Multimodal Mondays: Using Ed-Tech in China to Teach Andrea's Top 20

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296652_pastedImage_12.jpgToday's guest blogger is Jeanne Bohannon‌ (see end of post for bio).
As I travel back from a trip to Northeast Normal University (NENU) in Changchun, China, I am thinking about Andrea’s Top 20 Student Grammar Mistakes, which I explored with first-year students at NENU. I have employed the indomitable Top 20 in my digital grammar courses each semester but was a bit pensive taking it “on the road” to a class of students who major in English in a School of Foreign Languages. Before my arrival at NENU, my colleague, Professor Fuhui Zhang, took a poll of her fifty students, asking them to rank their own grammar challenges out of the Top 20. Here’s what they came up with:


NENU Class Supper and Grammar Practice



Among student-reported mistakes, faulty sentence structure (especially complex ones with two or three or more subordinate sentences) and wrong word are number 1 and number 2, respectively.


Anecdotal Results of Grammar Attitudes

The results showed a few commonalities with their American counterparts. The Top Ten below represents elements of grammar reported by all students, in order of descending occurrence.

  1. Faulty Sentence Structure
  2. Wrong Word
  3. Problems with Quotations/documentation
  4. Vague Pronouns
  5. Unnecessary/Missing Punctuation
  6. Unnecessary Shift in Verb Tense
  7. Unnecessary Comma
  8. Sentence Fragment
  9. Pronoun/Antecedent Agreement
  10. Fused (run-on) Sentence


Interestingly, #4 (pronouns) was close on the list with my American students in 2017 (#4), when I posted about my students’ Grammar Diagnostics when I last measured these grammar elements for this blog. Comma usage showed up #1 for American students, but for Chinese students ranked at #7. Both sets of students still report issues with verbs, semicolons, and specific uses of punctuation.


Professor Zhang further confirmed that she has noted the same issues in students’ writing.

Together, she and I determined to employ a learning strategy that, while completely new to students, might increase their application of grammar and help them to not only recognize mistakes, but avoid them. We landed on a flipped class model.


Learning grammar in a flipped class model is a low-stakes opportunity that uses traditional grammar tools to create dialogic growth between students in a class and helps students take ownership of their grammar challenges by teaching others. Students at NENU reviewed a PowerPoint presentation adapted from Stanford’s Hume Center for Writing and Speaking that detailed The Top 20 list prior to my arrival, which they used to rank the list based on their own writing experiences and grammar challenges. They narrowed their choices down to a Top 10 to fit within our class time parameters.


Measurable Learning Objectives

  • Examine results of the Top 20 for areas of improvement
  • Compare attitudinal results to others’ in an open discussion forum
  • Synthesize content-meaning through a flipped class model


Background Reading for Students and Instructors
Acts of reading and viewing visual texts are ongoing processes for attaining learning goals in dialogic, digital writing assignments. 


What We Did in Class

Students began by posting and discussing their perceived Top 10 grammar issues in their course LMS, called “QQ.” They then participated in the interactive PowerPoint, guessing answers to prescribed mistakes, sometimes reciting correct answers and at other times writing them on the chalkboard. Students also chose to participate on Weibo and WeChat, two Chinese social media platforms where they hashtagged #ProfessorJeanne to post their reflections and view others’ thoughts on the grammar lesson.  After working with students to vocalize their Top 10 grammar challenges in Mandarin first and then English, I encouraged them to step behind the instructor podium and teach content, demonstrating a deep understanding of each grammar element.

Did Students Appreciate Our Flipped Class?

Out of twenty-five students, twenty-one reported that they learned more about their own specific grammar pitfalls and how to avoid them by participating in the interactive lecture, social media posts, and flipped class. Accordingly, all of them thought their syntax-level American English grammar improved because they knew their specific concerns up-front.


Students flipping the class

Students further narrated their thoughts on postcards:





Learning the Snow App


My Reflection 
For me, strategies such as flipped classes engage students in participatory learning, without fear of grading or making mistakes. This assignment is multimodal because students use real-time ed-tech to see a snapshot of their grammar issues and then participate in face-to-face interactions with other students with similar concerns, supplemented by social media. “Flipped Grammar” counts for me, in terms of multimodal composition, because it encourages students to reflect on their own grammar challenges and become active participants in community-driven, digital conversations about writing. Try the “flip” and let me know what you think!


Do you have an idea for a Multimodal Mondays activity or post? Contact Leah Rang for a chance to be featured on Andrea's blog.


Jeanne Law Bohannon is an Assistant Professor of English in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Kennesaw State University. She believes in creating democratic learning spaces, where students become stakeholders in their own rhetorical growth though authentic engagement in class communities. Her research interests include evaluating digital literacies and critical engagement pedagogies; performing feminist rhetorical recoveries; and growing informed and empowered student scholars. Reach Jeanne at and

About the Author
Andrea A. Lunsford is the former director of the Program in Writing and Rhetoric at Stanford University and teaches at the Bread Loaf School of English. A past chair of CCCC, she has won the major publication awards in both the CCCC and MLA. For Bedford/St. Martin's, she is the author of The St. Martin's Handbook, The Everyday Writer and EasyWriter; The Presence of Others and Everything's an Argument with John Ruszkiewicz; and Everything's an Argument with Readings with John Ruszkiewicz and Keith Walters. She has never met a student she didn’t like—and she is excited about the possibilities for writers in the “literacy revolution” brought about by today’s technology. In addition to Andrea’s regular blog posts inspired by her teaching, reading, and traveling, her “Multimodal Mondays” posts offer ideas for introducing low-stakes multimodal assignments to the composition classroom.