Session Five: Design Quickly & Reliably Project


Design Quickly and Reliaby

Course Goals

  1. Write expository essays, including argument and analysis.
  2. Read and write a variety of texts from various media.
  3. Critically evaluate complex ideas in reading and synthesize those ideas in writing.
  4. Incorporate reading into writing using appropriate documentation strategies.
  5. Analyze, read, revise, and edit.

The biggest challenge to teaching writing in an online format is how to break up 5-10 page essay writing into weekly modules. Based on my own online student experience this year, I feel strongly that the weekly modules make the most sense. To that end, I think the module needs to have a clear task for the week that can be completed without workload carry over into other weeks. Obviously it’s impossible to have students writing 5-10 page essays weekly and the idea of drafts wouldn’t really satisfy my goal of self-contained weekly assignments. I considered shorter writings, but I don’t think that would fully prepare students for English 1A. This is the typical writing process-

I’ve decided to try this-

  1. Writing Process Step One_Prewriting and Thesis Assignment  & Thesis Statement Checklist
  2. Writing Process Step Two- Support
  3. Writing Process Step 3_Outlining  &  Essay Organization_Outline
  4. Writing Process Step Four_Essay

The other concern for this hybrid/flipped classroom format is ensuring that students actively read the materials that are posted online. While I’ve never used exams in face-to-face classes, I am going to create open book quizzes that students must complete ahead of our face-to-face classes. My goal is to make the exams a tool that will motivate students to search for key points from the readings.

Learners Needs/Abilities-  

While I have a solid knowledge of the ESL population at my school, I’m unfamiliar with the typical online population; for that reason, I polled my Distance Education Coordinator Dr. Kimberly Dozier:

  1. Who is the typical online student (if there is one)?   I have to say there is a range so I wouldn’t say there is typical. I would say most work at least part time.
  2. What is the majority’s motivation for taking course?  Requirement
  3. What are majority of students previous experience with online?  No previous online classes
  4. Is students’ propensity for cheating different than face-to-face classes?   No

My ESL students are approximately 50% International students studying on visas with limited oral proficiency and varied written proficiency, 25% immigrant students with varied oral and written proficiency, and 25% 1.5 generation (immigrated as children) with fluent oral and written proficiency (though with grammar errors) but typically weak reading skills.

Learning Objectives- Not what my objectives are because those are already established through the Curriculum approval process; instead, I plan to reflect on whether/how those objectives can be met in an online format.

The official learning objectives for my course are below. I’ve tried to think about which objectives will best match with the face-to-face vs. online portions of this hybrid class. It might surprise some to see that I have focused a lot on reading skills during the face-to-face time. This is because I’ve been taking Reading classes this year, and best practices all point to active talking aloud during the reading process and modeling those skills with students. While students will obviously be doing reading online, I will also be modeling reading strategies during our face-to-face sessions. In addition, my past teaching experience has taught me that students struggle with learning MLA/APA on their own, so I also plan to use face-to-face time to practice in groups.

Course Objectives: Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

Instruction: In-class Talk-alouds-

  1. Demonstrate understanding of main idea, details, relationships, and patterns of organization.
  2. Exhibit ability to use expanded vocabulary and practice using contextual cues and resources.
  3. Evaluate features of style such as purpose, audience and tone.
  4. Evaluate supporting evidence.
  5. Understand difference between stated and implied concepts.
  6. Demonstrate an ability to analyze and respond critically.
  7. Evaluate opposing ideas.

Instruction: In-class Partner & Small Group-

  1. Master use of Writing Handbook as reference tool.

Instruction: Online Lecture, Readings, Assignments-

  1. Demonstrate an improved level of word analysis skills and vocabulary development.
  2. Understand appropriate use of various rhetorical strategies.
  3. Conduct research and evaluate sources for use as evidence in essays on complex topics.
  4. Write organized annotated summaries.
  5. Integrate source material and demonstrate critical awareness in multi-page essays.
  6. Understand how to synthesize ideas in writing.
  7. Format essays correctly according to MLA and APA conventions, including in-text references and correct works cited/reference entries.
  8. Construct sentences that demonstrate variety and effective word choice, using college level diction.

Instruction: Online Student Success Peer Review Groups-

  1. Engage in collaborative review sessions to understand difficult concepts and produce effective essays.

Instruction: In-class and online-

  1. Demonstrate the difference between writing as a process and in-class timed writing.

Prerequisites-  In terms of content this is established by the curriculum approval process, so there really isn’t anything to do in this area. Instead, I’ll focus on technology prerequisites.

Some students will have already taken an ESL class at our college and some will be new students; I do not expect any students to have taken any online classes. Unfortunately, since we are a small program, this hybrid class is the only section of this level we will run in fall; that means, there will likely be some students who would rather be taking a fully face-to-face class. I’m concerned about this. Luckily the face-to-face classes are scheduled in a computer classroom, so I will be able to walk students through the technology and flow of Blackboard as needed. I also expect to have more students attend office hors than might be typical.

Approach Meeting Objective-I really want to get away from the idea of just trying to replicate my f2f class, and I want to think about how the online format can improve success.

While I have gotten approval to teach this course fully online, for the foreseeable future I plan to teach a Blended (Hybrid) class that will meet two hours per week face-to-face and two+ hours per week online. I’m really trying to take this advise to heart-

Avoid the course and a half syndrome-

When developing their first hybrid class, instructors tend to add-on to their traditional course instead of rethinking course objectives with the hybrid model in mind. It’s important to encourage instructors not to overload their first Hybrid course” (Kaleta, Garnham & Aycock, 2005).

Since students are expected to do two hours of homework for every one hour of class time, I would guess that students will spend an average of four-six hours researching and writing and another three-four actually completing online lectures, quizzes, peer reviews, and discussions. I HOPE I don’t overload students. The truth is that I think I WAS overloading them when I taught this class traditionally and then posted a ton of materials and homework on Blackboard. I said during the fall quarter that after taking a few online classes, I realized the quantity of work I had supplemented on Blackboard rose to the level of already being a hybrid class (students just weren’t getting credit for the extra work-load that I had thought was “helping”).

Source: Hybrid Courses: Obstacles and Solutions for Faculty and Students-

Teaching Sequence-  I’ve taught college writing for twenty years, so I have a pretty good idea of the sequencing needed.

Generally I would say my teaching reflects bottom-up sequencing since I rely on students having specific reading and writing prerequisite skills to move through the objectives (Horton. 43). I admit that this sequencing of process writing forces students to break the essay down into prewriting and outlining steps when most would prefer to jump straight into writing the actual essay. While I think the overwhelming majority benefit from the steps of bottom-up sequencing, I do sometimes question this when students show a desire for a top-down or sideways approach. I appreciate the fact that the online grammar software that I use, utilizes a top-down sequence. If students score well, the activities become progressively more challenging and students can finish more quickly; on the other hand, when students miss answers, questions are adjusted down or continue at that level until the student demonstrates mastery.

In the past I have made the first assignment an annotated bibliography and the two remaining major assignments persuasive style essays. That’s because it’s easier on students not to have to learn essay rules while learning research strategies on the first assignment. In the spirit of modules and wanting to make things as uniform as possible to help streamline and simplify the work, I’ve decided to teach three essays rather than do the annotated bibliography.

Writing Sequence-

  • Essay One: Informative
    1. Prewriting & thesis
    2. Research, summary, analysis, & citation
    3. Outlining & Revision
    4. Essay final draft
  • Essay Two: Persuasive
    1. Prewriting & thesis
    2. Research, summary, analysis, & citation
    3. Outlining & Revision
    4. Essay final draft
  • Essay Three: Argument
    1. Prewriting & thesis
    2. Research, summary, analysis, & citation
    3. Outlining & Revision
    4. Essay final draft

Reading won’t necessarily follow an exact sequence, but instead it will be a repetitive cycle of instructor and student modeling active reading strategies out loud-

  • Previewing, Predicting, & Skimming
  • Main Idea & Supporting Ideas vs. Implied Ideas
  • Point of View & Audience
  • Background Knowledge
  • Vocabulary


Objects to Accomplish Objectives- I really want to analyze how I can integrate reading and writing better in this area. Tests- I plan to talk to teachers who use flip classrooms to see if tests will improve the likelihood of students coming to f2f prepared.

I met with Professor of Early Childhood Donna Green who is teaching a year-long professional development series on Flipping classrooms. I expressed my concern that students wouldn’t do the necessary beforehand reading in order to be prepared for class activities in the face-to-face sessions. She encouraged me to create brief low point quizzes from the required readings. Here is where I try to balance best teaching practices with practicality. Obviously multiple choice quizzes set-up on my CMS that can be automatically graded with scores recorded gives students immediate feedback and makes my life easier. On the other hand, I know as a student I strongly prefer open-ended questions and this Flipped Classroom article,, highly recommend this. That means more grading and a slower return time for students to get feedback. If my chief goal is to use these quizzes to encourage students to complete reading prior to the face-to-face sessions and the quiz points will be low, would it be so bad to use the multiple choice test?

Learning Activities- This is an area where I plan to completely disregard the assignments I have used in f2f and really think about how writing college essays can be re-thought and fit into weekly modules.

Weekly modules will all be worth the same number of points and follow the same sequence of learning:

  1. Online- Stated week’s learning objective
  2. Online- “Lecture” (student/content)
  3. Online- Assigned Reading & open book Reading Quiz (format TBD) (student/content)
  4. In-class- Reading Strategy Activities (student/student & student/content & student/instructor)
  5. In-class- Research & Citation Activities (student/student & student/content & student/instructor)
  6. Online- Research and Writing (student/content)
  7. Online- Peer Revision (student/student)
  8. Online- Supplemental resources for further study (student/content)
  9. Online- Discussion applying readings to real-life experiences (student/student & student/content & student/instructor)

Media-  I plan to look at the weekly schedule I developed last quarter and reflect on whether the media I have matched is a good fit and feasible.  ESL 71 Schedule

I’m actually pretty happy with the media I have matched to my activities. The one area that I question is the quantity of Discussion Board posts and comments. My original plan was to create discussion prompts that were more cognitive in nature and got student to apply the readings to problem-solving or project-building in their personal/professional lives. I still think this is important and I still believe that discussion in general builds the learning community. My issue is questioning two points:

  • Am I over-building my hybrid class and creating too much work for students?
  •  Since students will be doing lots of partner/group work during face-to-face sessions, aren’t they already getting the learning community?

Students will definitely have their small groups (student success groups) for peer review, so discussion would be whole class and more related to readings applied to real life. I guess my first semester students are just going to have to be my guinea pigs, and I’ll need to be sensitive to adjusting the workload if needed. My question is whether or not dropping something like discussion mid-semester would be too confusing?  I do feel like my most successful online classes have been those where the entire quarter was available from day one, every week followed the same pattern of organization, and there were no unexpected surprises.  When content and media is presented in uniform patterns, it’s easier for students to navigate.


2 thoughts on “Session Five: Design Quickly & Reliably Project

  1. lgersitz

    Your class looks great! I can see you put a lot of thought, time, and effort into the planning. I particularly like the way you considered the issues of the long essay in an online class and then broke down the writing process. Your ESL 71 Schedule is so detailed. I like the fact that you have the technology and Interactions listed. I think I’ll add that to my next version. You always give me great ideas!!


  2. The amount of time and energy you have put into your class is outstanding! I also think you have identified some key things that will dictate your design. Specifically: 1) how to structure the essay writing task so that it can be done incrementally and still result in the length and quality required; and 2) how to make sure your students engage in the instruction (readings) you have planned.


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