SCMLA: Close Reading Toolkit

by Dr Davis on October 25, 2014

Jennifer Sapio
Close Reading Interpretive Toolkit: Transforming how we teach close reading

Graduate student at University of Texas at Austin
Tasked to think about traditional large lecture format, try flipped classroom techniques

Close reading interpretive tool

text associated instructions
handout of crit steps

video, 1 minute, background
3D images
students rush to judgment—How does it connect to my life?
But we want the students to go through the process to examine the text in order to discover how a text creates its meanings.
How does a text create its meanings?

“When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer” (1867) by Walt Whitman –steampunk?

1. Paraphrase
2. Observe –as many observations as possible. They don’t have to justify why they notice something.
Poem is single sentences
1st 4 sentences start with When
shift from quantity to quality (proofs, figures, charts ?mystical, time to time)
3. Contextualize –important, keeping history in mind illuminates
Whitman’s Transcendentalist beliefs
4. Analyze—return to observations, justify, which are most important? Which can string together?
Fourfold When helps convey the static quality of the data-stuffed lecture. Tedium, boring, …
Mood shift from quantity to quality
5. Argue—synthesize an interpretation, one argument built on the evidence gathered in previous steps
6. Reflect
Why is it important that the poem is a single eight-line sentence? And what are we to do with the fact that the astronomer received “much applause” from the audience? Do these facts support our interpretation or challenge it? …

Students at UT are able to access with Get started and electronic id.
Everyone else, adapt this process in paper copy. Did paper for two years until site up.
Database of short passages, searchable.
Students are able to keep the passage at the top of the screen on every step.
Can move between the different steps and able to review and submit.

Gave students a pre-test. No content or skills instruction.

Cold reading poem pre-test they had never seen before. Average was 4.59.
Cold reading poem at the end of the semester. Average was 7.02

STEM students felt this was “more accessible and more objective” because before “English seemed frustratingly abstract” Jason Escandell (TA F2012)

Why is contextualize after observe?
Been talking about it for 3 years.
Not tied to the language of the text. We could contextualize at the beginning. Or at the end to add contextual frame.

After observe and before analyze.

Give students opportunity to make observations without any justification.
By placing contextualize between, hoped it would emphasize the difference between observe and analyze.


SCMLA: Tech Questions

by Dr Davis on October 25, 2014

Self-graded quizzes for comp? for lit?
Large component of intro to lit is writing instruction.
Self-graded quizzes worse in lit.
Takes time to create answers.
Can program in feedback for quizzes. (go re-read p. 25 in book)
Then only need to revise after first semester.
Recommend them as pre-emptive quizzes before discussion.

Retaking tests?
Group tests. (Readiness Assessment Test)
Distance learning. Can you incorporate group tests?

Anna: We have to have 30% of my courses be strictly monitored individual. Have to be done independently.
If have access online, could set up wiki or discussion forum to discuss. Could discuss. If want to revise and explain, use a wiki. Discussion forum works in Google docs.

Where does it live? Do they have to sign up?
$15/year gets you a pro account and editing account
They have to have link to get in. Make it unsearchable. So it’s only their link. Link goes into my feedback in D2L.
There’s no grade on the video. Could make it so the name of the thing doesn’t necessarily have name of student.

Screencast-o-matic you can only save on your own site. Paying for pro account means you can save on their site.

Have students mark up their paper while they are listening to your screencast. They see your highlight but it isn’t changed for them.
Screencast, they don’t know how to put their page number and their name, you can show it. Teaches computer skills, too.

Revise and resubmit for papers is great.

Both of you are still using rubrics or do they still feel useful?
Steve: Gives ability for students to break it down on the revise and resubmit.
This goes with really detailed prompt.

Anna: Rubrics. Makes students feel more accepting.
Rubrics can be helpful before the paper is due.

Can also use an example paper with a rubric and let them help determine grades. Figuring it out. Understand the process.

Do you ever have problems with access?
Steve: one linked wrong. No server issues. As long as can play YouTube video, can play screencast. 2 of 20 something viewed on phones.

Where instructor announcements or news? Does this register for being present?

Anna and Laura both use News to maintain online presence.

Steve uses audio only for screencast.

D2L v Blackboard
D2L has host of issues, but is better. Currently less broken.
D2L has to be blue and I don’t like that, but…

Students perceive multimodal/screencast as more personal?
I do audio comments and they perceive them to be more personal as well.

“appreciate the time my instructor took”
Laura has streamlined, so it is now less time than traditional for her.

Steve: Most studies started with both typed comments.
Pretty sure that my traditional comments would have been much more

Turnitin now has audio.


SCMLA: Online Feedback

by Dr Davis on October 24, 2014

Laura Osborne
The Art of Feedback: Techniques for Effective Online Feedback in Writing Courses

Stephen F. Austin State University
Department of English & Office of Instructional Technology
She has over 16 years’ experience in the field of higher education.

Art of feedback in online writing courses

Do quizzes 2x. Make videos myself.

Adjunct for Dept of English—tech writing online
Full-time job –Center for Teaching and Learning
D2L school (used to be blackboard)

Online feedback = world of possibilities
Can cause greater harm and confusion BUT potential to do much greater, long-lasting good.

When you mark up a paper on paper, your middle of the road student looks at it and puts it away.
When leaving feedback online, you may be leaving it where their grades are. Negative is awful then (because see often) but good is wonderful.

Words right there for student over and over and over again
Be constructive
Open with something positive…. End with specifics.

Know exactly where your feedback shows up.
We use GradeMark with 3 steps. Know how students have to access and how difficult.
Consider realm of possibilities beyond text.
Voice comments, video comments.

Lead with the happy stuff.
Reframe your thinking
Stop thinking in terms of what the student got wrong—focus first on what they got right.
What are the strengths here?
Don’t ask what’s wrong but instead What can be improved?

Reframe the negative
“Looks like you are off to a reasonable start…”
“Headed in the right direction, but…”
You got the format exactly write. Times New Roman.

Love to infuse my personality in my online classes, but when giving feedback on students’ work, I try to steer away from expressing personal disappointment. Frame it to return to the directions.

Re-visioning the general
Online feedback can and should be better than pen/paper feedback
Online feedback permits you to beyond the 3-letter notations
Devise new ways of saying “huh? Or awk.

Exercise caution when using I in your feedback. Can work for you but can easily work against you.
I like the way you did x
I love your use of metaphor when discussing x
I agree with you on x

Value judgments –use with caution
Be careful with
Good, bad, great, terrible

Avoid the feedback sandwich b/c students may read the start and end and get a false impression
Bulleted lists (naming specific areas needing work)
Include references to course materials or links to websites
Remind students that you are here to help (email if you have questions, drop by during office hours)

IF limited time
–consider a tiered system of feedback that rewards timely work (sequence of feedback)
full comments for on-time/early
partial comments for later
no comments for final deadline

Consider and re-consider your words in light of the fact that any situation may end up in the hands of a Chair or Dean or may involve parents.

Quick tip:
Keep a file of commonly used comments on your computer’s desktop
Copy and paste as needed

I have a rotating set of end comments. Have learned to keep those in a running file.

Choices of feedback:
Direct feedback in a comments/reply box
Email—can be time consuming, but good with graduate seminar
Rubric—either built in or as Word file
Text comments on the paper (MSWord, Grademark, on paper—then save to PDF)—I don’t recommend this.
Voice comments
Screencast comments (video of screen with audio)
Combo of above

Grademark is easier for drag and drop comments….

Think about your objectives:
Seeking to clarify reason for grade OR will they be revising
Do you need to give line by line feedback or just general comments

Think about how often they will see it. Be brief if it will show up on their grades’ screen.

Think ahead about uni, dept, program assessment needs
Will you be asked to submit samples of student work?
Will those samples need to have comments and grades on them?
Or should those samples have No comments?

Further considerations
Cross-reference your feedback
Written at the end of a rubric ? Good work. For detailed comments, see the video feedback.
Spoken at the end of the video commentary?

Use News or Announcements (LMS different)
If many students are making the same mistakes, post feedback and advice in course announcements.
Increases visibility of feedback and saves time.

Automated feedback:
Remind students what to turn in, sets reasonable expectations for when to expect grades
Find out how release conditions and email rules work in your LMS.
(Thank you for turning in, did you remember your x on this?)

If you are going to give online, know how to delete and edit.
Know how immediately it shows to students.

Try student view in your LMS so that you can give them

Check whether they viewed the feedback.
Consider running a poll or survey.

Consider extra credit for first time they respond to
Or make it a requirement for revision


SCMLA: Screencasting Student Feedback

by Dr Davis on October 24, 2014

Steve Marsden
Screencasting Student Feedback in Literature

An associate professor at Stephen F. Austin State University, where he has been teaching for 8 years.
Steve has presented and published on gothic and American literature.

In literary analysis papers
Screencasting in an f2f class

Problems with written feedback in lit courses—my handwriting terrible and unimprovable. Also students don’t know read cursive. Typing = I spend more time on the writing than they do.

Previous research and then how my experiments came out.

Traditional feedback:
Traditionally encoded marginal comments (haven’t necessarily had a standard comp experience—You have to teach it.)
Rubric form (itemized by area, typical problems listed to be circled, scores for different elements of wirting)
Holistic end comments

Frequently not read (low student engagement)
Ambiguous/low context—commonly misunderstood
Little explanation of why—no room (maybe no time)
Hard to address complex style or logic = awk

Using elliptical encoded text to address student problems in reading and writing
Often devolves to editing—students just do accept

Problems for literary analysis:
Students often lack basic skills course does not address, even though in 200-level course. Try to fix the problems somehow, so I am not contributing.
Student problems are often higher order (interpretive, logical, conceptual).
We assume they can write, so we do not encourage extensive revision, do not include conferences. Often the writing is due late.

Previous studies
Thaiss and Zawacki—s
Vinclette Moore & Filling, Brick & Holmes= multimodal feedback for written communication is valuable
Students prefer screencast

Rough and ready study:
22 students, 2 sections f2f summer
16 female, 6 male, between 18 and 37 (mostly juniors and seniors)
60% comp credit at SFA, 23% at HS (most problematic), 18% at comm college
Students reported mostly marginal feedback in previous courses.
Initial attitudes toward revision were pretty sketchy; they were unconvinced.
May noted coferences.

Study design
2 literary-analytic papers, available for a 20-point increase in revision
half randomly selected for screencast first time
controlled for assignment and priority (found weird effect with priority)

all surveys online via Qualtrics
initial survey for demographic data, previous exp w revision
online survey required after each revision
final survey about attitudeas and preferences
rubrics marking improvements on revision packets (a revision memo explaining changes, old draft, new draft)
I gave no written feedback, but they had to go back and mark what I was talking about.
Eyeballed the rubrics and decided how much they improved

Traditional feedback (see above)
Said you can come in for conferencing. Those people did well, who came to conferences.

Screencast feedback
Papers read once, problem areas highlighted
Don’t write feedback.
THEN scroll through highlighted text in Word on screen, explaining. Get pretty discursive, informal. Will stop and read or stop and ask questions. There’s nothing I see I don’t mark.
Maximum 15 minutes of audio/visual (Screencast-o-matic)—6-7 minutes most of the time
No marginal or end comments
Rubric filled out, handed back separately with paper copy of paper (which means after screencast for most) —Only heard coaching comments, until they get the paper copy—which does say what they did wrong.

100% of students preferred screencast
79% more clear or less ambiguous
79% more detailed
68% more friendly-seeming
37% said more instructor work so seemed more committed

73% traditional feedback read completely (if did revision)
100% of screencast viewed completely
videos on screencast-o-matic were viewed an average of 2.5x
16 viewed the video more than once—max 8x

Process notes:
Careful screencasting feedback (view, highlight, record, fill out rubric, upload, post link to feedback area of D2L) took only slightly longer than written feedback … about 1.5x longer

Required a quiet place and time set aside.
Need a microphone that won’t catch ambient noise.
Couldn’t grade in hallway, between classes. Had to grade at a computer.

Required control of voice.

Student feedback:
Sometimes said uh when he wants to say something and then doesn’t say it. (rage management)
Screencasting helped me understand each issue I had better than just written comments

During the question session, Steve and Laura both mentioned that students responded well to screen casting, preferring it and seeing it as a way that the teachers showed they were involved with and committed to the class.


SCMLA: Online and Hybrid Retention

by Dr Davis on October 23, 2014

Anna Hall
Distance Ed and Drop Rates: Maintaining Enrollment in Online and Hybrid Classes

Anna is an English Instructor for the Department of Humanities at Blinn College.

Online = lower retention, drop often, grades of those who continue is similar to f2f

Current trend toward holding professors responsible, as faculty assessment.

“develop an online community” is advice, but doesn’t say how to do this
concrete strategies for increasing retention
first to teach hybrid English classes at Blinn

personal strategies, not foolproof
influence retention

2 core approaches = help students keep grades up and make students emotionally attached

How can I increase student retention and still have time to sleep?

Grades up:
May seem too obvious, good grades = students more likely to continue

Students often think online will be easier. Often freshmen, first semester. Don’t understand the difference between college and high school and then are in online classes.
Students need opportunities to make better choices next week.
One of best ways = increase number of formative assessments
Takes lots of time.
Student participation decreased if only did completion grades.

All assignments I think are useful but not imperative—help them master material. I label as extra credit. Fully embedded.
Topic proposal. Used to hate them. Even though people needed them. But would read 100 proposals and 30+ were awful, not thoughtful. But would still feel waste of tiem to respond.
NOW they are all thoughtful, because done by students who want them.
A&B students write first one. C and D students write for the second one (or subsequent ones).

More quizzes and more difficult quizzes, but allow students to take them twice.
Only write self-grading quiz questions.
Possibility of immediate feedback.
Any opportunity for quick turn around is welcome.
Decided to let them take the quizzes a bunch of times. Discovered 3x was too many. Quiz grades dropped. Students believed they would eventually be able to guess correctly.
All students may take quizzes 2x.
Most of the time 2x allows them to improve.
The CMS/LMS randomizes questions.
Even if students do quiz 1x and then go read, they get benefits.

Creates a more accessible class. Learning disabilities find it helps them more than time.
Also helps students with text anxiety.
Saves me time because I have to do less technical support.
Re-takes allow for rigor because I am able to make them harder without students feeling I am tricking them.

Higher grades are not enough to get retention.

“disembodied professor”

“maintain an online presence” suggestion = post frequently
but my students engage more when I don’t

one on one f2f with students early in semester
can do online interviews if needed
online conferences can help people understand how important in world, because common for business
usually do with return of first essay

digital nativism is not necessarily indicative of digital literacy

stronger connection between professor and student = more likely to retain students

only met with online freshmen comp classes (not enough time to do more)
most likely to drop because least likely to understand what they were getting into (both college and online)

also do videos of myself for lectures, etc
record myself including gestures…

when first started, did no videos
students ignored online instructions
exit survey = lack of connection to anybody biggest problem

first videos were awful, I read from the PPTs which were awful and text heavy.
3rd semester I changed a lot. I am far more lively in f2f.
made videos like I teach in f2f
students were watching videos and responding to them

most students, if I can convince them to start, will continue to watch the videos

exit survey = most often “actually”
actually interesting, actually useful

in hybrid classes, if I show a piece of my videos early in class, students are more likely to watch the videos throughout the class

1. only enough ppt words
2. 20 minutes most
3. don’t edit out problems
4. make video just for them, don’t keep them for more than a year
5. be happy—we enjoy talking about this stuff and our students should see this


SCMLA: Game of Thrones

by Dr Davis on October 23, 2014

Robert Stanton, South U: Austin
“Excessive and Appropriate Gifts: Hospitality and Violence in Game of Thrones.”

program director of …

given source of Latin word hospice and hostility, hospitality might be taking care of with hostility
works in GoT

given Derrida’s limits, open us… divinity
“altogether other” no ethics without god
divine as source of ethics, and therefore of hospitality

Greeks Xenia and Theoxenia. All strange guests were treated as potential divine.

Rat cook killed guest and served him to father. Gods transformed him into rat which had to eat his rat descendants, while remaining hungry.

Guest right, hospitality laws

Emphasis on food, sharing of salt and bread

If guest right is established and honored and key, why does it fail so often? Why are failures so key?

Thymotic drives (Greek) anger, pride, ambition, courage, determination, desire for dominion, one more
In Martin’s world thymotic drives are still related to familial honor ideals.

So it is where these two cultural beliefs clash.

Red Wedding discussed in detail.
Memorable narrative unity.

Icon of thymotic interpretation = R Stark, denounced and executed.

How do readers use extra textual world? How does it operate?
I was looking for something and found fan maps and Panem and people projecting maps onto North America and asking questions about where and when.
“accessibility relations” between texts and worlds

idea of extra-textual discussion as responsive


SCMLA: Bradamant

by Dr Davis on October 22, 2014

Joe R. Christopher, Tarleton State
“The Negative Quest of Bradamant”

professor emeritus, pub. Full-length critical works on Tolkien and Lewis

title “On Bradamant’s Mind Quests”
in 2011 Bradamant’s Quest published

want to discuss first 4 quests

Bradamant 1st appears in Italian Charlemagne romances
In Burman’s revision, Bradamant is granddaughter of Charlemagne through mother.
Woman warrior. Widowed. Has a son, adult in medieval terms.

Burman wants to focus on Bradamant.
Temporal setting = after battle in which Roland (and her husband) died
In history was Basques, in myth was Spanish Moors.

Period of mourning over when novel begins.
King wants Renald (his grandson). Bradamant says she will go get him. Heads to her brother’s castle.
Oberon appears to her as she is watering her horse.
Oberon says world grows old and further from “us” (creatures and fairy). Says fairy gifts need to be returned. The gifts are failing in the human world and thereby weakening fairy.
Bradamant’s family were given gifts.

8 magical objects and 1 magical creature
11 quests…

How can Burman repeat a pattern 9x and not make it boring and/or amusing?

1st 4 quests show variety…

4 chapters are good models for what follows.
5- Oberon climbs out of well to take shield.
8- horn’s voice is heard, telling to give to raven
6- lamina takes Roland’s sword with him thru magic portal
9- Maugus’ book and Maugus are carried off by tree woman—kind of an Ent (not an Ent-wife)
10- book, fairy who gave book shows back up to take it, and A sends hippogriff off with this fairy b/c hippogriff dying

7- Ogre’s Mood?
On hippogriff Bradamant is blown off course.
Adds to variety in book.

Variety and shifting detail work.


SCMLA: Bujold and Queerness

by Dr Davis on October 22, 2014

Robin Anne Reid, Texas A&M
“Holy Family: Divine Queerness in Bujold’s Chalion Series”

creative writing, new media, critical theory, fantastic literatures—esp. Tolkien

Alexander Doty Flaming Classics: Queering the Film Canon.
Definition 6—establish spaces not described by or contained within….

Queerness = overt
Textual queerness may not be intended by author.

Queerness may not be in characters, but in text.
Dream visions of heterosexual males about deities is example of textual queerness.

Source: “Evolutions of Fantasy Series in …. Rings and Bujold’s xxx” –book? Article?

Male protagonists are codedly feminine—mutant or disabled men as well as all women.

Wright “queerly inflected” about Bujold

All characters talking about are men and dead.

5 deities created
Bujold said she “wanted a different religion, one with some parity built in.”

Holy Family breaks hetero-normative
Queers because bastard is result of mother and a demon

Differences played out on bodies of men

Five holy points =
Wound not controlled, bleeding uncontrolled ? women’s bleeding

Self-consciously simple… but stylistic choices in visions… lacking in sf novels
Male body penetrated, feminization
Thinking about selections for printing out for handout
Feminine coding of men … binding the male body to female = rape, torture, disability

No academic discussion of why male heterosexual characters are discussed in terms of queerness.
Realized how Bujold handles male characters…
In Chalion male character is created like fanfiction. Comfort hurt fiction. Protagonist is hurt and someone else is comforting.
Bujold was a fanfiction writer.

Think Bujold writing about males’ bodies is related to how folks relate to comfort hurt fanfiction.
Relates to author Pieuw? (pieu, pew?) female writers incorporated tropes in orig historical tropes

New question: Are women incorporating hurt/comfort tropes in fiction?


SCMLA: Storyworlds

by Dr Davis on October 21, 2014

Colin Irvine, Augsburg College (Minneapolis)
“Reading into the World of Panem”

associate prof, literature, environmental

Marie-Laure Ryan writes on dystopian texts and story worlds
Textual worlds—both imagined and real
Hunger Games, where is District 12 in the Appalachians?
Protagonists stand in for the reader.

How he introduces his class:
Students often enter classroom stories like sleepwalkers, almost unconscious and fumbling.
The Way We Think—about reading, quote
Polar opposite of characters at beginning of Hunger Games

Students entry to course literature.
Ways that they think literarily when introduced to reading.

Couple of cartoons, what is this? Line drawings
Man lifting hat. Gutter/gap fill
Cocreate characters

A vixen sneered at a lioness because she never bore more than one cub.
“Only one,” lioness replied, “but a lion.”
Strange about the story? Animals are talking.

Discussing texts and theories
Gerard Jay’s paratexts and narrative levels
Intra-diegetic level…

Show video from beginning of Get Smart. We walk into the story world, paratext. Gives us clues.

Threshold of paratexts… analyze the texts at the beginning
Ways each text makes most of the liminal space

Hidden, secrets, sources of suspense are common to fiction.
Unfolding and revelation = narrative

Situating protagonist in uncomfortable/unknown setting.
Complicates text.

Hunger Games beginning
Who is the narrator? Where is she waking up? What is reaping?
Divergent opening also.

Who are characters? Where are they? When are they?
Storyworlds themselves. Don’t know where they reside.

Ryan’s topology 5 types.
· Actual world
· Actual possible world
· Non-actual possible (Dems and Reps working together)
· Textual actual world
· Textual reference world (or alternate possible world, housed in mind of writer)

Textual actual v textual reference worlds
Explaining: Rowling’s experience of writing. In middle of the series. Have world. Rowling understood the textual reference world—where seemingly
5 years on HP and Philosopher’s Stones were laying down the rules. What characters can’t do.

Two additional
Textual Actual (fabricated) Arena/Game World (TAGW)
Textual Actual but Initially Unknown World, commonly coming after or outside the first book in series, (TAIUW)

Overlapping textual and actual worlds and way in reader warps into world of characters, we are linked to story by events in story.

What it means to grow up in a changing world.


SCMLA: Science Fiction panel

by Dr Davis on October 21, 2014

South Central Modern Language Association met this year in Austin and, contrary to prior years, met on Saturday through Tuesday.

I attended the science fiction panel at SCMLA on Monday, October 21. The session was well attended and had some great speakers.

steampunk_word_processor_icon_microsoft_word_typewriter by_yereverluvinuncleberScience Fiction and Fantasy Literature
Chair: Alexios Moore, Columbia College-Chicago
Secretary: Bonnie Noonan, Xavier U

Colin Irvine, Augsburg College (Minneapolis)
“Reading into the World of Panem”

associate prof, literature, environmental

Robin Anne Reid, Texas A&M
“Holy Family: Divine Queerness in Bujold’s Chalion Series”

creative writing, new media, critical theory, fantastic literatures—esp. Tolkien

Joe R. Christopher, Tarleton State
“The Negative Quest of Bradamant”

professor emeritus, pub. Full-length critical works on Tolkien and Lewis

Robert Stanton, South U: Austin
“Excessive and Appropriate Gifts: Hospitality and Violence in Game of Thrones.”

program director of …