Posted in Check, Please!, English 1103, Teaching

ENG 1103: Leveling, Sharpening, and Assimilating

Fake photo of Biggie Smalls and Curt Cobain featured in Lesson Five of Check, Please! as an example of assimilatuing.

This morning at the beginning of class, I collected your fifth and final Check, Please! worksheets. My version of the assignment appears below.

Check, Please! Lesson Five Assignment

In the fifth lesson of the Check, Please!, Starter Course, Mike Caulfield, author of the course and Director of Blended and Networked Learning at Washington State University, covers the final step in the five-step SIFT approach: “Trace Claims, Quotes, and Media to Their Original Context.” Caulfield outlines the process of locating the original context as an antidote to the issues of accuracy that occur when information passes through intermediaries.

One of the most instructive portions of lesson five features a passage in which Caulfield cites a study of how stories evolve as gossip through the processes of leveling (stripping details), sharpening (adding or emphasizing details), and assimilating, which combines the two. In the process of assimilation “the details that were omitted and the details that were added or emphasized are chosen because they either fit what the speaker thinks is the main theme of the story, or what the speaker thinks the listener will be most interested in.” Similarly, leveling, sharpening, and assimilating all figure in the altered photographs and memes in lesson four. The abbreviated speech of the NRA’s CEO, Wayne LaPierre, which omits commentary, inaccurately indicates a contradiction in his stance on the presence of guns in schools.

The picture of photographer Kawika Singson featured in Lesson Five of Check, pLease as an example of leveling.

The image of photographer Kawika Singson with flames at his feet serves as an example of leveling. Although the flames are real, they were not caused by the heat of the lava flow where Singson stands with his tripod. Instead, to create the image, a friend of his poured accelerant on the lava before Singson stepped into the frame. The deception wasn’t intentional; Singson simply wanted the image for his Facebook cover photo.

Unlike Singson’s photograph, the altered photograph of the Notorious B.I.G. with Kurt Cobain was created with the intent to deceive. Cropping and merging the two photographs illustrates the assimilation process adopted by Photoshop users to appeal to music fans eager to think that such fictional meetings of icons took place. Krist Novoselic, who founded Nirvana with Cobain, replied to the is-it-real question with his own fake photo, making the claim that the hand holding the cigarettes was Shakur’s, that he had been cropped from the right.

Work Cited

Caulfield, Mike. Check, Please! Starter Course, 2021,             https://webliteracy.pressbooks.com/front-matter/updated-resources-for-2021/.

Posted in Check, Please!, English 1103, Teaching, Writing

ENG 1103: Check, Please! Lesson Four

A viral photo featured in Lesson Four as an example of false framing.

This morning in class I collected your worksheets for the fourth lesson of Check, Please! The paragraphs that follow are my version of the assignment.

Check, Please! Lesson Four Assignment

In the fourth lesson of the Check, Please!, Starter Course, Mike Caulfield, author of the course and Director of Blended and Networked Learning at Washington State University, focuses his instruction on the third step in the four-step SIFT approach to determining the reliability of a source. Lesson four, “Find Trusted Coverage,” addresses these topics: (1) scanning Google News for relevant stories, (2) using known fact-checking sites, and (3) conducting a reverse-image search to find a relevant source for an image.

One of the concepts Caulfield introduces in lesson four is click restraint, which was given its name by Sam Wineberg, Professor of History and Education at Stanford, and Sarah McGrew, Assistant Professor of Education at the University of Maryland. Click Restraint is an activity that fact checkers practice regularly, but average people do not. Fact checkers resist the impulse to click on the first result, opting instead to scan multiple results to find one that combines trustworthiness and relevance.

Caulfield also considers the issue of false frames and offers as an example the miscaptioned photo of a young woman that circulated widely after the 2017 London Bridge attack. In the photo, the woman, who is wearing a hijab, is looking down at her phone as she walks past one of the victims lying by the side of the road, surrounded by members of the rescue team. Because the woman’s face is blurred, viewers of the miscaptioned picture cannot see the look of shock that is visible in her face in another image taken by the same photographer. Subsequently, her apparent lack of concern for the victim seems to confirm the caption in the infamous tweet.

Choosing a general search term over a specific one is a useful and unexpected tip Caulfield includes in his discussion of image searches. He explains that the benefit of such a bland term as “letter” or “photo” will prevent the confirmation bias that can lead to the proliferation of disinformation through false frames.

Work Cited

Caulfield, Mike. Check, Please! Starter Course, 2021,            https://webliteracy.pressbooks.com/front-matter/updated-resources-for-2021/.


Next Up

Wednesday in class you will plan and draft your analysis. Be sure to bring your copy of Writing Analytically to class as well as your pocket portfolio with the articles and essays we have studied in class. You will have the opportunity to devote your analysis to any one of those readings, including “Blogs vs. Term Papers,” “Me Talk Pretty One Day,” “The Day Language Came into My Life,” “Back Story” (from The Blind Side), “The Falling Man,” and “Skim Reading is the New Normal.”

Posted in Check, Please!, Scrabble

ENG 1103: Two-Letter Words, F-L

Learning these two-letter words, as well as the others in the alphabet, will enable you to see more options for play and increase the number of points you earn in a single turn.

  • fa: a tone on the diatonic scale
  • fe: a Hebrew letter
  • go: a Japanese board game
  • ha: used to express surprise
  • he: a pronoun signifying a male
  • hi: an expression of greeting
  • hm: used to express consideration
  • ho: used to express surprise
  • id: the least censored part of the three-part psyche
  • if: a possibility
  • in: to harvest (a verb, takes -s, -ed, -ing)
  • is: the third-person singular present form of “to be”
  • it: a neuter oronoun
  • jo: a sweetheart
  • ka: the spiritual self in ancient Egyptian spirituality
  • ki: the vital life force in Chinese spirituality (also qi)
  • la: a tone of the diatonic scale
  • li: a Chinese unit of distance
  • lo: an expression of surprise

Next Up

At the beginning of class on Monday, September 19, I will collect the worksheets for your fourth Check, Please! assignment. If you were absent today or misplace the copy you recieved in class, you can download a copy from Blackboard.

Posted in Check, Please!, English 1103, Teaching, Writing

ENG 1103: Award-Winning Writing and Check, Please!

Lillian Ellmore, who was an English 1103 student of mine last spring, has been named the national winner of the 2021 Hungry for Education scholarship program sponsored by the restaurant Denny’s. In an article about Ellmore’s achievement, The High Point Enterprise staff reported that Hungry for Education “recognizes and rewards students who show initiative and creativity in helping Denny’s fight childhood hunger.”

In addition to composing an essay for the contest, Ellmore also appeared on Denny’s podcast to be considered for the scholarship.

Ellmore, who is from Lexington, Massachussetts, is a sophomore communications major.

Congratulations, Lillian, on a job well done!


Check, Please! Lesson Three

At the beginning of class on Monday, I collected your Check, Please! worksheets for lesson three. The paragraphs that follow are my version of the assignment.

In the third lesson of the Check, Please!, Starter Course, Mike Caulfield, author of the course and Director of Blended and Networked Learning at Washington State University, continues his instruction on the second step in four-step SIFT approach to determining the reliability of a source. Lesson three, “Further Investigation” covers these topics: (1) Just add Wikipedia for names and organizations, (2) Google Scholar searches for verifying expertise, (3) Google News searches for information about organizations and individuals, (4) the nature of state media and how to identify it, and (5) the difference between bias and agenda.

One of the most instructive parts of lesson three focuses on two news stories about MH17, Malyasia Airlines Flight 17, a passenger flight scheduled to land in Kuala Lumpur that was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014. While the second story, a television news segment, appears to present detailed investigative reporting challenging the conclusion of the Dutch Safety Board and Dutch-led joint investigation team–the conclusion that Russia was to blame–a quick just-add-Wikipedia check reveals that RT (formerly Russia Today) is a Russian state-controlled international TV network, a government propaganda tool rather than a source of fair and balanced news. The first video, the one produced by Business Insider, a financial and business news site, delivers accurate coverage of MH17.

Another notable segment of “Further Investigation” addresses the important distinction between “bias” and “agenda.” There, Caulfield observes that “[p]ersonal bias has real impacts. But bias isn’t agenda, and it’s agenda that should be your primary concern for quick checks,” adding that “[b]ias is about how people see things; agenda is about what a news or research organization is set up to do.”

Work Cited

Caulfield, Mike. Check, Please! Starter Course, 2021, https://webliteracy.com/pressbooks.com/front-matter/updated-resources-for-2021/.

Posted in Check, Please!, English 1103, Teaching, Writing

ENG 1103: Revising the Literacy Narrative

For your literacy narrative, as well as all of your other major writing assignments, you have the opportunity to earn five extra credit points for consulting with a Writing Center tutor.

To schedule an appointment, visit https://highpoint.mywconline.com, email the Writing Center’s director, Justin Cook, at jcook3@highpoint.edu, or scan the QR code below. To earn bonus points for your literacy narrative, consult with a writing center tutor no later than Thursday, September 15.


Check, Please! Lesson Two

At the beginning of class on Monday, September 5, I collected your worksheets for Check, Please! lesson two. My sample version of the assignment appears below.

Check, Please! Lesson Two Assignment

In the second lesson of the Check, Please! Starter Course, Mike Caulfield, author of the course and Director of Blended and Networked Learning at Washington State University, introduces the second step in four-step SIFT approach to determining the reliability of a source. Lesson two offers instruction in “move” (“Investigate the Source”) and one of the web search techniques associated with it (“[J]ust add Wikipedia”).

One of the most useful practices presented in lesson two is Caulfield’s follow-up to the Wikipedia strategy that he outlines in the previous lesson. After he reviews that strategy, Caulfield explains how to use the control-f keyboard shortcut (command-f on a Mac). Typing control-f (or command-f) will open a small textbox in the upper right of the screen. Typing a word you are searching for will highlight the first appearance of the word in the text. Hitting return will highlight each subsequent appearance of the word.

Lesson two introduced me to fauxtire, a term for websites such as World News Daily Report, based in Tel Aviv, that present themselves as satirical but in fact serve primarily to perpetuate disinformation.

Perhaps the most memorable portion of lesson two was the side-by-side comparison of the websites for the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Pediatricians. Though at first glance the two appear comparable, using the Wikipedia strategy reveals their profound differences. While AAP is the premiere authority on children’s health and well-being, ACP was founded to protest the adoption of children by single-sex couples and is widely viewed as a single-issue hate organization.

Caulfield, Mike. Check, Please! Starter Course, 2021, https://webliteracy.pressbooks.com/front-matter/updated-esources-for-2021/.


Next Up

Wordplay Day! To up your game, review the Tips and Tools page on the Scrabble site, and review the blog posts devoted to Scrabble.

Posted in Check, Please!, English 1103, Teaching, Writing

ENG 1103: Check, Please! and Student Writing Samples

Mike Caulfield, author of the Check, Please! starter course and Director of Blended and Networked Learning at Washington State University / Caulfield, Mike. Check, Please! Starter Course, 2021, htttps://webliteracy.pressbooks.com/front-matter/updated-resources-for-2021/.

At the beginning of today’s class I will collect your worksheets for Lesson One of the Check, Please! starter course. My sample version of the assignment appears below (as well as on your worksheet and on Blackboard).

Sample Check, Please! Assignment

Check, Please! Lesson One Assignment

In the first lesson of the Check, Please!, Starter Course, Mike Caulfield, author of the course and Director of Blended and Networked Learning at Washington State University, introduces the four-step SIFT approach to determining the reliability of a source: (1) “Stop,” (2) “Investigate,” (3) “Find better coverage,” and (4) “Trace claims, quotes, and media to the original context.”

One of the most useful practices presented in lesson one is what the author terms the “Wikipedia Trick.” Deleting everything that follows a website’s URL (including the slash), adding a space, typing “Wikipedia,” and hitting “enter” will yield the site’s Wikipedia page. The Wikipedia entry that appears at the top of the screen may indicate the source’s reliability or lack thereof.

The most memorable segment of lesson one is the short, riveting video “The Miseducation of Dylann Roof,” which begins with the narrator asking the question, “How does a child become a killer?” Produced by the Southern Poverty Law Center, it documents how algorithms can lead unskilled web searchers down paths of disinformation. In the worst cases, such as Roof’s, algorithms can lead searchers to the extremist propaganda of radical conspiracy theorists.

Work Cited

Caulfield, Mike. Check, Please! Starter Course, 2021, htttps://webliteracy.pressbooks.com/front-matter/updated-resources-for-2021/.


Sample Student Writing

Today in class we will also examine some anonymous student samples from last Friday’s collaborative writing on habits of mind. Among the questions I will ask you to consider are these:

  1. Have the writers briefly defined the subject (the habit of mind)?
  2. Have they included concrete details that demonstrate how one or more group members have developed that habit of mind?

Post Script

Scrabble invloves a combination of luck and skill, and luck was clearly on my side yesterday morning when I was able to Scrabble, or Bingo (for an additional fifty points), by playing all seven of my tiles. Using the e in ace as a bridge, I was able to play squeezes with the q on a double letter score, the first e on a double letter score, and the final letter, s, on a double word score for a total of 124 points.

Posted in Check, Please!, English 1103, Scrabble

ENG 1103: Let the Games Begin!

Yesterday in class, in preparation for our first Wordplay Day tomorrow, I offered an overview of Scrabble  and presented an example of the potential importance of tile placement by the first team to play. The first word of the game may be played horizontally or vertically, but one letter must be on the center double-word square. I projected the sample below, noting that it was a valid first play but not the best option. Why, I asked, would the first team profit from a different choice?

The image that follows illustrates the benefits of placing the a, rather than the r, on the center square. With the r on the center square, zebra is simply a double word-scoring play for a total of thirty-two points. If, instead, the team places the a on the center square, zebra is a double word-scoring play with z on a double letter square for a total of fifty-two points, twenty more than the team would have gained by placing the r on the center square.

Imagine that early in your Scrabble game, the seven tiles on your rack are I-U-K-L-N-R-blank. If the q hasn’t been played yet, you would be wise to hold onto the u. There are only four in bag. If you play your u, and don’t draw another one but draw the q, it will be difficult to play the q since there are only a few words that contain a q that isn’t followed by a u.

Holding onto your blank is also a good idea. A blank has no point value, but it can be used as any letter. There are only two in the bag. Having one of the blanks late in the game may help you out of a tight spot or enable you to score high by playing the blank as a hook and forming more than one word.

Of course, there are exceptions to this. Early in your Scrabble game, if the seven tiles on your rack are I-U-K-L-N-R-blank, you may want to risk the chance of not drawing another u or blank. Playing the word lurking would be a Scrabble or a bingo, the terms for playing all seven of the tiles on your rack, which earns you fifty bonus points.


Next Up

Tomorrow, at the beginning of Wordplay Day, I will distribute the worksheet for your first Check , Please! assignment. If you are absent or misplace the copy you receive in class, you can download and print a copy from the link below, or download and print one from Blackboard. Your completed Check, Please! worksheet is due at the beginning of class on Monday, August 29.