Making Connections & The Lady on the Magic Box

This is not technically part of the FLC, but I’m going to share it here anyway. My colleague, Lisa Chamberlin, Evening and Elearning Coordinator at Walla Walla Community College asked me to do a short video and an assignment for her faculty. She’s doing a workshop for faculty who have never taught hybrid courses and she asked me to be the lady on the magic box talking to her faculty. How fun!

We’re talking quite a bit about how to reach faculty who are interested in trying or improving this style of teaching. Maybe you have this conversation happening on your campus, so here’s something you can use. Or you can remix it. Revise it. Whatever makes your heart beat wildly when you talk about hybrid courses. By all means, it’s yours.

I’ve made a short five-minute video with some advice, an assignment the faculty can use, and then an assignment for them to complete as part of Lisa’s workshop. I can’t wait to see what Lisa created, but I know she’s busy building the course. Faculty of Walla Walla, I think you are awesome to give this style of teaching a try. It’s my favorite way to teach!

It’s All About Connections

The idea was for Lisa’s faculty to listen to a video where they have to do an assignment. Thankfully for them, I had four shots of espresso before I made this video. Here’s my five-minute screencast. Listen and learn! 

This is me (wink): 3645214760_cc0328c798_z

Hybrid Survival Techniques

1. Accept that you can’t control the direction of the course everyday. Some days you’ll spend class time setting up the assignments for the OL portion of the course. Some days you’ll spend a lot of time explaining directions. That’s okay.

2. Be flexible on OL days. Don’t require students to “meet” at a certain time. Let them know what you need them to do while being firm and consistent about what you would like for them to accomplish.

3. If you do group work in your course, let the students figure out how to meet on the OL days. Always remember the student who has a job with an inflexible boss. They will also choose their jobs over your course because they need money. HY students need options to thrive.

4. Start every face-to-face meeting with a summary of where happened in the last meeting, what they should have done OL, and how it connects to the next objective or activity. Whatever you write on the board in class, be sure to write the same thing as an announcement. I used my cell phone to take a photo of the board and then I posted that as an announcement if I was too busy summarize.

5. Don’t listen to anyone who says that HY teaching is easier than F2F. They aren’t doing it right. It’s really hard, and you may hate your class for at least five years. Just keep revising privately and act like you love everything about your course with your students. Take notes every day about what you will improve the next time you teach the course.

Here’s example of an assignment that took me close to eight years to like (I’m not exaggerating, I’ll still kind of hate it). I’m modeling the research process here without telling the students that’s what they are doing. My HY course met on OL MW and F2F T/Th. You can use this assignment as a template for your course. All of the text in bold would be hyper-linked within the course.

Student Connections on Discussions

To get started on this week’s discussion, you need to have completed all of the readings for Weeks 4 and Week 5. Then you need to look up the definition of the words: themes, literacy, and analysis. We’ve already defined two of those terms, right?

This discussion has a four-part process, as in, you have four things to do:

By Wednesday at midnight

Step 1:

Copy and paste your best quote from last week’s Discussion on Week 4: “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants.”

Step 2:

Copy and paste one quote from either reading in this week’s module Week 5: October 21-27. Include the name of the author of your quote.

Step 3:

Write two-three paragraphs about how your two quotes reflect a theme. In other words, what’s the thematic connection between your two quotes? How do your chosen quotes connect to our course theme Rhetoric in the Digital Age as defined in the Course Syllabus?

By Sunday at midnight:

Step 4:

Respond to at least three other writers in at least one paragraph for each response.

Then The Teacher Makes Connections (fabulous business suit and pearls optional) 


Responding to Steps 1-3: On Thursday morning, I would read their responses and copy and paste onto a Page the five best responses/questions/ideas/thoughts. In class, I would then have them get into groups to discuss those ideas. They could use their books, their notes, or their own discussion posts to make connections. We’d then report out about what they talked about and a group leader would take notes. The group leader would then post our discussion notes on the same Discussion.

Responding to Step 4: On Monday morning, I’d read their reflections and give them individual feedback about their ideas. This can be very time-consuming, so I would limit what I said to two sentences along with a rubric.

At the end of every individual comment, I copied and pasted this sentence: Please email me if you want to discuss my comments further.

Five Big Questions Assignment For Future HY Teachers

You can use this assignment above as a template for your course. Here’s how you get started writing an assignment like this; start with the Five Big Questions of your course.

Think of the Big Questions you’d like for your students to be able to answer about your course five years from now. In other words, what are the five major things students should know about your course content? Write those five questions. Type them into a Word document. If you have time, write the assignments that help answer those questions. Remember if you have 25 students, you need Big Questions that can be answered 25 ways.


Thanks for reading and listening! Now back to administrative paperwork!

photo credit:


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