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 English 1103, Theatre, Writing

ENG 1103: Another Way with Words

Helga (Jane Lucas) and Jozephina (Cass Weston) in the Creative Greensboro production of The Wolves of Ravensbruk (2022).

The essay that follows is the literacy narrative that I wrote as a model for you.


Another Way with Words

What do a Nazi prison guard, a medieval abbess, a Mexican maid, and a seventy-two-year-old bag lady have in common? They’re all character roles that I’ve played on stage. Though acting is one of my favorite pastimes, each new role is a source of anxiety. I am comfortable on stage, but backstage, as I prepare to enter, is another story.  Preparing for my entrances as María, the Mexican maid, in Glorious! were some of the most nerve-wracking moments of my stage career. I remember vividly standing backstage holding a large tray with a tea pot, two teacups, a slice of cake, napkins, and silverware. As I held the tray, my hands began to sweat, and I worried not only that the tray might slip out of my hands but also that the words I was supposed to speak might slip from my mind.

Robert (David Ingle) and Berthe (Jane Lucas) in The Green Room’s production of Boeing Boeing (2017). / Ken Burns

Though the fear of forgetting my lines is always with me backstage, that fear was heightened when I played María because her lines were all in Spanish. The challenge inherent in learning lines was compounded by the cognitive shift required of learning them as a non-native speaker. When I say kitchen, in my mind I see a kitchen, but when I say cocina, I do not. As María, for the first time, I wasn’t visualizing my lines. Instead, I was memorizing a series of unfamiliar sounds. I knew their English translation, but I couldn’t link the signs to the signifiers, not the way I could in English.

Marie (Nikkita Gibson) and Abbess Agatha (Jane Lucas) in Hickory Community Theatre’s production of Incorruptible (2016) / Ken Burns

Preparing to play María meant increasing the hours I devote to my lines, including the practices of writing my lines on note cards, recording my lines and their cues, and writing my lines over and over in my theatre journal. As one of my first steps in the line-learning process, I type my lines and paste them onto three-by-five note cards. On the back of each note card, I write my cues in pencil. I start by memorizing the lines on the first card, usually four or five. And once I’ve learned those, I memorize the ones on the second card, and so on. Learning my cues as well my lines enables me to follow my partner’s words on stage even if he or she jumps ahead by dropping a line.

Arthur (Peter Bost) and Lady Boyle (Jane Lucas) in Hickory Community Theatre’s production of Superior Donuts (2016) / Ken Burns

In addition to putting my lines and cues on notecards, I record them with a voice recorder app on my phone. Listening to myself as I drive to rehearsal further helps me to learn the words. Along with studying my notecards and listening to my recorded lines, I write my lines over and over in my theatre notebook, the same way that as a student I would recopy my class notes as a way of studying for a test.

Now as I find myself studying lines for yet another play, one staged by Goodly Frame theatre company, I am reminded of the importance of trusting the process. I will not learn my lines as quickly as I would like to, and waiting backstage to say them will always be nerve-wracking, but becoming another person on stage remains pure joy. For me as a writer, acting is another way of working with words, a process of transporting them from the page to the stage and transforming the language into the utterances of a living, breathing character—someone who isn’t me but in whom I can “live truthfully,” as the acting teacher Sanford Meisner would say, “under the given imaginary circumstances.”

Posted in English 1103, Reading, Teaching, Writing

ENG 1103: More Models for Your Literacy Narrative

Junod, Tom. “The Falling Man.” Esquire, vol. 140, no. 3, Sept. 2003, pp. 176+. Gale Academic OneFile Selecthttps://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A106423422/EAIM?u=hpu_main&sid=bookmark-EAIM&xid=ce48797f.

In class today we will examine two additional models for your literacy narrative. Unlike Keller’s and Sedaris’ essays, “The Falling Man” and The Blind Side aren’t literacy narratives but Tom Junod‘s and Michel Lewis‘ writing serve as excellent examples for anyone engaged in the craft of writing nonfiction.

Unless you subscribe to Esquire, the magazine’s paywall will deny you  access to the full text of “The Falling Man”; but if you’re interested in reading it in full, you can access it through the HPU Library site by following these steps:

  1. Go to the HPU Library site.
  2. Under the heading “Search HPU Libraries . . . ,” click on the “Articles” tab.
  3. Under the “Articles” tab, type Tom Junod “Falling Man” Esquire in the search box and click “search.”
  4. On the next screen, you will see a brief summary of the article. Click “Access Online” to view the full article.

Some of you have asked about paragraphing. As a rule, you should begin a new paragraph when you present a new idea or point. If you have an extended idea that spans multiple paragraphs, each new point within that idea should have its own paragraph. But there are exceptions to this. Although the first paragraph of “The Falling Man” could be divided into two or more paragraphs, Lewis chooses to present it as one paragraph of more than four hundred words, more than the minimum length of your entire literacy narrative. Consider why Lewis may have chosen to present the beginning of his essay as one long paragraph rather than two or more shorter ones.

Among the elements of the first paragraph of The Blind Side that I asked you to examine was Michael Lewis’ use of appositives.

Posted in English 1103, Reading, Social Media, Teaching

ENG 1103: Page and Screen and “The Chaos Machine”

The Chaos Machine, the new book by New York Times journalist Max Fisher explores how social media has altered our lives. Because Fisher’s books focuses on our class theme, our lives in the digital world, it’s an ideal text for us to examine, and the High Point Univeristy Library has agreed to buy a copy for our use. We will study an excerpt from Fisher’s book in class, and you will have the opportunity to use it as one of the sources for your final essay and annotated bibliography.

Next Up

At the beginning of class on Monday, I will collect your completed worksheets for Lesson Three in the Check, Please! course. If you are absent from class today, Friday, September 9, when I distribute the worksheet, you can download a copy from Blackboard.

Also, in class on Monday, we will examine two additional models for your literacy narrative, and you will collaboratively explore the writers’ use of description and development.

Posted in English 1103, Scrabble, Teaching

ENG 1103: Two-Letter Words, B-E

The September 1 Scrabble blog post featured the sixteen playable two-letter words beginning with “a.” Learning those two-letter words, as well as the others that follow in the alphabet, will enable you to see more options for play and increase the number of points you earn in a single turn.

Here’s a list of the playable words beginning with “b,” “d,” and “e.”

  • ba: the soul in ancient Egyptian spirituality
  • bi: a bisexual
  • bo: a pal
  • by: a side issue
  • de: of; from
  • do: a tone on a scale
  • ed: education
  • ef: the letter f (also eff)
  • eh: used to express doubt
  • el: an elevated train
  • em: the letter m
  • en: the letter n
  • er: used to express hesitation
  • es: the letter s
  • et: a past tense of eat
  • ex: the letter x

Next Up

Wordplay Day! To prepare for class, review Tips and Tools on the Scrabble site. Also review the blog posts devoted to Scrabble.

Coming Soon

At the beginning of class on Monday, I will collect your completed worksheets for Lesson Three in the Check, Please! course. If you are absent from class on Friday, September 9, when I distribute the worksheet, you can download a copy from Blackboard.

Also, in class on Monday, we will examine two additional models for your literacy narrative, and you will collaboratively explore the writers’ use of description and development.

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 English 1103, Reading, Teaching, Writing

ENG 1103: Model Literacy Narratives

As a model for your own literacy narratives, today in class we will examine “Me Talk Pretty One Day,” originally published in Esquire magazine and later as the title essay in David Sedaris’ 2000 essay collection.

After we read  Sedaris’ essay, you will collaborate in groups of four to complete an exercise that involves exploring these aspects of his writing:

  • Shifts from summary to scene and vice versa
  • Figurative language
  • Hyperbole
  • Vivid detail

I will also ask you to consider what elements are the strongest aspects of the essay and whether “Me Talk Pretty One Day” has given you any ideas for developing your own narrative. Time permitting, we will also read Helen Keller’s essay “The Day Language Came into My Life.”

To read more of Sedaris’ essays, see the list of links under the heading Writing and Radio on his website. You can read more of Helen Keller’s autobiography, the full text in fact, here: The Story of My Life. “The Day Language Came into My Life” is Chapter Four.

Next Up

For Wednesday you should read Keller’s essay (if you don’t have time to read it in class today), and compose a short summary of both her essay and Sedaris.’ Aim for a minimum of fifty words each.

Keep Keller’s and Sedaris’ essays in your pocket portfolio and continue to look to them as models as you revise your literacy narrative. You will receive your draft with my notes at the beginning of Wednesday’s class, and you will have the class period to continue to revise. You will have an additional week to devote to your essay before you post it. It is due (on Blackboard and on your WordPress blog) before class the morning of Wednesday, September 14; the hard deadline is the morning of Friday, September 16.

Posted in English 1103, Scrabble, Teaching

ENG 1103: Parallel Play

Parallel play increases your score through the points you earn by spelling more than one word in a single turn. In the first play of the hypothetical game pictured above, the team would score sixteen points by spelling enact with the t on the center double word square. With the second turn, the other team could take advantage of the opportunity for parallel play. If the team knew that aa is a type of lava, they could earn twenty-four points with four words: whoa, he, on, and aa.

Two-Letter Words Beginning with A

Aa is one of sixteen playable two-letter words beginning with a. Learning these two-letter words, as well as the others that follow in the alphabet, will enable you to see more options for play and increase the number of points you earn in a single turn.

  • aa: a type of stony, rough lava
  • ab: an abdominal muscle
  • ad: an advertisement
  • ae: one
  • ag: agriculture
  • ah: an exclamation
  • ai: a three-toed sloth
  • al: a type of East Indian tree
  • am: the first-person singular present form of to be
  • an: an indefinite article
  • ar: the letter r
  • as: similar to
  • at: in the position of
  • aw: an expression of sadness or protest
  • ay: a vote in the affirmative (also aye)

Important Note about Challenges

The game rules inside the Scrabble box top do not specify that a player or team that challenges a playable word will lose a turn, but David Bukszpan’s book Is That a Word? notes that the player or team does lose a turn. According to Bukszpan:

“[I]f a word is challenged and found not to be legal (called a phony in Scrabble parlance), the player that set it down loses a turn. Conversely, if a challenged word is found to be playable, the challenger loses his turn” (19).

Work Cited

Bukszapan, David. Is That a Word?: From AA to ZZZ, the Weird and Wonderful Language of SCRABBLE. Chronicle, 2012. p.19.


Coming Soon

At the beginning of class on Monday, September 5, I will collect your completed worksheet for Lesson Two of the Check, Please! starter course. If you are absent tomorrow when I distribute worksheets or you misplace your copy, you can download and print one from Blackboard or here: