IEPA 050 Reading and Writing is a high-intermediate and low-advanced course for non-native English speakers – international students heading for the U.S. colleges and universities. Typically, I have from 16 to 20 students and we meet three times per week for two hours each class. The students have some basic knowledge about how to write an essay but also need to expand their vocabulary and improve grammar in writing (parts of speech, subject-verb agreement, connecting clauses in expanded sentences, etc.).
Unlike other lower-level courses, this course uses authentic reading texts for conducting scholarly research and writing an argumentative essay and summary-responses. These two major types of assignments require a mastery of a host of skills and subskills such as summarizing and paraphrasing, active reading and annotation, identifying and critiquing opposing viewpoints, evaluating and using appropriate evidence, using and formatting outside sources in APA style, just to name a few among other necessary skills.
Because it is an intensive and high-paced course, my students should learn a lot of material within a relatively short period of time. Therefore, adding an online component should expand and augment student learning and yield better academic results. Most of the instruction will be given online through video lessons. I plan to make the recordings as interactive as possible. For example, students will be asked to pause, then answer some questions or do a quick task before they can continue with the lesson and immediate feedback. Each video lesson is going to be within 5-12 minutes long, followed by a Q&A session on Discussion Forum. Some of the video instructions will be completed with an online quiz to monitor progress and to ensure student accountability. It will be essential for the students to go through online instruction and evaluation (quizzes) to learn some skills and expand knowledge necessary to do the follow-up activities in the classroom. The emphasis in class is for the students to be able to apply their internalized material to new contexts, to be able to do what I plan for them to do in this course.
However, it is just as important to be flexible. As Karen Teeley stated, as a teacher, I should be able to adjust my course layout to meet student needs. For instance, if content is too complex, I should be prepared to teach it additionally in class, repeat and modify my explanations and get immediate feedback from students to monitor their comprehension.