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Read Around Groups

Help students learn to identify the qualities of strong writing by “increas[ing] the volume and speed of peer review in class.” See the short tutorial below on how to use this strategy to provide global feedback.

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Reflection as Metacognition

On Monday afternoon, Lee McGaan led a workshop titled “Reflection as Metacognition” that presented some of his sabbatical research on how we can help students learn to be better learners. We talked about both how we can prepare students to perform well (by being more explicit about our goals) and how we can help them learn from their mistakes (by using strategies such as exam wrappers). The materials from the workshop, including Lee’s slides, are linked below.

What is metacognition?

Metacognition can be learned

Teaching Metacognition

Preparing for Metacognitive Learning

Metacognition – 3 reflective steps



Lecture, Assignment and Exam Wrappers

Metacognition – Reflection Log

Metacognitive skills – set goals, learn strategies, evaluate learning

Post Exam Reflection Form

Questions to Stimulate Metacognitive Reflection and Learning

Reflection as Metacognition [slideshow]




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Cheri Simonds visit

Thank you to everyone who attended events for Cheri Simonds’ recent visit! Thanks especially to Lori Walters-Kramer for help co-hosting Cheri while she was here.

At 11:00, Cheri presented on “Guiding Effective Classroom Discussions.” She encouraged us to use Bloom’s Taxonomy to design reading guide questions (“Preparing to Participate,” or P2Ps) that would balance low level/low stakes comprehension questions with higher order questions that involve application, evaluation, and reflection. These questions, she argued, prepare students to succeed in a discussion-based classroom. In designing these questions, we should ask ourselves “How do I want my students to be thinking about this material before they come to class?”

In addition to promoting the value of being explicit with our students about our expectations for class preparation and active learning, Cheri also encouraged us to use assessments to help students self-evaluate their participation. For participation assessments, students keep a pocket folder with a worksheet that asks them to score their participation for that day and provide a rationale, along with their homework, to be collected at the end of class each day. This becomes an exercise not only in self-assessment but also in argumentation, as students justify and provide evidence of the score they claim to deserve. For a participation log, students keep a daily record of what they prepared before class and what they contributed during class; this log is collected with homework assignments at the midterm and end of the semester along with a short one-page paper making a case for what participation grade they deserve, again requiring them to provide evidence and justification for that grade. Examples of these self-assessments, along with sample P2Ps and other materials from Cheri, are linked in linked in this handout.

She also gave another tip to encourage students to ask questions: rather than asking “Do you have any questions?” she suggests asking instead “What questions do you have?” Cheri also talked about how things like the seating arrangement can shape students’ perception of expertise: by seating students in a semi-circle, for instance, it signals to students that they should listen to each other and that knowledge is co-constructed via discussion.

At 2:00, Cheri led a workshop on “Enhancing Classroom Climate through Communication Practices.” She emphasized three communication practices–immediacy, clarity, and credibility–as essential for student motivation and learning. These variables are relational (they are about how we build relationships with students) and perceptual (students must perceive a teacher as such in order to be effective). Together, we brainstormed ways that we can model these qualities to our students, and the potential benefits of doing so. Some highlights include:


  • play a “name game” on the first day of class and quiz students on each others’ names at the end of the first class period; one idea is to ask each student to tell a story (real or fictional) of their name.
  • check in with students about how they feel about assignments and due dates
  • give students thorough and timely feedback
  • make your office cozy and inviting
  • see James McCrosky’s immediacy scales


  • be prepared, organized, and on time
  • be fair and trustworthy, and follow through on your commitments
  • hold yourself to the same high standards (academic, ethical, etc) that you hold students accountable to
  • admit your mistakes
  • convey to students that you have their best interests in mind


  • preview and summarize key ideas, and connect daily class activities to previous and upcoming lessons
  • provide handouts that help students break down tasks like reading, writing, and studying into steps they can follow
  • give students rubrics/criteria for evaluation and models of A and C quality work, and discuss both together when assignments are given
  • tell students the goals of each assignment: how it fits the class, why it is worth doing, and how it applies to their life broadly


Cheri Simonds handouts

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Digital Storytelling

Are you interested in exploring digital storytelling? Try Story Maps. Their website notes: “Story Maps let you combine authoritative maps with narrative text, images, and multimedia content. They make it easy to harness the power of maps and geography to tell your story.”



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Strike Force Visits

While having a tutor visit your class during the first week to make a pitch for the Writing Center is valuable, new research suggests that it is more effective to have tutors lead an active learning session; read more here. Here at Monmouth, we offer strike force visits: tutors will visit your class to lead small group peer review sessions on paper drafts. These sessions help students to give and receive constructive feedback, and it increases the chances that they will visit the Writing Center for future drafts or papers. To schedule a strike force visit for your class, contact Bridget.

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Reverse Course Design

Don’t lose the forest for the trees! Use reverse course design to plan your next class.


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The Writing Process

Upper Iowa University’s Writing Center has assembled an excellent collection of resources for students at all stages of the writing process, in a best-of list with favorites from the Purdue OWL and other Writing Center/Library websites. Click here to read more. Topics include:

UNC Chapel Hill also has a great page of resources for writers that I highly recommend!

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Making Drafts Count

David Gooblar offers some unexpected advice for getting students to invest time and effort into writing rough drafts. In his article “Making Drafts Count,” he writes, “Don’t be hamstrung by an overly strict conception of what makes a draft. Rather than dry runs at the finished product, think of drafts as more like a series of projects that help students refine and improve their ideas along the way to the finish line. By making the invention process creative, we encourage students to take the components of that process seriously. And the more seriously that students treat their drafts, the more likely the process will be useful to them.”



– See more at:”

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Getting Started with DH: Baking Gingerbread


What are the digital humanities, exactly? Read Jean Bauer’s excellent post “Baking Gingerbread, as a DH Project” for an accessible overview. Here’s a sneak peek:

“…my gingerbread was a Digital Humanities project.  I didn’t design a database for this one, or write a single line of code, but that has never defined DH for me anyway.  I did make ‘a thing.’  I made it using the resources I had available to me, lab procedure, tacit knowledge, and pre-built digital tools.  I decided on the project in consultation with those it would most impact.  But none of that makes it ‘DH’ either  — at least not for me.

“What, IMHO, makes my gingerbread Digital Humanities, is that I made it thinking about the systems and structures that I participated in.  This time I didn’t have a research question, I just had a goal.  But I didn’t leave my training in history or information architecture at the door.  I brought them with me.  That doesn’t change the gingerbread.  It should taste the same.  But for me, DH is in the process, not the outcome.

“And I am sick and tired of people with strong technical skills sitting on their mountains and declaring that non-programmers can’t ‘do DH’ or that a certain project ‘isn’t real DH’ because it doesn’t meet some imaginary standard of DIY grit and sophistication, or that somehow becoming a more diverse community will mean lowering our standards.

“Digital Humanities needs both sides.  It needs all sides.  DH should be a conversation, a process, and a community.”

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Minimal Marking: Giving Student Feedback that Matters

David Gooblar offers great advice on “Getting Them To Read Our Comments.” 


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