Spring 2018 Course

A COPLAC Digital Distance Learning Course

Blog Post 14

This post will be the defense of my contract as outlined earlier in the semester.

Mission Statement:

The purpose of this website is to provide a source of information for students and community members interested in book censorship in St. Mary’s County, Maryland. The research compiled on this website will include the historical context during the time Song of Solomon was removed from St. Mary’s County Public Schools. Our work will shed light on a book censorship when it is normally brushed over or kept quiet in the media. We intend to cover both sides of the argument for and against Toni Morrison’s book and provide primary source documents for visitors to infer their own opinions. Our website should open discussions that extend beyond book censorship. We will discuss how literature has impacts on development, culture, societal morality, and personal identity. We will achieve our goals by presenting information in accessible and diverse formats. We will integrate video interviews, TimelineJS, Prezi, photographs, and images of primary source documents. We will interview local professionals, professors, librarians, and community members to provide a diverse array of opinions.

While working on the website I kept the mission statement in mind, my partner and I needed to focus on presenting the information on book censorship with as little bias as possible. Song of Solomon in St. Mary’s County was removed from the pre-approved reading list in 1997, we presented all of the information we were able to discover on the topic, including hearing from those in favor of the censorship. The sources we collected came from local & national newspapers at that time, as well as interviews that were reflective of the events. The coverage of historical context and literature’s impact on: culture, societal morality, and personal identity were covered in depth with the historical context section, and can be seen through the primary source newspapers collected on the site. We integrated the digital tools we learned through the semester well, made the website easily accessible and readable, and utilized the images we gathered with success. Our interviews with professors, librarians and community members exceeded our original expectations. The interview section on our website has the teacher who assigned the reading, I never would have imagined being able to meet David and interview him. This was the most rewarding interview that I have ever participated in, and even after the interview was over we talked for almost an hour about the case and his life; giving me more insight to his life and personal experiences.

The rest of the contract consists of due dates, assignments, and webdesign instructions. The contract due dates were met and additional dates were kept in mind when we added additional interviews and changed formats on the website. The division of labor and assignments changed slightly when additional class workloads interfered, but we stuck true to the overall plan of summaries, interviews, and layouts. The webdesign instructions and tools used remained the same as our mission statement. I am proud that the website came together perfectly, the contract helped to organize everything as we collected sources and conducted interviews.

Defense of Contract

Though I felt confident before today, after Sean and I’s successful presentation of our website, I feel even more confident in my defense of our contract. At the completion of the course, I believe we met all, and exceeded some, of the goals we outlined for ourselves when we first created the project contract.

When it comes to the mission statement, I felt it was very important we make it a central part of our project to not only demonstrate all sides of the case, but also provide perspectives from people who aren’t often featured in censorship cases: the students and the school faculty. This was thoroughly accomplished through our interviews with Trish Warren and Carly Maldonado, as they both represent distinct points of view I felt were not often represented in popular media’s coverage of censorship cases. Though I was in touch with the teacher we wanted to interview, Carole Barnabas, and she agreed to answering questions, she never got back to us, despite my reaching out. I think we were successful in our portrayal of the case and those involved without her direct input, though Furthermore, we were able to give a well-rounded view of the case with the Alex Sanchez interview and our page dedicated to Rev. Morse. Though we were not able to get in touch with him, I think we represented his views to the best of our ability and gave context to why he might have objected to the book and challenged it. I’m proud of our ability to demonstrate how censorship cases often involve far more people than just the challenger and their student.

As far as our process goes involving the tools we used, I think we were able to utilize a vast about of resources to produce our project according to our contract. WordPress’s theme Activello was great in the final production of our project because it allowed for a search bar and two separate navigation sections, including a left sided one, that fit the design we had envisioned earlier in the semester. Coggle and Google Docs were key in allowing me and Sean to share ideas and give feedback to each other, especially when we were not able to meet in person. We felt these organizational tools really helped us plan and carry out Behind the Rainbow. Similarly, we were able to successfully incorporate an interactive timeline and map using Timeline JS and StoryMap JS, which we found to enrich our site even more. We similarly incorporated elements that went outside of the class requirements through our use of the SUNY Geneseo online academic databases and YouTube. We were able to use an academic article written about Rainbow Boys to demonstrate the issues with the novel from the left and YouTube to demonstrate Sanchez’s commitment to bettering LGBT life.

When it came to the Milestones, I think we strove to meet our plan, but as Rebecca always reminds us, we can’t control other people, so some of the interviews and related content were delayed. I think the milestones enhanced our ability to design our project effectively because sometimes it felt like we had so much to do, but I would be able to look at the project contract and focus myself on a specific part of the website for that week.

Finally, when it comes to the division of labor, I couldn’t have asked for a better partner than Sean. We were able to both contribute equally to website, and a big part of that was because we were able to work together and weren’t afraid to ask for help when we needed it. We pretty much stuck to our assigned content, but were able to edit and clarify each other’s sections, which was another way to augment our website.

Overall, I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished and I’m pretty sure I’m going to be showing off our website for years to come.



Defense of Contract

We are at the conclusion of the class, as this semester comes to a close, this will be my final post for the class.

Firstly to reiterate the mission statement of our contract.

The purpose of this site is to educate the masses on the historical 1960 banning of J.D. Salinger’s book Catcher in the Rye. The book itself was challenged on the grounds of profanity and the high school instructor was removed from the position afterwards, although this is often considered to be one of the first bannings of the book, we are going to use national context to aid the reader on why the book was banned. As we explore the banning we will take several viewpoints, stemming from sociology to the political action taken after the banning. We plan on using this site to target University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma students as well as those interested in censorship.

Sociological View: 

Although, I was unable to find direct research correlated with The Catcher in the Rye, and the three sociological theories presented on Catching Thier Ire. Though to the best of my ability I was able to, the interpretation of the case through functionalism, symbolic-interaction theory, and conflict theory.


Aforementioned, I could not find any research that correlated this theory with functionalism, thus I had to interpret the case myself with my little granule of knowledge of the functionalist theory. The most troubling part of this section was deciding how did the banning fit into the theory, and I had initially thought it could be viewed as an agent of change. However, it seemed that the banning fits better within the theory, as an idea for keeping ideas in check and to safeguard for change.

 Symbolic-Interaction Theory:

Perhaps the easiest of the three theories, the correlation of the theory and banning was much more easier than the others due to this theory focused on the symbols, themes, and motifs in the book.

Conflict Theory: 

Perhaps the hardest of the three theories, I could not decide how to approach the theory and banning. Initially, I could not decide who would be what group, and where was the conflict was but overall, I am happy with its result.


I had to keep this section shorter than I wanted, due to I was not able to spend as much time reading the text as I wanted, and thus I skimmed Catcher in the Rye, more than I would have liked, and when I sat down to write the page I could not remember as much as I would have liked. Thusly, I kept the page as ‘short and sweet’ as I did and referred to other synopses of the piece.


Aside from uploading the wrong draft, the biography of Salinger adequately details the account of his life. It was actually much longer than I expected, I had planned for it to only be two paragraphs, due to how private of a life he lived, but there was a good amount of detail online, and I ultimately did leave some lesser details out.

Site Management: 

The site management was quite easy, we had chosen the Pique theme, which is the theme, I run on my own WordPress site, and once the pages were uploaded, I threw the site together in a little under an hour with no problem, with the exception of the story map size, but after our reviews and advice from Leah that was an easy fix.

Hard Deadline(s):

  • February 28 : Have a completed plan for the website
    • We completed this on schedule
  • March 9 : Complete Interviews of Instructors (Finck, Brown)
    • Completed on schedule and got directed to the other professors on campus
  • March 14 :
    • Synopsis and Biography Completed
      • Completed on Schedule
    • Sociological Context Completed
      • Completed on Schedule and was in an offline doc
  • March 23 : Start Site Draft
    • Completed on schedule
  • March 30 : Fill in noticeable gaps
    • Worked as needed
  • April 6 : Finalize website map and page locations
    • Completed on Schedule
  • April 9 : Rough Draft of Site
    • Completed
  • April 20 : Edit Site
    • Edits were not made till the following week due to finals.
  • April 27 : Finalize edits
    • Completed on Schedule
  • April 30 – Final Draft of Site



This was used and will be used to convey the findings of our research to the public at large


Coggle was a really great tool for planning, out the site overall, and the initial outline of the task we need to complete.


I find OneNote an invaluable tool as a student, and kept the drafts of my pages in my personal account, although for some reason we were unable to get it to function on Max’s end.

Online Databases:

All the online databases we had access to were quite invaluable, as it allowed us to get the few primary sources we had for the project, aside from the ones that were retrieved from the Tulsa archives.

Blog Entry 30 April 2018

Price and I set out to provide a source of information for students and community members interested in book censorship in St. Mary’s County Maryland and I believe we accomplished just that. We focused on creating a historical context for the period in which Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison was challenged in St. Mary’s County Public Schools. We accomplished this with our narrative development about the Rodney King Riots, racial tension in The Enterprise, and voting trends in the county.

We found viewpoints from both sides of the challenge and created a rich source of diverse media about our case. We interviewed participants in the challenge and created videos, transcripts, and organized the arguments of people involved in a way that was accessible to anyone who wants the information. We also produced information that did not exist anywhere on the internet prior to our research. Our exclusive with David Flood is information that may have been lost without our work and I am glad we were able to preserve and present it.

We utilized TimelineJS to create a narrative about historical challenges to Song of Solomon along with narrative from our own case. We discussed our own viewpoints on the ways literature impacts culture, societal morality, and personal identity in a way that is appropriate for a front facing website.

Today we presented our information to a room full of Professor and other academics and were received very well. People agreed that our work would be a valuable tool for researchers and one even suggested a classroom should teach the censorship of Song of Solomon with our website as its centerpiece.

While our milestones were not met exactly, our result is something to be proud of. We accepted our schools call to this new challenge and we met that challenge head on provided a framework for future students at our institution. Our work should open pathways for next class of students and may permanently become part of the legacy of this county when it is included in our school’s archives and listed on the department website.

While I wish we had more time to further perfect our website, I am proud of what we have done and believe we have met the requirements of the contract we set for ourselves and with our Professors. I hope to check back in on our work and hopefully see that it has been useful for someone researching book censorship in St. Mary’s County. I hope that future students from St. Mary’s College of Maryland look at our work and decide to move forward with an experience of their own and that this is the start of a rich tradition of primary historical research at our school. It is one thing to practice history while crawling the databases of JSTOR and our schools OneSearch tools, and a whole other thing go out into our community and develop a story from the ground up.

Defense of Contract

As edits have been made and we prepare for the final presentation of our website tomorrow, we can reflect on our goals laid out for the project earlier in the semester. Starting with the mission statement, we hoped “to demonstrate all sides of the case” before knowing exactly what perspectives we would be able to secure or even who challenged the book. Fortunately, I feel we reached this goal through interviews with Carly Maldonado, Trish Warren, and Alex Sanchez, and while Rev. Morse was not willing to interview, I feel we fairly represented his perspective through the church in Rochester he worked for and his Facebook page. Through all of these voices, and some of the information shared in our historical context page. I think the complexity of the case is well illustrated. In terms of our use of materials, expectations matched reality with the use of WordPress, Youtube, Coggle, Googledocs, Readability, and online newspaper resources, though we ended up not needing to use Audacity to edit the Trish Warren interview because it was clear and complete as initially recorded. Looking at the division of labor, while some of our expected project components proved unnecessary and others were added in, we closely followed our plan for the most part. Both Liz and I wrote content for the site, found images and edited for accuracy and appearance. Liz handled the unforeseen task of compiling and transcribing our newspaper articles so I took care of all of the historical context to help maintain a fair balance. We also decided against incorporating a specific cast of characters page because the various perspectives are clearly laid out on the side of the website, and an extra page seemed redundant. Another challenge we ran into was the debate over interviewing Devin Flaherty as initially established in the contract’s division of labor and milestones. We thought Devin might be a useful perspective because she challenged Trish Warren years later on the decision to omit Perks of Being a Wallflower from the school library. However, we eventually concluded that spending time and space detailing that conflict, we would be better off using it as just brief context to the Rainbow Boys case and not focusing on Trish’s comments on the subject or choosing to interview Devin separately. Knowing we already had a former Webster Thomas student passionate about uncensored access to books in Carly Maldonado made the decision to omit an interview with Devin more reasonable. Our interviews stayed on schedule as well as they could considering the need to be flexible with our interviewees, and while some of our proposed dates for having content uploaded were missed due to various “life happens” moments, we caught up before the deadline for the rough draft on April 9th.  

Overall, I thought having the project contract was most useful for establishing a division of labor that could keep Liz and I accountable and working equally to ensure the success of the project. We made adjustments as needed, trading off one task for another based on the contract which allowed me to always feel like Liz and I were contributing equally which I think is really valuable in such an extensive partner project. Additionally, the feedback from from our peers and Professors Dierking and Hajo kept us on track and helped us make changes as needed to end up with a project that I’m proud of and that also fits the goals we laid out for ourselves in the contract.  

Week 14: Defense of Contract

Wikimedia Commons

We are presenting our project on Wednesday and I am so ready. Karina and I found a really interesting case that we investigated and we have worked really hard to create this site this past semester. As in terms of our contract, I believe that we followed through on almost all of the goals we lined up in our contract back in March.

We have all the main pages that we wanted on our site with a few tweaks here and there. The main thing that we did not do was talk about the case from the late 1960s in Hanover County, Virginia. We decided that it would be easier and more conducive to talk about more recent cases because the reasons why it is banned/challenged have changed so much. From that idea we created the page, “Other Recent Challenges” with the StoryMap labeling the other challenges in recent years.

The Timeline and StoryMap is set up just like we wanted them to be. I think that the Timeline looks great on the first page and it ties the whole site together. We found some great images from Wikimedia Commons and tried to have at least one on each page. Our theme worked out really well and with a lot of tweaking, we created a clean looking, but colorful site. For a ton of little things, like how to adjust the font color on the top menu bar, I went to our Digital Knowledge Center for help. With their expertise, I was about to create the beautiful site we have now.

We used a ton of digital tools. I myself used both JS Timeline, iMovie, GarageBand, Canva, and Youtube to display our media. I also found images on Wikimedia Commons. I wish that we had been able to take images from the Accomack County site or some more materials that were primary resources, but I think it ended up working out well with the images that were created using Canva and the ones I found on Wikimedia Commons.

As for our timeline in which we wanted to get certain work done by, we met all of our time goals. Sometimes we even got them done sooner. We also added some information after we created the contract, like the interview with Dr. Gary Richards, so I had to fit that in. There were a couple pieces of materials that we were not able to get. We thought we were going to get a response from Charles Knitter when we sent him out interview questions, but never did. That was going to be a part of the protest page, but because we did not hear back from him we combined the two pages we initially created “Petition” and “Protest,” into one page. Because we did hear back from Sadye Saunders and she was a part of the protest anyways, we thought that it was fitting that the pages be meshed together. That was the very last thing that we revised on our site. The other thing that I tried for a couple weeks to get was the complaint form, but was unfortunately shut down by someone at the School Board office they could never give it to us because it displays personal information and told that they don’t even know where the document went.

Overall, we did really well meeting our goals that we laid out in this contract. The interview with Charles Knitter and the not being able to get the complaint form was out of our control. I am really proud of this site and excited to get the chance to present it on Wednesday for everyone.

Thank you for such an awesome course Dr. Dierking and Dr. Hajo! It was a wonderful experience.

Defense of Contract

Today is the day that we finally present our website to the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges. I could not be more thrilled to finally see the fruits of our labor on our finished website.

While we ended up not always being able to meet in person, Rosanna and I always made full efforts to get our parts of our work done. As our instructors pointed out, we have plenty of Internet tools that we can use to collaborate from afar. I think that our instructors would agree that we put the resources we had available to full use. For instance, I think about how Rosanna and I strategically color-coded our Google Doc sheets and assigned tasks to one another that we knew would take advantage of our individual strengths.

One thing was always consistent: We were always working on at least something each week. And when we did get together, we put our heads together and got as much finished as we possibly could with the time we had allotted.

Rosanna and I spent a full week going over suggestions from our peer review session and the Google Doc our instructors sent to us. The vast majority of the work we put in last week was content-based; we spent hours making sure that we added more interpretation and analysis of our case and revised pages until we couldn’t bear to look at our website anymore. When we didn’t trust ourselves to make edits, we sought assistance from our peers and family.

There were a few times when I had to tell Rosanna that there are moments when we have to do what I call “killing our darlings”. Although we loved the three panels of news coverage that we previously had on the home page, it didn’t get the response from our peers and instructors that we had anticipated. Rosanna and I had to brainstorm what to do with the homepage. I suggested we go with what started our research on our case to begin with: news coverage of The Bluest Eye, but in a medium that wouldn’t take our viewers away from the website. So we went with a video instead of reading material.

I thought that we had put in a lot of brain power while we were building our website in the beginning, but now I’m realizing that was all a warm-up in comparison to the work we put in last week.

I think we exceeded our initial expectations of what would go up on our website. For example, we added a page that discussed the merit of The Bluest Eye and how people may analyze merit in general.

We also put all of the technology we said that we would utilize into action. For instance, we made a digital timeline and used Coggle to map out our website.

I think that Rosanna and I make a great team. While we tend to operate and think differently, we still manage to combine our strengths to create the best final product possible. Rosanna is definitely the more technologically inclined between the two of us, so I often had to seek help from her when I had trouble with website layout or troubleshooting technical difficulties. In return, I often found myself assisting Rosanna in written communication.

This is a photo I took from my last website revision session with Rosanna. She’s sitting behind a random apple and orange that someone left on our study room table.

How’d we do?: Defense of Contract Post

With class finishing up and Cara and I’s presentation today, it is time to reflect on our contract and how well we met the goals we set out for ourselves.  As I look through the blog I notice one main thing, we achieved many of the overall goals we set for ourselves, but not necessarily in the way or on the schedule we had originally intended.

See the full contract here.

Goal of the Project

Our primary goal was to create a website that looked at all possible points of view and considered the many sides of this case. Though we had hoped to interview with more people who were directly involved in the case, I think we have still considered different possible sides by including the Lisa Baldwin interview on our page. It is unfortunate that we were not able to interview the teacher or the complaining parent, but by reading and providing other the syllabi of other teachers, we have created a site that readers can use as a resource to see what the  teacher’s aims might have been. Similarly, for the complaining parent, though we do not have his exact defense of why he challenged the book, the Lisa Baldwin interview shows why some parents challenge books and why one might challenge The Bluest Eye.


Most of the tools we set out to use we continued to use throughout the project. Coggle proved to be very helpful in organizing what pages each of us were responsible for, and we used that throughout the website design process to know what each of us was responsible for.

We used Trello significantly less than we had originally planned to, both Cara and I, whenever we met would write down our individual list of tasks for the week, so it ended up being redundant to also use Trello.

The Story map we created only contained about 10 challenge cases as opposed to the original 15. This was largely due to the number of cases that we could find when we were making it. Though it has been in the top banned book list multiple years, we had difficulty finding specific cases to use in the Storymap.

We decided not to include the timeline we created for the class on our website, there were not enough dates and specific details in our case for it to be a helpful illustration of what happened.

Division of Labor

The division of labor we had originally set out was met very well. Cara did many of the interviews, and I transcribed them, Cara did one half of the pages and I did the other, and we both, during the editing process, reviewed and edited each other’s work. Though both of us rewrote some pages and fixed some site mechanics, in the end, I did a bit more of the back-end design of the website, aesthetics and restructuring of the pages, where as Cara did more rewriting and of pages.


The timeline is where we veered the most from our plan. Though everything was completed by the time the website was due for the first revision, we did not always meet the exact due dates we originally set for ourselves. We did, however, generally come within a few days of those deadlines, and most of the time the content was completed, it was just a bit of editing that was still needed. Though being more on time would have been better, we originally set out for those to be general times when things should be done, as opposed to hard and fast deadlines. For us our timeline helped us pace ourselves so that we didn’t cram all of the content onto the site at the last minute, which was the point.


Overall I am very pleased with the final product Cara and I have created, and the process we used to get here. I found it especially interesting and helpful, during the editing process, to use colors to indicate what had been and still needed to be done on the website.  When we got the suggestions document from our professors, we assigned each other the different tasks on the page and then each used a different color to indicate what had been done. When we got together on Friday to put the finishing touches on the site, it was very satisfying to see all of the tings that we had been given to do highlighted and finished.

Defense of Contract

In regards to Sophia’s and my project contract we stuck to it completely. In the description of our site we talk about the different tabs that we were planning on using such as historical context. We created every page that we had discussed and even more. Also in our contract is a section about the technology that we had planned on using. We included Timeline.js, StoryMap.js, and audio files, which we used all three. Everything in our layout of the site was done with a few add ons. We knew that if it was going to go into the contract then it had to be done.

When we set our milestones we knew that we had to be specific and space things out in an effective way. Sophia and I each had something to be completed each week so that the workload was not on one person. We went back and forth on who did what types of tasks. One week I would be doing research while Sophia worked on formatting a page and the next week the roles would be reversed. I actually came up with the idea to use different colors to highlight Sophia’s and my names so that it would be easier to navigate so we wouldn’t end up forgetting something. This was also really effective because it made sure that we weren’t rushing and allowed us to get big chunks of the website done every week. We did have to change the contract once due to spring break. We moved the weeks work to the next week doubling the next weeks work. Luckily, we were able to complete all four tasks with no problems.

In our contract we had all the specific tasks complete by April 9 so that we had the remaining time to copy edit and to make major changes if needed. I think that this was a smart idea because if we still had pages that needed to go up we would have been adding that on to revision. It is also good because it lowered stress levels which is always nice. I think that overall we exceeded our goals as per the contract because we were able to add pages that we hadn’t talked about before. We also added some technical elements to the site such as a sidebar in order to make the interaction with the website much easier. We worked really well together to get the site completed because we knew how we wanted it to look and function.

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