Showing My Work OR The Fruits of HOMAGOSO (hangingoutmessingaboutgeekingoutsharingout)

I shoulda done more in last week’s pop-up MOOC with Joe Dillon, but I can’t beat myself up too much because out of last week’s work with memes/gifs and political candidates arose classroom work with… annotation and memes and gifs.

My class and I are annotating Matt Taibbi’s article from 2013 in Rolling Stone, “Ripping Off Young America: The College-Loan Scandal” as part of an essay we are writing to critique it.

You can join in if you like.  I have made it a voluntary exercise for my students.


You have reached the “too long;didn’t read” segment of our post.  This is a summing up of what follows:

  1. A pdf of my first pass of close reading Taibbi’s piece. Old school paper annotation here.
  2. A pdf of the notes I took on how Taibbi organized his essay.
  3. A page on my WordPress blog where students can go to annotate the essay themselves using  I have added the WordPress plug-in to make it even easier to annotate.  That is my open invitation to comment as they will.
  4. A Hackpad page where I have gathered a collection of memes and gifs about student loans that students are welcome to add to as well as use in the annotation in Step 3 above.
  5. Last, I include an embed of a Google Form I have built so that my learners can (if they wish, it’s voluntary) create a rough critique scaffold to write their critique.

Below is by way of showing my work.  Lord knows it ain’t showing off, but my main purpose here is to model the work of close reading to my students and to show how you must pay homage to the reading in order to do justice to the writing.  In this case I insist that the writing is good enough to invest your life blood into reading it.  Besides, after I have engaged in this kind of reading I know the text very well and that means that discussions are a breeze, a happy improvisation based upon the text.

First, the initial close read.  I have actually read this piece without marking it, a quick ‘scout and skim’ of the territory, before I did finally mark this copy up. The writing in the pdf below has lots of purposes but mostly for me it is a way to note to myself ideas, reactions, responses, and commentary.  In a word–marginalia.  I still love this kind of analog work, but if you combine it with collaborative digital annotation then ‘close reading’ begins to have new depth.


Second, I take notes on how Taibbi crafted and organized his essay.


Third, I used digital annotation tools to do collaborative annotation on the article. Responses can be text-based or pixt-based or video/gif-based. The beauty of as an annotation tool is that it opens up the margins to the universe of commentators.

Ripping Off Young America: The College-Loan Scandal

Student loan debt discussion: One of her guests is always you. Illustration by Victor Juhasz O n May 31st, president Barack Obama strolled into the bright sunlight of the Rose Garden, covered from head to toe in the slime and ooze of the Benghazi and IRS scandals.

Fourth, I include a Hackpad with some potential gif and meme suggestions. What I hope for is a widening rhetorical capacity, one that also allows them to use other media to parse and critique the article. I make this totally voluntary so that no one feels forced into a world they do not fee at ease in. Most of my students are risk-averse, strategic, and heavily into default mode despite the fact that I have repeatedly advised them that I value risk. I am hoping that they will add to the memes here just to play in the sandbox.

The last bit is a Google Form which I have included for my students as a way to scaffold the work of writing a critique, should that be their wish. I have also included the Google Form response spreadsheet so that they can view what other students’ answers might be.

Joe Dillon was reflecting this week about the just finished pop-up MOOC that I helped him organize as well as participated in. It is a thoughtful post and I especially liked this from it,

Still, despite seeing a relatively small response, I’ll hereby judge this humble experiment a success. From where I sat in front of my computer, interested in educators’ interests, the creations and the thinking of 10 to 15 participants was intriguing. The small group that participated was more than sufficient to keep me writing, meme-ing, reading, annotating and learning.

Everything above his quote was inspired directly and indirectly by this pop-up MOOC. So I thank Joe for inspiring us all along with Susan and Kevin and Karen and Anna and Charlene and Fred and so many more for caring and sharing and inspiring me to use what I know in ever better ways. What I loved about the experience was how light weight it managed to be (at least for me). People could make of it what they wanted and they could look at it as a future way to share. Let us not make a big deal about learning. Let’s not make it so ponderous and heavy. It needs to be lightweight, flexible, and nimble. I am so happy that this pop-up was just that–one and done and lots of fun.


    1. // Reply

      Thank you so much for stopping by and making note in the fencerows of this field. You are a redwing blackbird chirring me on to carry on. Let it be. Let it be.

  1. // Reply

    An rolling stone gains speed and size as it travels down a mountain. It takes someone to give it an initial push. Thank you.

    1. // Reply

      Look out, look out, look out below. A ponderous rolling down adagio. Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!

      Ever grateful. ‘Ever.

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