Thursday, June 19, 2008

Technology Teaching

As a teacher scholar, I think of my role as a facilitator, but I also think of myself as a model. I am concerned a bit about the roles in my classroom at times. When I think about technology, for instance, it is often my students who are doing the modeling, and I am the one who is doing the learning. In fact, I learn a lot from my students. Last semester, I had two classes give oral presentations. I encouraged them to use PowerPoint and to be creative. Most of them used video clips, lots of them used audio clips, and there were a lot of embedded graphics. For the most part, they were very creative.

But if it had not been for the students, I would not have thought about how little I utilize videos and music. I used to incorporate them into my classroom lectures all the time; now I just don't. I don't know why. Maybe it's because I've changed the way I teach and moved to a student-centered classroom. Maybe I don't have that many lectures any more. Maybe it's because it takes a lot of energy from me.

It's not truly accurate to say that I'm not using technology anymore. I've recently started using PowerPoint games to play games like Jeopardy or Hollywood Squares in an effort to make reviewing fun. So, I guess I'm just exploring new venues. I'm also utilizing Black Board more often than I used to, and I'm looking for ways to use Black Board to make grading a bit more efficient (at least for some things - like reading quizzes). In fact, I'm getting ready to assemble some reading quizzes for my fall semester courses. Oh, and I am going to a play a movie in class too (in the intro to lit course). It's an Agatha Christie movie by BBC related to the novel we are reading.

In my Investigating Mysteries Intro to Lit course, I could get students to bring songs to class (with lyrics for analysis). That would certainly enhance the process of analysis. Since my composition courses are including a new element of visual rhetoric, I could incorporate a music video into a classroom discussion and let it be a topic visual rhetoric discussion. Hmmm. In fact, come to think of it, at the end of the intro to lit course we will go over different literary criticisms. We could practice applying them in class to music videos. Wow! This is getting to be interesting.

You know, I could also have my students write about the authors and create web pages for them. Groups could do this before a group presentation. That could be what they are presented.

But let's be realistic. What kind of technology goals can I set for myself in the upcoming year?
I would like to incorporate music back in the classroom. I am going to seriously work towards this goal. I might limit it to just one class. I don't know. I wonder if there are any videos on UTube interviewing any of the authors we will be reading about. I could include them in my lit course. Hmmm

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Technology is a great way to augment teaching in the classroom. It can be a creative method for making learning interesting. I especially like Second Life for that purpose. I have already sent emails to my professorial friends suggesting that they offer Second Life as a resource in their classrooms. I can imagine how excited my freshmen would be to use Second Life to learn about such things as literary genres, symbols, etc. I can see myself using Second Life to bring Edgar Alan Poe or J.R. Tolkien to life.

I have been using technology in the classroom for a while. When I’m lucky, I teach in a classroom that has great technology. I have found that no matter what type of technology I use, I have to plan at least one day to physically teach my students how to find Black Board, how to use the school’s email system, how to find the Library’s web page (and use it), etc.

I’ve used Black Board for a long time. I used to use it a lot more than I do presently. It seems that every time an assignment is due, the program is either unavailable or locked up. That can be incredibly frustrating. Another problem I have with it is that I used to have my students use the discussion page to write their reading reflections and respond to others, but then students were upset because “if they wanted to take an online class, they would have signed up for one.” Waah, waah, waah Thus, I took a hiatus from using Black Board for a semester.

I have returned to using Black Board now. Presently I use it to keep my grade book. With this method, students can see exactly what their grades are without asking me to update them. Additionally, they can let me know if I have made an error in my record keeping (which I admit is easy to do). I also use it as a resource for my students to get copies of their syllabus, take reading quizzes, turn assignments in via, and complete group projects.

I am beginning to include film in my classes. It is a relatively new idea for me to include it in my college courses. I used to use it in my high school classrooms to illustrate the literature that we were reading. Now I use it in my university courses to show short UTube videos of How Not to Use PowerPoint and Wikiality. I would like to continue incorporating other videos into our learning atmosphere. I am planning on including a BBC version of an Agatha Christie movie in my literature course this fall. My students often use video clips in their oral presentations (I encourage them to do so). We like video clips, a lot.

Blogs are very new to me. My husband used to have a blog on a hiking web page. He walked the Appalachian Trail, and he would mail me entries to put on his blog. Man! His blog was extremely popular. He had over 200 hits daily. It’s funny how I would type his blog for him, but I never really thought about using one for myself, and after his hiking trip was over, I never thought about the blog again. Hmm… Now I am thinking that blogging is an interesting experience. I like journaling about what I am doing; maybe this is my egotistic nature. I wonder what my children and friends think about it. I wonder how I might want to use it in the classroom. Hmm…

Having a home page is new to me too, but it isn’t a new idea for me. I’ve wanted to have a home page for some time. When I was the president of the Non-traditional Student Organization, I created a web page for the organization. Unfortunately, SHSU does not subscribe to FrontPage, so I didn’t get the user friendly version of a web page creation software. Thus, I had to delegate the creation of the web page to another member of the organization. I started to create a web page at SHSU’s web site, but I haven’t had much success with that either. I am simply amazed at the success I have had already with my attempt at IUP. I hope I can recreate this accomplishment. I would like to update our Writing Center web page at SHSU.

Regarding my future teaching, I would like to reshape the way I teach composition. I would really like to hold a class in Second Life. I wonder how my university or new college will accept that. I wonder if they have a writing center in Second Life. I can imagine redesigning an online course that makes use of blogging, Utube videos, Second Life, and home pages. In fact, I’m thinking about how I can incorporate building a home page into my composition course in the fall. I’m thinking that it can be related to the informative essay they are required to write or maybe the personal narrative. I’m thinking a lot about it.

As a person and a scholar, I think using technology is making a huge impact on me, and it will make an even further impact on me in the future. Presently, I am taking the opportunity to reflect, to write about my experience (an exercise I always ask my students to do, but one that I rarely take the time to do myself). I’m thinking about how I can improve my Internet businesses (auctioneering and the used book store) and make them a better reflection of me. I’m thinking about my future, right here, right now.

In the future, technology is going to allow me to keep in contact with my cohorts (special relationships that I intend to cultivate), to make my research available for other scholars (a request that I have had but not been able to fulfill), and to improve my presence in the composition and writing center community (something I can’t imagine living without).

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Literacy has a new definition for me. When I entered into this classroom, I thought of literacy as the process and ability to read and write. Now, I have come to believe that literacy is much more complicated than this simple notion of reading and writing. In fact, if I were to fully analyze reading and writing, I would have to say that they are not part of literacy; instead, they are part of technology.

I have been thinking a lot about the theorists we've been reading and how their definitions of literacy have complicated my simple definition. No longer does my simple definition exist. Where has it gone? I'm not sure where it went, but I wonder more about where it came from...
Anyway, in the place of my old definition of literacy a new concept has taken up residence.
Maybe my old definition just grew up...

This new concept is attractive. For purposes of defining this new literacy, I have decided to give it personal traits. My new concept is strong; he has roots in his culture and has a sense of community. He is open and talkative; he was raised in an environment that values oral communication. He is growing; he is evolving with time and has become multi-faceted with new skills such as writing and reading. Thus, I suppose he looks a lot his baby pictures... hmm...

He also has some traits that are not all that pretty. For instance, he can have a real attitude; most of the time he is Marxist. This doesn't mean that he must be discounted, but it does mean that he tends to spend time with people who might manipulate him to further their own agendas. Perhaps he could be described as naive.

As an instructor of Literacy, I think my goal should be to further his progress. I talked about how he is open and talkative, he also likes to mingle with others. This is how he bcomes multi-faceted. I think that my job as his friend is to introduce him to more and more people. I think that people have heard of Literacy, but they don't really know him. They think he is just reading and writing, but he is so much more.

I have been bringing him to class for a long time, but I never formally introduced him to my students. I could actually start classes allowing them to describe him as they know him (I imagine they would think of him as I used to). They might think that he is a boring old man that they met a long time ago. Instead, I would like them to meet the new and exciting youth that I have with me.

The old Literacy that I was bringing to class was nothing like the new one that I have with me today. My students would love this Literacy. This Literacy would influence them to think more about the purpose of their writing (and reading), how the classes they take can be enhanced with their new friend Literacy, and how they can create their own friend named Literacy. I wonder if they know that... Maybe this should be my goal, maybe this should be every teacher's goal...

Monday, June 9, 2008

Dissertation Ideas

Dissertation, dissertation, dissertation. Who knows?? Not really! Hah!

My current ideas are completely related to the writing center discipline. I really want to write about accreditation, but I am also interested in applying business management models to the writing center arena, and the use of writing center web pages as additional media for fulfilling writing center missions.

To me, the most exciting aspect of this topic is that the writing center, as a whole, is a relatively new concept. There are a great number of writing center people who are supportive and eager to further the research on this topic. This community is absolutely the BEST for forwarding and supporting new ideas in a field of thought. I feel very lucky to be a part of such a unique community.

I just got a new thought! How could Facebook or Myspace be incorporated in the writing classroom? How about a writing center on there? Or how would a personal page for Edgar Alan Poe look? hmmm

My Adventures at IUP

Pictures from left:
1) My husband, John
2) My son, Scott, and my daughter, Kristen
3) Kristen and me

I have survived my doctorate classes for an entire week. Hurray! Becoming a doctoral student was more difficult than being a doctoral student. I had to convince my husband that going back to school was a good idea, I had to trust that my daughters would not burn the house down in our absence, I had to believe that this separation would be a good experience for my son, and I had to create a viable plant to avoid killing my husband through the stressful experience.

We left Texas around mid May so that we would have plenty of time to get to Indiana. This was a good thing. We didn't even make it out of Texas when the motor home took a dive. I think we were in Lufkin when we were towed. Apparently the oil sensor broke and blew oil all over the motor which in turn caused a fire. How exciting.

Then we were following the tow truck (we had disconnected the Volvo) when my son's school called me on my cell phone to talk to me about disciplinary problems. Well, leave home one day and the whole world goes to crap. Finally, the vice principal determined that I wasn't really mentally available, and she decided she could probably handle the situation without my immediate input.

But, after five days on the road (the trip was supposed to take 3 days), I have made it, and I love it. It feels wonderful to be the student again. I don't know why I waited two years to take this leap. Dr. Dowdey would probably ask me the same thing.

Regarding the most interesting and positive experiences so far, I would say that I have had a liberating experience. I know that some of my fellow cohorts may feel like our curriculum is fast and difficult, but I feel like it is liberating. My classroom and research experiences provide me new ammunition, new ideas, and invigoration. I had felt a bit tired, perhaps worn down as an adjunct. In contrast, my experiences at IUP are really giving me motivation, new language, new ideas, and a sense of community. I feel like I really belong here.