.” Exploring Literature. Frank Madden, ed. New York: Longman, 2012. 1031-1039. Print. As with some older editions, this example does not include the latest MLA updates. I think that most teachers would accept this version as correct, but if you need the latest information on…

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  • Writing Tips

    Using First and Second Person in Academic Writing

    Many of us “older” folks have always been taught to refrain from using first or second person in academic writing. However, newer schools of thought are conceding that sometimes, it’s ok. (A great article from Duke here.) I usually ask my freshman composition students to simply refrain from using first or second person. This requires them to think more carefully about the language they use and prepares them for later course in which the professor may still be following tradition. However, there are times when NOT using I or you could be problematic. Here is a question I received from one of my ENG 101 students this summer, and my…

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  • 6x6

    Building Relationships with Online Students

    For the past 11 years, I have been working with a company whose sole focus is helping people build relationships, both personally and professionally. I have helped hundreds of business owners develop a strategy for communicating with their customers in a way that creates long-term relationships. The secret lies in appreciation. People want to be seen and heard; we want to be known. With the simple act of sending out appreciation to those in our life, celebrating their successes, empathizing with them when life gets hard, we tap into that core desire to be known. Here’s the interesting thing–we don’t have to be physically present with a person to build…

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  • 6x6

    How Students Inspire Me

    Every once in awhile I still have the old nightmare–the one where I wake up and realize that I am late for the final…in a class I forgot about all semester. Up until a few semesters ago, I thought that could only be a nightmare, and then a student e-mailed me the last week of class and told me he totally forgot about the class. He was hoping he could get caught up. I know that students can have some really terrible circumstances in their lives. They have unexpected illnesses (one semester a student got a cancer diagnosis), children get sick (another student had a child hospitalized at PCH), family…

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  • 6x6

    Lemon Lavender Cookies…

    Last fall, I found myself teaching on campus for the first time since Spring 2010. As prepared my lesson plans for the semester, I searched my old files and sent the online course I’ve been developing for over a decade back to its beginnings. Reincorporating all the in-class activities and instruction that are lost in the online format reminded me just how much online students are missing out on. Yes, online courses offer students opportunities that didn’t exist when I started teaching. They can work full time and still attend classes. They can stay home with their kids and attend classes. They can care for sick loved ones and attend…

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  • 6x6

    What I Learned from QM

    Last fall, I had the opportunity to submit a course for QM certification, and I learned that the course was approved for certification yesterday. Since our topic this week is evaluation, I thought I’d take a moment and reflect on my experience with the process. Though we all have access to the QM standards, and we are supposed to be using those standards as guidelines for our courses, actually submitting a course is an intense process. It is not enough to know that assignments connect to course learning outcomes, for example, you have to be able to articulate how they connect to folks who may not even be familiar with…

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  • 6x6

    Creating Culture in the Online Classroom–6×6 Week 2

    While students who attend classes on campus are exposed to the diverse student population of their college/university as they attend classes, walk across campus, and eat in the dining hall, online students may not even have a picture of the other students in their classes. Likewise, while college campuses might strive to create community through campus events, clubs, and school spirit, online students can be left out of the loop because they are spending time in an online environment. Whether they are returning students or first time attenders, online students likely have families, jobs, and other responsibilities that prompt them to choose to take their classes online. So, they may…

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