Citation
Online education in secondary school for college preparation and improved writing

Material Information

Title:
Online education in secondary school for college preparation and improved writing a teacher's guide
Creator:
Justis, Jon Evan
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
1 electronic file : ;

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Written communication -- Study and teaching ( lcsh )
English language -- Written English ( lcsh )
English language -- Written English ( fast )
Written communication -- Study and teaching ( fast )
Genre:
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Review:
Online education is most often seen at the college level. However, such education can also be used effectively in secondary schools for the purpose of college preparation and improving student writing skills. Intended for English teachers of high school upperclassmen, this teaching guide takes a look at how to implement an online hybrid education unit into an expository writing class. In light of the expected increase in online college work and a gap between high school and college standards, a hybrid unit has potential to ensure that students enter higher education properly prepared for the rigors of post-secondary academics. Special consideration should be made when teaching high school students online; therefore the guide first examines the teaching methods behind hybrid education. It covers the pros and cons of online teaching, how different forms of cognitive thinking figures into online learning, and changes in audience and communication. The second part of the guide covers how the instructor may theoretically implement a hybrid unit into a class curriculum. A teacher will want to consider elements like aligning a hybrid schedule with a school's schedule, integrating community building activities, facilitating online discussions, and assessing student work. Group work and online writing workshops are recommended to build a sense of cooperative learning and improve students' writing.
Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Jon Evan Justis.

Record Information

Source Institution:
|University of Colorado Denver
Holding Location:
|Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
857903617 ( OCLC )
ocn857903617

Auraria Membership

Aggregations:
Auraria Library
University of Colorado Denver

Downloads

This item has the following downloads:


Full Text
ONLINE EDUCATION IN SECONDARY SCHOOL
FOR COLLEGE PREPARATION AND IMPROVED WRITING
A TEACHERS GUIDE
By
Jon Evan Justis
B.A., University of Colorado, 2004
A thesis to the
Faculty of the Graduate School of the
University of Colorado in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Masters of English
Rhetoric/ the Teaching of Writing
2012


This thesis for the Masters of English degree by
Jon Evan Justis
Has been approved for the
English, Rhetoric/ Teaching of Writing
By
Michelle Comstock, Chair
Michelle Comstock, Advisor
Amy Vidali
Hongguang Ying
Date 4/11/12


Justis, Jon, Evan (M.A. English Rhetoric/ Teaching of Writing)
Online Education in Secondary School
For College Preparation and Improved Writing
A Teachers Guide
Thesis Directed By: Michelle Comstock
ABSTRACT
Online education is most often seen at the college level. However, such education
can also be used effectively in secondary schools for the purpose of college preparation
and improving student writing skills. Intended for English teachers of high school
upperclassmen, this teaching guide takes a look at how to implement an online hybrid
education unit into an expository writing class. In light of the expected increase in online
college work and a gap between high school and college standards, a hybrid unit has
potential to ensure that students enter higher education properly prepared for the rigors of
post-secondary academics. Special consideration should be made when teaching high
school students online; therefore the guide first examines the teaching methods behind
hybrid education. It covers the pros and cons of online teaching, how different forms of
cognitive thinking figures into online learning, and changes in audience and
communication. The second part of the guide covers how the instructor may theoretically
implement a hybrid unit into a class curriculum. A teacher will want to consider
elements like aligning a hybrid schedule with a schools schedule, integrating community
building activities, facilitating online discussions, and assessing student work. Group


work and online writing workshops are recommended to build a sense of cooperative
learning and improve students writing.
The form and content of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication.
Approved: Michelle Comstock


TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER
I. INTRODUCTION.........................................................1
The Purpose...................................................1
Who this Guide is for.........................................3
The Need......................................................5
Overview......................................................9
II. PARTI...............................................................11
Pros and Cons in Online Education............................11
Online and Face-to-Face Education............................19
Learning Disabilities and Cognitive Thinking.................23
Student Writers and Student Audience.........................27
Summary......................................................32
III. PART II.............................................................33
How to Set Up a Hybrid Unit..................................33
The Creation and Facilitation of a Writing Community.........40
Peer Review and the Revision Process.........................53
IV


Online Writing Workshops
59
Group Work...................................................66
Assessment...................................................72
Summary......................................................79
IV. CONCLUSION.........................................................81
Online Education Statistics..................................81
Conceptualizing a Hybrid Class for High School...............82
Applying the Hybrid Model to Your Classroom..................83
Final Thoughts...............................................85
References...................................................87
V


LIST OF TABLES
Table
1.1 Sample Activity: Differences Between Communications.....................47
2.1 The Four Roles of an Online Discussion Facilitator......................48
2.2 Results for Student-Ranked Importance of Online Facilitation Skills.....52
3.1 Revision Checklist for Student Writing..................................58
4.1 Sample Rubric for a Creative Non-Fiction Writing Assignment.............75
VI


LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
1- FTF Stands for Face-to-Face interaction. Live interaction in person and not through a
virtual medium.
2- CMS Stands for Course Management System/Software. Often a web-based program,
designed to help teachers conduct online learning by posting material and facilitating
classroom discussions. Sites/ systems include but are not limited to Angel, Blackboard,
Desire2Learn, Moodle, and Sakai
VII


CHAPTERI
INTRODUCTION
The Purpose
There is no denying that the Internet has changed our world. It has changed the
way we communicate, it has changed entertainment, and it has even changed the way we
think. Naturally, anything so highly utilized by modern society would inevitably find its
way into education. The Internet is commonly used for social interaction, and colleges
utilize sites like blackboard and e-college for students to interact and carry out virtual
discussions about given subjects. Through such mediums, students can share thoughts
and comment on the words of one another. Typically, education that utilizes the Internet
takes on three forms:
1- A Face-to-Face (FTF) Class: A typical classroom setting where students meet
at a given time in a given place. Here students may log onto the internet for research
purposes within or outside the classroom. It should be noted that this type of education is
not considered online learning by sources like the U.S. Department of Education, as the
online activity is meant to merely supplement the in-class experience.
2- An Online Class: Learning is conducted entirely online as an alternative to FTF
learning. This type of education requires no specific meeting time or place. Lessons can
occur with any student across any distance, so long as the student possesses a computer
with an internet connection. Some online schools will have live, regular meetings
between instructors and students, but this is more of an exception and not a defining
characteristic of online classes.
1


3- A Hybrid (or Blended) Class: This type of educational environment combines
the components of an online class with FTF instruction. Students meet at an appointed
time in an appointed room or meeting place but not as often as a standard FTF class. The
time students save on live meetings is supplemented with online interaction and learning.
Online and hybrid classes are most often seen at the post-secondary level. The
purpose of this guide is to endorse the idea that online education, in the form of a hybrid
class, can be used with secondary school students for college preparation. The guide is
intended to aid teachers in the creation and management of a hybrid expository writing
unit within an English class. A blended class is suggested over an entirely online class,
as many students are used to the traditional FTF classroom environment. Furthermore,
there are advantages to FTF human interaction that should not be discounted because of
modem communication technology. Being theoretical and un-tested, the unit is primarily
research-based and serves three objectives, all relevant in preparing high school students
for college: To apply contemporary communication technologies to secondary education,
to expose students to online education practices seen in college, and to improve student
writing in general.
The guide begins with the methods behind using hybrid writing and interaction to
improve student writing. It then moves on to the creation of an actual hybrid unit in the
classroom, utilizing writing assignments with an emphasis on collaborative learning often
seen in writing workshops. The guide finishes by covering the assessments; suggesting
how teachers might assess such learning to see what students learned from the unit.
2


Who This is Guide For
This teacher's guide is intended for any high school English teacher of juniors and
seniors seeking to accomplish the following:
1- Prepare students for post-secondary education, be it a traditional college or an
online university.
2- Prepare students for virtual collaborative work required of them in college and the
professional world.
3- Integrate more contemporary technology into the writing curriculum.
4- Educate students utilizing social interaction they may already engage in.
5- Help students improve their writing and develop good writing in addition to
correct writing.
6- Educate students through peers via cooperative learning.
7- Educate students in skills needed to succeed in school and the professional world
in a digital age.
These could be goals considered by new teachers seeking to build their curriculums
or experienced teachers looking to incorporate more contemporary technology into their
existing curricula.
While underclassmen could benefit from the lessons taught in hybrid classes, the
primary purpose of this guide still lies in college preparation. The reason upperclassmen
would be an ideal focus for a unit plan incorporating a hybrid class is that 11th and 12th
graders are typically more engaged in material geared towards college preparation.
3


Because of laws regarding mandatory education, many upperclassmen have not dropped
out because they or their parents are invested in their education and may have hopes for
higher education. This is why A.P. (Advanced Placement) classes are offered for such
students. Furthermore, the closer students are to high school graduation, the fresher the
experiences and information of college-preparatory material will be in their memories.
Social-based online education could fit right into the A.P. curriculum, as A.P.
courses are designed to help students develop skills and acquire knowledge essential to
succeeding in college. A.P. courses are modeled on college courses, and their curricula
are overseen by corresponding college professors for adequate alignment (The College
Board, 2010). English A.P. courses are broken down into English Language and
Composition and English Composition and Literature Discussions. English language
and composition would be a good fit for online, discussion-based education, as this is a
course where students are already expected to have a better grasp of proper grammar and
mechanics. This is a reason why underclassmen and middle school students may be too
young for such a unit, as much of their education is still entrenched in learning the
mechanics of the written language. The writing practices of a hybrid class would also
nurture students on their way to becoming good writers who can write for a variety of
purposes. This is what English language and composition classes work towards, and it
can be accomplished just as easily online as in class; perhaps even easier in some
situations where transportation can be an issue.
English composition and literature courses focus more on active reading in order
to better analyze and interpret a given text. However, there are still opportunities for
writing, as online discussions about literature can become writing practice. This class


requires that students write response papers and journals in response to literature studied.
In addition to argumentative and response papers on certain texts, the course gives
opportunities for well-developed creative writing assignments, so students can better
understand how literature is created (The College Board, 2010).
While A.P. courses are ripe for integrating hybrid education, such preparation
should not be solely incorporated into A.P. courses alone. After all, there are many
students that do not take A.P. classes but still plan on attending college. It is these
students who need better college preparation standards, as they do not have the pre/post
secondary alignment of the A.P. classes.
The Need
The most important question a teaching guide should answer is, "Why is this
guide even necessary?" "What problems does it solve?" "What need does it fulfill in the
world of education?" Although this guide may give particular attention to improving
student motivation and writing, the primary need it serves is to help teachers prepare their
students for the sort of learning they will encounter in higher education. The gap
between high school achievements and college readiness is truly a chasm of notable
misalignment. Data from ACT's national curricula survey revealed that sixty-five percent
of college professors claimed to believe that high school curriculums did not properly
prepare students for the rigor of post-secondary education (Alliance for Excellent
Education, 2007). Of the seventy percent of students that graduate from high school on
time, only thirty-four percent graduate properly prepared for college. In light of this data,
5


it is no surprise that so many students struggle in their early years of higher education and
drop out. In the state of California, only twenty-four percent of students in community
colleges receive their intended certification, associate's degree, or transfer to a four year
university in four years or less (Kirst, 2008). California is not alone in this observation,
as sixty percent of students in community colleges nationwide have to take at least one
remedial course.
According to College Board, in 2007 a record was broken when 1.5 million
students took the SAT. Such data point to a large percentage of students that intend to
enter and succeed in higher education, and it is unfortunate that so many go noticeably
unprepared. While this information may seem only a concern to the world of education
and individuals entering college, it impacts all of society. Aside from the numerous
impacts of education on American society, one must remember that many state colleges
and community colleges receive a portion of their funding from tax dollars. When
students are properly prepared for college, less taxpayer funding is spent on a large
number of remedial classes focused on material that should have been covered in high
school. As always, there are those eager to point fingers and assign blame, but this never
solves any real problems. While high schools and secondary teachers may absorb a hefty
portion of political and legislative culpability, these are not in essence the root of the
problem. Rather, what we are witnessing is a clear need for more alignment between
high school standards and college expectations.
A mere fifteen percent of states define college readiness, and only three states
require that students attend college preparatory courses in order to graduate (Kirst, 2008).
Even classes with titles that would suggest college preparation do not necessarily prepare
6


students for higher education, revealing an environment of policy filled with large talk
but little action. While such data obviously calls for better alignment of standards
between secondary and post secondary schools, one may ponder how educational policy-
makers can align the two.
For starters, many students enter college with significant gaps in their reading
comprehension. These gaps include critical thinking skills such as analysis,
interpretation, reasoning, and problem solving skills often referred to as "Habits of the
Mind" (Alliance for Excellent Education, 2007). Academic behavior such as note taking,
time management, and self-awareness of one's thinking and learning were also cited as
necessary for success in college. Teachers in higher achieving schools require students to
partake in college preparatory practices like daily reading and classroom discussions that
stimulate thought. Motivation should be incorporated into rigorous content, and students
are motivated most when given achievable but challenging tasks and opportunities to
apply knowledge to real-world situations along with opportunities to revise their work in
response to feedback (Alliance for Excellent Education, 2007). As such, teachers are
recommended to set high standards for all students. In addition to teacher responsibility,
schools and school districts have a responsibility to make sure teachers are kept up to
date on college requirements and receive relevant, contemporary, professional
development.
Such data regarding misalignment between secondary and post-secondary
education cites a clear need for relevant college preparation. With so many colleges
incorporating online and hybrid classes, preparation in online social interaction for
learning could prove most valuable. As for students with little to no interest in higher
7


education, the skills needed to succeed in college co-align with the skills needed to
acquire and maintain a good-paying job. In 2008, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills
claimed that critical thinking, complex problem solving, and communication/
collaboration are "the indispensable currency for participation, achievement and
competitiveness in the global economy" (Gradel and Edson, 2011). Regardless of
whether or not a student is college-bound, a teacher should recognize the value in
building these skills when a student is still in secondary school.
Of course, there are instances of schools utilizing online education already.
Unfortunately, current online classes for secondary schools tend to be more hermetic in
nature. We live in an age where online secondary schools are beginning to arise, but such
schools do not necessarily offer the same kind of online experiences as college. Goal
Academy and Connections Academy are two such examples. Students complete
assignments and interact with a teacher via phone, internet, and the occasional FTF
meetings, but there is little to no interaction between students. There is no writing
community where students can share and respond to each-others' thoughts and ideas, and
such written communication is vital for students to develop critical thinking and
analytical skills. Some of these online schools exist simply as an alternative to classroom
communities, where students unable to attend traditional schools can still attain a high
school diploma. It would appear that while online education exists as an option for
secondary schools, little effort has been made to emulating learning communities seen
within classrooms.
It is the prerogative of secondary schools to prepare students for college. While
the notion of a hybrid writing workshop community in secondary school is a less
8


conventional idea, it is not implausible. The concept works in colleges and can work for
high school.
Overview
This guide is divided into two parts. Part 1 focuses on the teaching methods
behind the concept of hybrid classes and how it can benefit students in secondary
schools. In addition to arguments for hybrid education and troubleshooting, part 1 also
gives suggestions for general implementation strategies. Sections include:
1- The pros and cons of online education, primarily focusing on issues with Internet
usage and minors
2- Integrating cognitive and learning styles into hybrid learning, while considering
students with disabilities.
3- Differences and commonalities between online learning and face-to-face.
4- The benefits of online communication, relating to audience and writing practice.
Part 2 focuses more on advice and samples for structuring an actual hybrid unit/
class. This part focus on setting up a hybrid class, community building, facilitation,
responses to written assignments to aid the revision process, and group work. It wraps
up the unit with a look at how to assess student work in a hybrid setting. Sections include:
1- The logistics and considerations to make when setting up the unit.
2- The value of building a writing community and how to facilitate one.
9


3-
The benefits of peer review on communal learning and the writing revision
process.
4- Hybrid writing workshops and the inclusion of group work in the unit for
collaborative learning.
5- Assessment of student progress and unit success.
A short conclusion follows, tying the chapters back to the hypothesis and
presenting findings from national studies about online learning.
10


CHAPTER II
PARTI
Pros and Cons of Online Education in Secondary School
The Internet is certainly not the first instance of technology bringing about
changes to writing. Earlier inventions like the printing press and the typewriter changed
the printed word, the language, and even how people thought. In the early 1980s
computers first entered into education, and although it may have appeared to be a more
conventional, easier way for students to write, word processors affected students' work in
other ways (Kehus, 2000). Features like cut, copy, and paste made editing and correcting
papers less time consuming. In addition, features like spell-checkers and formatting
programs allowed students to place more focus on the content of their writing. But tools
to make writing less of a chore were not the only changes. Printers allowed for multiple
copies of writing to be produced, thus increasing the number of individuals whom the
work could be shared with and widening the available audience. A decade later, the
introduction of the Internet widened a writer's audience further, while allowing one to
discover and interact with other writers and their work.
Like past technologies, the Internet has had a profound impact on the way
students write and think. Such changes come with a plethora of advantages, but they are
not without their risks. While introducing online interaction to education comes with a
number of pros, it also includes cons, which extend beyond the basic problems with using
new technologies. Working with this technology can make learning more relevant and
help with student engagement and motivation, yet it has also been known to lead to
11


problems with plagiarism, privacy, and commercialism. However, freedom from a
binding schedule and the integration of new technology can both inspire and challenge
students.
Students need to be challenged; they need to have their boundaries pushed, which
is just what a technology-supported environment accomplishes. Numerous advantages
exist to working in such an environment. The first and most obvious being that online
classes are asynchronous: one can log onto the Internet and join in a class discussion
when it is most convenient for him or her, as opposed to having to show up at a specific
time and in a specific place. To this end, group learning is more flexible, convenient, and
available to students. A less obvious advantage to online education is how it tailors to a
variety of learning styles. Not all students learn well from a lecture class, and online
discussions allow them the opportunity to discover their own voice. As for courses that
carry out discussions in class, some students may be too shy to speak out. This is
especially frequent when the student self-identifies as one in a gender, ethnic, or political
minority within the classroom. In an online discussion, however, students have been
shown to open up and speak more freely (Bender, 2003). In essence, by broadening the
environmental options for class interaction, students feel more at ease and willing to
participate.
In 1996, when online education was in its infancy, V. Hunt of the New York
teachers and writers collaborative wrote, "There is something about writing for the
unseen audience out there at the other end of the line that inspires students not only to
write more but to produce better writing. I also believe connecting kids with other kids
around the country through an electronic network helps break down cultural, ethnic, and
12


economic barriers" (Kehus, 2000.) Hunt brings up a major benefit of students sharing
their writing online; increasing the potential for communication while increasing a
student's motivation to write well for a real audience and not just a teacher's approval. Of
course, Hunt was speaking less of a hybrid class and more of the phenomenon of students
sharing their work among a vaster audience in cyberspace.
Some educators decide to take their students' online interaction beyond the
classroom and into the wider world. To this end, there exist websites designated to allow
students to share their work with an anonymous audience on the World Wide Web.
These websites have been around since the end of the twentieth century. Teenlit.com, for
example, was created in 1999. The teachers that started the website believed the
possibility of publication to be a major motivator for students to write well, yet they
found very few opportunities for teenagers to get their work published (Kehus, 2000).
The website was thus created to provide teenage writers with a real audience and a place
to establish a community of such writers. Teenlit.com is still around with a few
additions. Currently the website has an added mission of promoting literacy and even
includes teenage book reviews, where publishers distribute free books to schools in return
for online book reviews from the students.
Opening up student writing to the wider audience of the Internet carries the
aforementioned advantages of an online education, but there are some downsides and
risks to consider. While intended to help create a community of writers, the global,
anonymous audience of the web can be too large for a true communal feel. The creators
ofTeenlit.com encountered this problem, and they narrowed it down to four causes
(Kehus, 2000).
13


Number One: The anonymity of the Internet's nature meant that anyone can post
about anything, giving way to comments that are rude, personal, and even dangerous.
Some social networks, like Facebook, have censors in place where members can report
offensive posts. However, one cannot help but feel that such interventions would be
unnecessary in a true community where everyone knew one another. This is a problem
with any sort of virtual conversation with a stranger; when communicating through a
screen it is easy to forget one is speaking to a real person. Some individuals feel more
comfortable opening up when they do not have to look another person in the eyes, but
others see it as an excuse to be disrespectful and even down-right cruel.
Number 2: Because the audience has no bounds, it is ever changing and
indeterminate. This leads to problems such as uncertainty of the author's audience and
the possibility that a reader's post may not even be viewed by the author. In such a
scenario, the person with the most to gain (the author) may miss out on some valuable
insight. The situation would be comparable to holding a writer's workshop where the
author was not present for her critique.
Number 3: Giving feedback to other writers turned out to be the most popular
types of posts. However, many writers did not receive feedback on their own work or
received no response to their posts. In a way, everyone loves to be a critic, yet the
incentive and motivation to write for an audience is dampened when one feels as though
he is giving feedback to others but receiving none for his own work. In addition, the lack
of a response to some posts is not true discussion but rather a forum where people simply
express their opinions and depart. This issue could be seen as a direct result of the
following...
14


Number 4: The website's anonymous, public nature makes it harder to make
connections and create a true feel of community where everyone's voice can be heard.
The Internet is world-wide, and while this can help to bring down cultural barriers and
boundaries, it does not make for the intimate, discursive settings that many teachers strive
for in their classroom.
Many of these problems relate to the final issue, regarding website anonymity,
and some students were shown to have broken off to form smaller, private, online
communities. While this may seem like a straightforward solution to the aforementioned
problems, it can introduce a whole set of new concerns mostly dealing with the fact that
educators are dealing with the sensitive issue of minors online. The first issue that often
comes up is that of censorship. Profane language, sexual content, discrimination, and
hate-mongering are all concerns when dealing with underage students. Teachers must
also consider what is appropriate for students in their writing and when freedom of
speech crosses the point of inappropriate content or warning signs. Of course, this is a
common concern for any writing teacher, regardless of whether they are using the
Internet or not. Fortunately, there are district and online regulations for online content
censorship. Sites like safesurf.com and icra.org were founded to help schools and parents
set up web browsers that meet their standards of what is appropriate for minors (Kehus,
2000).
Another concern is the issue of privacy. This primarily relates to the extremely
touchy issue of soliciting information from minors online. To this extent, the government
15


has initiated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA. COPPA, enacted
by the Federal Trade Commission to protect the privacy and safety of children online,
requires compliance and parental consent from any website that collects information from
a child under the age of thirteen. Since this guide is intended for teachers of students in
their late teens, the responsibility falls on the teachers, parents, and schools to monitor
and educate students about online privacy and safety.
One final issue relating to online student publishing is also an issue with any sort
of publishing: plagiarism. The ease of cut and paste technology of word-processors and
the Internet has proven be a double-edged sword. While editing may be easier, so is
plagiarism. With the introduction of computers and the Internet into student writing,
teachers are finding that the opportunities for plagiarism are easier and more tempting.
Yet, on the flip side, the very technology that makes plagiarism so easy to commit also
makes it easier to catch. Once students have worked on developing their own voice, you
can usually tell whether the text is copied and pasted from another source and look up the
source for yourself. It is also prudent to curb plagiarism with focused, course-specific
assignments (Warnock, 2009). Students are bright enough to know when they are being
assigned busy-work, which only increases the temptation to plagiarize. According to
modem copyright laws, as soon as anyone puts her or her writing in text, the work is
copyrighted to the author. One can still register a copyright on his or her work, but
regulations allow the simple copyright mark, the authors name, and the date of
publication in order for the work to be protected. This is important information to pass
on to students seeking to publish online, so there is less of an issue with legitimacy
should someone seek to plagiarize his or her work later. It is also important, as a teacher,
16


to remember to act as an intermediary and protect a students personal information,
should an individual or company seek out a student for formal publication.
There exist a number of risks to publishing student work online, and while this
guide is intended more for online interaction between students in a single class, one can
see how certain problems, like inappropriate comments or plagiarism, can be relevant.
Regardless of which method you decide to adopt, there are ways to help avoid any
serious problems with online interaction between students and a general online audience.
Marcella Kehus, co-founder of teenlit.com, suggests procedures such as monitoring
bulletin-board conversations, not giving out students last names or e-mail addresses,
knowing where links on your website lead to, allowing any members to unsubscribe
whenever they wish, and to be up front about everything from company affiliates to
mailing lists (Kehus, 2000).
Another way to avoid problems is to remember that online education is still in its
infancy. In some ways, this requires students learning how to socialize in an entirely new
way. From a young age, our parents teach us how to answer the phone in a polite fashion
that is slightly different from greeting someone in person. Now we find ourselves having
to teach the next generation how to respond to online posts in a polite, professional, and
appropriate fashion. It is important that students understand they are writing messages to
real people with real thoughts and feelings. We see examples of this on many online
forums that are full of rude, hurtful, harassing, and even threatening comments. Such
examples prove that online socialization training is a necessity.
17


The issues present from online learning bring up certain questions, such as, Does
knowledge change when learning occurs through technology?, and What is lost and
what is gained as humanity moves into the age of information? (Bender, 2003).
Technology always has changed the way we think, but with the advent of such virtual
interaction, there is some concern that we may be missing a very human connection. To
this end, one should remember that technology is just another mode of learning and not a
substitute for all other modes. Most teaching pedagogy is just as relevant with online
learning as it is with classroom learning. After all, online interaction can be good for
collaboration over distance, but it does not simply happen because the technology is
there. It takes planning, facilitation, and other timeless teaching strategies.
To help with considerations on whether to conduct a class that incorporates online
learning, the second edition of Using the Internet in Secondary Schools has provided a
list of questions to ponder (De Cicco, Farmer, and Hargrave, 2001).
1- Would the cost of travel affect class attendance in a negative way?
2- Could electronic collaboration help students meet their deadlines more swiftly and
easily?
3- Are some students willing to act as facilitators?
4- How easily is the necessary technology assessable to all students? (This one is
vital)
5- Is training required for students to use the technology, and how long will such
training take?
18


6-
Who can you turn to for technical assistance?
7- Can the discussions or the nature of the discussions be saved and achieved?
8- If the technology is text-oriented, will this prove a barrier for some students, and
how can this barrier be overcome?
It is prudent to have an answer for these questions before planning a hybrid class
or unit with a body of students.
While it may be clear that there is a vast array of advantages to hybrid education
with secondary school students, there are also some issues to bear in mind when
considering introducing students to online interaction. Many of these issues will depend
on the type of online work you intend to conduct, but so long as you consider the hurdles
and plan accordingly, the experience can be both rewarding and beneficial.
Online and Face-to-Face Education
Online social interaction for learning begs the question, "Does communicating
through technology take away from connections between people?" Does physical
distance mirror mental distance? A feeling of belonging is vital for learning to take
place, but does that feeling of inclusion require a physical location to gather for a sense of
"place"?
Education is about a meeting of minds, which would suggest to some that
separating people over distance may not accomplish this. Hubert Dreyfus has expressed
his skepticism of online learning, claiming that a lack of physical presence can hinder
19


education. According to Dreyfus, the anonymity of a virtual discussion can lead to a loss
of meaning (Bender, 2003). He believes the body needs to be involved in learning
environments in order to give a sense of reality. After all, the term "virtual" seems to
suggest a mere representation of reality that cannot replace FTF interaction. Any
learning that occurs is only intellectual but not pragmatic, due to a lack of relevance.
When we contemplate the loss of human connection when comparing FTF interaction
with the virtual, especially with regards to inappropriate comments in posts, the argument
holds some appeal. But does this lack of connection truly affect learning in a negative
way? Can there be no sense of "place" online, and does physical distance translate to the
mental?
Two words that weigh heavily in this debate are space and place. So, what does
space and place mean with regards to virtual interaction? According to Robinson, space
is defined as "an abstract container determined by distance, direction, and time" (Bender,
2003). Distance obviously plays a role in space, but time is another consideration often
overlooked. There is the element of time spent in class and whether that time exists
outside the lesson. Does a student's classmates and teacher exist to him only in the time
when they met, or does he think of such people at other times? Furthermore, can a
student think of lesson content at times outside a given lecture? Obviously the answer is
yes, and in fact it encompasses the mission of education: that the content be so exciting
and inspiring, it causes students to reflect on it outside of the time spent in class. This is
something which can occur in the classroom or online. For as Robinson claims, in online
education, where discussions can last for days but take only minutes to post, time
becomes space.
20


The role of place is that it fits inside space, with a boundary for containment
purposes. With online discussions, the place of the conversations is also virtual, but that
does not mean it does not exist. After all, can we not also have mental boundaries and
containers? According to Robinson, place is anything shared within (Bender, 2003).
Therefore, if place is something we can internalize, then it doesn't necessarily have to be
physical and external. It would be like saying, "home is where you make it", or "home is
where the heart is." While we can identify homes with a current place of residence, we
also acknowledge that home is a place based on a state of mind, much like a meeting of
minds online.
Another element to take into consideration is distance. Distance is a word used
for multiple meanings, as suggested by its dictionary definitions:
1- Being separated by space and time
2- An interval between two points in space and time
3- A remoteness in behavior; reserve
4- A faraway place
The third definition is unique, as it is the only one that does not refer to distance
in the sense of physical separation. This is the definition teachers concern themselves
with, as students require a sense of belonging in order to learn. Michael G. Moore
identifies this relationship as "transactional distance": the teacher's ability to engage
students so that they invest in their own learning (Bender, 2003). When students are
uninspired or disengaged in what they are being taught, there is a vaster transactional
21


distance, and true learning cannot occur. To this extent, distance is a thing of
engagement more than physical relationships, for a teacher can be a few steps from a
student in a classroom but on the other side of the planet in their connection and
understanding of the student. When regarding both online and FTF learning
environments, student engagement is key (Gradel and Edson, 2011). Therefore, physical
closeness is pretty much irrelevant with regards to transactional distance and no more or
less effective than online interaction.
We may feel a certain loss of connection when we meet people virtually, and
currently no technology can replicate this connection, but we do not have to have it one
way or another with a hybrid class. According to Standards for the 21st-Century
Learner, opportunities for students to share and learn with others actually enhances
learning, and students require this type of learning in technological and FTF settings
(Lincoln, 2010). A typical class with some online activity for research is nothing new to
the world of education and will not help prepare students for online education.
Conversely, entirely online education may be too much for students just learning to
interact with one another online. Take for instance the issue of appropriateness of
comments. When students interact with each other on occasion in FTF settings, they will
have a stronger sense of their classmates' humanity when posting comments online. They
may be more mindful of rude comments.
Another argument for hybrid classes is that they support different stages of
learning in different environments. According to Kolb's cycle, learning takes place in
four different stages (Bender, 2003).
22


1-Experience
2- Reflection
3- Conceptulization
4- Planning
Classroom interaction works well for the first and fourth stage, experience and
planning. For instance, students achieve ideal exposure to new ideas in the social setting
of the classroom. However, reflection and conceptualization are more appropriate for the
structure of an online forum or threaded discussion. Here students can take what they
learned from class and work with the ideas in a social setting that can take place
anywhere and at anytime. The inclusion of different learning in different environments is
beneficiary to a world where student thinking is anything but uniform; people think and
learn differently based on their cognitive styles.
Learning Disabilities and Cognitive Thinking
When planning an online hybrid unit, there are two important considerations to
make: How your students think and how your students learn. A good starting place may
exist with the individual differences of your students. This can relate to different
thinking styles or learning disabilities.
Chances are your class will include students with disabilities that present
challenges to their learning in a hybrid environment; some can be language based, like
speaking English as a secondary language, or dyslexic troubles with written
23


communication. Other disabilities can be of a more physical/neurological nature, like
visual and hearing impairments or learning disabilities. Students with such disabilities
may be in the minority but not significantly. From 1976 to 2009, the percentage of
children assisted by federal programs for the disabled averaged out to be 12.5%
(Students with disabilities, 2011). Such students would certainly necessitate
differentiation to the curriculum, as schools are legally obliged to accommodate them. In
accordance with the rehabilitation act of Section 508, federal agencies like public schools
are required to make information technology accessible to individuals with disabilities
(Section 508 laws, 2012).
Differentiating the curriculum to serve students with individualized education
plans is often a concern for teachers constructing a new unit. Fortunately, online learning
with disabled students is not unexplored. A recent study among college-age students
with disabilities and previous enrollment in online coursework revealed that just under
half (45.8%) felt their disability impacted their success in an online learning environment
(Roberts, Crittenden & Crittenden, 2011). This is not to say that students with learning
disabilities are not able to succeed in online learning, but their disabilities should be taken
into consideration when planning hybrid education. Examples may include the creation
of closed captioning for videos, color-based information available in text format, and
spoken versions of text (Roberts, Crittenden & Crittenden, 2011). For further
information, you can access CANnect (www.cannect.org), an organization consisting of a
consortium of schools dedicated to helping educators meet federal standards for students
with visual impairments.
24


Not all differences outlined through personal learning obstacles can be attributed
to disabilities. Differences in cognitive thinking should be considered as well, for some
students learn better online in groups while others learn better on their own. Cognitive
styles are commonly identified as the manner in which an individual thinks and acts in
order to perceive, process, and interpret information for the purpose of problem-solving.
There has been a large amount of research on the effects of cognitive style on education
in FTF classrooms, but a recent study focused on the relationship between cognitive
styles and teamwork effectiveness in a virtual environment (Liu, Magjuka, and Lee,
2008). The study took a look at two style dimensions: Scope and Level.
Level: The thought process is broken down into global and local thinking. Global is
more broad thinking with a focus on the big picture, while local is narrower and focuses
on the details.
Scope: The thought processes is broken down into internal and external. Internal
thinkers are more introverted and prefer to work alone, where external thinkers are more
social, preferring to work in groups.
Findings from the study revealed that online group work appealed more to
external thinkers and students with local styles. The study points to the notion that
online, social interaction works well for detail-oriented students that learn better with
group work. This is not to say that individual learners and broad thinkers cannot benefit
from such a unit, but there is definite value in knowing your students' cognitive styles and
taking them into consideration when conducting lessons or activities. The study
25


concludes that while it is important to integrate cognitive styles as a factor in the design
of a course, a teacher cannot rely on these factors to predict how students will perform.
Finally, when considering how students think and learn, do not overlook the
components on how students acquire knowledge. Bloom's taxonomy outlines six
developmental levels to acquiring knowledge:
1- Knowledge: Memorization and recollection
2- Comprehension: Translations, interpretations, and predictions
3- Application: Solving, constructing, and applying
4- Analysis: Understanding, identifying, and distinguishing
5- Synthesis: Creating and developing
6- Evaluation: Judging and considering
These work up from basic levels of understanding to higher levels of
understanding. While lower levels may be necessary for online discussions, debates are
more concerned with the learning that takes place at higher levels. Just bear in mind that
education begins with knowledge acquisition, and jumping into higher levels too soon
can overwhelm students.
26


Student Writers and Student Audience
In addition to college preparation, this guide is also concerned with improving
student writing. Undoubtedly, a teacher will want to produce a class full of good writers,
but what exactly constitutes good writingl Although this term is thrown around quite
liberally, here we shall refer to good writers in two parts. First, good writers can create
original, imaginative, and thought-provoking writing intended for broad audiences.
Second, good writers display sufficient usage of form so as not to distract from the
content. This second quality, referred to as correct writing, is often embraced in
secondary expository writing classes and can be taught though drilling, memorization,
and rubric-driven essays. However, these methods do not work so well to produce
interesting writing and can, unfortunately, be neglected. But just what is interesting
writing, and how can it be nurtured in students? Below is a list compiled from Inside
Out, Developmental Strategies for Teaching Writing on the qualities we often look for
among interesting writing (Kirby and Liner, 1981).
1. Voice: The writing has the distinct imprint of its author. It is unique to that
individual and stands out from an assortment of other texts.
2. Honesty: This goes hand-in-hand with voice, as it is not afraid to reveal the
authors thoughts, beliefs, and experiences. Honesty is risky, for it involves opening
oneself up to an audience, but without it the writing comes across as sterile and artificial.
3. Sense of Humor: The writing may or may not succeed in making the audience
laugh, but it is even more important that an attempt is made to entertain the audience and
reveal that the author does not take himself too seriously.
27


4.
Informative: The writing must have something to say, some area of experience
to share with the audience. This is the actual content of the writing.
5. Inventive: The author tries to say something new or something old in a new way.
Cliches are avoided, and the author embraces her unique imagination.
These are five qualities we recognize in literature that informs and/or entertains
us. Society may change, and peoples tastes with it, but such qualities are universal in all
good writing, regardless of the time or culture in which it was written. The goal is to take
this information and incorporate it into modern, educational, technology-driven
pedagogy.
Correct writing can be delivered as imparting knowledge, but good writing must
be nurtured, guided, and discovered. This is best nurtured through social interaction
within writing and a system of feedback and revision. As this is a unit for student
writing, it would be appropriate to analyze the sort of writing students typically engage
in, within an expository writing class (Daniels and Zemelman, 1988):
1- Writing to show learning
2- Writing to learn writing
3- Writing to communicate
4- Writing to express self
5- Writing to create
28


The fourth and fifth types of writing should receive more weight in the early part
of the unit, when students are developing their writing community and first finding their
voice within that community. It is these sorts of writing that lead to self-sponsored
writing, where students have ample opportunity to work on the sort of writing they wish
to write.
Of course, one must not neglect formal assignments, as these are also
recommended types of writing for students. The first two types of writing focus more on
form and assessment, which is where students can display what they know and what they
lack. Such formal writing is vital for student growth and can work quite well if students
are given actual choices and a feeling of ownership over their work (Daniels and
Zemelman, 1988). Writing to learn and learning to write is necessary throughout the
unit, so students can receive ample writing practice and produce assessable work.
Earlier assignments that focus on student interests can help to open up willingness
to write, both online and off. Before jumping right into online discussions on student
work, it is best to warm up with practice conversations. Such conversations can focus
more on student interests; the real concern is that students give their opinions and ideas in
written form and that they reply to the comments of others.
There exist a number of communication means for online discussions. Some
individuals prefer live chats, but there is a distinct advantage to the threaded conversation
of a message board. According to online instructor and author, Scott Warnock, regarding
message boards I find that the natural delay helps conversations on the boards achieve a
level of sophistication beyond many, if not most, onsite class discussions (Warnock,
29


2009). Part of what leads to this sophistication that Wamock speaks of is the
asynchronous nature of the message board. Because the student can join the conversation
at his or her leisure, that student has more time to contemplate word choice and is more
likely to re-read and revise posts. Students are also less likely to use abbreviations and
shortened language most often seen in texting and online chatting. Because written posts
feel more akin to an expression of ideas over basic communication, posts tend to take on
a more formal appearance over brief, hastily typed messages. It is for this reason that
message boards or e-mail can make for better writing-to-learn practice than the fast-
paced, live conversations of chats or texting.
Messages provide students the short, spontaneous, writing-to-learn practice that
helps develop ideas, but message boards are also tied into writing for communication.
Writing for communication goes hand in hand with expository writing, as it focuses on
affecting an audience via informing, instructing, persuading, or analyzing. Traditionally,
in expository writing classes, students compose works for an audience of one, the
instructor. They write in order to fulfill the requirements of a rubric and get a good grade
or avoid a bad grade by appeasing the teacher's standards. It should be noted that
students with little to no experience shaping their writing for a wider audience, and
sharing/ publishing their work, will not have learned to take a craftsmanship approach to
their writing and will struggle with workshop environments (Daniels and Zemelman,
1988). Message boards, however, provide a varying audience. When posting responses
on a message board, students get ample writing practice while getting the opportunity to
consider their fellow classmates as an audience. Here students can develop the authority
of their voice, practice risk-taking, and train their invention skills (Wamock, 2009). With
30


the pressure of pleasing a single authority alleviated, students are free to focus on the
sorts of communicative, expository writing that can inform, persuade, and even entertain.
This is why such threaded conversations are important for developing a writer's
workshop attitude and experience among students.
If a teacher wants students to broaden their prospects of an audience even further,
they can also consider online, student publication, such as teenlit.com. Unfortunately, it
is possible to broaden an audience too much. When opening up a writing group's
audience to the entirety of the world-wide-web, students can feel the loss of a sense of
community and seek out smaller groups to join (Kehus, 2000).
Regarding writing assignments earlier in the unit, it is a good idea to keep
assignments less formal and focus more on the goal of moving an audience. An example
of one such assignment is known as the Occasional Paper, which has a flexible due date,
is read aloud to the class by the author, and centers on daily/ commonplace subjects like
preferred writing utensils or proper bathroom habits (Miller, 2009). Such assignments do
not have rubrics but a set of guidelines, outlining what to avoid and what to shoot for.
This takes the students focus off grades and allows him or her to focus more on writing
to move an audience. Such assignments, in addition to message board posting practice,
will help students prepare for the more formal assignments.
Even though there are many advantages to online discussions, live discussions in
class also have their merits. While students need writing practice, they also need
opportunities for public speaking. This is yet another example of how a hybrid class can
provide the best of both worlds in education.
31


Summary
There are a number of factors to weigh when considering a hybrid unit for your
expository writing class. First off, examine the pros and cons of online education when
considering which type of online interaction to use. While there are numerous benefits
to conducting a hybrid writing class, there are also issues to weigh in turn. Be sure to
know the students you will be working with, as your will have to take their strengths,
limitations, disabilities, learning styles, and previous experiences into account when
introducing hybrid learning to your curriculum. Remember that students are writing for a
broader audience than just you, the teacher. This may be a newer experience for some
students, so allow them practice in writing to one another. To this end, it is best to warm
up with less formal writing assignments in an asynchronous fashion on a message board.
These ideas are important when moving into the next step, planning the actual unit.
32


CHAPTER III
PART II
How to Set Up a Hybrid Unit
Modem universities are designed to offer a variety of online and hybrid classes,
but this is not the case with your standard high school. A number of issues can arise,
depending on the flexibility of the school. One primary issue to consider, before setting
up your hybrid class unit, is the matter of scheduling.
In a hybrid class, students typically spend half their time online and half in class.
But what if students are required to attend class every day? A teacher must consider how
to incorporate the online interaction and work without overloading students. Could half
the classes be used like a study hour, where students are allowed an opportunity to work
on assignments as they would at home? Could students be allowed to leave the class
after attendance is taken to work elsewhere in the school? This allowance would rely
heavily on whether the school is an open or closed campus. However, if allowed,
students could use such out-of-class days to work online in a school library or computer
lab. Issues of supervision might arise, which is why you may want to consider more
supervision earlier in the unit and then gradually release students into the online work on
their own, when they appear ready for the responsibility. Naturally, these issues will vary
depending on the rules of the school, the district's policies, your own teaching experience,
the freedom allowed to curriculum creation, the students being served, and the facilities
and technology available within the school.
33


When planning such a class, special consideration should be given to the
technology available. According to a survey conducted in 2009, 69% of teens own their
own desktop or laptop computer, and 12% live in households with no computer or no
Internet connection (Pew Research Center, 2012). As every student will require a
computer with Internet access to participate, a teacher will have to figure out a way to
make sure every student either owns or can easily gain access to a computer. This
consideration is especially important when teaching students that come from lower
income families. While 93% of all teens use the Internet, this number exponentially
decreases to 88% as the household income decreases (Pew Research Center, 2012). If
your school cannot provide your students with the necessary technology, you can turn to
technology grants. In addition to government grants from the U.S. Department of
Education, companies like HP and Bank of America also offer technology grants for
educators. One may also find divisions of the Department of Education, like OSERS
(Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services), that support programs to help
educate youths with disabilities.
Still, even with all the logistics of the scheduling and technology figured out, the
prospect of planning a class unit with online interaction can be particularly intimidating.
Teaching online is not typically covered in depth in teacher licensing programs. To this
end, a teacher may feel they are not knowledgeable or experienced enough to teach
online. Feelings of anxiety often associated with activities like memorizing names and
how one looks to students may be transferred to anxiety over technological mishaps and
knowing less about computers than the students. One school of thought is to tell students
it is your first time teaching online and that you're feeling a little anxious (Bender, 2003).
34


The idea is that such a confession will help to relieve the pressure of looking omniscient
and allow for more focus on teaching and less on the appearance of expertise.
In spite of such apprehensions, a licensed and experienced teacher can take
comfort in the fact that one does not have to start from scratch in order to effectively
teach online; there is a noted cross-over between the pedagogy of classroom teaching and
online teaching. Seven principles for teaching still apply, regardless of where the class is
being held (Wamock, 2009). These principles are as follows:
1- Contact between students and faculty
2- Reciprocity and cooperation among students
3- Active learning
4- Time on task
5- Feedback
6- Communicating high expectations
7- Respecting diverse talents and ways of learning
Such principles naturally represent broad pedagogy in education and are rooted
within the very foundations of good teaching; they are universal in all methods used to
teach. When adjusting your style to instruct online, you should focus more on developing
technological literacy. Such development goes beyond learning to use the necessary
technology and zeros in on the more subtle elements of online communication. An
instructor must consider what sort of online personality to present to her students and
35


how certain sentences will come across when read without an actual voice or face to
convey unspoken messages. For instance, breaking down content into shorter chunks as
opposed to long lectures will be more effective towards learning. In the end, how you
teach in the classroom and what you constitute as a lesson will greatly affect how you
teach online. "Much of online teaching, especially initially, can be envisioned as a
migration or transference of your best teaching practices and strategies" (Warnock,
2009).
Feelings of apprehension towards entirely online teaching points out another
advantage to the hybrid model; it provides a system of gradual release for the instructor
as well as the students. Teachers, as well as their pupils, do not have to jump right into
an educational environment that may feel is a little foreign to them.
Another noted cross-over between FTF classrooms and online education is the
presentation of a syllabus. Many contemporary syllabi contain more than just due dates
and required readings; the syllabus is also used to communicate an instructor's
expectations of the students, contact information and availability, and even a short bio.
These are commonalities between online syllabi and standard classroom ones, but special
considerations should be given to a syllabus for a hybrid class, such as boundaries and
availability.
A common observation among online classes is that because of its asynchronous
nature, students tend to expect their teacher to be available at all times (Warnock, 2009).
It is important to let your students know how often you will log on and respond to their
writing. If you are more structured in your approach and wish to create a schedule of
36


when you plan to log on to check posts and respond to questions, this information should
be shared with your students. This will help the students understand that even though
their class mode of communication may seem available 24/7, you are not (Bender, 2003).
Online communication relies heavily on threaded conversations. Thus a teacher
should specify how often a student is expected to log on, the number of posts they are
expected to make on a given discussion, and the number of other students they are
expected to reply to (Bender, 2003). Posting a schedule of class meetings may be less
common in standard, secondary classroom syllabi, but a schedule is vital in a hybrid
classroom. Students may not meet in the same place every day, or even on a regular
basis. Fortunately, live meetings can be utilized to check-in with students and help
problem solve.
Finally, it is important to use a syllabus to outline expectations for students
regarding technical details, like formatting documents (Warnock, 2009). This is a good
opportunity for a teacher to set up expectations and allowances for technical difficulties.
As we journey into the digital age, the time-honored excuse of "My dog ate my
homework," has evolved into, "Cyberspace ate my homework."
When planning to teach in a hybrid setting, the technology must be given ample
consideration. How FTF class experiences translate to online experiences is one
consideration, and the largest is communication, since classroom communication utilizes
audio and visual stimuli. While online contact may utilize videos and audio recordings,
the primary form of communication remains text-based. This will greatly affect how
meaning is conveyed from word, as two people will interpret a single sentence
37


differently, based on their experiences (Bender, 2003). Spoken sentences can be
interpreted differently, and the inclusion of vocal tones and body language gives clues as
to the speaker's meaning. A teacher must keep this in mind when speaking and
responding to students. It is for this reason that many online instructors keep their
messages more formal and direct. However, this does not mean the instructor must come
across cold and artificial.
Another consideration to make is the inclusion of an introductory class for the
technology being used. To this extent, it would be good to spend a day in class or a
computer lab teaching students about the CMS (Course Management System/ software)
you will be using. A CMS, often a web-based program, is designed to help teachers
conduct online learning by posting material and facilitating classroom discussions. Such
sites/ systems include Angel, Blackboard, Desire2Learn, Moodle, and Sakai. These
CMSs are most often seen at the college level, but they could function just as well for any
sort of communal, online learning. Just remember that an introduction of the technology
utilized will not be the end of such instruction. According to Laurie B. Dias,
.. .technology is integrated when it is used in a seamless manner to support and extend
curriculum objectives and to engage students in meaningful learning. (Dias, 1999).
Even if your students are tech savvy, you should include a description of the sort
of unit you will be teaching and the sort of instruction they can expect. Not only will this
help curb a great deal of questions and confusion from students but from parents as well.
Online education is still a relatively new phenomenon, and some people view virtual
learning as a way to cut comers (Wamock, 2009). The more sound information you can
provide for skeptics the better.
38


For the bold teacher wishing to create a webpage for the class or take advantage
of online student publication as seen on teenlit.com, remember that student ownership is
key (Kehus, 2000). Enlist students to contribute to the sites creation, keep the site
simple and easy to navigate, outline clear criteria for submissions, consider audience with
regards to the students you will be working with and the audience your students will be
writing for, and remember to keep author-approved examples for future classes.
A final word on technology introduction: the content should not be more
complicated than need be. Do not use more technology than you are comfortable with,
and do not use technology simply because it exists. Perhaps there are some lessons and
learning methods you feel would work better in a FTF class. After all, that is the
advantage of a hybrid class; you can do both. In the end, The foundation of your class,
even in the most high-tech environment, is still your own personal teaching ability and
imagination. Build from that as you investigate the many tools that can help you teach
online (Warnock, 2009).
Other considerations one might make to setting up a hybrid class may include the
concept of team teaching. We have all heard the phrase, Two heads are better than
one. This is the key advantage to team teaching. Teachers can divide the workload,
learn different techniques from one another, and see a different perspective on a single
piece of writing. In fact, there does not have to be only two teachers. Larger classes
requiring more one-on-one attention have sometimes seen as many as four teachers
(Bender, 2003). Of course there are disadvantages to team teaching. The teachers must
be compatible and able to work together, but there should also be a clear establishment of
authority to the students. Students must understand that both teachers are equally valid


instructors, and not merely a teacher/helper pair. In some schools, the option of whether
to team-teach or not is beyond the teachers control. However, if a couple of teachers
wanted to team up to teach online lessons, the removal of boundaries like classrooms and
set schedules would certainly aid in such an endeavor.
When planning your unit, remember that no good plan is set in stone. Be flexible
and willing to adapt. Lessons can change, even in the middle of a class if the intended
plan is not successful. A good, and often overlooked, strategy to learning whether a unit
was successful comes from student feedback. Students are often willing to provide
feedback on what worked and what didnt in a unit.
The Creation and Facilitation of a Writing Community
Whether online or FTF, a teacher of an expository writing class would be
invested in producing good writers. Obviously there is no set formula or concrete
pedagogy to teach creativity and originality, but it all begins with two simple student
facilities: Engagement and motivation.
Student engagement in writing exists as a necessity for both classroom and online
writing. In fact, with the added responsibility of self-motivated online posting, one could
argue that engagement is even more important for online learning. Online learning may
be a newer phenomenon, but the element of student engagement is consistent in all
settings, and there is a vast history of research-based pedagogy for FTF cooperative
learning environments (Gradel and Edson 2010). Cooperative learning is a key factor in
motivating students, and the construction of a classroom community is essential for
40


cooperative learning, especially among secondary schools. It is important for students to
feel a sense of familiarity among their peers; many are afraid to openly share ideas and
experiment with new territory or push the boundaries of their writing. While community
building and reinforcing activities are not a formal part of the writing process, they allow
students to work together and help build engagement and motivation. This in turn leads
to better writers further on.
Modern teaching pedagogy states the necessity for a classroom to feel like a safe
place for students. They can ask a stupid question without fear of ridicule or
humiliation, and they believe people care about them and their opinions (McDermott and
Quate, 2009). A students academic success is tied to that students emotional perception
of the learning environment, and for adolescents, emotional shut-downs lead to
intellectual ones. We are social creatures, and schools are very social places where
students learn with one another rather than around one another. Students should
approach their class as they would a sort of club, where they are bound by common
interests as opposed to a common schedule (McDermott and Quate, 2009). The way in
which a hybrid class frees students and teachers from a ridged schedule leaves plenty of
opportunities to develop such feelings of community.
As with schools and classes, the act of writing is also highly social. This may
seem contradictory to our impression of the reclusive writer alone and shut up in his
room. Many of us require silence and solitude to focus on writing, but we must
remember that the process does not end with the first composition. Whether it is the
sharing of ones feelings and ideas, making inquiries, or simply communicating practical
information, a writer must always consider his audience and how his writing reflects
41


upon himself. Truly, honest writing reveals things about ourselves we might be able to
hide in spoken conversation, and so it comes as no surprise when teenagers feel
vulnerable about exposing themselves through their writing (Daniels and Zemelman,
1988). It is vital to develop a caring classroom community so that students are less
apprehensive about reflecting their true selves in their writing. Ice breakers and
community builders at the beginning of any term or unit work quite well. Below are
some examples of introductory activities commonly used in FTF settings.
Mind Maps: Students are given a piece of paper on which they write their names
and then write or draw a variety of interests that describe who they are. Formatting can
vary depending on the class or individual. Some mind maps are less structured, and
students draw or write all over the page. Some are designed like a brainstorming web,
with the students name in the center and lines drawn to connect various interests and
descriptors of personality. Mind maps can require a set number of drawings and words or
they may require an accompanying drawing for each descriptive word. Though it may be
less necessary with older students that are more outgoing, a teacher could also post mind
maps on the walls of the classroom for all to see.
The Magic Box: A teacher places an assortment of random objects and toys in a
box, and each student draws one out at random. Students take their object and describe
how it is a metaphor for writing. This is the sort of activity where humor can serve as a
good icebreaker.
Musical Inspiration: The teacher plays a song for students, and students are
instructed to close their eyes and let their minds wander. When the song has ended,
42


students write and then share where their minds went during the music. Did they imagine
a scene from a story taking place, a plethora of random images, or did it take them
somewhere in their own personal memories? This is an excellent exercise for students to
learn what they and their classmates do with their inspiration.
Journaling: This is a commonly used activity that teachers use to help students
open up. As the goal is to create a sense of community, a journal might not work well
unless shared. Therefore, it may be a good idea for teachers to give students less personal
requirements. For example, students could apply what they read or write in class to their
own lives and then interpret the piece based on their own experiences.
Interviews: This activity takes on a variety of modes, most common being
students interviewing one another and then introducing their partner to the group. Less
common activities might include the press conference, where a student may volunteer to
come to the front of the class and answer questions asked by the class. This activity does
not have to be entirely controlled by the teacher. For instance, instead of telling students
what to ask, a class can brainstorm what sort of questions can be asked together.
Name Games: Another simple and common ice-breaking activity. Students go
around in a circle giving their names and one little piece of information about themselves.
This information could include an interest or something that makes the student unique.
To assure that students are paying attention, the introduction could progress in a circle,
where the next in line has to go back and re-introduce everyone who spoke before him/
her.
43


As technology needs daily reinforcement, so does a classs sense of community.
Classroom community building activities should not simply be abandoned after the first
little introductory class but reinforced throughout the semester (McDermott and Quate,
2009). Activities like Magic Box, Musical Inspiration, and Journaling could be repeated
throughout the whole of the curriculum. Activities like Name Games could be repeated
so long as the material is kept fresh. For instance, instead of listing interests, students
could list an achievement or goal for the week.
These activities work well for classroom introductions and community building,
but with a little imagination a teacher can also utilize them to build the community
online. The Mind Maps activity could use pictures, videos, and even links to other
websites in order to display a students personality and interests. For Musical
inspiration, students could post their writing and attach an audio file with the song they
listened to for inspiration. Students could even conduct the Interview through an online
chat, e-mail, or a threaded discussion. They could utilize links, images, or videos for
answers, much like they did with the Mind Maps. While it would be nice to believe that
high school juniors and seniors are mature enough to know whats appropriate and
inappropriate to post for school, it would be prudent for a teacher to briefly cover their
expectations.
We may not notice, but we wear different facades when we change our modes of
communication. The most obvious is the juxtaposition between how we write and how
we speak. When writing, one has more time to consider what they are going to say
before posting their message, unlike live spoken conversation where things slip out.
When considering classroom icebreakers, it is important to consider online icebreakers in
44


turn. Not one but two personalities are being introduced in a hybrid class; ones FTF and
ones virtual personality. In some hybrid classes, a teacher might require student
introductions both online and off, so student have the opportunity to see the differences
(Wamock, 2009). When students introduce themselves, here are a few things you can
ask them to share:
-Basic information like their name and e-mail address
-Interests and activities they participate in
-A picture of the student that can be used as an icon when posting
-What they expect from the class and the hybrid unit
-The sort of topics they like to debate and/ or find interesting
Some online teachers require students to respond to another students
introduction, so that there is some interaction among the group. It is also recommended
for teachers to comment on their students introductions. For example, a teacher could
respond to an interest, stating her own similar interests (Warnock, 2009). This gives the
instructor an opportunity to put forth her own online personality and build up a sense of
familiarity. This is also a good place to probe for student goals and what they expect to
take away from the class (Boettcher, 2010).
Students can also engage in introduction activities to help them develop/ identify
their online personalities. Table 1.1 displays an example of such an activity, adapted and
updated from Introducing the Internet to Young Learners, pg. 129 (Braun, 2001):
45


Chances are some of these aforementioned ice-breakers will not be necessary if
conducting your hybrid unit later in the curriculum as your classroom writing community
will already have been established. However, if online communication is not utilized
until the unit begins, one should certainly conduct some activities for students to present
their virtual personalities.
Creating a communal environment and instigating thought-provoking writing
assignments are vital to a hybrid writing class, but they do not account for all obstacles.
What if students do not participate or have difficulty in knowing what to write in
response to a prompt? This is where facilitation comes into play. There are two types of
facilitation in an online or live classroom discussion: teacher facilitation and student
facilitation.
Social hosts, technical assistants, program managers, and content instructors
generally agree on four roles that facilitators play in online discussions (Wang, 2008).
These Roles are displayed in table 2.1.
46


Table 1.1 Sample Activity: Differences Between Communications
Part 1: Consider the 6 types of communication on the chart below and what it's
like to use each technique. In each space, write down every idea that comes to mind
when using that mode of communication. For example, under "text" you can write, "uses
acronyms like BRB for be right back", or for "face-to-face" you can write, "live and in
person".
Online Chat Texting Phone E- mail Web Posting Face- to- Face

Part 2: Write what you think are the biggest differences between:
Web Post & Chat Web Post & E-Mail Web Post & Text Web Post & Face-To- Face Web Post & Phone

Part 3: Use the space below to tell what your favorite form of communication is
and why.
47


Table 2.1 The Four Roles of an Online Discussion Facilitator
Intellectual Facilitator Managerial Facilitator Social Facilitator Technical Facilitator
Initiates Takes on Sets tone, Demonstrates
questions, leadership encourages how to use the
provides role, keeps participation system,
information, discussions on and responses, initiates
makes track, keeps asks questions, threaded
connections, members and discussions,
gives active, and acknowledges develops a
feedback, and summarizes key points. establishes rules. contributions. study guide, and provides opportunities to explore the system.
An effective online facilitator must take on all of these roles, although some roles
require more attention than others. Regardless of students prior knowledge or how well
the class works together, facilitation begins in the managerial role with establishing and
communicating expectations.
In any capacity, a good facilitator clearly communicates his or her rules and
expectations early on. Online facilitation is no different. A clear set of rules is not only
necessary for order but also for learning to take place and to help keep students engaged
(Wamock, 2009). It is difficult for students to be engaged in a task when they are unsure
what is expected of them. When outlining rules for students, include details about
deadlines, quantity of posts, length of posts, and even the content of posts. When
discussing content, it would be a good time to bring up issues of civility. Often the
48


soundest learning is brought about through passionate argument, but this should be
accompanied though mutual respect and toleration of different viewpoints (Bender,
2003). What is appropriate and what is not will vary depending on the instructor and the
students present. However, a teacher should make clear what he considers to be
appropriate and inappropriate. Remember that definitions of respect break down when
we expect the other party to intuitively view respect in the same manner we do. This is
especially true when working with adolescents.
In order for students to improve their writing, they must be able to write in a low-
stakes environment (Warnock, 2009). To this end, a teacher must be wary of overloading
students with so many rules they are afraid to take chances with their writing. Students in
message-board writing should be writing to improve their style and share their ideas, not
writing to appease a set of rules. This is also important for teachers, as they might end up
spending too much time focusing on every word and sentence structure, thus missing or
undervaluing the content of the writing. Existing rules should be detailed without being
overly-complicated, and simple guidelines, like the number of words or paragraphs
required in student posts, can help give students a better idea of what their teacher
expects (Warnock, 2009).
In addition to clearly outlining rules, an instructor of online writing should also
consider how involved she should be in discussions. This will vary depending on how
you guide discussions in a FTF classroom environment. A teacher should not necessarily
be the center of the conversation but should definitely be involved in the discussion;
online discussions do not just happen without the involvement of a facilitator
(Warnock, 2009). Therefore, a teacher may ponder the best way to be involved in a
49


threaded conversation without hijacking the debate. Some methods of unobtrusive
teacher prompts include asking questions, playing devils advocate, asking for
clarification, summarizing posts, keeping the discussion on track, or modeling for
students. An instructor can answer a direct question or state his position, so long as it
strives for objectivity and exists more to inform and not indoctrinate. Remember that
students crave instructor feedback, and dialogue cannot exist without it (Boettcher, 2010).
The Socratic Method is highly popular with many educational discussions, both
online and off. Within the Socratic Method, students are encouraged to bring previous
knowledge and personal experiences to the debate. Such a debate helps students to
connect the subject matter to their own lives in a highly relevant way. By its very nature,
the Socratic Method is far superior to stimulating student engagement in a discussion
than a lecture (Bender, 2003).
Prompts are another important part of facilitating online discussions. When
linked to required readings, you do not have to limit your students to a single prompt.
For instance, you can give five prompts and ask the students to respond to a minimum of
two. However, a single mandatory prompt would work better if you want students to
focus on a single idea. In such cases, it is important to keep prompts short and simple.
One or two sentences should be adequate. Yet, simple does not mean vague. For
instance, a follow-up question like, What do you think? could leave students
wondering, What do I think about what? Prompts and questions should be pointed
enough to avoid students feeling they have to guess at your intended meaning. They may
not respond, fearing they misunderstood you. Students should be taught to make their
posts both substantial and concise, and a teacher can prompt them with the three-part
50


post of what, why, and wish (Boettcher, 2010). In the three-part post, students are
prompted to inquire what they think of the work or recommend doing, why they think
what they do, and what they wish they knew about the work. Remember to save your
prompts in your CMS, if possible, for later refinement and use in the unit or other terms
(Wamock, 2009).
Discussion based learning is all about breaking down archaic viewpoints of
education as lectures where an omniscient instructor fills the minds of student like
pouring water into an empty basin. Part of breaking down this barrier is to increase
students involvement in their own learning. One such instance can be seen in student-
facilitated discussions. Earlier mention was made about the four types of online
facilitator roles: Intellectual, Managerial, Social, and Technical. In a recent study,
students were trained to facilitate and lead groups of five or six participants in online
discussions. Following the study, student-facilitators recorded their findings, in response
to which facilitator role was most crucial. The purpose of the study was to determine
whether these four roles equally applied in online discussions or whether some carried
more weight than others (Wang, 2008). With regards to the findings, table 2.2 represents
how the importance of each skill was viewed by students. Managerial, Intellectual, and
Social facilitation were almost equal in their considerations. Technical facilitation
considerations were a mere .7%, pointing to the fact that students had few to no problems
with technical facilitation difficulties.
51


Table 2.2 Results for Student-Ranked Importance of Online Facilitation Skills.
.7%
Managerial
Intellectual
Social
Technical
What this data points to is that instruction should be focused equally on
everything but technical facilitation. Of course, this is not to say students should not be
taught technical facilitation skills. The study conducted engaged students with sufficient
proficiency in the technology being utilized. While many adolescents are quite tech-
savvy, it would be prudent for a teacher to know the students proficiency before making
any assumptions on where to focus facilitation instruction.
Yet even with excellent student and teacher facilitation of online discussions, a
lack of participation can arise from students. Perhaps a lack of visual or oral cues leads
to confusion, or the class is large and students run out of things to say about a given topic
(Bender, 2003). An overlaying theme in avoiding problems with participation is to
anticipate future problems. For example, when embarking on a hybrid unit, a teacher
should consider the sort of access students have to computers at home and at school.
Presenting a larger variety of prompts can help keep conversations from going stale with
larger classes. Be sure that students are truly participating in a discussion and not just
52


piggybacking off one another. Students may attempt to avoid putting any real thought
into a discussion by simply agreeing with another and summarizing their statement or
playing devils advocate without adding their own thoughts to the table. Here it is
important to remember that simple interaction does not necessarily equate collaboration
(Gradel and Edson, 2011). Finally, make sure the layout of responses is not too
confusing for a student that has not signed on in a while. For instance, if posts are not
presented in chronological order, massive confusion may follow. Also consider how
summaries can help students when responding to an overwhelming number of posts and
responses from other students.
Peer Review and the Revision Process
Once your students have been introduced to the idea of online learning in a
socially driven hybrid environment, you can begin to work with assignments of a more
formal writing nature. In such assignments, students will develop their writing with a
stronger focus on form as well as content. This will include collaborative writing and
peer editing, utilizing writing workshop strategies.
A large part of developing good writing lies in editing and revision. In a class
focused solely on composition, students do not have ample opportunity to practice this
skill. This is the advantage of peer review; it gives us a fresh perspective on our writing
and alerts us to issues we so easily miss in the act of composition. This is especially vital
when we write for a broad audience. Since online interaction is entirely written, the act
of peer review changes not only the review but the communication medium by which the
53


review is delivered. When coaching students on peer reviews, we must remind them to
consider what they say along with the technology they use to say it (Wamock, 2009).
In many cases, not all students have participated in peer-review activities in the
past. Therefore, it is best to take a little time to train students in the basics. Constructive
criticism can be a good discipline to begin with, as it often proves to be a sensitive issue.
Though well-meaning, readers unintentionally make unhelpful, offensive remarks. On
the flip side, writers can simply ignore the advice of their readers. To avoid such
problems, a teacher can distribute a detailed guide-sheet to give students advice on how
best to critique their classmates work and receive criticism in an egalitarian fashion
(Zemelman and Daniels 1988). Here are some suggestions the sheet could include:
Use I statements, such as I felt about... or This struck me as..This allows the
reader to understand how his or her writing was received and interpreted by the audience.
Statements like You should..can be confusing if the reader somehow missed the
intended meaning, which is not always the writers fault.
Answers from readers and the writer should be deeper than yes/no. In the same token,
questions should lead to deep answers. Why did you like it? as opposed to Did you
like it?
Readers should do more than point out what they consider to be problems. Readers
should offer solutions or suggestions in turn. Remember, the purpose of the critique is to
improve the work not point out all its flaws.
Give positive feedback on parts that worked or were enjoyed. But remember, there
should be a balance between negative and positive. A reader should not just praise a
54


piece for the self-esteem of the author. In the same vein, a reader should not pick the
work apart looking solely for flaws.
A reader can ask the writer about the intended message and audience. Here readers can
have a better understanding of the intended purpose so they can help the writer achieve
his/ her goal, instead of taking thematic control and rewriting the piece in their own
fashion.
The writer should strive for objectivity and try not to take criticism personally but view it
as a fresh perspective on a work in progress. That being said, the writer is ultimately the
one who decides which advice to take. One reader might like a certain idea while another
will not; different audiences react differently to the same work. Some criticism can take
away from what the writer is trying to say. In the end, it is the writers choice on which
advice to accept or reject. However, writers should always consider how a critique will
affect their message before accepting or rejecting it.
Along with a guide-sheet, it is a good idea for teachers to set a minimum/
maximum length requirement for their responses. This will help students to understand
exactly what is being expected of them, and it will help avoid confusion with online
reviews. Teachers should also make clear that reviews are also being graded and subject
to criticism from the instructor, so they should take their constructive criticism seriously
(Wamock, 2009).
Constructive criticism often takes ideas and content more into consideration, but
readers should also be encouraged to correct mechanical errors when found; constant
misspells, a lack of diversity in vocabulary, grammatical errors, and confusing sentence
55


structure can distract from the content of the literature. This will give students practice in
editing and proofreading that will serve them well when composing and revising their
own drafts. Just be sure to remind students not to focus so intently on form that they
overlook the content.
Traditionally, feedback and criticism is delivered in two forms; written as notes
on a copy of the writing, and delivered verbally during a group gathering. However,
when utilizing online learning, the mode of communication and delivery is altered.
Students can deliver feedback via e-mail, message boards, smaller peer-review groups
within a CMS, or other software designed for peer review. While the variety of
communication options may vary in detail, they share one common concern: how to
convey tone in a solely written critique without misunderstandings and offenses? We
have all read an e-mail or online message and found ourselves feeling slightly
uncomfortable with the content. We wonder whether the writer was serious or merely
being sarcastic and we missed the intended point. Such communication lacks the visual
and/ or aural cues we have become so accustomed to in face-to-face communication, and
it is for this very reason that online peer response necessitates even more practice,
guidance, and consideration (Wamock, 2009). Simply telling students to respond to
anothers writing without any guidelines or practice could be problematic. But keep in
mind that this unit is a hybrid, so you can have it both ways. Live class time could be
utilized to answer questions, clarify misunderstandings, and analyze the differences
between online communication and FTF communication in what is an already touchy
subject.
56


Composition and critique are vital but leave the writing process only half-
finished. As any work under scrutiny is a work in progress, revision would be needed
before any final submission. Unfortunately, there exists a negative attitude among
students towards revision as a form of punishment for not doing it right the first time, and
having to go back to do extra work (Zemelman and Daniels 1988). To this extent, a
teacher must not only teach students how to revise but why to revise. Students need to
view their assignments as more than simple busy-work or some sort of test; they must be
invested in the content of their writing and care that their audience is reached by that
message. To this end, students must enter a written assignment knowing that revision
will simply be a part of the whole process. Writing for the class as opposed to a single
teacher, and the structure of a workshop environment can help with this, but students
must feel that their ideas are being critiqued for clarity and not correctness (Zemelman
and Daniels 1988). This is why it is better to focus more on ideas and content over form
in earlier critiques. While students should be taught to avoid mistakes in grammar and
spelling, it is vital that they view the process as revisionary development and not
systematic error-correction (Kirby and Liner, 1981). It is also wise to keep a record of
drafts, so students can actually see earlier and later drafts side-by-side to note what the
act of revision adds. This is an area where online learning can be beneficial, for not only
the author but for other students to see revised drafts alongside the original without
having to create a multitude of paper copies.
Once students understand the why, they can begin to learn and practice the how.
This is something students can practice in class or online. They should be allowed to
practice revision on their own work and review the work of others. Table 3.1 displays a
57


checklist you could give to students, updated and revised from Inside Out, in order to
help your students understand what they need to do (Kirby and Liner, 1981). The
checklist will aid students in their initial revision before submission for class or group
peer review, as well as prior to any final submission
Table 3.1 Revision Checklist for Student Writing
1- Once finished with your first draft, return to proof-read the draft in its entirety.
This will help you catch a majority of smaller errors like typos. It helps to read your
writing aloud to yourself or another. Do the sentences flow well and sound the way you
want them to?
2- If you used paragraphs, do they work to create pauses and transitions where you
want them? Are there places you can combine paragraphs or divide others?
3- Try to view the writing as though you are the intended audience. Is there enough
detail? Do you think your audience can understand your message or picture the scenes
you describe?
4- Check for mechanics, such as capitalization and punctuation in the right places.
Try not to rely overly-much on spell-check to fix errors, as spell check can give you the
wrong word. For example, instead of right clicking and selecting the correct word from
the list, find the correct spelling and re-type the word yourself. Make an effort to
remember how to spell words, especially if it is a word you have misspelled often.
5- Enlist a peer, friend, teacher, or parent to read over your work and give you their
thoughts.
6- Remember, it is your choice on what you want to revise. You own your writing,
and it is ultimately your decision on what to change in order to produce the best version
of your work.
Students should understand two things before revising: Revision is a continual
process, and the writer has the choice on what to revise. This is why number six of the
checklist may be one of the most important points on the list for revision. If a student is
happy with the work and feels it is adequate, they should not change things simply
because revision is required by the teacher. Of course, this will only work so long as the
58


student takes her/ his work seriously and is serious about its completion. Number six has
the option of severely backfiring if the students view their writing as nothing more than a
chore. In this respect, it would behoove a teacher to allow students the opportunity to
practice revision in the form of smaller activities or writing games before throwing them
into their first written assignment.
Online Writing Workshops
Cooperative learning is not solely limited to peer-editing but to composition as
well. It is here where the subject of writing workshops arises, both in FTF classroom
work as well as remote, online work. In accordance with the cooperative learning
pedagogy of peer reviews and student editing, many teachers have embraced writing
workshops to help advance student writing. It is for this reason that this guide advocates
writing workshops as a primary form of cooperative learning through writing.
In your typical writing workshop, a single student will submit his draft to the class
for review. The class will read the writing and edit as they see fit. The class will
reconvene for a critique where students and the teacher will offer their constructive
criticism of the work. The original writer will then take this feedback to edit and revise.
It may seem simple, yet the model is anything but flawless. It is important to remember
that placing the workshop in an online environment does not perfect it so much as alter it.
First off, a teacher may ponder what sort of writing is best reviewed in a writing
workshop. Although essays, research papers, multi-genre papers and other expository
writing can be critiqued, this may prove an excellent opportunity for students to explore
59


their more imaginative side. Short stories and poetry make for good material. Giving
students the freedom to write some creative pieces will help avoid a survivalist mindset,
where the students only concern lies with meeting the expectations to get a good grade.
This mindset tends to regard an imaginative and passionate approach to writing as
impractical and even irresponsible (Miller, 2009). While every assignment students write
cannot be a work of creative writing, a certain degree of imagination is certainly needed
for students to produce good writing in any genre. A little creative writing will not only
help them discover their voice and imagination but help to make them approach their
writing with more care and personal commitment.
While writing may often be embraced for online communication, it does not have
to be exclusive. Even older texts include graphics to illustrate their point, and the
Internet opens up the possibility for further multi-modal inclusions. As with the
community building activities, one may include multi-media elements in assignments.
After all, CMSs are structured to support audio and video files that could be included as
accompaniments for written assignments. In addition to opportunities for multi-media
assignments, a teacher should also consider how this could aid his instruction. As the
quality and ease-of-access to AV materials increase, the inclusion of such elements
should be considered (Warnock, 2009).
The traditional workshop model can be effective for cooperative learning, but
there are flaws in the system. Though intended to impassion students to better their
writing, it holds the potential to turn students off to writing entirely. In her article, Voices
of Authority, Rosalie Kearns discusses how traditional, unspoken norms of the writing
workshop can lead to an unpleasant environment of elitism and bullying, where students
60


feel it is their duty to rip their peers writing to pieces (Kearns, 2009). The norms she
identified are as follows:
1- The Gag Rule: The author is prohibited from speaking during the critique, except
briefly at the end of the workshop and only in order to ask for clarification of any
criticism.
2- Flaw Seeking: The discussion focuses almost exclusively on the flaws of the
work. This norm embraces the notion that any misunderstanding or dislike on the part of
the critic lies solely with the fault of the author.
3- Deviance from Unspoken Expectations: The mere existence of flaws shows the
author has deviated from norms and expectations of good writing. However, it is unclear
what these norms even are and whether they are inalienable truths or personal
preferences.
In light of these norms, several questions arise. Who is privileged to speak, and
to say what good writing is? Whose work gets validated as a result? (Kearns, 2009).
As in any class, there are star pupils who embrace the subject matter and excel at it.
Since these norms are unofficial and unspoken, the star pupils find themselves in the
position of elitist gatekeepers. Other students may embrace the role of bullying critic but
are turned off to writing and approach their own critiques as they would a flogging. This
issue can be exacerbated in the online environment, where bullying and insensitive
comments run rampant. However, the balance of FTF time in a hybrid class may help to
prevent venomous comments through student familiarity alone.
61


Star pupils are not immoral bullies by nature, but they can embrace such behavior
if an instructor does not encourage clear communication and reinforce the notion that
writing begins as a process and not a product. This is especially important when
considering academic readings. Students read literature from class more because it is
selected for them, and the literature is usually of a very high quality (Kearns, 2009). In
this respect, students begin to expect all required readings to be of that highest quality
and are want to forget that they are reading the product of a fellow student and not a
professional writer with many more years of experience. While high expectations are
important for education, it is necessary to remember that expectations can be set
impossibly high.
On the flip side, expectations can also be set too low. Sometimes teachers are
fearful of time consuming confrontations, and they overly praise work so that students
will leave happy (Hunley, 2007). While this certainly makes students feel better about
their writing and wish to keep writing, it does not help them grow into better writers. Not
even seasoned, professional writers produce flawless work in their first drafts; that is the
whole point of revision. Students need to understand this if they wish to produce quality
writing that will inspire, inform, and reflect well on their skills.
The difficulty with writing workshops, especially those critiquing creative
writing, rests mostly in a structure designed to develop good writing. As there is no clear
method to teach all students to write well in a way that will appeal to any audience, the
pedagogy is somewhat fluid. As with many subjects and pedagogies, teachers will
sometimes wonder whether they are conducting their workshop class in the right way.
However, to focus on rigid rules as though writing workshops are static things can create
62


more problems. Nancy Atwells book In the Middle addressed this point, broadening the
pedagogy on how a teacher should plan and structure his workshop as a questioner and
interviewer (Taylor, 2000). This model would include a teacher considering elements
like when and how to demonstrate his or her own writing knowledge, how to teach
writing genres while avoiding old teaching cliches, and specific expectations for the
students.
While every pedagogical practice in workshop writing will not work for every
class, there are still many good ideas to draw from. These will help you plan out your
own writing workshop while troubleshooting the aforementioned problems both in
classroom and virtual workshops.
As stated by Rosalie Kearns, Writers, quite simply, need to play with their
writing (Kearns, 2009). The freedom to experiment with ones writing is the only way
to grow as a writer. Truly, is there any craft or skill in life we can improve on without
some element of experimentation and risk-taking? How can students experiment with
their writing if theyre paralyzed with fear over whether their writing is any good? It is
for this reason that it is necessary for teachers to reinforce workshop writing as a process
instead of a product. The work that authors submit to their peers for critique is nether
good or bad but merely on its way to becoming exactly what the author intended. One
way to achieve this is by encouraging student critics to focus on improving the ideas and
structures as they exists, instead of seeking out flaws because the writing is not the way
they think it should be.
63


Another method would be to replace the gag rule with an author-led
workshop. In such a critique the author would be the one to introduce the work, share
what revisions he or she is already considering, and ask for feedback on particular areas
(Kearns, 2009). The author could even facilitate the critique, if willing. Of course this
would require a little extra training and raises the concern of students thinking their work
is perfect to begin with. But most artists are their own worst critiques, and we are often
harder on ourselves than others are.
Many of the advantages to online writing workshops overlap those already
covered in online discussion. After all, much of the writing workshop is discussion
based, as is online social learning. In a hybrid writing workshop, students could use class
time for work and rhetorical discussion on the content, while using online threaded
conversations on the message boards of CMSs to critique each others drafts. The
following is a list of advantages to online work-shopping, complied from Teaching
Poetry Writing, a Five-Canon Approach (Hunley, 2007).
1- Everyone is encouraged to participate. Because there is a written trail from
message boards, students who would otherwise be quite in class are more motivated to
participate in the conversation.
2- Greater flexibility. Coming back to the asynchronous nature of virtual classes,
students and teachers have more control and freedom on when they participate.
3- Saves time for other pedagogical classroom tasks. One reason teachers find
difficulty in conducting creative writing work is that there is too little class time to do so.
In addition, one of the challenges of classroom assignments is that students sometimes


come unprepared. In a virtual workshop, students can do the work in class and then
discuss, debate, or critique online.
4- Facilitates a student-centered writing community. Without the central focus on a
teacher conducting lectures, the class takes on a more egalitarian, communal feel. This is
important to the writing process and the notion of a broad audience.
5- Saves paper. Dozens of copies are made for in-class critiques, and virtually all
are discarded after the assignment is completed. As students are not creating something
permanent in their initial drafts, it is less wasteful to keep the text virtual.
6- Improves constructive criticism. First off, a student may feel unwilling to voice
her honest opinions when faced with others. Secondly, conversations are recorded, and
thus students can refer back to comments from critiques to learn better critiquing skills in
the future.
When organizing workshop critiques, do not be afraid of utilizing different
mediums. All critiques do not have to be written; students could also be given
opportunities to experiment with critiques recorded and presented in a video or audio file.
As with most teaching pedagogy, the trick to creating the right writing workshop
environment relies on balance. Depending on the students, the class chemistry, and the
material covered, a teacher must find a satisfying middle ground between freedom of
personal expression and a rule-based structure. There exists a natural tension between
this freedom and order, but part of finding whats right for your class does not rest in
rejecting one for the other. According to Atwell, it does not have to be an either/or
65


situation but a both/and one, regarding process and product, expression and
communication, and student choice and teacher control (Taylor, 2000).
Group Work
While the central focus for the type of writing advocated in this guide lies more
heavily in workshop writing, group work supports collaborative learning and peer review
in many similar ways. In fact, the asynchronous nature of online learning and
communication means student groups do not have to wait for class time in order to
convene for a meeting of minds.
There exists a wide variety of assignments available for hybrid-based group work.
One popular assignment that includes group research, writing, and presentation is known
as a Webquest. Webquests are inquiry oriented lessons where most or all of the content is
retrieved from the internet. Templates and examples can be found at http://webquest.org.
Teachers can also create their own Webquest from scratch, like creating a webpage. This
was how I co-created a Webquest with a colleague. The assignment was a group project
where students would research to write a hypothetical setting for a science fiction movie
and present the project to their class (McCabe and Justis, 2009). It is the sort of project I
could see a teacher implementing over the final half of a hybrid unit. The project can be
found at http://web.me.com/zinol3/Webquest/Introduction.html. There are other group
projects students can engage in, such as an argument website for one stance or another
based on class discussions. So long as the expectations and objectives are clearly
66


communicated and understood, you may be pleasantly surprised by what your students
come up with through collaborative, online work.
Cooperative, collaborative learning is not only beneficial to student writing but
also for general learning. Benefits of cooperative learning can be seen though elements
identified by Johnson and Johnson (Gradel and Edson, 2010).
Positive Interdependence: Students feel they are in it together.
Promotional Interaction: Students are committed to helping one another learn.
Individual and Group Accountability: Students feel that each member must do his
or her part in order for the group to succeed.
Interpersonal and Small Group Skills: Students learn and utilize skills like
communication, decision-making, and conflict resolution.
Group Processing: Students reflect on how the group is succeeding and where
improvement is needed.
It is necessary for students to develop these skills in a technology based
environment, as the elements of cooperative learning are necessary for the globalized
world of the 21st century (Gradel and Edson, 2010). In such a world, collaborative
teamwork, group based work-ethics, and virtual communication are vital skills that
students will need to learn in order to secure and maintain a decent job. Good writing
skills can only take an individual so far if he is unable or unwilling to work in a
collaborative nature.
67


Group work can help to improve student writing, in addition to professional social
skills. Through the sharing of knowledge, students generate ideas they never could
develop on their own and process content on a much deeper level, which in turn allows
them to develop their critical thinking skills (Liu, Magjuka, and Lee, 2008). Critical
thinking being a vital element to problem solving and good writing, one can see the value
of incorporating group work into the curriculum.
As with peer review and writing, there is much overlap between FTF group work
and virtual group work. However, there are some issues that may arise from group-work
if students are not properly prepared. Some challenges are of a more a technical nature,
considering the element of online communication. These problems include learning
curves and comfort levels for both teachers and students regarding new technology,
students' individual proficiency with the required technology affecting teacher
expectations, selecting relevant online tools for the learning tasks, student access to such
tools, and keeping updated with the range of online tools in a rapidly changing
environment (Gradel and Edson, 2010). Much of these problems will vary in abundance
and intensity, depending on the type of technology used and your students' proficiency
with said technology. There are other prospective problems, which can arise in group-
work through virtual communication or FTF interaction. A teacher may find it difficult
to maintain individual accountability among students engaged in cooperative learning or
insure that students are meeting benchmarks set for the course (Gradel and Edson, 2010).
In addition to the classroom environment, there is a problem that arises in any sort of
group work, conflict management. Naturally a teacher cannot solve every problem and
mediate every conflict among groups, and thus students will have to solve their own
68


conflicts. This is a thing which cannot be avoided, for as team members differ in their
cognitive styles, goals, desires, and solutions for given problems, group conflict becomes
inevitable (Liu, Magjuka, and Lee, 2008). If such conflict gets out of hand, group-work
will meet with unsatisfactory performance. Students may be unwilling to work with
group members in the future and may even turn away from collaborative learning. While
there is no one-size-fits-all solution for any of these problems, a teacher may avoid them
with effective planning and foresight.
Integrating new technology can be unnerving, as unfamiliarity with one's tools
can lead to inefficient results. However, there are a set of guidelines to bear in mind
when guiding students though online cooperative learning (Gradel and Edson, 2010):
- Use techniques of scaffolding and gradual release. For example, begin with
assignments that students can complete individually and then integrate interactive
components slowly.
- Begin with a goal for what you want students to learn and then use that to choose your
online tools.
- Do not build up everything from scratch. Use what others have developed ahead of
you, and network with colleagues who have experience in online education. As with FTF
classroom teaching, collaboration among teachers is highly encouraged.
- Create opportunities for students to take on leadership roles. Allow for students with
more familiarity or comfort with the technology to guide and teach struggling students.
69


- Create a help folder in your CMS, where solutions and FAQs to common tech problems
are kept. Enlist students to contribute to this folder, as they find solutions to given
problems themselves.
Of course, the best way to avoid problems is by anticipating and avoiding them
before they arise. In this case, a teacher could do so by carefully planning out how group
work will be organized and conducted before students first begin. Group size will be
important to consider, depending on the size of the class. One philosophy is that groups
should be three at a minimum, so each student has at least two others to check her work
(Zemelman and Daniels 1988). Other philosophies state that student groups should
always be even numbers, so nobody ends up the "odd man out". Regardless of total
numbers, it is best to keep groups small enough to be manageable and increase individual
participation (Gradel and Edson, 2010). A teacher should also consider which students
are put together in groups. This is why it is advised to know which students are
compatible; sometimes friends can distract each other from working, but other times they
can work and collaborate very well together. Regardless of which students are placed
together, conflict is inevitable; this is not necessarily a bad thing, "...a moderate level of
task conflict has proven to be beneficial to team performance if properly managed" (Liu,
Magjuka, and Lee, 2008). Thai conflict exists does not lead to group problems but how
the conflict is managed can. This will depend on how homogeneous or heterogeneous
student groups are. Groups that think and work alike may have less conflict, but a variety
of different thinkers and learners can deliver more perspectives and ideas. A teacher
should be involved and aware of group communication, in case the intervention of a
70


neutral facilitator is necessary. However, do not be too eager to leap in and save the day,
as students require the opportunity to mediate their own conflicts.
Communication between group members is important to consider, as students can
alternate between asynchronous and real time in a hybrid class. FTF interaction in class
is effective though limited by the classroom schedule and the fact that the teacher cannot
observe every conversation at once. E-mail and text-messaging prove more convenient,
and most students already communicate this way. However, it is harder for teachers to be
part of the conversation and help to facilitate if necessary. Though it may seem a little
like big brother, threaded conversations on message boards are ideal for teacher
observation, since the teacher can follow every conversation of every group (Wamock,
2009). Furthermore, smaller sub-groups can be established on many CMSs for small
group work. While there are numerous advantages to asynchronous, group
communication, some students may feel frustration in having to wait for someone's
response, especially if that person does not post a response until too late. Therefore,
some groups may prefer the synchronous communication of online chats in real time.
Another popular concept in group work is to assign each student a job to fulfill.
This gives each group member a sense of responsibility, accountability, and identity.
Group roles often include jobs like a leader, a recorder, a head researcher, a head editor,
and a presenter. It is also good to have a backup plan for when a group member is
unavailable. An overlooked role is the wildcard, which is responsible for assisting the
group leader and filling in for any group member that is absent (Gradel and Edson, 2010).
It is vital that each group member has a clear set of responsibilities and that the instructor
71


checks in regularly with the group leader to ensure these responsibilities are being met
(Wamock, 2009).
Finally, when planning group work, remember frontloading (Gradel and Edson,
2010). The more you can plan in advance the better. In addition to the elements
discussed in group work planning, a teacher should also consider:
-What work will be expected of the groups
-When, where, and how group members should carry out work
-What tools groups should use and where they can get help or assistance
-The possibility of members switching groups and how those transitions should
work
-How groups will manage themselves and reflect on their progress
-How the teacher will communicate these considerations to students
Assessment
Assessment takes on two forms: assessments for learning (formative), and
assessments o/leaming (summative), (Stiggins, Arter, Chappuis, and Chappuis, 2006).
The first, summative, is the actual letter grade, a more formal assessment on how well the
students met the expectations of the instructor and the learning institute. The second type
of assessment, formative, focuses on what students learned from the course and gauges
personal growth. Typically, establishments of education are more concerned with
72


summative assessment, and thus it becomes the greater concern of the students. The
teacher, however, must give weight to formative assessment, as it is the root of honest
grading and true learning.
Students in secondary schools are often concerned with a single question, Will
this be graded? If the answer is yes, they know it is important, and they grudgingly
set out to appease the gate-keeper. If the answer is no the attitude is that the
assignment is not important and can be blown off. The challenge in students taking their
work seriously for their own growth and learning lies in finding a balance between the
two forms of assessment. Naturally, grading should be de-emphasized, particularly in the
earlier writing stages of class (Kirby and Liner, 1981). However, students should always
receive a participation grade for submitted required writing. It is important for the
balance of assessment that students feel some extrinsic incentive to finish class work on
time. The following list suggests some grading principles to help find this balance:
1- Not grading first drafts: When composing a first draft, students should not be
afraid of whether or not they are meeting the expectations of a rubric. This will help to
teach that writing is a process before it is a product and not some test to pass.
2- Establishing grading criteria with students: What better way for students to feel a
sense of ownership over their writing than giving them a say in their own assessments?
This is not to say that students should create their own rubrics but merely that the class as
a whole should be able to give input on the creation of a rubric for their summative
assessments.
73


3- Focused grading: Do not attempt to correct every little mistake in each
assignment. Focus on a few specific areas of form or content to examine. This will
prevent both students and the instructor from getting buried under an avalanche of
corrections.
4- Self Grading: Give students some say in the final grade they believe they
deserve. It is important to our development that we are allowed opportunities to look at
our own work, voice what we accomplished, and note where we could improve.
5- Holistic grading: Focus on the written assignment as a whole. This is a quicker
method of grading, as it focuses more on the big ideas as opposed to circling every little
error.
The primary purpose of balance between summative and formative assessment is
to remind students that writing is a skill of expression and more than just an obligation to
fulfill for a grade. The fact is, in real life we rely very little on external evaluation and
much more on practice, (Zemelman, and Daniels, 1988). This is the attitude that
students should approach their writing with. However, students should not abandon their
drive to attain good grades, and it is possible to assess writing beyond its informative and
analytical elements. Table 4.1 displays an example of a rubric, retrieved from Weaving
Imagination into an Academic Framework, for a summative assessment of a creative
non-fiction assignment (Miller, 2009).
74


Table 4.1 Sample Rubric for a Creative Non-Fiction Writing Assignment
Does not meet Standard 0-2 Meets Standard 3 Exceeds Standard 4 Score 0-4
Characters are two- dimensional and the event or sequence of events is predictable or implausible. Characters are three-dimensional and the event or sequence of events is interesting and believable. The true narrative of the characters is relevant through narration of a significant event or sequence of events.
The piece is disorganized or unfocused. The piece is organized with an appropriate framework. The piece is organized in a way that helps the reader grasp the true subject, using multiple genres, juxtaposition of conflicting points of view, flashes back and forward, etc.
The details are limited and/or cliched. The details are relevant and carefully observed. The details reveal character and make the reader feel that he or she is present at the event or sequence of events.
75


Table 4.1 (cont.)
The foundation of the piece is solely the writers memory. The foundation of the piece is primarily the writers memory, augmented with some back-ground research. The foundation of the piece is memory, research, and the desire to capture an important truth about human nature.
Syntax is choppy or monotonous; diction is generic. The piece is written with clarity and fluency. The piece is written in a voice that matches persona and intention.
The writer conveys his or her perspective directly through overt, didactic generalizations. The writer conveys his or her perspective to the reader both directly and indirectly. The writer conveys his or her perspective to the reader indirectly.
There are many errors of spelling, punctuation, grammar, and other conventions of print. There are few errors of mechanics or usage. There are no errors of mechanics or usage. The writer may break grammatical rules to achieve an effect.
Naturally, some of the language and expectations may be a little advanced
depending on the students you will be teaching, but the ideas could still be put into more
student-friendly language. The most important part is to be sure the students understand
what each of these expectations mean and what they look like. As such, the rubric in
table 4.1 would work well for a final, summative assessment.
Of course, writing assignments are not the only type of writing that will affect the
summative assessments. After all, dialogue is vital to learning, and in a hybrid class a
large portion of the dialogue will take place in message boards or other forms of virtual
76


communication. This is why formative assessments in web-based communication can
lead to better results in summative assessments later. In support of this claim, a study
was conducted on how threaded-conversation posts affect final assessments among
undergraduate students (Palmer, Holt, Bray, 2008). Findings for this study revealed that
an increased number of student posts on a message board improved scores on the final
assessment. However, this effect was only noted in students that prepared and posted
more messages and responses. Students that merely read more posts showed little to no
change. This would suggest that while increased dialogue and discussion can improve
student understanding and scores in an online class, there must be active participation.
Passive observation will not lead to heightened learning. This element of active
participation is key to the concept of social, discourse based learning.
The use of hybrid, online technology can be beneficial to learning, but it can aid
teachers in grading as well. We already see it with teachers submitting grades online
through spreadsheets. Students can save paper by e-mailing assignments to their
instructor; this allows you the opportunity to use tools, like Microsoft Words
highlighting and insert-comment options, to give quicker and clearer feedback on
students assignments before e-mailing drafts back to them. High school English
teachers, like Jeanette Miller, found that while some students miss the personal touch of
hand-written comments, many appreciate the readability and amount of detail offered by
such editing tools (Miller, 2009).
When planning out the final assessment for a unit, one should never overlook the
value of a pre-assessment. A good pre-assessment accomplishes three tasks. First off, it
introduces students to the type of material they will be learning, and secondly it


enlightens the instructor on the students familiarity with the units content. This is
essential, in case the students are already quite proficient with the material. Third and
finally, once the final assessment has been graded, a teacher can compare results between
the pre and post assessment for evidence of learning. This is critical to future
adjustments and revisions of the unit itself.
As with assessments, self-evaluation of grading takes place before and after the
unit has been conducted. Before planning assessments, both formative and summative, a
teacher should ask how they will grade student papers, decide on the primary emphasis of
assignments, establish a grading scale, decide whether grades are final or if papers can be
improved, and determine the intended effect of evaluation on student writers (Kirby and
Liner, 1981). In the aftermath of any unit, the instructor always has the option of asking
students for feedback on what they got from the course and what they felt could be
improved. The advantage of asynchronous, online communication is the trail of data
leftover from student conversations, ripe for evaluation (Warnock, 2009). Through an
analysis of student posts, an instructor can study any changes or progress in student
engagement, collaboration, critiquing, learning, and written communication skills. This
data could then be utilized for any revisions of the unit, based on what worked and what
did not. Finally, it could present evidence of student learning, if needed to convince
administrators to continue with such a unit.
78


Summary
There are many elements to contemplate when planning your own hybrid unit.
You need to consider the schedule, introducing the technology, and creating a syllabus.
In any writing class, familiarity is crucial. To this effect, teachers should never overlook
the value of building and maintaining a supportive classroom community. Facilitating
such a community is not easy as students will not produce productive work on their own
without guidance. Just remember not to take over the conversation and turn an open
discussion into a lecture. Student facilitation is also a poignant way to give students a
sense of ownership.
Earlier writing practice and motivational exercise can pave the way to good
writing, but students still require guidance and instruction. Sometimes it is best if this
instruction is not handed down from on high by an omniscient teacher but communicated
through peers. The writing process is very much a collaborative effort, and while
feedback from a teacher is important, students can learn a lot through the act of critiquing
and being critiqued. When writing for a broader audience, students are encouraged to
improve their writing for the whole audience as opposed to fulfilling a teachers
requirements solely for the purpose of a good grade.
This unit is designed for an expository writing class, but creativity can improve
writing, whether fictional or non-fictional. This is why a teacher should never overlook
the value of a creative writing assignment or two. Multi-media elements can also be
considered to take full advantage of everything online education has to offer. In addition
to such assignments, writing workshops are an excellent opportunity for students to learn
79


necessary critiquing and revisionary skills. The concept of an online writing workshop
may come across as a little impersonal, yet it should not be discounted. All writing
workshops are not perfect, and a virtual workshop can help alleviate some problems with
the traditional model, like solving issues of scheduling and limited class-times or helping
students to overcome shyness and speak their minds in front of peers. When assigning
writing assignments, it is best to remember that the nature of discussion-based learning
rests in collaborative learning among students. To this effect, group work adds to the
element of cooperative learning seen in a workshop environment.
Grading and assessments are a necessity to any curriculum unit, but the grades
should never be the primary emphasis of the writing process, especially among early
drafts. Pre-assessments are vital to gauge how much learning has taken place, and you
shouldnt feel you have to choose between formative and summative assessments
exclusively. The technological inclusion of the modern classroom can help the grading
process, and the posts seen in a hybrid unit can provide a teacher with a collection of data
from student conversations. A teacher can use this data, along with student feedback and
personal observation, to create an even better unit for the future.
80


CHAPTER IV
CONCLUSION
Online Education Statistics
When compared with FTF educational pedagogy, online learning pedagogy is in
its infancy. However, there exists a wealth of studies regarding the effects and growth of
online learning. According to a study conducted by the Babson survey research group of
the Sloan Consortium in 2007, online education is on the rise. Evidence from the study
displayed nearly three and a half million students were taking online courses during the
fall of 2006, a ten percent increase from the previous year, and nearly twenty percent of
all U.S. higher education students had taken at least one online course during the same
semester (Allen, and Seaman, 2007). In addition to a large number of students engaged
in online learning, sixty-nine percent of academic leaders believe that online enrollments
will continue to increase (Allen, and Seaman, 2007). With online education on the rise
within higher education, student learning through the internet is growing into more of a
necessity to prepare students for post-secondary education.
Both synchronous and asynchronous distance learning have their pros and cons.
Findings by Bernard revealed that asynchronous learning provided more of the
advantages of online learning, relating to issues of scheduling and convenience (Means,
Yukie, Murphy, Bakia, and Jones, 2010). Regardless of how classes were conducted
online, hybrid classes provided better learning environments than online alone, as these
classes encouraged higher levels of instructor involvement (Means, Yukie, Murphy,
Bakia, and Jones, 2010). While online classes require greater levels of student self-
81


motivation and discipline, a blended class alleviates some of the pressures and potential
pitfalls in the learning process. This is especially important among adolescents.
Much of the data and studies on online education pertain to higher education. As
such, further opportunities are needed for online learning among secondary education. A
study conducted by the U.S. Department of Education revealed that as of 2006, no studies
on K-12 education had been released contrasting online learning with FTF instruction of
a methodological quality (Means, Yukie, Murphy, Bakia, and Jones, 2010). Research on
the implementation of online learning comes primarily from studies of higher education.
However, much of late secondary school is concerned with college preparation for
students, and it is for that very reason that high schools should not be apprehensive about
trying this sort of college-based education and provide more opportunities for studies in
online learning.
Conceptualizing a Hybrid Class for High School
Most pedagogy for online and hybrid learning can be adapted for a high school
class of upperclassmen. However, online education is not flawless, and there are a great
many considerations to make after embracing the advantages. Suggestions for
conceiving such a class include:
1- Weighing the pros and cons of various online learning models along with
students personal learning styles and cognitive styles. Cognitive styles are just as
relevant to online learning as FTF class time. The same could be said for how students
acquire knowledge, as outlined in philosophies like Blooms Taxonomy.
82


2- Online learning and FTF learning do not have to oppose one another but can
enhance the other. Human connection is important, but distance over space does not have
to equal a distance between minds.
3- Correct Writing is easier to teach than Good Writing, but there are still ways to
develop both. A large part of developing good writing lies in students writing for
themselves and an audience of peers in addition to their teacher.
Applying the Hybrid Model to Your Classroom
When progressing from formative to summative assignments, there should be a
gradual release over the course of revised drafts, as students learn to craft good writing
for an audience and correct writing for academic standards. Suggestions include:
1- Taking the class schedule, school schedule, and school policies into account when
planning the times to conduct online learning and learning in the classroom. Consider the
necessary technology and whether all students have regular access to it. Make sure to
allow time to introduce the technology being used, and allow opportunities for practice
and exploration of the mediums tools.
2- Taking time to establish a writing community. This can be said for the entire
course and is not just limited to the hybrid unit. It is important to establish a community
with activities, but it is equally important to re-use activities to reinforce the sense of
community. When facilitating discussions online, be sure to keep active without taking
control of the conversation
83


3- Allowing the use of peer review and critiques. It is vital that students are taught
the essentials of constructive criticism and self-revision. Writing workshops are a good
way for students to practice constructive criticism and peer-reviews in an organized,
structured environment. Ideas like online workshops and author-led critiques are less
traditional but excellent ways to free up time in the class schedule, encourage student
feedback, aid the revision process, and avoid a bullying workshop on incorrect writing.
4- Considering the use of multi-media like AV files in assignments and critiques,
allow opportunities for group work; this requires a little extra work and preparation to
avoid problems, but the payoff is students that can engage in cooperative learning that
will benefit them in school and the professional world beyond
5- When assessing student work, remember to seek a balance between assessments
for and q/'learning. Students should feel value for their work and not only take an
interest for a letter grade. Nevertheless, students need feedback and levels of
accountability to encourage them to complete work in a timely manner. Also remember
to assess the class itself and how well the unit worked.
Students need to produce assessable work in order to discover what progress was
made in the hybrid unit, yet students must also learn to care about their writing before
they can produce good writing. Once sufficient data has been collected on student
growth and learning, a teacher can assess how well the unit worked and decide whether
changes need to be made.
84


Final Thoughts:
Online education is rapidly growing in higher education and should be
implemented among secondary schools preparing students for college. In light of this, a
hybrid unit would be ideal for teachers seeking a way to integrate more technology into
the curriculum to better prepare students for college and/ or a career in the globalized age
of a digital world. The ideal students for such a unit would include college-bound juniors
and seniors in high school, especially students already engaged in the rigors of A.P.
classes. The hybrid class is the perfect way to introduce students to online education in
an environment where teachers can monitor progress closely and not have to surrender
the advantages of face-to-face communication. It is essentially the best of both worlds,
regarding FTF and online education.
Online education is not without its disadvantages, especially when considering
using it with adolescents and minors. Issues of appropriate subjects, protection of
privacy, and a lack of visual and aural cues can lead to problems if a teacher does not
properly prepare. Distance can present various issues towards learning, but distance is
not solely represented in the physical realm. A teacher can fail to reach a student sitting
right in front of him/ her while succeeding in engaging and inspiring students halfway
around the world. If we could not attain value from information delivered remotely, we
could not be engaged in or learn from the internet, television, radio, or even literature.
The online element of a hybrid class can help to break down barriers between students,
conveniently avoid scheduling problems, and broaden a writers audience from a single
teacher to an entire group of peers.
85


The need for greater college preparation among high school students is apparent.
Standards do not align, students do not enter college prepared for the challenge of higher
education, and resources are unnecessarily spent on bringing students up to speed. Even
with the large number of remedial English classes offered, many students grow frustrated,
believe their efforts to be futile, and drop out of college. The bridge between high school
and college is a rickety one, yet it is a transition when students need stability in a rapidly
changing world of technology and communication. Hybrid education would serve to
align standards, solidify transitions, and ultimately produce better writers.
86


REFERENCES
Allen, E., & Seaman, J. (2007). Online nation: five years of growth in online learning.
Needham, MA: Sloan-C.
Bender, T. (2003). Discussion-based online teaching to enhance student learning.
Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.
Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. M. (2010). The online teaching survival guide. San
Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Bott, C. (2002). Zines- the ultimate creative writing project. English Journal, 92(2), 27-
33.
Braun, L. W. (2001). Introducing the internet to young learners. New York, NY: Neal-
Schuman Publishers, Inc.
Cicco, E. D., Farmer, M., & Hargrave, J. (2001). Using the internet in secondary schools.
(2nd ed.). Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.
Dodge, B. (2007). Webquest.org. Retrieved from http://www.webquest.org
Gradel, K., & Edson, A. J. (2011). Cooperative learning: smart pedagogy and tools for
online and hybrid courses. Educational Technological Systems, 39(2), 193-212.
Hunley, T.C. (2007). Teaching poetry writing, a five-canon approach New York, NY:
Multilingual Matters Ltd
Kearns R.M. (2009). Voices of authority: theorizing creative writing pedagogy. College
Composition and Communication, 60(4), 790-807.
87


Kehus, M. J. (2000). Opportunities for teenagers to share their writing online. Journal of
Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 44(2), 130-137.
Kirby, D., & Liner, T. (1981). Inside out, developmental strategies for teaching writing.
Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook Publishers.
Krist, M. (2008). Connecting schools and colleges: more rhetoric than reality. The
Chronicle of Higher Education, 55(7).
Lincoln, M. (2010, Ja/F). Information evaluation & online coursework. Knowl Quest,
35(3), 28-31.
Liu, X., Magjuka, R. J., & Lee, S. H. (2008). The effect of cognative thinking styles,
trust, conflict managment on online students' learning and virtual team
performance. British Journal of Educational Technology, 39(5), 829-846.
McCabe, B., & Justis, J. (2009). Webquest- into the future. Retrieved from
http://web.me.com/zinol3AVebquest/Introduction.html
Means, B., Yukie, T., Murphy, R., Bakia, M., & Jones, K., U.S. Department of
Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development. (2010).
Evaluation of evidence-based practices in online learning: a meta-analysis and
review of online learning studies. Washington, D.C.: Center for technology in
learning
Miller, J. (2009). Weaving imagination into an academic framework: attitudes,
assignments, and assessments. English Journal, 99(2), 67-73.
88


Palmer, S., Holt, D., & Bray, S. (2008). Does the discussion help? the impact of a
formally assessed online discussion on final student results. British Journal of
Educational Technology, 39(5), 847-858.
Pew Research Center. (2012). Trend data for teens Retrieved from
http://www.pewintemet.org/Static-Pages/Trend-Data-for-Teens.aspx
Quate, S., & McDermott, J. (2009). Clockwatchers.
Roberts, J. B., Crittenden, L. A., & Crittenden, J. C. (2011). Students with disabilities and
online learning: a cross institutional study of perceived satisfaction with
accessible compliance and services. The Internet and Higher Education, 14(4),
242-250.
Section 580.gov, Resources for understanding and implementing Section 508. (2012).
Section 508 laws. Retrieved from website:
http://section508.gov/index. cfm?fuseAction=Laws
Stiggins, R., Arter, J., Chappuis, J., & Chappuis, S. (2007). Classroom assessment for
student learning. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education
Taylor M.M. (2000). Nancy atwell's "in the middle" and the ongoing transformation of
the writing workshop English Journal, 90(1), 46-52.
U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Educational Statistics. (2011).
Students with disabilities. Retrieved from website:
http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=64
89


Wang, Q. (2008). Student-facilitators' role in moderating online discussions. British
Journal of Educational Technology, 39(5), 859-874.
Warnock, S. (2009). Teaching writing online. Urbaba, ILL: National Council of Teachers
of English.
Zemelman, S, & Daniels, H. (1988). A community of writers. Portsmouth, NH:
Heinemann.
(2007). High school teaching for the twenty-first century: preparing students for college,
issue brief. Alliance for Excellent Education,
90


91


Full Text

PAGE 1

ONLINE EDUCATION IN SECONDARY SCHOOL FOR COLLEGE PREPARATION AND IMPROVED WRITING A TEACHERÂ’S GUIDE By Jon Evan Justis B.A., University of Colorado, 2004 A thesis to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of English Rhetoric/ the Teaching of Writing 2012

PAGE 2

This thesis for the Masters of English degree by Jon Evan Justis Has been approved for the English, Rhetoric/ Teaching of Writing By Michelle Comstock, Chair Michelle Comstock, Advisor Amy Vidali Hongguang Ying Date_4/11/12 ___

PAGE 3

Justis, Jon, Evan (M.A. English Rhetoric/ Teaching of Writing) Online Education in Secondary School For College Preparation and Improved Writing A TeacherÂ’s Guide Thesis Directed By: Michelle Comstock ABSTRACT Online education is most often seen at the college level. However, such educati on can also be used effectively in secondary schools for the purpose of college preparati on and improving student writing skills. Intended for English teachers of high school upperclassmen, this teaching guide takes a look at how to implement an online hybrid education unit into an expository writing class. In light of the expected increas e in online college work and a gap between high school and college standards, a hybrid unit has potential to ensure that students enter higher education properly prepared for the rig ors of post-secondary academics. Special consideration should be made when teaching high school students online; therefore the guide first examines the teaching me thods behind hybrid education. It covers the pros and cons of online teaching, how different forms of cognitive thinking figures into online learning, and changes in audience and communication. The second part of the guide covers how the instructor may theoreti cally implement a hybrid unit into a class curriculum. A teacher will want to consider elements like aligning a hybrid schedule with a schoolÂ’s schedule, integrat ing community building activities, facilitating online discussions, and assessing student w ork. Group

PAGE 4

work and online writing workshops are recommended to build a sense of cooperative learning and improve studentsÂ’ writing. The form and content of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication. Approved: Michelle Comstock

PAGE 5

TABLE OF CONTENTS CHAPTER I. INTRODUCTION..................................................................................................1 The Purpose.................................................................................................1 Who this Guide is for..................................................................................3 The Need.....................................................................................................5 Overview.....................................................................................................9 II. PART I...................................................................................................................11 Pros and Cons in Online Education...........................................................11 Online and Face-to-Face Education..........................................................19 Learning Disabilities and Cognitive Thinking...........................................23 Student Writers and Student Audience.....................................................27 Summary...................................................................................................32 III. PART II................................................................................................................33 How to Set Up a Hybrid Unit...................................................................33 The Creation and Facilitation of a Writing Community...........................40 Peer Review and the Revision Process.....................................................53

PAGE 6

Online Writing Workshops........................................................................59 Group Work...............................................................................................66 Assessment................................................................................................72 Summary...................................................................................................79 IV. CONCLUSION....................................................................................................81 Online Education Statistics.......................................................................81 Conceptualizing a Hybrid Class for High School.....................................82 Applying the Hybrid Model to Your Classroom.......................................83 Final Thoughts...........................................................................................85 References.................................................................................................87

PAGE 7

LIST OF TABLES Table 1.1 Sample Activity: Differences Between Communications....................................47 2.1 The Four Roles of an Online Discussion Facilitator.............................................48 2.2 Results for Student-Ranked Importance of Online Facilitation Skills..................52 3.1 Revision Checklist for Student Writing................................................................58 4.1 Sample Rubric for a Creative Non-Fiction Writing Assignment..........................75

PAGE 8

LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS 1FTF Stands for Face-to-Face interaction. Live interaction in person and not through a virtual medium. 2CMS Stands for Course Management System/ Software. Often a web-based program, designed to help teachers conduct online learning by posting material and fac ilitating classroom discussions. Sites/ systems include but are not limited to Angel, Blackboard, Desire2Learn, Moodle, and Sakai

PAGE 9

CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION The Purpose There is no denying that the Internet has changed our world. It has changed the way we communicate, it has changed entertainment, and it has even changed the wa y we think. Naturally, anything so highly utilized by modern society would inevitably f ind its way into education. The Internet is commonly used for social interaction, and colle ges utilize sites like blackboard and e-college for students to interact and carr y out virtual discussions about given subjects. Through such mediums, students can share thoughts and comment on the words of one another. Typically, education that utilizes the Internet takes on three forms: 1A Face-to-Face (FTF) Class : A typical classroom setting where students meet at a given time in a given place. Here students may log onto the internet for research purposes within or outside the classroom. It should be noted that this type of education is not considered online learning by sources like the U.S. Department of Education, as the online activity is meant to merely supplement the in-class experience. 2An Online Class: Learning is conducted entirely online as an alternative to FTF learning. This type of education requires no specific meeting time or place. Lessons can occur with any student across any distance, so long as the student possesses a com puter with an internet connection. Some online schools will have live, regular meetings between instructors and students, but this is more of an exception and not a defining characteristic of online classes.

PAGE 10

3A Hybrid (or Blended) Class: This type of educational environment combines the components of an online class with FTF instruction. Students meet at an appointed time in an appointed room or meeting place but not as often as a standard FTF class The time students save on live meetings is supplemented with online interaction and lea rning. Online and hybrid classes are most often seen at the post-secondary level. The purpose of this guide is to endorse the idea that online education, in the form of a hybrid class, can be used with secondary school students for college preparation. The guide i s intended to aid teachers in the creation and management of a hybrid expository wri ting unit within an English class. A blended class is suggested over an entirely online cl ass, as many students are used to the traditional FTF classroom environment. Furtherm ore, there are advantages to FTF human interaction that should not be discounted because of modern communication technology. Being theoretical and un-tested, the unit is prima rily research-based and serves three objectives, all relevant in preparing high s chool students for college: To apply contemporary communication technologies to secondary educa tion, to expose students to online education practices seen in college, and to improve student writing in general. The guide begins with the methods behind using hybrid writing and interaction to improve student writing. It then moves on to the creation of an actual hybrid unit in the classroom, utilizing writing assignments with an emphasis on collaborative lea rning often seen in writing workshops. The guide finishes by covering the assessments; s uggesting how teachers might assess such learning to see what students learned fr om the unit.

PAGE 11

Who This is Guide For This teacher's guide is intended for any high school English teacher of junior s and seniors seeking to accomplish the following: 1Prepare students for post-secondary education, be it a traditional college or an online university. 2Prepare students for virtual collaborative work required of them in college and t he professional world. 3Integrate more contemporary technology into the writing curriculum. 4Educate students utilizing social interaction they may already enga ge in. 5Help students improve their writing and develop good writing in addition to correct writing 6Educate students through peers via cooperative learning. 7Educate students in skills needed to succeed in school and the professional world in a digital age. These could be goals considered by new teachers seeking to build their curri culums or experienced teachers looking to incorporate more contemporary technology into thei r existing curricula. While underclassmen could benefit from the lessons taught in hybrid classes, the primary purpose of this guide still lies in college preparation. The reason uppercl assmen would be an ideal focus for a unit plan incorporating a hybrid class is that 11th and 12th graders are typically more engaged in material geared towards col lege preparation.

PAGE 12

Because of laws regarding mandatory education, many upperclassmen have not dropped out because they or their parents are invested in their education and may have hopes for higher education. This is why A.P. (Advanced Placement) classes are offered for such students. Furthermore, the closer students are to high school graduation, the freshe r the experiences and information of college-preparatory material will be in thei r memories. Social-based online education could fit right into the A.P. curriculum, as A.P. courses are designed to help students develop skills and acquire knowledge essentia l to succeeding in college. A.P. courses are modeled on college courses, and their curric ula are overseen by corresponding college professors for adequate alignment (The C ollege Board, 2010). English A.P. courses are broken down into English Language and Composition and English Composition and Literature Discussions. English language and composition would be a good fit for online, discussion-based education, as this is a course where students are already expected to have a better grasp of prope r grammar and mechanics. This is a reason why underclassmen and middle school students may be too young for such a unit, as much of their education is still entrenched in learning the mechanics of the written language. The writing practices of a hybrid c lass would also nurture students on their way to becoming good writers who can write for a varie ty of purposes. This is what English language and composition classes work towards, and it can be accomplished just as easily online as in class; perhaps even easier in som e situations where transportation can be an issue. English composition and literature courses focus more on active reading in order to better analyze and interpret a given text. However, there are still opportuniti es for writing, as online discussions about literature can become writing practice. This class

PAGE 13

requires that students write response papers and journals in response to literature studied. In addition to argumentative and response papers on certain texts, the course gives opportunities for well-developed creative writing assignments, so students can be tter understand how literature is created (The College Board, 2010). While A.P. courses are ripe for integrating hybrid education, such prepara tion should not be solely incorporated into A.P. courses alone. After all, there are man y students that do not take A.P. classes but still plan on attending college. It is the se students who need better college preparation standards, as they do not have the pre/post secondary alignment of the A.P. classes. The Need The most important question a teaching guide should answer is, "Why is this guide even necessary?" "What problems does it solve?" "What need does it fulfil l in the world of education?" Although this guide may give particular attention to improving student motivation and writing, the primary need it serves is to help teachers prepa re their students for the sort of learning they will encounter in higher education. The gap between high school achievements and college readiness is truly a chasm of notable misalignment. Data from ACT's national curricula survey revealed th at sixty-five percent of college professors claimed to believe that high school curriculums did not proper ly prepare students for the rigor of post-secondary education (Alliance for Exce llent Education, 2007). Of the seventy percent of students that graduate from high school on time, only thirty-four percent graduate properly prepared for college. In li ght of this data,

PAGE 14

it is no surprise that so many students struggle in their early years of highe r education and drop out. In the state of California, only twenty-four percent of students in community colleges receive their intended certification, associate's degree, or tr ansfer to a four year university in four years or less (Kirst, 2008). California is not alone in this obse rvation, as sixty percent of students in community colleges nationwide have to take at lea st one remedial course. According to College Board, in 2007 a record was broken when 1.5 million students took the SAT. Such data point to a large percentage of students that intend to enter and succeed in higher education, and it is unfortunate that so many go notice ably unprepared. While this information may seem only a concern to the world of education and individuals entering college, it impacts all of society. Aside from the num erous impacts of education on American society, one must remember that many state c olleges and community colleges receive a portion of their funding from tax dollars. When students are properly prepared for college, less taxpayer funding is spent on a l arge number of remedial classes focused on material that should have been covered in high school. As always, there are those eager to point fingers and assign blame, but t his never solves any real problems. While high schools and secondary teachers may absor b a hefty portion of political and legislative culpability, these are not in essence the root of the problem. Rather, what we are witnessing is a clear need for more alignmen t between high school standards and college expectations. A mere fifteen percent of states define college readiness, and only three stat es require that students attend college preparatory courses in order to graduate (K irst, 2008). Even classes with titles that would suggest college preparation do not necessarily prepare

PAGE 15

n students for higher education, revealing an environment of policy filled with lar ge talk but little action. While such data obviously calls for better alignment of standards between secondary and post secondary schools, one may ponder how educational policy-makers can align the two. For starters, many students enter college with significant gaps in thei r reading comprehension. These gaps include critical thinking skills such as analysis, interpretation, reasoning, and problem solving skills often referred to as "Habit s of the Mind" (Alliance for Excellent Education, 2007). Academic behavior such as note taki ng, time management, and self-awareness of one's thinking and learning were al so cited as necessary for success in college. Teachers in higher achieving schools require students to partake in college preparatory practices like daily reading and classr oom discussions that stimulate thought. Motivation should be incorporated into rigorous content, and students are motivated most when given achievable but challenging tasks and opportunities to apply knowledge to real-world situations along with opportunities to revise their work i n response to feedback (Alliance for Excellent Education, 2007). As such, teachers are recommended to set high standards for all students. In addition to teacher responsi bility, schools and school districts have a responsibility to make sure teachers are ke pt up to date on college requirements and receive relevant, contemporary, professional development. Such data regarding misalignment between secondary and post-secondary education cites a clear need for relevant college preparation. With so many colle ges incorporating online and hybrid classes, preparation in online social interacti on for learning could prove most valuable. As for students with little to no interest in hig her

PAGE 16

education, the skills needed to succeed in college co-align with the skills needed t o acquire and maintain a good-paying job. In 2008, the Partnership for 21st Century Skill s claimed that critical thinking, complex problem solving, and communication/ collaboration are "the indispensable currency for participation, achieveme nt and competitiveness in the global economy" (Gradel and Edson, 2011). Regardless of whether or not a student is college-bound, a teacher should recognize the value in building these skills when a student is still in secondary school. Of course, there are instances of schools utilizing online education already. Unfortunately, current online classes for secondary schools tend to be more herme tic in nature. We live in an age where online secondary schools are beginning to arise, but suc h schools do not necessarily offer the same kind of online experiences as college. Goal Academy and Connections Academy are two such examples. Students complete assignments and interact with a teacher via phone, internet, and the occasional FTF meetings, but there is little to no interaction between students. There is no writ ing community where students can share and respond to each-others' thoughts and ideas, and such written communication is vital for students to develop critical thinking and analytical skills. Some of these online schools exist simply as an alternat ive to classroom communities, where students unable to attend traditional schools can still attai n a high school diploma. It would appear that while online education exists as an option for secondary schools, little effort has been made to emulating learning communi ties seen within classrooms. It is the prerogative of secondary schools to prepare students for college. While the notion of a hybrid writing workshop community in secondary school is a less

PAGE 17

conventional idea, it is not implausible. The concept works in colleges and can work for high school. Overview This guide is divided into two parts. Part 1 focuses on the teaching methods behind the concept of hybrid classes and how it can benefit students in secondary schools. In addition to arguments for hybrid education and troubleshooting, part 1 also gives suggestions for general implementation strategies. Sections include : 1The pros and cons of online education, primarily focusing on issues with Internet usage and minors 2Integrating cognitive and learning styles into hybrid learning, while c onsidering students with disabilities. 3Differences and commonalities between online learning and face-to-face 4The benefits of online communication, relating to audience and writing practic e. Part 2 focuses more on advice and samples for structuring an actual hybrid unit/ class. This part focus on setting up a hybrid class, community building, facilita tion, responses to written assignments to aid the revision process, and group work. It wraps up the unit with a look at how to assess student work in a hybrid setting. Sections include: 1The logistics and considerations to make when setting up the unit. 2The value of building a writing community and how to facilitate one.

PAGE 18

r 3The benefits of peer review on communal learning and the writing revision process. 4Hybrid writing workshops and the inclusion of group work in the unit for collaborative learning. 5Assessment of student progress and unit success. A short conclusion follows, tying the chapters back to the hypothesis and presenting findings from national studies about online learning.

PAGE 19

CHAPTER II PART I Pros and Cons of Online Education in Secondary School The Internet is certainly not the first instance of technology bringing abou t changes to writing. Earlier inventions like the printing press and the typewri ter changed the printed word, the language, and even how people thought. In the early 1980s computers first entered into education, and although it may have appeared to be a more conventional, easier way for students to write, word processors affected student s' work in other ways (Kehus, 2000). Features like cut, copy, and paste made editing and correct ing papers less time consuming. In addition, features like spell-checkers and for matting programs allowed students to place more focus on the content of their writing. But tool s to make writing less of a chore were not the only changes. Printers allowed for m ultiple copies of writing to be produced, thus increasing the number of individuals whom the work could be shared with and widening the available audience. A decade later, the introduction of the Internet widened a writer's audience further, while allow ing one to discover and interact with other writers and their work. Like past technologies, the Internet has had a profound impact on the way students write and think. Such changes come with a plethora of advantages, but they are not without their risks. While introducing online interaction to education comes with a number of pros, it also includes cons, which extend beyond the basic problems with using new technologies. Working with this technology can make learning more relevant a nd help with student engagement and motivation, yet it has also been known to lead to

PAGE 20

problems with plagiarism, privacy, and commercialism. However, freedom from a binding schedule and the integration of new technology can both inspire and challenge students. Students need to be challenged; they need to have their boundaries pushed, which is just what a technology-supported environment accomplishes. Numerous advantage s exist to working in such an environment. The first and most obvious being that online classes are asynchronous: one can log onto the Internet and join in a class discussi on when it is most convenient for him or her, as opposed to having to show up at a specific time and in a specific place. To this end, group learning is more flexible, convenient, a nd available to students. A less obvious advantage to online education is how it tailors to a variety of learning styles. Not all students learn well from a lecture cla ss, and online discussions allow them the opportunity to discover their own voice. As for courses that carry out discussions in class, some students may be too shy to speak out. This is especially frequent when the student self-identifies as one in a gender, ethn ic, or political minority within the classroom. In an online discussion, however, students have been shown to open up and speak more freely (Bender, 2003). In essence, by broadening the environmental options for class interaction, students feel more at ease and wil ling to participate. In 1996, when online education was in its infancy, V. Hunt of the New York teachers and writers collaborative wrote, "There is something about writi ng for the unseen audience out there at the other end of the line that inspires students not only to write more but to produce better writing. I also believe connecting kids with other kids around the country through an electronic network helps break down cultural, ethnic, and

PAGE 21

economic barriers" (Kehus, 2000.) Hunt brings up a major benefit of students sharing their writing online; increasing the potential for communication while increa sing a student's motivation to write well for a real audience and not just a teacher's a pproval. Of course, Hunt was speaking less of a hybrid class and more of the phenomenon of students sharing their work among a vaster audience in cyberspace. Some educators decide to take their students' online interaction beyond the classroom and into the wider world. To this end, there exist websites designated to allow students to share their work with an anonymous audience on the World Wide Web. These websites have been around since the end of the twentieth century. Teenlit.com for example, was created in 1999. The teachers that started the website believed t he possibility of publication to be a major motivator for students to write well, yet t hey found very few opportunities for teenagers to get their work published (Kehus, 2000). The website was thus created to provide teenage writers with a real audienc e and a place to establish a community of such writers. Teenlit.com is still around with a few additions. Currently the website has an added mission of promoting literacy and e ven includes teenage book reviews, where publishers distribute free books to schools in return for online book reviews from the students. Opening up student writing to the wider audience of the Internet carries the aforementioned advantages of an online education, but there are some downsides and risks to consider. While intended to help create a community of writers, the global, anonymous audience of the web can be too large for a true communal feel. The creators of Teenlit.com encountered this problem, and they narrowed it down to four causes (Kehus, 2000).

PAGE 22

Number One: The anonymity of the Internet's nature meant that anyone can post about anything, giving way to comments that are rude, personal, and even dangerous. Some social networks, like Facebook, have censors in place where members can re port offensive posts. However, one cannot help but feel that such interventions would be unnecessary in a true community where everyone knew one another. This is a proble m with any sort of virtual conversation with a stranger; when communicating throug h a screen it is easy to forget one is speaking to a real person. Some individuals fe el more comfortable opening up when they do not have to look another person in the eyes, but others see it as an excuse to be disrespectful and even down-right cruel. Number 2: Because the audience has no bounds, it is ever changing and indeterminate. This leads to problems such as uncertainty of the author's audience and the possibility that a reader's post may not even be viewed by the author. In such a scenario, the person with the most to gain (the author) may miss out on some valuable insight. The situation would be comparable to holding a writer's workshop where the author was not present for her critique. Number 3: Giving feedback to other writers turned out to be the most popular types of posts. However, many writers did not receive feedback on their own work or received no response to their posts. In a way, everyone loves to be a critic, y et the incentive and motivation to write for an audience is dampened when one feels as though he is giving feedback to others but receiving none for his own work. In addition, the lack of a response to some posts is not true discussion but rather a forum where people simpl y express their opinions and depart. This issue could be seen as a direct result of the following...

PAGE 23

Number 4: The website's anonymous, public nature makes it harder to make connections and create a true feel of community where everyone's voice can be hear d. The Internet is world-wide, and while this can help to bring down cultural barrie rs and boundaries, it does not make for the intimate, discursive settings that many teac hers strive for in their classroom. Many of these problems relate to the final issue, regarding website anon ymity, and some students were shown to have broken off to form smaller, private, online communities. While this may seem like a straightforward solution to the aforeme ntioned problems, it can introduce a whole set of new concerns mostly dealing with the fact that educators are dealing with the sensitive issue of minors online. The first iss ue that often comes up is that of censorship. Profane language, sexual content, discrimination, a nd hate-mongering are all concerns when dealing with underage students. Teac hers must also consider what is appropriate for students in their writing and when freedom of speech crosses the point of inappropriate content or warning signs. Of course, t his is a common concern for any writing teacher, regardless of whether they are using the Internet or not. Fortunately, there are district and online regulations for online cont ent censorship. Sites like safesurf.com and icra.org were founded to help schools and par ents set up web browsers that meet their standards of what is appropriate for minors ( Kehus, 2000). Another concern is the issue of privacy. This primarily relates to the extrem ely touchy issue of soliciting information from minors online. To this extent, the governme nt

PAGE 24

has initiated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA. COPPA, ena cted by the Federal Trade Commission to protect the privacy and safety of childre n online, requires compliance and parental consent from any website that collects inf ormation from a child under the age of thirteen. Since this guide is intended for teachers of stude nts in their late teens, the responsibility falls on the teachers, parents, and schools t o monitor and educate students about online privacy and safety. One final issue relating to online student publishing is also an issue with any sort of publishing: plagiarism. The ease of cut and paste technology of word-processors a nd the Internet has proven be a double-edged sword. While editing may be easier, so i s plagiarism. With the introduction of computers and the Internet into student writing teachers are finding that the opportunities for plagiarism are easier and m ore tempting. Yet, on the flip side, the very technology that makes plagiarism so easy to commi t also makes it easier to catch. Once students have worked on developing their own voice, you can usually tell whether the text is copied and pasted from another source and look up the source for yourself. It is also prudent to curb plagiarism with focused, coursespecific assignments (Warnock, 2009). Students are bright enough to know when they are being assigned busy-work, which only increases the temptation to plagiarize. According t o modern copyright laws, as soon as anyone puts her or her writing in text, the work is copyrighted to the author. One can still register a copyright on his or her work, but regulations allow the simple copyright mark, the authorÂ’s name, and the date of publication in order for the work to be protected. This is important information to pass on to students seeking to publish online, so there is less of an issue with legitimacy should someone seek to plagiarize his or her work later. It is also important, as a te acher,

PAGE 25

n to remember to act as an intermediary and protect a studentÂ’s personal inform ation, should an individual or company seek out a student for formal publication. There exist a number of risks to publishing student work online, and while this guide is intended more for online interaction between students in a single class, one ca n see how certain problems, like inappropriate comments or plagiarism, can be rele vant. Regardless of which method you decide to adopt, there are ways to help avoid any serious problems with online interaction between students and a general online audie nce. Marcella Kehus, co-founder of teenlit.com, suggests procedures such as monitoring bulletin-board conversations, not giving out studentÂ’s last names or e-mail addresses knowing where links on your website lead to, allowing any members to unsubscribe whenever they wish, and to be up front about everything from company affiliates to mailing lists (Kehus, 2000). Another way to avoid problems is to remember that online education is still in its infancy. In some ways, this requires students learning how to socialize in an enti rely new way. From a young age, our parents teach us how to answer the phone in a polite fashion that is slightly different from greeting someone in person. Now we find ourselves having to teach the next generation how to respond to online posts in a polite, professional, and appropriate fashion. It is important that students understand they are writing mes sages to real people with real thoughts and feelings. We see examples of this on many onli ne forums that are full of rude, hurtful, harassing, and even threatening comments. Suc h examples prove that online socialization training is a necessity.

PAGE 26

The issues present from online learning bring up certain questions, such as, “ Does knowledge change when learning occurs through technology?”, and “What is lost a nd what is gained as humanity moves into the age of information?” (Bender, 2003). Technology always has changed the way we think, but with the advent of such virtual interaction, there is some concern that we may be missing a very human connect ion. To this end, one should remember that technology is just another mode of learning and not a substitute for all other modes. Most teaching pedagogy is just as relevant wi th online learning as it is with classroom learning. After all, online interaction ca n be good for collaboration over distance, but it does not simply happen because the technology is there. It takes planning, facilitation, and other timeless teaching strat egies. To help with considerations on whether to conduct a class that incorporates online learning, the second edition of Using the Internet in Secondary Schools has provided a list of questions to ponder (De Cicco, Farmer, and Hargrave, 2001). 1Would the cost of travel affect class attendance in a negative way? 2Could electronic collaboration help students meet their deadlines more swiftly and easily? 3Are some students willing to act as facilitators? 4How easily is the necessary technology assessable to all students? (This one is vital) 5Is training required for students to use the technology, and how long will such training take?

PAGE 27

6Who can you turn to for technical assistance? 7Can the discussions or the nature of the discussions be saved and achieved? 8If the technology is text-oriented, will this prove a barrier for some students, a nd how can this barrier be overcome? It is prudent to have an answer for these questions before planning a hybrid class or unit with a body of students. While it may be clear that there is a vast array of advantages to hybrid educ ation with secondary school students, there are also some issues to bear in mind when considering introducing students to online interaction. Many of these issues will depend on the type of online work you intend to conduct, but so long as you consider the hurdles and plan accordingly, the experience can be both rewarding and beneficial. Online and Face-to-Face Education Online social interaction for learning begs the question, "Does communicating through technology take away from connections between people?" Does physical distance mirror mental distance? A feeling of belonging is vital for learni ng to take place, but does that feeling of inclusion require a physical location to gather for a sense of "place"? Education is about a meeting of minds, which would suggest to some that separating people over distance may not accomplish this. Hubert Dreyfus has expre ssed his skepticism of online learning, claiming that a lack of physical presence can hinder

PAGE 28

r education. According to Dreyfus, the anonymity of a virtual discussion can lead t o a loss of meaning (Bender, 2003). He believes the body needs to be involved in learning environments in order to give a sense of reality. After all, the term "virtua l" seems to suggest a mere representation of reality that cannot replace FTF intera ction. Any learning that occurs is only intellectual but not pragmatic, due to a lack of rel evance. When we contemplate the loss of human connection when comparing FTF interaction with the virtual, especially with regards to inappropriate comments in posts, the a rgument holds some appeal. But does this lack of connection truly affect learning in a negati ve way? Can there be no sense of "place" online, and does physical distance translate to the mental? Two words that weigh heavily in this debate are space and place So, what does space and place mean with regards to virtual interaction? According to Robinson, spac e is defined as "an abstract container determined by distance, direction, and t ime" (Bender, 2003). Distance obviously plays a role in space, but time is another consideration often overlooked. There is the element of time spent in class and whether that time exis ts outside the lesson. Does a student's classmates and teacher exist to him only in the time when they met, or does he think of such people at other times? Furthermore, can a student think of lesson content at times outside a given lecture? Obviously the answer is yes, and in fact it encompasses the mission of education: that the content be so exci ting and inspiring, it causes students to reflect on it outside of the time spent in class. Thi s is something which can occur in the classroom or online. For as Robinson claims, in online education, where discussions can last for days but take only minutes to post, time becomes space.

PAGE 29

The role of place is that it fits inside space, with a boundary for containment purposes. With online discussions, the place of the conversations is also virtual, but that does not mean it does not exist. After all, can we not also have mental boundaries and containers? According to Robinson, place is anything shared within (Bender, 2003). Therefore, if place is something we can internalize, then it doesn't necess arily have to be physical and external. It would be like saying, "home is where you make it ", or "home is where the heart is." While we can identify homes with a current place of reside nce, we also acknowledge that home is a place based on a state of mind, much like a meeting of minds online. Another element to take into consideration is distance Distance is a word used for multiple meanings, as suggested by its dictionary definitions: 1Being separated by space and time 2An interval between two points in space and time 3A remoteness in behavior; reserve 4A faraway place The third definition is unique, as it is the only one that does not refer to distance in the sense of physical separation. This is the definition teachers concern thems elves with, as students require a sense of belonging in order to learn. Michael G. Moor e identifies this relationship as "transactional distance": the teacher's ability to engage students so that they invest in their own learning (Bender, 2003). When students are uninspired or disengaged in what they are being taught, there is a vaster trans actional

PAGE 30

distance, and true learning cannot occur. To this extent, distance is a thing of engagement more than physical relationships, for a teacher can be a few st eps from a student in a classroom but on the other side of the planet in their connection and understanding of the student. When regarding both online and FTF learning environments, student engagement is key (Gradel and Edson, 2011). Therefore, physical closeness is pretty much irrelevant with regards to transactional distanc e and no more or less effective than online interaction. We may feel a certain loss of connection when we meet people virtually, and currently no technology can replicate this connection, but we do not have to have it one way or another with a hybrid class. According to Standards for the 21st-Century Learner, opportunities for students to share and learn with others actually enhances learning, and students require this type of learning in technological and FTF set tings (Lincoln, 2010). A typical class with some online activity for research is nothing ne w to the world of education and will not help prepare students for online education. Conversely, entirely online education may be too much for students just learning to interact with one another online. Take for instance the issue of appropriateness of comments. When students interact with each other on occasion in FTF settings, they wi ll have a stronger sense of their classmates' humanity when posting comments onli ne. They may be more mindful of rude comments. Another argument for hybrid classes is that they support different stages of learning in different environments. According to Kolb's cycle, learning take s place in four different stages (Bender, 2003).

PAGE 31

1-Experience 2-Reflection 3-Conceptulization 4-Planning Classroom interaction works well for the first and fourth stage, experienc e and planning. For instance, students achieve ideal exposure to new ideas in the social sett ing of the classroom. However, reflection and conceptualization are more appropriate f or the structure of an online forum or threaded discussion. Here students can take what they learned from class and work with the ideas in a social setting that can take pl ace anywhere and at anytime. The inclusion of different learning in different envi ronments is beneficiary to a world where student thinking is anything but uniform; people think and learn differently based on their cognitive styles. Learning Disabilities and Cognitive Thinking When planning an online hybrid unit, there are two important considerations to make: How your students think and how your students learn. A good starting place may exist with the individual differences of your students. This can relate to di fferent thinking styles or learning disabilities. Chances are your class will include students with disabilities that pre sent challenges to their learning in a hybrid environment; some can be language based, li ke speaking English as a secondary language, or dyslexic troubles with written

PAGE 32

communication. Other disabilities can be of a more physical/neurological na ture, like visual and hearing impairments or learning disabilities. Students with such disa bilities may be in the minority but not significantly. From 1976 to 2009, the percentage of children assisted by federal programs for the disabled averaged out to be 12.5% (“Students with disabilities,” 2011). Such students would certainly necessitate differentiation to the curriculum, as schools are legally obliged to accommodate them. In accordance with the rehabilitation act of Section 508, federal agencies like public schools are required to make information technology accessible to individuals with disa bilities (“Section 508 laws,” 2012). Differentiating the curriculum to serve students with individualized education plans is often a concern for teachers constructing a new unit. Fortunately, online learning with disabled students is not unexplored. A recent study among college-age students with disabilities and previous enrollment in online coursework revealed that just under half (45.8%) felt their disability impacted their success in an online learning e nvironment (Roberts, Crittenden & Crittenden, 2011). This is not to say that students with learning disabilities are not able to succeed in online learning, but their disabilities should be taken into consideration when planning hybrid education. Examples may include the creati on of closed captioning for videos, color-based information available in text format, and spoken versions of text (Roberts, Crittenden & Crittenden, 2011). For further information, you can access CANnect (www.cannect.org), an organization consi sting of a consortium of schools dedicated to helping educators meet federal standards for students with visual impairments.

PAGE 33

Not all differences outlined through personal learning obstacles can be att ributed to disabilities. Differences in cognitive thinking should be considered as well, for s ome students learn better online in groups while others learn better on their own. Cognit ive styles are commonly identified as the manner in which an individual thinks and acts in order to perceive, process, and interpret information for the purpose of problem-solving. There has been a large amount of research on the effects of cognitive style on education in FTF classrooms, but a recent study focused on the relationship between cognitive styles and teamwork effectiveness in a virtual environment (Liu, Magjuka, and Lee 2008). The study took a look at two style dimensions: Scope and Level. Level : The thought process is broken down into global and local thinking. Global is more broad thinking with a focus on the big picture, while local is narrower and focuses on the details. Scope : The thought processes is broken down into internal and external Internal thinkers are more introverted and prefer to work alone, where external thinkers are mor e social, preferring to work in groups. Findings from the study revealed that online group work appealed more to external thinkers and students with local styles. The study points to the notion that online, social interaction works well for detail-oriented students that learn b etter with group work. This is not to say that individual learners and broad thinkers cannot benefit from such a unit, but there is definite value in knowing your students' cognitive styl es and taking them into consideration when conducting lessons or activities. The study

PAGE 34

concludes that while it is important to integrate cognitive styles as a fa ctor in the design of a course, a teacher cannot rely on these factors to predict how students will perfor m. Finally, when considering how students think and learn, do not overlook the components on how students acquire knowledge. Bloom's taxonomy outlines six developmental levels to acquiring knowledge: 1Knowledge: Memorization and recollection 2Comprehension: Translations, interpretations, and predictions 3Application: Solving, constructing, and applying 4Analysis: Understanding, identifying, and distinguishing 5-Synthesis: Creating and developing 6Evaluation: Judging and considering These work up from basic levels of understanding to higher levels of understanding. While lower levels may be necessary for online discussions, debate s are more concerned with the learning that takes place at higher levels. Just bear i n mind that education begins with knowledge acquisition, and jumping into higher levels too soon can overwhelm students.

PAGE 35

n Student W riters and Student Audience In addition to college preparation, this guide is also concerned with improving student writing. Undoubtedly, a teacher will want to produce a class full of good writ ers, but what exactly constitutes good writing ? Although this term is thrown around quite liberally, here we shall refer to good writers in two parts. First, good writers can create original, imaginative, and thought-provoking writing intended for broad audiences. Second, good writers display sufficient usage of form so as not to distract from the content. This second quality, referred to as correct writing is often embraced in secondary expository writing classes and can be taught though drilling, memori zation, and rubric-driven essays. However, these methods do not work so well to produce interesting writing and can, unfortunately, be neglected. But just what is inte resting writing, and how can it be nurtured in students? Below is a list compiled from Inside Out, Developmental Strategies for Teaching Writing on the qualities we often look for among interesting writing (Kirby and Liner, 1981). 1. Voice : The writing has the distinct imprint of its author. It is unique to that individual and stands out from an assortment of other texts. 2. Honesty : This goes hand-in-hand with voice, as it is not afraid to reveal the authorÂ’s thoughts, beliefs, and experiences. Honesty is risky, for it involves opening oneself up to an audience, but without it the writing comes across as sterile and art ificial. 3. Sense of Humor : The writing may or may not succeed in making the audience laugh, but it is even more important that an attempt is made to entertain the audience and reveal that the author does not take himself too seriously.

PAGE 36

4. Informative : The writing must have something to say, some area of experience to share with the audience. This is the actual content of the writing. 5. Inventive : The author tries to say something new or something old in a new way. Clichs are avoided, and the author embraces her unique imagination. These are five qualities we recognize in literature that informs and/or ent ertains us. Society may change, and peoplesÂ’ tastes with it, but such qualities are unive rsal in all good writing, regardless of the time or culture in which it was written. The go al is to take this information and incorporate it into modern, educational, technology-driven pedagogy. Correct writing can be delivered as imparting knowledge, but good writing must be nurtured, guided, and discovered. This is best nurtured through social interaction within writing and a system of feedback and revision. As this is a unit for student writing, it would be appropriate to analyze the sort of writing students typically engage in, within an expository writing class (Daniels and Zemelman, 1988): 1Writing to show learning 2Writing to learn writing 3Writing to communicate 4Writing to express self 5Writing to create

PAGE 37

The fourth and fifth types of writing should receive more weight in the early par t of the unit, when students are developing their writing community and first finding t heir voice within that community. It is these sorts of writing that lead to self-spons ored writing, where students have ample opportunity to work on the sort of writing they wish to write. Of course, one must not neglect formal assignments, as these are also recommended types of writing for students. The first two types of writing f ocus more on form and assessment, which is where students can display what they know and what they lack. Such formal writing is vital for student growth and can work quite well i f students are given actual choices and a feeling of ownership over their work (Daniels a nd Zemelman, 1988). Writing to learn and learning to write is necessary throughout the unit, so students can receive ample writing practice and produce assessable wor k. Earlier assignments that focus on student interests can help to open up willingness to write, both online and off. Before jumping right into online discussions on student work, it is best to warm up with practice conversations. Such conversations can focus more on student interests; the real concern is that students give their opinions and ide as in written form and that they reply to the comments of others. There exist a number of communication means for online discussions. Some individuals prefer live chats, but there is a distinct advantage to the threaded conve rsation of a message board. According to online instructor and author, Scott Warnock, regarding message boards “I find that the natural delay helps conversations on the boards achieve a level of sophistication beyond many, if not most, onsite class discussions” (Warnock,

PAGE 38

r 2009). Part of what leads to this sophistication that Warnock speaks of is the asynchronous nature of the message board. Because the student can join the conversation at his or her leisure, that student has more time to contemplate word choice and is mor e likely to re-read and revise posts. Students are also less likely to use abbreviat ions and shortened language most often seen in texting and online chatting. Because writte n posts feel more akin to an expression of ideas over basic communication, posts tend to take on a more formal appearance over brief, hastily typed messages. It is for this reason that message boards or e-mail can make for better writing-to-learn practice than the fastpaced, live conversations of chats or texting. Messages provide students the short, spontaneous, writing-to-learn practice that helps develop ideas, but message boards are also tied into writing for communication. Writing for communication goes hand in hand with expository writing, as it focuses on affecting an audience via informing, instructing, persuading, or analyzing Traditionally, in expository writing classes, students compose works for an audience of one, the instructor. They write in order to fulfill the requirements of a rubric and get a good grade or avoid a bad grade by appeasing the teacher's standards. It should be noted that students with little to no experience shaping their writing for a wider audi ence, and sharing/ publishing their work, will not have learned to take a craftsmanship appr oach to their writing and will struggle with workshop environments (Daniels and Zemelm an, 1988). Message boards, however, provide a varying audience. When posting responses on a message board, students get ample writing practice while getting the opportunity to consider their fellow classmates as an audience. Here students can develop t he authority of their voice, practice risk-taking, and train their invention skills (Warnock, 2009). Wi th

PAGE 39

the pressure of pleasing a single authority alleviated, students are free to f ocus on the sorts of communicative, expository writing that can inform, persuade, and even enter tain. This is why such threaded conversations are important for developing a writer' s workshop attitude and experience among students. If a teacher wants students to broaden their prospects of an audience even further, they can also consider online, student publication, such as teenlit.com. Unfortunately, i t is possible to broaden an audience too much. When opening up a writing group's audience to the entirety of the world-wide-web, students can feel the loss of a sense of community and seek out smaller groups to join (Kehus, 2000). Regarding writing assignments earlier in the unit, it is a good idea to keep assignments less formal and focus more on the goal of moving an audience. An example of one such assignment is known as the Occasional Paper which has a flexible due date, is read aloud to the class by the author, and centers on daily/ commonplace subjects like preferred writing utensils or proper bathroom habits (Miller, 2009). Such assignment s do not have rubrics but a set of guidelines, outlining what to avoid and what to shoot for. This takes the studentÂ’s focus off grades and allows him or her to focus more on writin g to move an audience. Such assignments, in addition to message board posting practice, will help students prepare for the more formal assignments. Even though there are many advantages to online discussions, live discussions in class also have their merits. While students need writing practice, they als o need opportunities for public speaking. This is yet another example of how a hybrid class c an provide the best of both worlds in education.

PAGE 40

Summary There are a number of factors to weigh when considering a hybrid unit for your expository writing class. First off, examine the pros and cons of online education when considering which type of online interaction to use. While there are numerous benefits to conducting a hybrid writing class, there are also issues to weigh in turn. Be s ure to know the students you will be working with, as your will have to take their strengt hs, limitations, disabilities, learning styles, and previous experiences into a ccount when introducing hybrid learning to your curriculum. Remember that students are writ ing for a broader audience than just you, the teacher. This may be a newer experience for some students, so allow them practice in writing to one another. To this end, it is best to warm up with less formal writing assignments in an asynchronous fashion on a message board. These ideas are important when moving into the next step, planning the actual unit.

PAGE 41

CHAPTER III PART II How to Set Up a Hybrid Unit Modern universities are designed to offer a variety of online and hybrid class es, but this is not the case with your standard high school. A number of issues can arise, depending on the flexibility of the school. One primary issue to consider, before s etting up your hybrid class unit, is the matter of scheduling. In a hybrid class, students typically spend half their time online and half in cla ss. But what if students are required to attend class every day? A teacher must c onsider how to incorporate the online interaction and work without overloading students. Could half the classes be used like a study hour, where students are allowed an opportunity to w ork on assignments as they would at home? Could students be allowed to leave the class after attendance is taken to work elsewhere in the school? This allowance would r ely heavily on whether the school is an open or closed campus. However, if allowed, students could use such out-of-class days to work online in a school library or computer lab. Issues of supervision might arise, which is why you may want to consider more supervision earlier in the unit and then gradually release students into the online wor k on their own, when they appear ready for the responsibility. Naturally, these iss ues will vary depending on the rules of the school, the district's policies, your own teaching experi ence, the freedom allowed to curriculum creation, the students being served, and the facil ities and technology available within the school.

PAGE 42

When planning such a class, special consideration should be given to the technology available. According to a survey conducted in 2009, 69% of teens own their own desktop or laptop computer, and 12% live in households with no computer or no Internet connection (Pew Research Center, 2012). As every student will require a computer with Internet access to participate, a teacher will have to fig ure out a way to make sure every student either owns or can easily gain access to a computer This consideration is especially important when teaching students that come from lower income families. While 93% of all teens use the Internet, this number exponential ly decreases to 88% as the household income decreases (Pew Research Center, 2012). If your school cannot provide your students with the necessary technology, you can turn to technology grants. In addition to government grants from the U.S. Department of Education, companies like HP and Bank of America also offer technology grants for educators. One may also find divisions of the Department of Education, like OSERS (Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services), that support programs t o help educate youths with disabilities. Still, even with all the logistics of the scheduling and technology figured out the prospect of planning a class unit with online interaction can be particularly inti midating. Teaching online is not typically covered in depth in teacher licensing programs To this end, a teacher may feel they are not knowledgeable or experienced enough to tea ch online. Feelings of anxiety often associated with activities like memori zing names and how one looks to students may be transferred to anxiety over technological mishaps and knowing less about computers than the students. One school of thought is to tell students it is your first time teaching online and that you're feeling a little anxious (Bender, 2003).

PAGE 43

The idea is that such a confession will help to relieve the pressure of looking omnisc ient and allow for more focus on teaching and less on the appearance of expertise. In spite of such apprehensions, a licensed and experienced teacher can take comfort in the fact that one does not have to start from scratch in order to effective ly teach online; there is a noted cross-over between the pedagogy of classroom te aching and online teaching. Seven principles for teaching still apply, regardless of wh ere the class is being held (Warnock, 2009). These principles are as follows: 1Contact between students and faculty 2Reciprocity and cooperation among students 3Active learning 4Time on task 5-Feedback 6-Communicating high expectations 7-Respecting diverse talents and ways of learning Such principles naturally represent broad pedagogy in education and are rooted within the very foundations of good teaching; they are universal in all methods used to teach. When adjusting your style to instruct online, you should focus more on developing technological literacy. Such development goes beyond learning to use the neces sary technology and zeros in on the more subtle elements of online communication. An instructor must consider what sort of online personality to present to her students and

PAGE 44

how certain sentences will come across when read without an actual voice or fac e to convey unspoken messages. For instance, breaking down content into shorter chunks as opposed to long lectures will be more effective towards learning. In the end, how you teach in the classroom and what you constitute as a lesson will greatly af fect how you teach online. "Much of online teaching, especially initially, can be envisioned a s a migration or transference of your best teaching practices and strategie s" (Warnock, 2009). Feelings of apprehension towards entirely online teaching points out another advantage to the hybrid model; it provides a system of gradual release for the inst ructor as well as the students. Teachers, as well as their pupils, do not have to jump right int o an educational environment that may feel is a little foreign to them. Another noted cross-over between FTF classrooms and online education is the presentation of a syllabus. Many contemporary syllabi contain more than just due date s and required readings; the syllabus is also used to communicate an instructor's expectations of the students, contact information and availability, and even a short bi o. These are commonalities between online syllabi and standard classroom ones, but spec ial considerations should be given to a syllabus for a hybrid class, such as boundaries and availability. A common observation among online classes is that because of its asynchronous nature, students tend to expect their teacher to be available at all times (Wa rnock, 2009). It is important to let your students know how often you will log on and respond to their writing. If you are more structured in your approach and wish to create a schedul e of

PAGE 45

n when you plan to log on to check posts and respond to questions, this information should be shared with your students. This will help the students understand that even though their class mode of communication may seem available 24/7, you are not (Bender 2003). Online communication relies heavily on threaded conversations. Thus a teacher should specify how often a student is expected to log on, the number of posts they are expected to make on a given discussion, and the number of other students they are expected to reply to (Bender, 2003). Posting a schedule of class meetings may be less common in standard, secondary classroom syllabi, but a schedule is vital in a hybrid classroom. Students may not meet in the same place every day, or even on a regular basis. Fortunately, live meetings can be utilized to check-in with students and hel p problem solve. Finally, it is important to use a syllabus to outline expectations for students regarding technical details, like formatting documents (Warnock, 2009). This is a good opportunity for a teacher to set up expectations and allowances for technical diff iculties. As we journey into the digital age, the time-honored excuse of "My dog ate my homework," has evolved into, "Cyberspace ate my homework." When planning to teach in a hybrid setting, the technology must be given ample consideration. How FTF class experiences translate to online experiences is one consideration, and the largest is communication, since classroom communication util izes audio and visual stimuli. While online contact may utilize videos and audio recordings, the primary form of communication remains text-based. This will greatly a ffect how meaning is conveyed from word, as two people will interpret a single sentence

PAGE 46

differently, based on their experiences (Bender, 2003). Spoken sentences can be interpreted differently, and the inclusion of vocal tones and body language gives c lues as to the speaker's meaning. A teacher must keep this in mind when speaking and responding to students. It is for this reason that many online instructors keep their messages more formal and direct. However, this does not mean the instructor must c ome across cold and artificial. Another consideration to make is the inclusion of an introductory class for the technology being used. To this extent, it would be good to spend a day in class or a computer lab teaching students about the CMS (Course Management System/ softwar e) you will be using. A CMS, often a web-based program, is designed to help teacher s conduct online learning by posting material and facilitating classroom dis cussions. Such sites/ systems include Angel, Blackboard, Desire2Learn, Moodle, and Sakai. These CMSs are most often seen at the college level, but they could function just as well for any sort of communal, online learning. Just remember that an introduction of the technology utilized will not be the end of such instruction. According to Laurie B. Dias, “…technology is integrated when it is used in a seamless manner to support and extend curriculum objectives and to engage students in meaningful learning.” (Dias, 1999) Even if your students are tech savvy, you should include a description of the sort of unit you will be teaching and the sort of instruction they can expect. Not only will t his help curb a great deal of questions and confusion from students but from parents as well Online education is still a relatively new phenomenon, and some people view virtual learning as a way to cut corners (Warnock, 2009). The more sound information you can provide for skeptics the better.

PAGE 47

For the bold teacher wishing to create a webpage for the class or take advanta ge of online student publication as seen on teenlit.com, remember that student ownership is key (Kehus, 2000). Enlist students to contribute to the site’s creation, keep the site simple and easy to navigate, outline clear criteria for submissions, consider audie nce with regards to the students you will be working with and the audience your students will be writing for, and remember to keep author-approved examples for future classes. A final word on technology introduction: the content should not be more complicated than need be. Do not use more technology than you are comfortable with, and do not use technology simply because it exists. Perhaps there are some lessons a nd learning methods you feel would work better in a FTF class. After all, that is the advantage of a hybrid class; you can do both. In the end, “The foundation of your class, even in the most high-tech environment, is still your own personal teaching ability and imagination. Build from that as you investigate the many tools that can help you tea ch online” (Warnock, 2009). Other considerations one might make to setting up a hybrid class may include the concept of team teaching. We have all heard the phrase, “Two heads are better tha n one”. This is the key advantage to team teaching. Teachers can divide the workl oad, learn different techniques from one another, and see a different perspective on a singl e piece of writing. In fact, there does not have to be only two teachers. Larger cla sses requiring more one-on-one attention have sometimes seen as many as four teacher s (Bender, 2003). Of course there are disadvantages to team teaching. The te achers must be compatible and able to work together, but there should also be a clear establishment of authority to the students. Students must understand that both teachers are equally val id

PAGE 48

r instructors, and not merely a teacher/helper pair. In some schools, the option of whethe r to team-teach or not is beyond the teacherÂ’s control. However, if a couple of tea chers wanted to team up to teach online lessons, the removal of boundaries like classrooms and set schedules would certainly aid in such an endeavor. When planning your unit, remember that no good plan is set in stone. Be flexible and willing to adapt. Lessons can change, even in the middle of a class if the intende d plan is not successful. A good, and often overlooked, strategy to learning whether a unit was successful comes from student feedback. Students are often willing to provide feedback on what worked and what didnÂ’t in a unit. The Creation and Facilitation of a Writing Community Whether online or FTF, a teacher of an expository writing class would be invested in producing good writers. Obviously there is no set formula or concrete pedagogy to teach creativity and originality, but it all begins with two simple s tudent facilities: Engagement and motivation. Student engagement in writing exists as a necessity for both classroom and onl ine writing. In fact, with the added responsibility of self-motivated online posting one could argue that engagement is even more important for online learning. Online lear ning may be a newer phenomenon, but the element of student engagement is consistent in all settings, and there is a vast history of research-based pedagogy for FTF c ooperative learning environments (Gradel and Edson 2010). Cooperative learning is a key factor i n motivating students, and the construction of a classroom community is essential for

PAGE 49

cooperative learning, especially among secondary schools. It is important for students to feel a sense of familiarity among their peers; many are afraid to openly s hare ideas and experiment with new territory or push the boundaries of their writing. While communi ty building and reinforcing activities are not a formal part of the writing pro cess, they allow students to work together and help build engagement and motivation. This in turn leads to better writers further on. Modern teaching pedagogy states the necessity for a classroom to feel l ike a safe place for students. They can ask a “stupid question” without fear of ridicule or humiliation, and they believe people care about them and their opinions (McDermott and Quate, 2009). A student’s academic success is tied to that student’s emotional perce ption of the learning environment, and for adolescents, emotional shut-downs lead to intellectual ones. We are social creatures, and schools are very social pla ces where students learn with one another rather than around one another. Students should approach their class as they would a sort of club, where they are bound by common interests as opposed to a common schedule (McDermott and Quate, 2009). The way in which a hybrid class frees students and teachers from a ridged schedule leaves pl enty of opportunities to develop such feelings of community. As with schools and classes, the act of writing is also highly social. This may seem contradictory to our impression of the reclusive writer alone and shut up in his room. Many of us require silence and solitude to focus on writing, but we must remember that the process does not end with the first composition. Whether it is the sharing of one’s feelings and ideas, making inquiries, or simply communicating practical information, a writer must always consider his audience and how his writing ref lects

PAGE 50

upon himself. Truly, honest writing reveals things about ourselves we might be able t o hide in spoken conversation, and so it comes as no surprise when teenagers feel vulnerable about exposing themselves through their writing (Daniels and Zeme lman, 1988). It is vital to develop a caring classroom community so that students are les s apprehensive about reflecting their true selves in their writing. Ice bre akers and community builders at the beginning of any term or unit work quite well. Below are some examples of introductory activities commonly used in FTF settings. Mind Maps : Students are given a piece of paper on which they write their names and then write or draw a variety of interests that describe who they are. For matting can vary depending on the class or individual. Some mind maps are less structured, and students draw or write all over the page. Some are designed like a brainstorming web, with the studentÂ’s name in the center and lines drawn to connect various interests and descriptors of personality. Mind maps can require a set number of drawings and words or they may require an accompanying drawing for each descriptive word. Though it may be less necessary with older students that are more outgoing, a teacher could al so post mind maps on the walls of the classroom for all to see. The Magic Box: A teacher places an assortment of random objects and toys in a box, and each student draws one out at random. Students take their object and describe how it is a metaphor for writing. This is the sort of activity where humor can se rve as a good icebreaker. Musical Inspiration: The teacher plays a song for students, and students are instructed to close their eyes and let their minds wander. When the song has ended,

PAGE 51

students write and then share where their minds went during the music. Did they ima gine a scene from a story taking place, a plethora of random images, or did it take them somewhere in their own personal memories? This is an excellent exercise for students to learn what they and their classmates do with their inspiration. Journaling : This is a commonly used activity that teachers use to help students open up. As the goal is to create a sense of community, a journal might not work well unless shared. Therefore, it may be a good idea for teachers to give students l ess personal requirements. For example, students could apply what they read or write in class t o their own lives and then interpret the piece based on their own experiences. Interviews: This activity takes on a variety of modes, most common being students interviewing one another and then introducing their partner to the group. Les s common activities might include the press conference, where a student may volunte er to come to the front of the class and answer questions asked by the class. This activit y does not have to be entirely controlled by the teacher. For instance, instead of telli ng students what to ask, a class can brainstorm what sort of questions can be asked together. Name Games: Another simple and common ice-breaking activity. Students go around in a circle giving their names and one little piece of information about t hemselves. This information could include an interest or something that makes the student unique. To assure that students are paying attention, the introduction could progress in a cir cle, where the next in line has to go back and re-introduce everyone who spoke before him/ her.

PAGE 52

As technology needs daily reinforcement, so does a classÂ’s sense of communit y. Classroom community building activities should not simply be abandoned after the f irst little introductory class but reinforced throughout the semester (McDermot t and Quate, 2009). Activities like Magic Box Musical Inspiration and Journaling could be repeated throughout the whole of the curriculum. Activities like Name Games could be repeated so long as the material is kept fresh. For instance, instead of listing intere sts, students could list an achievement or goal for the week. These activities work well for classroom introductions and community building, but with a little imagination a teacher can also utilize them to build the communi ty online. The Mind Maps activity could use pictures, videos, and even links to other websites in order to display a studentÂ’s personality and interests. For Musical inspiration, students could post their writing and attach an audio file with the song they listened to for inspiration. Students could even conduct the Interview through an online chat, e-mail, or a threaded discussion. They could utilize links, images, or videos for answers, much like they did with the Mind Maps While it would be nice to believe that high school juniors and seniors are mature enough to know whatÂ’s appropriate and inappropriate to post for school, it would be prudent for a teacher to briefly cover their expectations. We may not notice, but we wear different facades when we change our modes of communication. The most obvious is the juxtaposition between how we write and how we speak. When writing, one has more time to consider what they are going to say before posting their message, unlike live spoken conversation where things slip out. When considering classroom icebreakers, it is important to consider online icebr eakers in

PAGE 53

turn. Not one but two personalities are being introduced in a hybrid class; oneÂ’s FTF and oneÂ’s virtual personality. In some hybrid classes, a teacher might requi re student introductions both online and off, so student have the opportunity to see the differences (Warnock, 2009). When students introduce themselves, here are a few things you can ask them to share: -Basic information like their name and e-mail address -Interests and activities they participate in -A picture of the student that can be used as an icon when posting -What they expect from the class and the hybrid unit -The sort of topics they like to debate and/ or find interesting Some online teachers require students to respond to another studentÂ’s introduction, so that there is some interaction among the group. It is also recommende d for teachers to comment on their studentsÂ’ introductions. For example, a teacher coul d respond to an interest, stating her own similar interests (Warnock, 2009). This gives the instructor an opportunity to put forth her own online personality and build up a sense of familiarity. This is also a good place to probe for student goals and what they expe ct to take away from the class (Boettcher, 2010). Students can also engage in introduction activities to help them develop/ identify their online personalities. Table 1.1 displays an example of such an activity, a dapted and updated from Introducing the Internet to Young Learners, pg. 129 (Braun, 2001):

PAGE 54

Chances are some of these aforementioned ice-breakers will not be necessary i f conducting your hybrid unit later in the curriculum as your classroom writing c ommunity will already have been established. However, if online communication is not utili zed until the unit begins, one should certainly conduct some activities for students to pres ent their virtual personalities. Creating a communal environment and instigating thought-provoking writing assignments are vital to a hybrid writing class, but they do not account for all obsta cles. What if students do not participate or have difficulty in knowing what to write in response to a prompt? This is where facilitation comes into play. There are two typ es of facilitation in an online or live classroom discussion: teacher facilitation a nd student facilitation. Social hosts, technical assistants, program managers, and content instructors generally agree on four roles that facilitators play in online discussions (Wa ng, 2008). These Roles are displayed in table 2.1.

PAGE 55

n Table 1.1 Sample Activity: Differences Between Communications Part 1: Consider the 6 types of communication on the chart below and what it's like to use each technique. In each space, write down every idea that comes to mind when using that mode of communication. For example, under "text" you can write, "uses acronyms like BRB for be right back", or for "face-to-face" you can wr ite, "live and in person". Online Chat Texting Phone Email Web Posting FacetoFace Part 2: Write what you think are the biggest differences between: Web Post & Chat Web Post & E-Mail Web Post & Text Web Post & Face-To-Face Web Post & Phone Part 3: Use the space below to tell what your favorite form of communication is and why.

PAGE 56

Table 2.1 The Four Roles of an Online Discussion Facilitator Intellectual Facilitator Managerial Facilitator Social Facilitator Technical Facilitator Initiates questions, provides information, makes connections, gives feedback, and summarizes key points. Takes on leadership role, keeps discussions on track, keeps members active, and establishes rules. Sets tone, encourages participation and responses, asks questions, and acknowledges contributions. Demonstrates how to use the system, initiates threaded discussions, develops a study guide, and provides opportunities to explore the system. An effective online facilitator must take on all of these roles, although some role s require more attention than others. Regardless of students’ prior knowledge or how well the class works together, facilitation begins in the managerial role wit h establishing and communicating expectations. In any capacity, a good facilitator clearly communicates his or her rules and expectations early on. Online facilitation is no different. A clear set of r ules is not only necessary for order but also for learning to take place and to help keep students e ngaged (Warnock, 2009). It is difficult for students to be engaged in a task when they are unsure what is expected of them. When outlining rules for students, include details about deadlines, quantity of posts, length of posts, and even the content of posts. When discussing content, it would be a good time to bring up issues of civility. “Often the

PAGE 57

soundest learning is brought about through passionate argument, but this should be accompanied though mutual respect and toleration of different viewpoints” (Bender, 2003). What is appropriate and what is not will vary depending on the instructor and the students present. However, a teacher should make clear what he considers to be appropriate and inappropriate. Remember that definitions of respect break down when we expect the other party to intuitively view respect in the same manner we do. Thi s is especially true when working with adolescents. In order for students to improve their writing, they must be able to write in a l owstakes environment (Warnock, 2009). To this end, a teacher must be wary of overloading students with so many rules they are afraid to take chances with their wri ting. Students in message-board writing should be writing to improve their style and share their ideas, not writing to appease a set of rules. This is also important for teachers, as they might end up spending too much time focusing on every word and sentence structure, thus missing or undervaluing the content of the writing. Existing rules should be detailed without being overly-complicated, and simple guidelines, like the number of words or paragraphs required in student posts, can help give students a better idea of what their teach er expects (Warnock, 2009). In addition to clearly outlining rules, an instructor of online writing should also consider how involved she should be in discussions. This will vary depending on how you guide discussions in a FTF classroom environment. A teacher should not necess arily be the center of the conversation but should definitely be involved in the discussion; online discussions do not just “happen” without the involvement of a facilitator (Warnock, 2009). Therefore, a teacher may ponder the best way to be involved in a

PAGE 58

r threaded conversation without hijacking the debate. Some methods of unobtrusive teacher prompts include asking questions, playing devil’s advocate, asking for clarification, summarizing posts, keeping the discussion on track, or modeling for students. An instructor can answer a direct question or state his position, so long as it strives for objectivity and exists more to inform and not indoctrinate. Remember t hat students crave instructor feedback, and dialogue cannot exist without it (Boet tcher, 2010). The Socratic Method is highly popular with many educational discussions, both online and off. Within the Socratic Method, students are encouraged to bring previous knowledge and personal experiences to the debate. Such a debate helps students to connect the subject matter to their own lives in a highly relevant way. By its very nature, the Socratic Method is far superior to stimulating student engagement in a discu ssion than a lecture (Bender, 2003). Prompts are another important part of facilitating online discussions. When linked to required readings, you do not have to limit your students to a single prompt. For instance, you can give five prompts and ask the students to respond to a minimum of two. However, a single mandatory prompt would work better if you want students to focus on a single idea. In such cases, it is important to keep prompts short and simple. One or two sentences should be adequate. Yet, simple does not mean vague. For instance, a follow-up question like, “What do you think?” could leave students wondering, “What do I think about what?” Prompts and questions should be pointed enough to avoid students feeling they have to guess at your intended meaning. They may not respond, fearing they misunderstood you. Students should be taught to make their posts both substantial and concise, and a teacher can prompt them with the three-part

PAGE 59

post of what, why, and wish (Boettcher, 2010). In the three-part post students are prompted to inquire what they think of the work or recommend doing, why they think what they do, and what they wish they knew about the work. Remember to save your prompts in your CMS, if possible, for later refinement and use in the unit or other terms (Warnock, 2009). Discussion based learning is all about breaking down archaic viewpoints of education as lectures where an omniscient instructor fills the minds of student l ike pouring water into an empty basin. Part of breaking down this barrier is to increase studentsÂ’ involvement in their own learning. One such instance can be seen in student-facilitated discussions. Earlier mention was made about the four types of online facilitator roles: Intellectual, Managerial, Social, and Technical. In a recent study, students were trained to facilitate and lead groups of five or six participants in online discussions. Following the study, student-facilitators recorded their findings, i n response to which facilitator role was most crucial. The purpose of the study was to det ermine whether these four roles equally applied in online discussions or whether some carr ied more weight than others (Wang, 2008). With regards to the findings, table 2.2 represents how the importance of each skill was viewed by students. Managerial, Intellec tual, and Social facilitation were almost equal in their considerations. Technical fa cilitation considerations were a mere .7%, pointing to the fact that students had few to no problems with technical facilitation difficulties.

PAGE 60

Table 2.2 Results for Student-Ranked Importance of Online Facilitation Skills. nn r What this data points to is that instruction should be focused equally on everything but technical facilitation. Of course, this is not to say students should not be taught technical facilitation skills. The study conducted engaged students wi th sufficient proficiency in the technology being utilized. While many adolescents are qui te techsavvy, it would be prudent for a teacher to know the studentsÂ’ proficiency before making any assumptions on where to focus facilitation instruction. Yet even with excellent student and teacher facilitation of online discussions, a lack of participation can arise from students. Perhaps a lack of visual or oral cue s leads to confusion, or the class is large and students run out of things to say about a given topic (Bender, 2003). An overlaying theme in avoiding problems with participation is to anticipate future problems. For example, when embarking on a hybrid unit, a teacher should consider the sort of access students have to computers at home and at school. Presenting a larger variety of prompts can help keep conversations from going stale with larger classes. Be sure that students are truly participating in a disc ussion and not just

PAGE 61

piggybacking off one another. Students may attempt to avoid putting any real thought into a discussion by simply agreeing with another and summarizing their stat ement or playing devilÂ’s advocate without adding their own thoughts to the table. Here it is important to remember that simple interaction does not necessarily equate col laboration (Gradel and Edson, 2011). Finally, make sure the layout of responses is not too confusing for a student that has not signed on in a while. For instance, if posts are not presented in chronological order, massive confusion may follow. Also consider how summaries can help students when responding to an overwhelming number of posts and responses from other students. Peer Review and the Revision Process Once your students have been introduced to the idea of online learning in a socially driven hybrid environment, you can begin to work with assignments of a more formal writing nature. In such assignments, students will develop their writi ng with a stronger focus on form as well as content. This will include collaborative writing and peer editing, utilizing writing workshop strategies. A large part of developing good writing lies in editing and revision. In a class focused solely on composition, students do not have ample opportunity to practice this skill. This is the advantage of peer review; it gives us a fresh perspective on our writing and alerts us to issues we so easily miss in the act of composition. This is espec ially vital when we write for a broad audience. Since online interaction is entirely writte n, the act of peer review changes not only the review but the communication medium by which the

PAGE 62

review is delivered. When coaching students on peer reviews, we must remind them to consider what they say along with the technology they use to say it (Warnock, 2009). In many cases, not all students have participated in peer-review activit ies in the past. Therefore, it is best to take a little time to train students in the basic s. Constructive criticism can be a good discipline to begin with, as it often proves to be a sensitive is sue. Though well-meaning, readers unintentionally make unhelpful, offensive remarks. On the flip side, writers can simply ignore the advice of their readers. To avoi d such problems, a teacher can distribute a detailed guide-sheet to give students ad vice on how best to critique their classmates’ work and receive criticism in an egali tarian fashion (Zemelman and Daniels 1988). Here are some suggestions the sheet could include: Use “I” statements, such as “I felt about…” or “This struck me as…”. This allow s the reader to understand how his or her writing was received and interpreted by the audie nce. Statements like “You should…”, can be confusing if the reader somehow missed the intended meaning, which is not always the writer’s fault. Answers from readers and the writer should be deeper than yes/no. In the same toke n, questions should lead to deep answers. “Why did you like it?” as opposed to “Did you like it?” Readers should do more than point out what they consider to be problems. Readers should offer solutions or suggestions in turn. Remember, the purpose of the critique is to improve the work not point out all its flaws. Give positive feedback on parts that worked or were enjoyed. But remember, there should be a balance between negative and positive. A reader should not just praise a

PAGE 63

piece for the self-esteem of the author. In the same vein, a reader should not pick t he work apart looking solely for flaws. A reader can ask the writer about the intended message and audience. Here readers can have a better understanding of the intended purpose so they can help the writer achieve his/ her goal, instead of taking thematic control and rewriting the piece in thei r own fashion. The writer should strive for objectivity and try not to take criticism personally but view it as a fresh perspective on a work in progress. That being said, the writer is ult imately the one who decides which advice to take. One reader might like a certain idea while anothe r will not; different audiences react differently to the same work. Some cri ticism can take away from what the writer is trying to say. In the end, it is the writerÂ’s c hoice on which advice to accept or reject. However, writers should always consider how a criti que will affect their message before accepting or rejecting it. Along with a guide-sheet, it is a good idea for teachers to set a minimum/ maximum length requirement for their responses. This will help students to underst and exactly what is being expected of them, and it will help avoid confusion with online reviews. Teachers should also make clear that reviews are also being gr aded and subject to criticism from the instructor, so they should take their constructive critic ism seriously (Warnock, 2009). Constructive criticism often takes ideas and content more into consideration, but readers should also be encouraged to correct mechanical errors when found; const ant misspells, a lack of diversity in vocabulary, grammatical errors, and confu sing sentence

PAGE 64

structure can distract from the content of the literature. This will give stud ents practice in editing and proofreading that will serve them well when composing and revising their own drafts. Just be sure to remind students not to focus so intently on form that they overlook the content. Traditionally, feedback and criticism is delivered in two forms; written as n otes on a copy of the writing, and delivered verbally during a group gathering. However when utilizing online learning, the mode of communication and delivery is altered. Students can deliver feedback via e-mail, message boards, smaller peer-revie w groups within a CMS, or other software designed for peer review. While the variety of communication options may vary in detail, they share one common concern: how to convey tone in a solely written critique without misunderstandings and offenses? We have all read an e-mail or online message and found ourselves feeling slightly uncomfortable with the content. We wonder whether the writer was serious or merel y being sarcastic and we missed the intended point. Such communication lacks the visual and/ or aural cues we have become so accustomed to in face-to-face communicat ion, and it is for this very reason that online peer response necessitates even more pr actice, guidance, and consideration (Warnock, 2009). Simply telling students to respond to anotherÂ’s writing without any guidelines or practice could be problematic. But ke ep in mind that this unit is a hybrid, so you can have it both ways. Live class time could be utilized to answer questions, clarify misunderstandings, and analyze the diffe rences between online communication and FTF communication in what is an already touchy subject.

PAGE 65

n Composition and critique are vital but leave the writing process only halffinished. As any work under scrutiny is a work in progress, revision would be needed before any final submission. Unfortunately, there exists a negative attit ude among students towards revision as a form of punishment for not doing it right the first time and having to go back to do extra work (Zemelman and Daniels 1988). To this extent, a teacher must not only teach students how to revise but why to revise. Students need to view their assignments as more than simple busy-work or some sort of test; they mus t be invested in the content of their writing and care that their audience is reached b y that message. To this end, students must enter a written assignment knowing that revision will simply be a part of the whole process. Writing for the class as opposed to a si ngle teacher, and the structure of a workshop environment can help with this, but students must feel that their ideas are being critiqued for clarity and not correc tness (Zemelman and Daniels 1988). This is why it is better to focus more on ideas and content over form in earlier critiques. While students should be taught to avoid mistakes in grammar and spelling, it is vital that they view the process as revisionary development a nd not systematic error-correction (Kirby and Liner, 1981). It is also wise to ke ep a record of drafts, so students can actually see earlier and later drafts side-byside to note what the act of revision adds. This is an area where online learning can be beneficial for not only the author but for other students to see revised drafts alongside the original without having to create a multitude of paper copies. Once students understand the why, they can begin to learn and practice the how. This is something students can practice in class or online. They should be allowed to practice revision on their own work and review the work of others. Table 3.1 displays a

PAGE 66

checklist you could give to students, updated and revised from Inside Out in order to help your students understand what they need to do (Kirby and Liner, 1981). The checklist will aid students in their initial revision before submission for cla ss or group peer review, as well as prior to any final submission Table 3.1 Revision Checklist for Student Writing 1Once finished with your first draft, return to proof-read the draft in its entire ty. This will help you catch a majority of smaller errors like typos. It helps to read your writing aloud to yourself or another. Do the sentences flow well and sound the way you want them to? 2If you used paragraphs, do they work to create pauses and transitions where you want them? Are there places you can combine paragraphs or divide others? 3Try to view the writing as though you are the intended audience. Is there enough detail? Do you think your audience can understand your message or picture the scen es you describe? 4Check for mechanics, such as capitalization and punctuation in the right places. Try not to rely overly-much on spell-check to fix errors, as spell check can gi ve you the wrong word. For example, instead of right clicking and selecting the correct word from the list, find the correct spelling and re-type the word yourself. Make an eff ort to remember how to spell words, especially if it is a word you have misspelled ofte n. 5Enlist a peer, friend, teacher, or parent to read over your work and give you their thoughts. 6Remember, it is your choice on what you want to revise. You own your writing, and it is ultimately your decision on what to change in order to produce the best vers ion of your work. Students should understand two things before revising: Revision is a continual process, and the writer has the choice on what to revise. This is why number six of t he checklist may be one of the most important points on the list for revision. If a student i s happy with the work and feels it is adequate, they should not change things simply because revision is required by the teacher. Of course, this will only work so l ong as the

PAGE 67

student takes her/ his work seriously and is serious about its completion. Number six has the option of severely backfiring if the students view their writing as nothing mor e than a chore. In this respect, it would behoove a teacher to allow students the opportunity to practice revision in the form of smaller activities or writing games bef ore throwing them into their first written assignment. Online Writing Workshops Cooperative learning is not solely limited to peer-editing but to composition as well. It is here where the subject of writing workshops arises, both in FTF cl assroom work as well as remote, online work. In accordance with the cooperative learni ng pedagogy of peer reviews and student editing, many teachers have embraced wr iting workshops to help advance student writing. It is for this reason that this guide advocat es writing workshops as a primary form of cooperative learning through writing. In your typical writing workshop, a single student will submit his draft to the cl ass for review. The class will read the writing and edit as they see fit. The cl ass will reconvene for a critique where students and the teacher will offer their con structive criticism of the work. The original writer will then take this feedback to e dit and revise. It may seem simple, yet the model is anything but flawless. It is import ant to remember that placing the workshop in an online environment does not perfect it so much as alter it. First off, a teacher may ponder what sort of writing is best reviewed in a w riting workshop. Although essays, research papers, multi-genre papers and other expos itory writing can be critiqued, this may prove an excellent opportunity for students to ex plore

PAGE 68

r their more imaginative side. Short stories and poetry make for good material. G iving students the freedom to write some creative pieces will help avoid a survivalist mindset, where the studentsÂ’ only concern lies with meeting the expectations to get a good grade. This mindset tends to regard an imaginative and passionate approach to writing as impractical and even irresponsible (Miller, 2009). While every assignment stude nts write cannot be a work of creative writing, a certain degree of imagination is cert ainly needed for students to produce good writing in any genre. A little creative writing will not only help them discover their voice and imagination but help to make them approach their writing with more care and personal commitment. While writing may often be embraced for online communication, it does not have to be exclusive. Even older texts include graphics to illustrate their point, and the Internet opens up the possibility for further multi-modal inclusions. As with the community building activities, one may include multi-media elements in assig nments. After all, CMSs are structured to support audio and video files that could be included as accompaniments for written assignments. In addition to opportunities for multimedia assignments, a teacher should also consider how this could aid his instruction. As the quality and ease-of-access to AV materials increase, the inclusion of such el ements should be considered (Warnock, 2009). The traditional workshop model can be effective for cooperative learning, but there are flaws in the system. Though intended to impassion students to better their writing, it holds the potential to turn students off to writing entirely. In her artic le, Voices of Authority Rosalie Kearns discusses how traditional, unspoken norms of the writing workshop can lead to an unpleasant environment of elitism and bullying, where students

PAGE 69

feel it is their duty to rip their peers’ writing to pieces (Kearns, 2009). The nor ms she identified are as follows: 1The Gag Rule: The author is prohibited from speaking during the critique, except briefly at the end of the workshop and only in order to ask for clarification of any criticism. 2Flaw Seeking: The discussion focuses almost exclusively on the flaws of the work. This norm embraces the notion that any misunderstanding or dislike on the part of the critic lies solely with the fault of the author. 3Deviance from Unspoken Expectations: The mere existence of flaws shows the author has deviated from norms and expectations of good writing. However, it is unclear what these norms even are and whether they are inalienable truths or personal preferences. In light of these norms, several questions arise. “Who is privileged to speak, and to say what ‘good’ writing is? Whose work gets validated as a result?” (Kear ns, 2009). As in any class, there are star pupils who embrace the subject matter and exc el at it. Since these norms are unofficial and unspoken, the star pupils find themselves in the position of elitist gatekeepers. Other students may embrace the role of bullyin g critic but are turned off to writing and approach their own critiques as they would a flogging. T his issue can be exacerbated in the online environment, where bullying and insensitive comments run rampant. However, the balance of FTF time in a hybrid class may help to prevent venomous comments through student familiarity alone.

PAGE 70

Star pupils are not immoral bullies by nature, but they can embrace such behavior if an instructor does not encourage clear communication and reinforce the notion that writing begins as a process and not a product. This is especially important when considering academic readings. Students read literature from class more b ecause it is selected for them, and the literature is usually of a very high quality (Kear ns, 2009). In this respect, students begin to expect all required readings to be of that highest qual ity and are want to forget that they are reading the product of a fellow student and not a professional writer with many more years of experience. While high expect ations are important for education, it is necessary to remember that expectations can be s et impossibly high. On the flip side, expectations can also be set too low. Sometimes teachers are fearful of time consuming confrontations, and they overly praise work so that stude nts will leave happy (Hunley, 2007). While this certainly makes students feel better about their writing and wish to keep writing, it does not help them grow into better write rs. Not even seasoned, professional writers produce flawless work in their first draf ts; that is the whole point of revision. Students need to understand this if they wish to produce quality writing that will inspire, inform, and reflect well on their skills. The difficulty with writing workshops, especially those critiquing creative writing, rests mostly in a structure designed to develop good writing As there is no clear method to teach all students to write well in a way that will appeal to any audience the pedagogy is somewhat fluid. As with many subjects and pedagogies, teachers wi ll sometimes wonder whether they are conducting their workshop class in the right wa y. However, to focus on rigid rules as though writing workshops are static things can creat e

PAGE 71

more problems. Nancy Atwell’s book In the Middle addressed this point, broadening the pedagogy on how a teacher should plan and structure his workshop as a questioner and interviewer (Taylor, 2000). This model would include a teacher considering elements like when and how to demonstrate his or her own writing knowledge, how to teach writing genres while avoiding old teaching clichs, and specific expecta tions for the students. While every pedagogical practice in workshop writing will not work for every class, there are still many good ideas to draw from. These will help you plan out your own writing workshop while troubleshooting the aforementioned problems both in classroom and virtual workshops. As stated by Rosalie Kearns, “Writers, quite simply, need to play with their writing” (Kearns, 2009). The freedom to experiment with one’s writing is the onl y way to grow as a writer. Truly, is there any craft or skill in life we can improve on without some element of experimentation and risk-taking? How can students experiment with their writing if they’re paralyzed with fear over whether their writing is any good? It is for this reason that it is necessary for teachers to reinforce workshop writing as a process instead of a product. The work that authors submit to their peers for critique is nether good or bad but merely on its way to becoming exactly what the author intended. One way to achieve this is by encouraging student critics to focus on improving the i deas and structures as they exists, instead of seeking out flaws because the writi ng is not the way they think it should be.

PAGE 72

Another method would be to replace the “gag rule” with an author-led workshop. In such a critique the author would be the one to introduce the work, share what revisions he or she is already considering, and ask for feedback on particular areas (Kearns, 2009). The author could even facilitate the critique, if willing. Of course this would require a little extra training and raises the concern of students thinking their work is perfect to begin with. But most artists are their own worst critiques, and w e are often harder on ourselves than others are. Many of the advantages to online writing workshops overlap those already covered in online discussion. After all, much of the writing workshop is discussion based, as is online social learning. In a hybrid writing workshop, students could use c lass time for work and rhetorical discussion on the content, while using online threaded conversations on the message boards of CMSs to critique each others’ drafts. The following is a list of advantages to online work-shopping, complied from Teaching Poetry Writing, a Five-Canon Approach (Hunley, 2007). 1Everyone is encouraged to participate. Because there is a written trail fr om message boards, students who would otherwise be quite in class are more motivated to participate in the conversation. 2Greater flexibility. Coming back to the asynchronous nature of virtual classe s, students and teachers have more control and freedom on when they participate. 3Saves time for other pedagogical classroom tasks. One reason teachers find difficulty in conducting creative writing work is that there is too little c lass time to do so. In addition, one of the challenges of classroom assignments is that students sometim es

PAGE 73

come unprepared. In a virtual workshop, students can do the work in class and then discuss, debate, or critique online. 4Facilitates a student-centered writing community. Without the central foc us on a teacher conducting lectures, the class takes on a more egalitarian, communal feel. This is important to the writing process and the notion of a broad audience. 5Saves paper. Dozens of copies are made for in-class critiques, and virtually all are discarded after the assignment is completed. As students are not creat ing something permanent in their initial drafts, it is less wasteful to keep the text virtual 6Improves constructive criticism. First off, a student may feel unwilling to voice her honest opinions when faced with others. Secondly, conversations are recorded, and thus students can refer back to comments from critiques to learn better critiquing skills in the future. When organizing workshop critiques, do not be afraid of utilizing different mediums. All critiques do not have to be written; students could also be given opportunities to experiment with critiques recorded and presented in a video or audio file. As with most teaching pedagogy, the trick to creating the right writing wor kshop environment relies on balance. Depending on the students, the class chemistry, and th e material covered, a teacher must find a satisfying middle ground between fr eedom of personal expression and a rule-based structure. There exists a natural tension be tween this freedom and order, but part of finding what’s right for your class does not r est in rejecting one for the other. According to Atwell, it does not have to be an “either/or ”

PAGE 74

situation but a “both/and” one, regarding process and product, expression and communication, and student choice and teacher control (Taylor, 2000). Group Work While the central focus for the type of writing advocated in this guide lies mor e heavily in workshop writing, group work supports collaborative learning and peer revie w in many similar ways. In fact, the asynchronous nature of online learning and communication means student groups do not have to wait for class time in order to convene for a meeting of minds. There exists a wide variety of assignments available for hybrid-b ased group work. One popular assignment that includes group research, writing, and presentation is known as a Webquest Webquests are inquiry oriented lessons where most or all of the content is retrieved from the internet. Templates and examples can be found at http://we bquest.org. Teachers can also create their own Webquest from scratch, like creating a webpage. This was how I co-created a Webquest with a colleague. The assignment was a group project where students would research to write a hypothetical setting for a science f iction movie and present the project to their class (McCabe and Justis, 2009). It is the sort of project I could see a teacher implementing over the final half of a hybrid unit. The project c an be found at http://web.me.com/zino13/Webquest/Introduction.html. There are other group projects students can engage in, such as an argument website for one stance or another based on class discussions. So long as the expectations and objectives are clearly

PAGE 75

n communicated and understood, you may be pleasantly surprised by what your students come up with through collaborative, online work. Cooperative, collaborative learning is not only beneficial to student writing but also for general learning. Benefits of cooperative learning can be seen t hough elements identified by Johnson and Johnson (Gradel and Edson, 2010). Positive Interdependence: Students feel they are in it together. Promotional Interaction: Students are committed to helping one another learn. Individual and Group Accountability: Students feel that each member must do his or her part in order for the group to succeed. Interpersonal and Small Group Skills: Students learn and utilize skills like communication, decision-making, and conflict resolution. Group Processing: Students reflect on how the group is succeeding and where improvement is needed. It is necessary for students to develop these skills in a technology based environment, as the elements of cooperative learning are necessary for the globa lized world of the 21 st century (Gradel and Edson, 2010). In such a world, collaborative teamwork, group based work-ethics, and virtual communication are vital skills tha t students will need to learn in order to secure and maintain a decent job. Good writing skills can only take an individual so far if he is unable or unwilling to work in a collaborative nature.

PAGE 76

Group work can help to improve student writing, in addition to professional social skills. Through the sharing of knowledge, students generate ideas they never could develop on their own and process content on a much deeper level, which in turn allows them to develop their critical thinking skills (Liu, Magjuka, and Lee, 2008). Critica l thinking being a vital element to problem solving and good writing, one can see the value of incorporating group work into the curriculum. As with peer review and writing, there is much overlap between FTF group work and virtual group work. However, there are some issues that may arise from group-w ork if students are not properly prepared. Some challenges are of a more a technica l nature, considering the element of online communication. These problems include learning curves and comfort levels for both teachers and students regarding new technology students' individual proficiency with the required technology affecting teacher expectations, selecting relevant online tools for the learning tasks, student a ccess to such tools, and keeping updated with the range of online tools in a rapidly changing environment (Gradel and Edson, 2010). Much of these problems will vary in abundance and intensity, depending on the type of technology used and your students' proficiency with said technology. There are other prospective problems, which can arise in grou pwork through virtual communication or FTF interaction. A teacher may find it diffi cult to maintain individual accountability among students engaged in cooperative learning or insure that students are meeting benchmarks set for the course (Gradel and Eds on, 2010). In addition to the classroom environment, there is a problem that arises in any sor t of group work, conflict management. Naturally a teacher cannot solve every problem and mediate every conflict among groups, and thus students will have to solve their own

PAGE 77

conflicts. This is a thing which cannot be avoided, for as team members differ in t heir cognitive styles, goals, desires, and solutions for given problems, group conflict be comes inevitable (Liu, Magjuka, and Lee, 2008). If such conflict gets out of hand, group-work will meet with unsatisfactory performance. Students may be unwilling to work w ith group members in the future and may even turn away from collaborative learning. W hile there is no one-size-fits-all solution for any of these problems, a teacher may avoid them with effective planning and foresight. Integrating new technology can be unnerving, as unfamiliarity with one's tools can lead to inefficient results. However, there are a set of guidelines to bear in mind when guiding students though online cooperative learning (Gradel and Edson, 2010): Use techniques of scaffolding and gradual release. For example, begin with assignments that students can complete individually and then integrate interac tive components slowly. Begin with a goal for what you want students to learn and then use that to choose your online tools. Do not build up everything from scratch. Use what others have developed ahead of you, and network with colleagues who have experience in online education. As with FT F classroom teaching, collaboration among teachers is highly encouraged. Create opportunities for students to take on leadership roles. Allow for students wit h more familiarity or comfort with the technology to guide and teach struggling st udents.

PAGE 78

nr Create a help folder in your CMS, where solutions and FAQs to common tech problems are kept. Enlist students to contribute to this folder, as they find solutions to given problems themselves. Of course, the best way to avoid problems is by anticipating and avoiding them before they arise. In this case, a teacher could do so by carefully planning out how group work will be organized and conducted before students first begin. Group size will be important to consider, depending on the size of the class. One philosophy is that groups should be three at a minimum, so each student has at least two others to check her w ork (Zemelman and Daniels 1988). Other philosophies state that student groups should always be even numbers, so nobody ends up the "odd man out". Regardless of total numbers, it is best to keep groups small enough to be manageable and increase individual participation (Gradel and Edson, 2010). A teacher should also consider which students are put together in groups. This is why it is advised to know which students are compatible; sometimes friends can distract each other from working, but other ti mes they can work and collaborate very well together. Regardless of which students are pla ced together, conflict is inevitable; this is not necessarily a bad thing. "...a moder ate level of task conflict has proven to be beneficial to team performance if properly mana ged" (Liu, Magjuka, and Lee, 2008). That conflict exists does not lead to group problems but how the conflict is managed can. This will depend on how homogeneous or heterogeneous student groups are. Groups that think and work alike may have less conflict, but a variety of different thinkers and learners can deliver more perspectives and ideas. A t eacher should be involved and aware of group communication, in case the intervention of a

PAGE 79

n neutral facilitator is necessary. However, do not be too eager to leap in and save t he day, as students require the opportunity to mediate their own conflicts. Communication between group members is important to consider, as students can alternate between asynchronous and real time in a hybrid class. FTF intera ction in class is effective though limited by the classroom schedule and the fact that the te acher cannot observe every conversation at once. E-mail and text-messaging prove more convenie nt, and most students already communicate this way. However, it is harder for te achers to be part of the conversation and help to facilitate if necessary. Though it may seem a little like “big brother”, threaded conversations on message boards are ideal for teach er observation, since the teacher can follow every conversation of every group (War nock, 2009). Furthermore, smaller sub-groups can be established on many CMSs for small group work. While there are numerous advantages to asynchronous, group communication, some students may feel frustration in having to wait for someone's response, especially if that person does not post a response until too late. Therefor e, some groups may prefer the synchronous communication of online chats in real time. Another popular concept in group work is to assign each student a job to fulfill. This gives each group member a sense of responsibility, accountability, and identi ty. Group roles often include jobs like a leader, a recorder, a head researcher, a head editor, and a presenter. It is also good to have a backup plan for when a group member is unavailable. An overlooked role is the wildcard, which is responsible for assisting the group leader and filling in for any group member that is absent (Gradel and Edson, 2010). It is vital that each group member has a clear set of responsibilities and tha t the instructor

PAGE 80

n checks in regularly with the group leader to ensure these responsibilities are bei ng met (Warnock, 2009). Finally, when planning group work, remember frontloading (Gradel and Edson, 2010). The more you can plan in advance the better. In addition to the elements discussed in group work planning, a teacher should also consider: -What work will be expected of the groups -When, where, and how group members should carry out work -What tools groups should use and where they can get help or assistance -The possibility of members switching groups and how those transitions should work -How groups will manage themselves and reflect on their progress -How the teacher will communicate these considerations to students Assessment Assessment takes on two forms: assessments for learning (formative), and assessments of learning (summative), (Stiggins, Arter, Chappuis, and Chappuis, 2006). The first, summative, is the actual letter grade, a more formal assess ment on how well the students met the expectations of the instructor and the learning institute. The se cond type of assessment, formative, focuses on what students learned from the course and gau ges personal growth. Typically, establishments of education are more concerned w ith

PAGE 81

n summative assessment, and thus it becomes the greater concern of the students. The teacher, however, must give weight to formative assessment, as it is the root of hones t grading and true learning. Students in secondary schools are often concerned with a single question, “Will this be graded?” If the answer is “yes”, they know it is important, and they grudg ingly set out to appease the gate-keeper. If the answer is “no” the attitude is that the assignment is not important and can be blown off. The challenge in students taking thei r work seriously for their own growth and learning lies in finding a balance between t he two forms of assessment. Naturally, grading should be de-emphasized, particul arly in the earlier writing stages of class (Kirby and Liner, 1981). However, students s hould always receive a participation grade for submitted required writing. It is important f or the balance of assessment that students feel some extrinsic incentive to finis h class work on time. The following list suggests some grading principles to help find this balanc e: 1Not grading first drafts: When composing a first draft, students should not be afraid of whether or not they are meeting the expectations of a rubric. This wi ll help to teach that writing is a process before it is a product and not some test to pass. 2Establishing grading criteria with students: What better way for students t o feel a sense of ownership over their writing than giving them a say in their own assess ments? This is not to say that students should create their own rubrics but merely that the class as a whole should be able to give input on the creation of a rubric for their summative assessments.

PAGE 82

n 3Focused grading: Do not attempt to correct every little mistake in each assignment. Focus on a few specific areas of form or content to examine. This wi ll prevent both students and the instructor from getting buried under an avalanche of corrections. 4Self Grading: Give students some say in the final grade they believe they deserve. It is important to our development that we are allowed opportunities to look at our own work, voice what we accomplished, and note where we could improve. 5Holistic grading: Focus on the written assignment as a whole. This is a qu icker method of grading, as it focuses more on the big ideas as opposed to circling every litt le error. The primary purpose of balance between summative and formative assessment is to remind students that writing is a skill of expression and more than just an obligati on to fulfill for a grade. “The fact is, in real life we rely very little on e xternal evaluation and much more on practice,” (Zemelman, and Daniels, 1988). This is the attitude that students should approach their writing with. However, students should not abandon their drive to attain good grades, and it is possible to assess writing beyond its informat ive and analytical elements. Table 4.1 displays an example of a rubric, retrieved f rom Weaving Imagination into an Academic Framework for a summative assessment of a creative non-fiction assignment (Miller, 2009).

PAGE 83

n Table 4.1 Sample Rubric for a Creative Non-Fiction Writing Assignment Does not meet Standard 0-2 Meets Standard 3 Exceeds Standard 4 Score 0-4 Characters are two-dimensional and the event or sequence of events is predictable or implausible. Characters are three-dimensional and the event or sequence of events is interesting and believable. The true narrative of the characters is relevant through narration of a significant event or sequence of events. The piece is disorganized or unfocused. The piece is organized with an appropriate framework. The piece is organized in a way that helps the reader grasp the true subject, using multiple genres, juxtaposition of conflicting points of view, flashes back and forward, etc. The details are limited and/or clichd. The details are relevant and carefully observed. The details reveal character and make the reader feel that he or she is present at the event or sequence of events.

PAGE 84

n Table 4.1 (conÂ’t.) The foundation of the piece is solely the writerÂ’s memory. The foundation of the piece is primarily the writerÂ’s memory, augmented with some back-ground research. The foundation of the piece is memory, research, and the desire to capture an important truth about human nature. Syntax is choppy or monotonous; diction is generic. The piece is written with clarity and fluency. The piece is written in a voice that matches persona and intention. The writer conveys his or her perspective directly through overt, didactic generalizations. The writer conveys his or her perspective to the reader both directly and indirectly. The writer conveys his or her perspective to the reader indirectly. There are many errors of spelling, punctuation, grammar, and other conventions of print. There are few errors of mechanics or usage. There are no errors of mechanics or usage. The writer may break grammatical rules to achieve an effect. Naturally, some of the language and expectations may be a little advanced depending on the students you will be teaching, but the ideas could still be put into more student-friendly language. The most important part is to be sure the students understand what each of these expectations mean and what they look like. As such, the rubric in table 4.1 would work well for a final, summative assessment. Of course, writing assignments are not the only type of writing that will af fect the summative assessments. After all, dialogue is vital to learning, and in a hybr id class a large portion of the dialogue will take place in message boards or other forms of vir tual

PAGE 85

nn communication. This is why formative assessments in web-based communicati on can lead to better results in summative assessments later. In support of this clai m, a study was conducted on how threaded-conversation posts affect final assessments among undergraduate students (Palmer, Holt, Bray, 2008). Findings for this study reveale d that an increased number of student posts on a message board improved scores on the final assessment. However, this effect was only noted in students that prepared and posted more messages and responses. Students that merely read more posts showed litt le to no change. This would suggest that while increased dialogue and discussion can improve student understanding and scores in an online class, there must be active participat ion. Passive observation will not lead to heightened learning. This element of active participation is key to the concept of social, discourse based learning. The use of hybrid, online technology can be beneficial to learning, but it can aid teachers in grading as well. We already see it with teachers submitting gr ades online through spreadsheets. Students can save paper by e-mailing assignments to their instructor; this allows you the opportunity to use tools, like Microsoft WordÂ’s highlighting and insert-comment options, to give quicker and clearer feedback on studentÂ’s assignments before e-mailing drafts back to them. High school Englis h teachers, like Jeanette Miller, found that while some students miss the personal touch of hand-written comments, many appreciate the readability and amount of detai l offered by such editing tools (Miller, 2009). When planning out the final assessment for a unit, one should never overlook the value of a pre-assessment. A good pre-assessment accomplishes three task s. First off, it introduces students to the type of material they will be learning, and secondly it

PAGE 86

n enlightens the instructor on the studentsÂ’ familiarity with the unitÂ’s content This is essential, in case the students are already quite proficient with the m aterial. Third and finally, once the final assessment has been graded, a teacher can compare res ults between the pre and post assessment for evidence of learning. This is critical to future adjustments and revisions of the unit itself. As with assessments, self-evaluation of grading takes place before and aft er the unit has been conducted. Before planning assessments, both formative and summative, a teacher should ask how they will grade student papers, decide on the primary emphas is of assignments, establish a grading scale, decide whether grades are fi nal or if papers can be improved, and determine the intended effect of evaluation on student writers (Kirby a nd Liner, 1981). In the aftermath of any unit, the instructor always has the option of asking students for feedback on what they got from the course and what they felt could be improved. The advantage of asynchronous, online communication is the trail of data leftover from student conversations, ripe for evaluation (Warnock, 2009). Through an analysis of student posts, an instructor can study any changes or progress i n student engagement, collaboration, critiquing, learning, and written communication skill s. This data could then be utilized for any revisions of the unit, based on what worked and what did not. Finally, it could present evidence of student learning, if needed to convince administrators to continue with such a unit.

PAGE 87

n Summary There are many elements to contemplate when planning your own hybrid unit. You need to consider the schedule, introducing the technology, and creating a syllabus. In any writing class, familiarity is crucial. To this effect, teac hers should never overlook the value of building and maintaining a supportive classroom community. Facilitati ng such a community is not easy as students will not produce productive work on their own without guidance. Just remember not to take over the conversation and turn an open discussion into a lecture. Student facilitation is also a poignant way to give s tudents a sense of ownership. Earlier writing practice and motivational exercise can pave the way to g ood writing, but students still require guidance and instruction. Sometimes it is best if this instruction is not handed down from on high by an omniscient teacher but communicated through peers. The writing process is very much a collaborative effort, an d while feedback from a teacher is important, students can learn a lot through the act of cr itiquing and being critiqued. When writing for a broader audience, students are encouraged to improve their writing for the whole audience as opposed to fulfilling a teacher Â’s requirements solely for the purpose of a good grade. This unit is designed for an expository writing class, but creativity can im prove writing, whether fictional or non-fictional. This is why a teacher should never overlook the value of a creative writing assignment or two. Multi-media elements ca n also be considered to take full advantage of everything online education has to offer. In addi tion to such assignments, writing workshops are an excellent opportunity for students to l earn

PAGE 88

r necessary critiquing and revisionary skills. The concept of an online writing wor kshop may come across as a little impersonal, yet it should not be discounted. All writ ing workshops are not perfect, and a virtual workshop can help alleviate some problems with the traditional model, like solving issues of scheduling and limited class-time s or helping students to overcome shyness and speak their minds in front of peers. When assigning writing assignments, it is best to remember that the nature of discussion-ba sed learning rests in collaborative learning among students. To this effect, group work adds to the element of cooperative learning seen in a workshop environment. Grading and assessments are a necessity to any curriculum unit, but the gr ades should never be the primary emphasis of the writing process, especially among e arly drafts. Pre-assessments are vital to gauge how much learning has taken place and you shouldnÂ’t feel you have to choose between formative and summative assessments exclusively. The technological inclusion of the modern classroom can help the gra ding process, and the posts seen in a hybrid unit can provide a teacher with a collection of dat a from student conversations. A teacher can use this data, along with student feedback and personal observation, to create an even better unit for the future.

PAGE 89

CHAPTER IV CONCLUSION Online Education Statistics When compared with FTF educational pedagogy, online learning pedagogy is in its infancy. However, there exists a wealth of studies regarding the e ffects and growth of online learning. According to a study conducted by the Babson survey research group of the Sloan Consortium in 2007, online education is on the rise. Evidence from the study displayed nearly three and a half million students were taking online courses dur ing the fall of 2006, a ten percent increase from the previous year, and nearly twenty per cent of all U.S. higher education students had taken at least one online course during the same semester (Allen, and Seaman, 2007). In addition to a large number of students engaged in online learning, sixty-nine percent of academic leaders believe that online enr ollments will continue to increase (Allen, and Seaman, 2007). With online education on the rise within higher education, student learning through the internet is growing into more of a necessity to prepare students for post-secondary education. Both synchronous and asynchronous distance learning have their pros and cons. Findings by Bernard revealed that asynchronous learning provided more of the advantages of online learning, relating to issues of scheduling and convenience (Means Yukie, Murphy, Bakia, and Jones, 2010). Regardless of how classes were conducted online, hybrid classes provided better learning environments than online alone, as the se classes encouraged higher levels of instructor involvement (Means, Yukie, Murphy Bakia, and Jones, 2010). While online classes require greater levels of student self

PAGE 90

motivation and discipline, a blended class alleviates some of the pressures and potent ial pitfalls in the learning process. This is especially important among adolesc ents. Much of the data and studies on online education pertain to higher education. As such, further opportunities are needed for online learning among secondary educat ion. A study conducted by the U.S. Department of Education revealed that as of 2006, no studies on K-12 education had been released contrasting online learning with FTF instruc tion of a methodological quality (Means, Yukie, Murphy, Bakia, and Jones, 2010). Research on the implementation of online learning comes primarily from studies of higher e ducation. However, much of late secondary school is concerned with college preparation for students, and it is for that very reason that high schools should not be apprehensive about trying this sort of college-based education and provide more opportunities for studi es in online learning. Conceptualizing a Hybrid Class for High School Most pedagogy for online and hybrid learning can be adapted for a high school class of upperclassmen. However, online education is not flawless, and there are a great many considerations to make after embracing the advantages. Suggestions f or conceiving such a class include: 1Weighing the pros and cons of various online learning models along with studentsÂ’ personal learning styles and cognitive styles. Cognitive styles are just as relevant to online learning as FTF class time. The same could be said for how st udents acquire knowledge, as outlined in philosophies like BloomÂ’s Taxonomy.

PAGE 91

2Online learning and FTF learning do not have to oppose one another but can enhance the other. Human connection is important, but distance over space does not have to equal a distance between minds. 3Correct Writing is easier to teach than Good Writing but there are still ways to develop both. A large part of developing good writing lies in students writing for themselves and an audience of peers in addition to their teacher. Applying the Hybrid Model to Your Classroom When progressing from formative to summative assignments, there should be a gradual release over the course of revised drafts, as students learn to craft good writing for an audience and correct writing for academic standards. Suggestions include: 1Taking the class schedule, school schedule, and school policies into account when planning the times to conduct online learning and learning in the classroom. Consider t he necessary technology and whether all students have regular access to it. Make sure to allow time to introduce the technology being used, and allow opportunities for practice and exploration of the mediumÂ’s tools. 2Taking time to establish a writing community. This can be said for the entire course and is not just limited to the hybrid unit. It is important to establish a comm unity with activities, but it is equally important to re-use activities to reinforce the sense of community. When facilitating discussions online, be sure to keep active without taking control of the conversation

PAGE 92

3Allowing the use of peer review and critiques. It is vital that students are t aught the essentials of constructive criticism and self-revision. Writing works hops are a good way for students to practice constructive criticism and peer-reviews in an org anized, structured environment. Ideas like online workshops and author-led critiques are less traditional but excellent ways to free up time in the class schedule, encourage s tudent feedback, aid the revision process, and avoid a bullying workshop on “incorrect” writ ing. 4Considering the use of multi-media like AV files in assignments and critiques allow opportunities for group work; this requires a little extra work and preparation t o avoid problems, but the payoff is students that can engage in cooperative learning that will benefit them in school and the professional world beyond 5When assessing student work, remember to seek a balance between assessments for and of learning. Students should feel value for their work and not only take an interest for a letter grade. Nevertheless, students need feedback and levels of accountability to encourage them to complete work in a timely manner. Also remem ber to assess the class itself and how well the unit worked. Students need to produce assessable work in order to discover what progress was made in the hybrid unit, yet students must also learn to care about their writing befor e they can produce good writing. Once sufficient data has been collected on student growth and learning, a teacher can assess how well the unit worked and decide whet her changes need to be made.

PAGE 93

Final Thoughts: Online education is rapidly growing in higher education and should be implemented among secondary schools preparing students for college. In light of this, a hybrid unit would be ideal for teachers seeking a way to integrate more technology i nto the curriculum to better prepare students for college and/ or a career in the globa lized age of a digital world. The ideal students for such a unit would include college-bound juniors and seniors in high school, especially students already engaged in the rigors of A.P classes. The hybrid class is the perfect way to introduce students to online educat ion in an environment where teachers can monitor progress closely and not have to surrender the advantages of face-to-face communication. It is essentially the best of both worlds, regarding FTF and online education. Online education is not without its disadvantages, especially when considering using it with adolescents and minors. Issues of appropriate subjects, protection of privacy, and a lack of visual and aural cues can lead to problems if a teacher does not properly prepare. Distance can present various issues towards learning, but dist ance is not solely represented in the physical realm. A teacher can fail to reach a s tudent sitting right in front of him/ her while succeeding in engaging and inspiring students ha lfway around the world. If we could not attain value from information delivered remotely, w e could not be engaged in or learn from the internet, television, radio, or even literature. The online element of a hybrid class can help to break down barriers between stude nts, conveniently avoid scheduling problems, and broaden a writerÂ’s audience from a single teacher to an entire group of peers.

PAGE 94

The need for greater college preparation among high school students is apparent Standards do not align, students do not enter college prepared for the challenge of hig her education, and resources are unnecessarily spent on bringing students up to speed. Even with the large number of remedial English classes offered, many students grow frustrated, believe their efforts to be futile, and drop out of college. The bridge between high sc hool and college is a rickety one, yet it is a transition when students need stabilit y in a rapidly changing world of technology and communication. Hybrid education would serve to align standards, solidify transitions, and ultimately produce better writers.

PAGE 95

n REFERENCES Allen, E., & Seaman, J. (2007). Online nation: five years of growth in online learning Needham, MA: Sloan-C. Bender, T. (2003). Discussion-based online teaching to enhance student learning Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing. Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. M. (2010). The online teaching survival guide San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Bott, C. (2002). Zinesthe ultimate creative writing project. English Journal 92 (2), 2733. Braun, L. W. (2001). Introducing the internet to young learners New York, NY: NealSchuman Publishers, Inc. Cicco, E. D., Farmer, M., & Hargrave, J. (2001). Using the internet in secondary schools (2nd ed.). Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing. Dodge, B. (2007). Webquest.org Retrieved from http://www.webquest.org Gradel, K., & Edson, A. J. (2011). Cooperative learning: smart pedagogy and tools for online and hybrid courses. Educational Technological Systems 39 (2), 193-212. Hunley, T.C. (2007). Teaching poetry writing, a five-canon approach New York, NY: Multilingual Matters Ltd Kearns R.M. (2009). Voices of authority: theorizing creative writing pedagogy College Composition and Communication 60 (4), 790-807.

PAGE 96

Kehus, M. J. (2000). Opportunities for teenagers to share their writing online. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy 44 (2), 130-137. Kirby, D., & Liner, T. (1981). Inside out, developmental strategies for teaching writing Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook Publishers. Krist, M. (2008). Connecting schools and colleges: more rhetoric than reality. The Chronicle of Higher Education 55 (7). Lincoln, M. (2010, Ja/F). Information evaluation & online coursework. Knowl Quest 38 (3), 28-31. Liu, X., Magjuka, R. J., & Lee, S. H. (2008). The effect of cognative thinking styles, trust, conflict managment on online students' learning and virtual team performance. British Journal of Educational Technology 39 (5), 829-846. McCabe, B., & Justis, J. (2009). Webquestinto the future Retrieved from http://web.me.com/zino13/Webquest/Introduction.html Means, B., Yukie, T., Murphy, R., Bakia, M., & Jones, K., U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development. (2010). Evaluation of evidence-based practices in online learning: a meta-analysis and review of online learning studies Washington, D.C.: Center for technology in learning Miller, J. (2009). Weaving imagination into an academic framework: attitudes, assignments, and assessments. English Journal 99 (2), 67-73.

PAGE 97

Palmer, S., Holt, D., & Bray, S. (2008). Does the discussion help? the impact of a formally assessed online discussion on final student results. British Journal of Educational Technology 39 (5), 847-858. Pew Research Center. (2012). Trend data for teens Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/Static-Pages/Trend-Data-for-Teens .aspx Quate, S., & McDermott, J. (2009). Clock watchers Roberts, J. B., Crittenden, L. A., & Crittenden, J. C. (2011). Students with disabilities and online learning: a cross institutional study of perceived satisfaction with accessible compliance and services. The Internet and Higher Education 14 (4), 242-250. Section 580.gov, Resources for understanding and implementing Section 508. (2012). Section 508 laws Retrieved from website: http://section508.gov/index.cfm?fuseAction=Laws Stiggins, R., Arter, J., Chappuis, J., & Chappuis, S. (2007). Classroom assessment for student learning Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education Taylor M.M. (2000). Nancy atwell's "in the middle" and the ongoing transformati on of the writing workshop English Journal 90 (1), 46-52. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Educational Statistics. (2011). Students with disabilities Retrieved from website: http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=64

PAGE 98

r Wang, Q. (2008). Student-facilitators' role in moderating online discussions. British Journal of Educational Technology 39 (5), 859-874. Warnock, S. (2009). Teaching writing online Urbaba, ILL: National Council of Teachers of English. Zemelman, S, & Daniels, H. (1988). A community of writers Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. (2007). High school teaching for the twenty-first century: preparing students for college, issue brief. Alliance for Excellent Education