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My quick thoughts, back stage, and rants as I try to Teach kids about the Web while learning how to help others build a better Web.

Greg McVerry

Growing reading list for #edu407 Looking for blog post/article recommendations #elachat #3rdchat #4thchat #5thchat

1 min read

Theories of Meaning Making

Phonics and Spelling

Academic Vocabulary


Writing instruction

Assessment Strategy

Creating a Home and Community Culture

Cognitive, Cultural, and Developmental Differentation

Teaching with nonfiction

Teaching with Novels

Teaching with Short Stories

Greg McVerry

Paper is Your Friend for #InstructionalDesign

1 min read

Spent some time working out the design of the class


Designing my online class. Above are three pictures of my notebook. The first is a brainistroming of tasks, the second I flush out the tasks and in the third I describe assessment strategies.

Greg McVerry

Following @jainsaid6

1 min read

I just added Ed Head Ed by Sarah Kessler-Frick to my following page at

I need to add a new section.

Greg McVerry

Microcast Topics for #edu405 and #edu307 with @peggysemingson

1 min read


What do you think of this list? It may look daunting but if we have a loose script for each on standard format be a wonderful investment of our time. If you would like to join us for 5-10 minute audo microcasts thinking these topics:

  • oral language develoment'
  • stages of reading
  • theories of meaning making
  • predictors of reading success
  • phonological awareness
  • phonemic awareness
  • phonics-cvc words, onets rimes,
  • phonics-consonant blends
  • phonics-consonant digraphs
  • phonics-vowel dipthongs
  • phonics-r-controlled blog
  • spelling- syllables and affixes
  • spelling- derivational meanings
  • comprehension-background knowledge
  • comprehension-dialogical reading
  • comprehension-text based analysis
  • comprehension- text based discussion
  • Strategies for Book Clubs
  • Interactive Read alouds, guided reading, literature circles
  • Academic vocabulary
  • Teaching with nonfiction
  • Teaching with Novels
  • Assessment Strategies
  • Favorite Classroom routines


Greg McVerry

Changes to My Core Instructional Design #literacies #digped

3 min read

I got some expected feedback from my online Children's Literature class. A reoccuring theme amongst my students is they feel overwhelemed by the number of tools. To me it fels like the natural tools of networked knowledge building but many students have trouble navigating the tools. I used o use:

  • Class website- for example
  • Class Feed-Linked on the page
  • website, usually a first, where they learn to blog
  • Slack-Our chatroom and hangout
  • Hypothesis-Online Annotation

This semester I am dropping Slack and Hypothesis. I love the tools but clearly my students want less places.....And I am itching tio add more like wikis....but I won't. The shift of mindset alone requires enough effort.


I always want to recreate the culture we have in our online pedagogy groups. A fool's errand. Many of us have hung online toggether for ten years. A decade of of practice can not be baked into one semester.

Though I am starting to get students who have helped to create learning speaces with me in two other classes so maybe this will improve.

Still no students hang out in Slack like we roll in Slack, IRC, or Twitter. The primary reason lies in the realities of the students I serve. Many have two to three jobs. 25% of of my undergraduates have children. Each as a unique life story and experience to bring. This ain't the cookie cutter white fence lives of Ivy League students or even UCONN students. They worry about making rent not the next Spring Break destination.

Having the capcity for networked learning reflects priviledge. No one used the channel. I tried Slack because when I used Known turned into a file cabinent to hand in assignments. If I wanted that I would use Blackboard. Slack was no different. 

Maybe I could have tried more welcoming messages each days, diret messaging people, but I coudl not increae engagement in any class.

The Replacement

I still need chat. It reduces student emails a hundred fold, plus it's how humans learn. So I added a chat room to my IndieWeb Course template.


I love hypothesis. My students do not. Partly because I did not spend as much time in the arrticle stream, but also just preference. Many do not want to read and take notes this way. I feel have a moral obligation not to demand students use a specific method for the external storage of knowledge.

The Replacement

I am going to have students publish Read posts and include block quotes and analysis, and then publish an analysis post synthesizing the readings. Our students, even in their sophmore year of college need support in text based analysis. I feel this step will add in greater reflection.

Class Feed

I have used inoreader the past few years and create a page of class feeds on the website. I am debating whether to try Malcom Blaney but all my students use so I wouldn't get the benefits of having a microsub/micropub social reader.

I don't have a one button push solution for IndieWeb sites and the best we can do with is webmentions with Bridgy.

Probably just stick to Inoreader.

Meeting the Student Needs

This will greatly reduce student navigation. They now will only have to vist the class website and post on their website.

Greg McVerry

Troubled by relationship between the @CollegeBoard and @codeorg #edtechchat #cs4all

1 min read

At IndieWebCamp NYC our keynote speaker presented on good intentons and bad realities.

As I began to map put how we will get every child in Connecticut exposure to computer science in elementary school, a class in middle school, and have certified teachers in high school I hold Maha's words close.

I fear the relationship between and the CollegeBoard who sells the Computer Science Test.

It seems incestuos. The company selling the test is paying the bills for the non-profit who then turns and says judge the success of your program by completing the test sold by this company.

Under the guise of the CollegeBoard continues it's fleecing of American families....well white and rich American familes.

For our underrepresented population taking aan AP exam can be daunting. First you need $80 per test. That is a a lot. Second we now the racial bias inherent in standardized tests. Finally we have alternative.

Dual enrollment programs that connect high schools with community colleges and unviersities proves a much more cultural prroactive approach to awarding college credit in high school for computer science. It requires local taletn and invest in the community rather than a testing company.

Greg McVerry

Working on #edu 407 Devloping Readers for @scsu

1 min read

I am teaching a new class for ther first time. I am also teaching the class online. Have some planning to do I am thinking this for topics:

  • Theories of Meaning Making
  • Phonics and Spelling
  • Academic Vocabulary
  • Comprehension
  • Writing instruction
  • Assessment Strategy
  • Creating a Home and Community Culture
  • Cognitive, Cultural, and Developmental Differentation
  • Teaching with nonfiction
  • Teaching with Novels
  • Teaching with Short Stories

I am not going to include a unit on new literacies but embed digital test and tools across all the units

I want to do a microcast with a real classroom teacher for each of the units

We will read two novels as a class: Bucking the Sarge and Handbook for Boys

I think I will continue with WordPress but maybe pilot Google Classroom. I may try as well. Not sure

Other tasks to be defined later tonight and tommorow.

Greg McVerry

#CheckOutMyDomain gets the the gasface from @spencer_fdn

2 min read

Another year another unfunded grant.

It get's so disheartening. You pour hours and days into a project to make the world a better place and you get the big fat "No Thanks"

This project seemed perect for the Spencer Foundation. It drew on civic education, put an emphasis on schools in the commnity, and had stellar formative design applying interesting assessment techniques.

In my heart of hearts I know we have to support the local web. I know the lack of digital literacy skills in our community presents a threat to our democracy and society,

I just wish I could convince others of the power seeding the IndieWeb into our communities.

You can check out the proposal here:

I would love feedback as the Spencer Foundation doesn't give you in any.

I think that's the part the frustrates me the most. We know you have a 90% rejection rate. Almost eveery grant does. At least most funders have the decency to send you reviewer scores and comments.

Not the Spencer Foundation.

So you left wondering what yo udid wrong and if you need to revise the proposal for the next  submission or not submit al all. The next submission deadline is in like three days? Do I revise and resubmit?

I don't know, if for example, the Spencer Foundation has a bias against technology. My digital field placement proposal wasn't funded last year. went unfunded this year.

If you look at projects Spencer Foundation likes it seems they haven't funded anything technology or new literacies since 2015. One study in online learning this year.

Maybe that's it, but that's the point...the maybe. Was it me or you? How do I get better? Should I resubmit?

Providing scholars with no details as to why you reject our work devalues the time and effort we put into writing proposals. How hard is it to send the score sheet and reviewer comments? I don't care how many applicants you got. Email works at scale.

Greg McVerry

Onboard Through Blogging: Open Source Training

3 min read

As an open source community  your front door must invite potential contributors to walk right in. Yet many spaces fill their most forward looking properties full of jargon and or well established practices not easily identifiable to outsiders.

Might as well put a Keep Out sign on your front door.

We need to find new ways to invite people in. This often includes onboarding. Some open source communities have very formal governance structures and may require training, others may have explicit systems for issues, pull requests, and commit files.

The snark that scored when n00bs violated social norms can no longer stand today. Instead we need to socialize new members into our ways of being as we always have in apprenticeship models.

Use Blogs for Onboarding

As long time contributors to Mozilla we often tried to push contributor onboarding through open pedagogy. Specifically within the learning programs in the now sunsetted learning programs run by Mozilla Foundation and in MOOCs set up by different communities within MoFo.

MoFo chose a different path and went with a commercial training and testing platform. The lure of ease of prescriptive technology and the ability to quickly generate data to write reports provided to sweet a deal.

We believe blogging provides open source communities a better option because:

  • Open Pedagogy- We know this works when people have shared values of open.
  • Shared Identity- A blog empowers people to embrace identity formation encourage their identities to be a part of the communities.
  • Spread Your Message-You do open source for a reason. Why not encourage others to tell the world?
  • Better Data- While multiple choice  test produce pretty pictures they often get framed in bad data. People blow through online quizes making them meaningless. When you make task relevant you can trust the data it produces.

How to Set-Up Learning Tasks

Look at your current onboarding documents. Most if not all you could turn into blogging tasks.

If not you can choose a well defined path where you encourage the publishing I milestone posts, "I just did X after completing Y." You can also design more open ended and reflective tasks.

Trust me you will enjoy the freedom of of designing learning modules not answered in mutliple choice questons.

Even if your onboarding in your community is just walking someone through their first pull request encourage participants to publish a post when done.

Not Everyone has a Blog?

Did your teacher ever correct you for showing up to class without a pen or pencil? Isn't showing up to an open source community without a website the same thing?

Now many children in school live an existence where thjey may not have access to pencils and this inequity gets compounded in life to a point where we can understand why someone may not yet have a website. Then, just as our schools should, we need to asisst or members and provide basic literacy tools.

You can link to tutorials on setting up free blogging tools on commercial hosting sites. As a community invest in  a domain and provide subdomains to anyone who can not afford the real life cost or need the anonymity of not paying and registering for a domain.

As an open source community we must band together and help build a better web. We can do this by encouraging blogging across our networks. Why begin where it all begins at onboarding?

Greg McVerry

Designers: Blog About Your Open Source Contributions

2 min read

First Deviantart, then Tumblr, and now Dribble, as Instagram quickly eats them all. Designers have always wanted to get their creations on to the world yet fall into a trap of relying on silos. They migrate from this whim to that hoping to get employer or client eyeballs on their work.

You do not know when a platform will sell or if your entire design career can get impacted in an Instagram purge.

Your portfolio should live on your website and blog. Do not sharecrop on the silos for they can turn on you any second.

Open Source Contributions

Many new designers ask how they can build up their portfolio. The prices paid for work on 99 Designs can't pay the bills or they do not have the skills to charge a level of sustainable income.

A young college, high school student, or a mid life career shaper should turn to open source communities who desperatley need design help. Then as you create your designs, templates, prototypes or UX studies blog about th process every step of the way.

First this will demonstrate the qualities clients and recruiters want. You will show knowledge growth simply by posting over time.

You will also create a portfolio of real life content. Not just silly logo projects from Art 350. Real work that will exist all over the web and link back to to yoru blog! Who needs SEO when you have content people want.

A blog also demonstrates real life design skills. How do you design you? The most important project in your portfolio.

Most importantly a commitment to open source communites creates a mirror on to your values. The era of winner take them all, unicorn or die, blitzkreig has hopefully come to an end. Employers want to invest in people who share their values. More and more companies in tech do not make profits in spite of their social values but because of their social value.

So designers, find an open source community you care about and volunteer as a contributor. After the wave of, "thank yous" and "pleas for help" end you can fire up the blog and tell us all about it.