Social Bookmarking in the Freshman Composition Research Class

January 22, 2013 in 30in30, assignments, cybersalonaz, Diigo, ENG102, GCC, research, social media, Teaching, The Maricopa Experience by Coop

I can still remember when Delicious was all the rage. Remember when you had to remember where all the periods went – I’m not sure I got it right, but those were the days. Then Delicious got bought by Yahoo! and was shelved. Then Yahoo! sold it to the current owners who have, to their credit, tried to regain the hold on the social bookmarking space. But that is all for not, as Diigo took the opportunity to step in when Delicious struggled and created a more education centric service that still thrives today.

I’ve used Diigo in my Freshman Composition ENG102 courses now for about 5-6 years. It’s a research class, so I like to get students started in the research process with something easy – Googling and sharing what they find with each other. I set up the assignment to get students to explore the course theme: personal freedoms to help narrow the focus of their individual research topics. I’ve posted the meat of the assignment below.

Setting Up & Using Diigo

We will use Diigo throughout the semester to keep track of the websites we find during the research process. When you save a webpage, it’s called bookmarking. Diigo is a social bookmarking site. It’s social because it allows for all of us to share our bookmarks with each other. It’s like a big researching party!

Watch this screencast: Setting Up & Using Diigo to learn how to set-up and use Diigo.

Assignment Steps


  • Read the online handbook chapter and watch the lesson video above. Also read the information about Diigo, watch the Diigo videos and register for an account.
  • Join the ENG102 Diigo group.


  • Start with Google. Open a browser and type:
  • Type in different search terms relating to our discussion on personal freedoms. Remember the sky is the limit. We are only exploring, so try many different search terms.
  • Use the tips you learned in the Searching the Internet video.


  • Using the Diigo site, bookmark 10 websites about personal freedoms that you find interesting. Choose a variety of topics that fall under personal freedoms.
  • Give each site you save a Title or edit the current title to make it clear (1 point each).
  • Tag the sites with terms that relate to the site, including the tag: personal+freedoms (don’t forget the plus sign +) You need at least 3 tags for each bookmarked website (1 point each).
  • Write a short summary of the website in the Comment box, so that others will have a good idea what the site offers before clicking the links. Summaries should be 2-3 sentences (1 point each).


  • To submit your 10 links for grading, all you have to do is make sure you are a member of the ENG102 Diigo Group. I decided not to send invites. Just join the group below after you set up your account and I’ll approve you.
  • ENG102 Diigo Group <– Click to Join

Example Assn #2

This is a screen capture of a student’s Diigo page. Make sure you have 10 entries that look like this.Diigo Example

Read more about Diigo: What Do Students Learn by Using Social Bookmarking Site Diigo?

They’re Here! They’re Here! Finally

January 14, 2013 in 30in30, cybersalonaz, digital natives, GCC, Teaching, technology, The Maricopa Experience by Coop

We’ve been talking about the so called Digital Natives and the Millennials being the tech generation for years. But I just haven’t seen them in my classes. My students have not only not shown an interest in technology, but often struggled with the technology I used in my classes. But not this semester. In the first class of the Spring 2013 semester, the Digital Natives showed up! Yippee!

First, while Cindy (Co-Teacher) was talking about critical thinking with the class, she asked what a word meant. I wasn’t paying attention (Ha!), so I missed the word, but the student sitting in front of me grabbed her phone and started “messing around” with it. I didn’t pay her any mind either until Cindy called on her. She took one last look at the phone and then apologetically said “I was looking it up,” and then recited her answer to the class. She thought she was doing something wrong, but I was secretly praising her. It wasn’t like it was a vocab word she was supposed to have learned before coming to class. It was a spur of the moment, what does that mean type of question, and she gave the answer. Nice work young lady.


Our Learning Community Circle on Google+

During my part of the learning community class, I was teaching students how to get their Google+ accounts set up, and a student asked if she could get G+ on her phone, and if I knew how to get her school email to forward to her regular Gmail account on her phone. I think if I’d let her, she would have asked me how to do a bunch of other stuff too. We didn’t have time, but I was thrilled that she wanted to know, and thrilled that she is already thinking about managing her tech life.

Several students whipped out their phones to pull up their class schedules after we took roll and they were not on it. “Aren’t you Nielson?” one asks while reading her phone. I grabbed it to see that she was indeed not in the right place. I then overheard one student telling the student next to him that she should use the Firefox browser instead that one (IE) because it works better. He didn’t elaborate further, but enough was said to impress me. I hope she listened to him.

But it gets better. Later I announced to students to be sure to check their emails daily, as I would be sending the weekly podcast out tomorrow. After class a nice young man approached me and asked if he would be able to get those podcasts on his iPhone. Why certainly! Let me show you how. So I showed him how to grab the RSS feed from the announcements in Canvas and add it to his iTunes. Later I plan to find a podcatcher app for the iPhone to share with him as well.

All in all it was a great technology day in the classroom. I’ve been so beat down, I was expecting to have more push back about having to use Canvas and Google+, but they all loved it. It’s going to be a great semester (fingers crossed).

How Do You Check for Website Validity and Plagiarism?

January 10, 2013 in 30in30, cybersalonaz, ENG102, plagiarism, Teaching by Coop

I got a question yesterday from a colleague about checking website validity. I wasn’t sure I understood the question that was asked, so I’m not sure I answered it correctly. She asked: Is it possible that we could learn more ways to “clear” websites as to content validity. I took this to mean that they wanted to be able to run website content through a plagiarism detector to see if the site was using content without properly citing it. I had heard of a few tools, so I shared the following.

We used to be able to run text through the plagiarism detector in Bb, but not any longer now that we’ve moved to Canvas. We should have a new district wide plagiarism detection tool by the end of this semester or summer, so there could be a way to have students check text using this tool once we get it. There are also a few online plagiarism detectors. I haven’t used them yet, but I may this semester.

I think the last two get at what the questioner was asking, at least I hope. If you’ve used any of these plagiarism tools, leave me a comment to let me know how it worked out for you.

Making Online Lit Classes Work – The Secret Sauce

January 9, 2013 in 30in30, banned books, blogging, cybersalonaz, enh295, GCC, Literature, Teaching, Teaching Online, technology, The Maricopa Experience by Coop

I’ve been teaching online literature courses for four years now. My lit of choice is ENH295: Banned Books and Censorship. I’m still scarred from traditional American and British lit from college, and those courses were already in the capable hands of my colleagues who also teach literature online at GCC. So I went for Banned Books. Makes me feel like a rebel or something, but I like it and the students seem to as well.

Many often wonder how we make online literature courses work when the core element in the face to face class is discussion. We read, analyze and discuss. Well, we also have to write, so moving a course like this online is quite simple actually. We use discussion forums and blogs. This was problematic in the past with our LMS, so I moved the course over to a WordPress blog years ago. I’ve since moved the core content back to our new LMS Canvas, but the blog still remains a central part of the online course. I only moved the core content back for a secure gradebook. I was always nervous about having my grades in the cloud of a non-approved web service in past.

So let’s talk about this blog and how it works for the online lit class.

enh295webFirst off, for this blog to work, it needed to be more of a community than a blog. So I installed WordPress MU and BuddyPress to create this community. WordPress has since updated to 3.x and the multi-user part is just built in. So there is a main blog site that I post to, shown above, and then all the students have their own blogs to post to. All the students, blogs, forums and groups are tied together by the BuddyPress plugin. This plugin creates separate pages for each. For instance, clicking on the Blogs page will list all the blogs for the class with a link to their latest post. It also keeps track of all the activity on the site (logins, posts,etc.) as well as provides a Facebook like space to post “check ins.” This is called the Activities page. And just like on Facebook, students can comment on each others’ activity posts.

Basically the students are maintaining their individual blogs by writing literary analysis posts on the texts we are reading. The best part about this format is that all of their writing is shared with everyone in the class. They can read each others’ posts and comment on it, thus extending the discussion about the text. In a traditional class, much of the student writing is private and only shared between the student and the teacher. In this setup, I can build impromptu discussions around any individual student blog. My options are endless. And students are comfortable with each other because of the social network feel of the course network, so they’re not shy about commenting on each others’ work.

This setup has worked well for my class for four years now, so I’ll be sticking with it even now that we have Canvas.

Playing with Google+ in my Hybrid Class

January 4, 2013 in 30in30, Blended Learning, blogging, cybersalonaz, ENG102, google, learning community, social media, Teaching, technology by Coop

gplusLast year I taught two semesters in a hybrid learning community with my colleague and friend Cindy Ortega. We met one day a week for 2 1/2 hours. The other 2 1/2 hours was spent online. I taught ENG102 Freshman Composition and she taught CRE101 Critical Reading. Both classes when you look at the competencies are very similar, focusing on critical reading, writing and thinking. And of course we both teach research because we have to have something to read, write and think about. Our theme for the course was Food Waste and Sustainability, so we had students read the book American Wasteland and watch several movies about sustainability. This semester we watch Lester Brown’s Plan B movie and in the fall we watched No Impact Man. All of our content revolved around the ideas from the book and movie.

So with such an important topic, we thought it would be great to encourage students to be transparent in their work in the course, as what they were discussing and writing about would be relevant to all. With that in mind, I suggested we use Google+ as a blogging platform for students not just share their journals posts with us, but with the world. We did it for two semesters and students loved it. I’ll try to explain how it all worked out.

First, we have Google Apps for Education, but we didn’t have G+ turned on for students. Because of this students had to use a personal Gmail account to participate, which really can be confusing for students to have more than one Gmail account. We’d get students in class that would be logged into one account and then be locked out of an activity that was shared to the other Gmail account. An example of this is when a student logged into her personal Gmail to post her journal for the class and then went into Canvas to participate in a shared document assignment that was shared to her school Gmail account, she was denied access to the document. She didn’t realize she needed to switch accounts. This happened often, but after awhile they all figured it out.

On the first day of class we got all the students signed up for their Google accounts and opened up their G+ profiles. Then they all were instructed to add me (the instructor) to a circle – any circle. It didn’t matter what circle. I provided a link for them to click to take them directly to my G+ profile. Once they added me to a circle, they showed up in my G+ account as someone who added me to a circle. I then added them all into a circle named after the class: ENG102/CRE101. Once I had everyone in the circle, I shared the circle with the class and instructed them to save the circle with the same circle name. We were all connected now.

Throughout the semester students were given journal assignments to post in G+. Most were text posts, but some involved creating posters or videos or photos. The posts were to be shared with the class circle, thus making it private to only the class. However, we encouraged students to share with others and I often re-shared some really good posts. It wasn’t part of the grade, but students often commented on each others’ posts. But what really surprised me was students started using G+ to ask questions, and before I even realized the questions were there, other students started to answer.

We often work in groups, so students used G+ to communicate with group members outside of class. I held a few office hour sessions on G+ using Google Hangouts. And Cindy and I started using Hangouts for our weekly class planning sessions even though most of the time we were one hallway away.

Overall I think the G+ project was a good experience, and I look forward to expanding the use of it. This semester, if our class makes, I plan to do more discussions in G+ and more re-sharing of content from others outside of the course. I could maybe have students search to find other like minded individuals to learn from and share with. It could be fun.

Online Course Redesign for Better Engagement

December 19, 2012 in Canvas, cybersalonaz, ENG102, instructional design, Teaching, Teaching Online by Coop

I like to tell people that I’ve been designing an online course that I’ve been teaching for over 10 years. I say this because I feel that there is always room for improvement, and with the ever changing landscape of technology tools and LMS tools available, a good online course should never really be “finished.” It’s just ready for the next go round. Well, this next go round, Spring 2013, the ENG102 online course is due for a major upgrade. It seems only appropriate since so many others in Maricopa are going through their own redesigns as they move courses over from Blackboard to Instructure Canvas. I made the move a year ago, but now that I’m there or here, I’m ready for some major upgrades.

So like any good instructional designer would do, I did an analysis and came up with a list. The focus of the redesign is to make the course a little more engaging. I want for students to have more video and interactive lessons and less reading of handouts and texts. And when students do read the textbook, I want to give them more guidance for reading and remembering the concepts in those chapters. Here’s a quick preview of part of my list:


ENG102 Redesign list made in Evernote

I’m using Softchalk and video creation tools (iMovie, Pinnacle Studio 12 and Camtasia Studio 8) to make my lessons. I want for students to feel more like they are going to class instead of just doing assignments. Learn first, then practice by doing the assignments. So when they click on the weekly folder, there will be a clear pattern of read, watch, engage, practice, produce. I’m looking for engagement with the content, student to student, and with me each week. Students will engage with the content by having lessons with short auto-graded check questions embedded within and assigned readings with auto graded mini chapter quizzes in Connect Composition. They will engage with each other with the assignments that asked for students to share content with each other in discussion forums, VoiceThread discussions, peer review assignments, and an ongoing social bookmarking assignment in Diigo. Lastly students will engage in discussion with me with their assignments and prospectuses. Assignments are graded with lots of feedback and an opportunity to rewrite for a better grade, so we have engagement there once a week, as well as the feedback I give them on their audio/video prospectus assignments submitted every three weeks.

Most of the lessons are existing lessons, but many were not very engaging for students. They could read them or not, and probably still do okay on the assignments. By making them more interactive and more visual or auditory to cut down on the monotonous reading that many online students have to deal with, is what I was looking for. The new lessons are designed to encourage students to engage with the course content throughout the week and not just on the due date of the weekly assignment. So on the weekly page, I will give them suggested days to work and time estimates for completing the work for the week. Each week will require the minimum 2.5 hours of “class time” plus the recommended 6-9 hours of study/work time required for outside of class.

Hopefully seeing the recommended time requirements up front will encourage students to spend the time doing the work necessary to be successful in the course. And if they do, I hope these new lessons will be engaging and help them learn more.

New Tech to Try!

November 1, 2012 in Algebra, animation, arithmetic, AssistiveTech, Clickers, education, eInstruction, eInstruction Interwrite Workspace, Evernote, handwriting math, Helping students, Insight360, insight360 clickers, interactive, iPad, iPad applications, Livescribe, livescribe smartpen, math, Mathcast, mathcasts, Mobi, online, participation, pencasts, recording, smartpen, Student participation, taking notes, Teaching, Teaching Online, TechFriends(Geeks), technology, video, wi-fi by Sue Glascoe

I apologize for not writing more posts this semester, but I have been swamped with work and play :)

I just received the new wi-fi Livescribe smartpen called SKY today and I promise to write a blog post soon about the features and how I plan on using it.  Wi-fi opens the potential of the smartpen to be even smarter!! I can’t wait!

I have been using Doceri 2.0 along with the Mobi 360 w/ clickers in my math classes and plan on updating all of you on how well that is going (it is going REALLY well, by the way)  and how I have used them with my students.

Stay tuned….


TYCA West Presentation: The Not-So-Distant Education – Blended Comp Courses That Rock!

October 25, 2012 in Blended Learning, cybersalonaz, ENG101, Freshman Comp, presentations, Teaching, TYCA West by Coop

Many community colleges have experienced a growth in students over the past few years, and with a limited number of classrooms available, many colleges are trying to find a way to accommodate the needs of all of these new students. We’ve managed to meet this need by offering more online and hybrid freshman composition courses. Online courses obviously are not for everyone, but what about blended learning? This presentation will demonstrate how I created and now teach blended composition courses that meet the needs of all types of students (dev-ed to honors) by incorporated good course design, gaming, challenged based learning, self directed learning and multimedia elements. I will discuss basic design steps for developing a blended course, as well as discuss the pedagogy and tools necessary to make it a success.

Tools discussed: CanvasConnect CompositionGoogle+GoSoapBoxTegrityYouTubePiazzaSoundCloudCamtasia Studio and SnagIt (Jing).

Topics Discussed:

  • Course Design
  • Gaming
  • CBL
  • Self Directed Learning
  • Multimedia

Presentation Slides:  TYCAWestBlendedCoursesRock.pdf

Working on iPads in a Flipped Math Class

August 30, 2012 in Algebra, Doceri, education, Group Work, iPad, iPad applications, Mathcast, mathcasts, Student participation, Teaching, TechFriends(Geeks), technology, video, videos by Sue Glascoe

This is the 2nd semester I am flipping my Intermediate Algebra classes.   The students are required to access the online ebook and take notes BEFORE coming to class.  I have Livescribe pencast examples available for them to view on the course calendar as well.  For more information on how I am flipping my classes, see the article I wrote for eCampus News.

Flipping the class frees me up to have the students do group work and activities during class to reinforce the topics from the lesson.  I can more easily work individually with students having difficulty, while the rest of the students are helping one another.

I was awarded a chance to teach in the iPad classroom this semster, so I have been looking for ways to have my students create and share on the iPad, rather than just use it as a calculator or to search the internet.

Today my students  were working in groups on a handout.   After completing the page, each group was assigned 1 of the problems and required to write their solution or graph on an iPad to share with the class.    The application we are using on the iPad is called Doceri 2.0 (previous blog post about the app).  It enables students to show their solution as an animation or video.   Students can even edit their work before exporting it as a video.   Since the classroom can get pretty loud, I had them record the animation, while picking up the sounds from the classroom (then I deleted all sound before uploading the following videos to YouTube, to protect the students’ privacy).

To present their animation, each group had one member connect their iPad to the Apple TV that is in the room and then “play” their animation.   We discussed the group’s solution or graph and answered any questions before the next group presented to the class.   I was really pleased with how well it worked!

I was able to get permission from a few students to share their work.

This first video is a student’s graph from today’s flipped Algebra class.   They were to graph the linear equation by plotting points.   The student chose to have graph paper as their background for their animation.

The second video shown here is another graph done by a different group/student.   This student found the x-and y-intercept of the linear equation and then graphed the line.

The third video was created by a student who  was given a problem to solve a formula for a given variable.

The students seem to be enjoying the experience!

I have really enjoyed watching them work through the problem, as opposed to just looking at their final solution/graph.    If the classroom was quiet (but how much fun would that be??), I would have had them explain their steps in the video.

I will post more of their work as the students progress in their math ability and their ability to show their solutions on the iPad!  This is only the 2nd week of class, and they have progressed quite a bit already.  Many of them had never used an iPad before, and none of the students had ever used Docer 2.0.  I am really proud of how hard they are working to succeed in my class!



TI-nspire makes a GREAT math (or any subject) clicker!

August 11, 2012 in Algebra, arithmetic, Clickers, education, feedback, Geometry, Graphing Calculator, Group Work, interactive, math, participation, STEM, Student participation, Teaching, TechFriends(Geeks), technology, TI, TI Navigator, TI Navigator System, TI nspire CX Calculators, TI-nspire CX by Sue Glascoe

I had given up on graphing calculators for a while, since I really wanted the students to engage more in class and use clickers. I found the perfect balance recently!

The calculators by themselves are pretty amazing, but there is a learning curve that made it too much for me to want to use them with my students.   However, I was recently introduced to the TI Navigator system, which turns this amazing calculator into an even more amazing clicker (student response system)!

That is worth trying out for me!   I have a loaner set I will use this Fall with my Algebra classes.

It is a bit bulky, but the case charges the calculators and allows me to send data to all of the calculators at once (if I don’t have the yellow Navigator caps on.  The case will not close with the Navigator caps on).

The calculator has a color screen, along with a mouse track pad and a full keyboard on the bottom.    Lots of handy math symbols are easy to get to directly from the keys as well.  (The calculator shown does NOT have the yellow Navigator cap on.)  But let’s get down to how to use this with the Navigator system!

I downloaded theTI-Nspire Navigator teacher software from their website and then set up a sample class with 5 students.   As you can see below, I named them Student 1, Student 2, Student 3, Student 4 and Student 5 (I am so creative!). You will create usernames for each student and then either create a password for them, or let them create their own.  You can also upload a CSV file into the system to automatically populate your class!


I am using the TI wireless network  access point  (it looks like a Verizon MiFi) to connect all the calculators to my computer, but you only have to set that up one time. Once you “Begin Class” (top right of the image above), then the students can log into ANY of the calculators (they don’t have to have the same one each time!) and make sure they are connected to the network you created.  It will tell them they are logged in, and they will show up on the teacher’s computer that way as well.

There are 2 main features I plan to use the calculators with the Navigator system for:  1. grabbing screen shots of all (or some) student calculators, and 2:  polling the students – asking them a question like using a clicker, but the question shows up on their calculator with the tools they need!


At any time during the class, I can grab live screen shots of all student calculators, or just one student’s calculator.   I think this will be very handy to “check in” on student progress to see where they are in solving the problem given or to see if they are even paying attention!

I can even “call on a student” to share their screen to see how they solved a problem (by making them the presenter).


The 2nd, and main use, of the Navigator system with the TI-nspire calculators for me is using them to “poll students” during class.

I was really amazed to see the variety of questions I can create and send to the students’ calculators!  Other clickers (student response systems) I have tried have a few of these options, but this is truly an incredible list for math!

In the above screen I chose the “Drop points” type of question, and typed in my question (see below).
I have a lot of math templates I can choose from as well, if I need to quickly type in a fraction or other math symbol.

I created a question for the students to drop a point on the graph where the ordered pair (3,-4) is located.  That would not be possible on any other clicker I know of!  To send the question to the calculators I just hit the “Start Poll” button at the top of the screen.  I can create questions ahead of time, or real time during class, to poll the students with.

The photo above shows what was sent to the calculators.   As you can see they have a split screen with the question and a set of axes to plot their point on.  The students use the track pad on their calculator to move the point to the desired location.


Once they have answered the question, they hit the “Doc” key and choose “submit” (they are submitting their document to my computer).  The teacher’s computer then shows that student has responded.

The teacher can hit “Stop Poll” at any time to stop the students from being able to answer the question any longer, and gather all the data.   The data is stored on the computer and the teacher can access it immediately, or look through individual student responses outside of class.

The system allows the teacher to set up questions where students can show steps, and the teacher can show multiple pieces of information in the question, like the question and a graph as seen below.


When the students submit their solution, the work is shown as you can see below (different question I was playing with).

The teacher can also look at the solutions of the class as a whole (another different question):

The question is always shown with the solutions given by the students., but this view is nice for the students to be able to see (anonymously) what the different answers looked like from the class.

If the teacher creates the question with a “correct answer”, then the solutions the students submit will be scored as correct or not (the teacher can even give more than one correct answer!).

I realize this is a lot of information at once, but I was hoping that some of you would be as excited as I am about using the TI-nspire CX with the TI Navigator system as a student response system (clickers) in class!

I will write more after I start using it in my Algebra classes and let you know how it is going.