Wednesday, October 24, 2007

English Journal (EJ). March 2006. Part Two.

Some ideas on teaching English from the English Journal, March 2006, Part Two, a publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

How take notes for a research paper?
Paraphrase. K Guinee and MB Eagleton. EJ (Mar. 06), 46.

What are the advantages of paraphrasing in note taking?
"By actively engaging with the material to write it in their own words, students have the opportunity to process the content and develop better understanding of it." K Guinee and MB Eagleton. EJ (Mar. 06), 52.

How organize a research paper?
Use "I-Search" paper [Ken Macrorie] in which students ask and answer questions that are of personal importance, like careers. H Lyman. EJ (Mar. 06), 62-67.

How can we help students reflect critically on what they see and read?
Students spend fifteen minutes a day responding in writing to paintings and texts. J Luther. EJ (Mar. 06), 68-74.

How teach the research paper?
Use a "mini-research paper on assigned topics, a paper of 500 words, and take students through the process, step-by-step. KA Pfaffinger. EJ (Mar. 06), 75-77.

How help students understand plagiarism?
Give examples of plagiarized material and ask students to analyze them. K Pfaffinger. EJ (Mar. 06), 75-77.

What are some possible research topics?
Students observe the community, criticize it and then make proposals to improve it. C Borsheim and R Petrone. EJ (Mar. 06), 78-83.

How help students learn the habit of asking questions?
Encourage students to respond with questions to what they are reading in literature.

How help students who are failing?
When students are failing, ask why. A Bloodgood. EJ (Mar. 06), 97-99.

What are some alternatives to the research paper?
Create a chapbook or collect ideas on a single topic from different media and genres. Use art work, photography, interviews, music, dreams, original poetry, original stories, poems and stories by others, journal entries, process discussion, reflections, research, Internet links, quotations, newspapers and magazine articles. BE Brown. EJ (Mar. 06), 100-102.

How encourage reflective writing?
Create scenarios--problems, something like Dear Abby, but not necessarily personal; could be a school problem on how to study, how to write a research paper. Students respond with helpful suggestions. TE Henning. EJ (Mar. 06), 102-104.

Other topics: Students create a Renaissance Festival as a research project. Assigning a multi-genre research paper. Students complete a research project by planning dinner party. On asking students to challenge things they don't like in the community. On evaluating Internet resources.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

English Journal (EJ). March 2006. Part One.

Some ideas on teaching English from the English Journal, March 2006, Part One, a publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

How teach research?
Students keep a journal of their progress in researching. RD Derrico. EJ (Mar. 06), 10.

What is the value of the five-paragraph essay?
Provides the foundation for organizing writing. K Smith. EJ (Mar. 06), 16.

What are some creative ways to use research in the classroom?
Write a proposal for constructive change in the community. DM Pegrim. EJ (Mar. 06), 18-22.

What are some creative ways to present the results of research in the classroom?
Turn the results into a short story. J Wirtz. EJ (Mar. 06), 23-27.

What are some creative ways to present the results of research in the classroom?
Turn the research into scripts and have the scripts performed. T Speaker & CK Anderson. EJ (Mar. 06), 28-29.

How begin a research project in the classroom?
Begin with the question "Why?" D Teitelbaum. EJ (Mar. 06), 30.

What are some creative ways to present the results of research in the classroom?
Turn it into a children's book that is actually read to children. D Teitelbaum. EJ (Mar. 06), 30-35.

What are some creative ways to present the results of research in the classroom?
Put it in the form of an unfamiliar genre: cook book; how-to book; instruction booklet; user's manual; pamphlet; dialogue; guide; letter; memoir; news article; news feature; in-depth report; obituary; opinion column; editorial; review; poetry; resume; speech. S Andrew-Vaughan & C Fletcher. EJ (Mar. 06), 36-42.

Other article: On the purpose of assements, from letter grades to portfolios.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Classroom Notes Plus (CN+). October 2007.

A quarterly publication of practical ideas on teaching English, Classroom Notes Plus is published by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

What technological tools do our students use, outside of school?
"Each day, many of our students download music, change their cell phone ringtones, order merchandise online, access the Internet for school projects, check e-mail, and IM their friends, all while listening to their mp3 players, shuffle through customized playlists. Many have created their own profiles on MySpace, complete with personal statements about life, photos of best friends, favorite music, and links to interesting websites. Many even have access to digital video recorders, and design, edit, and produce video clips which they upload to YouTube and other sites." P Albers. CN+ (Oct. 07), 1.

How help students use multi-media composition in school?
They create video documentaries. Gives a day-by-day schedule of activities. P Albers. CN+ (Oct. 07), 1-15,

Thursday, October 18, 2007

College English (CE). March 2006.

Some ideas on teaching English and social activism from College English, March 2006, a publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

What are some problems in using personal writing in composition courses?
How it relates to academic writing and intruding into students' lives. T Barnett CE (Mar. 06), 356.

Why read?
Paule Friere: "Reading the word can allow the oppressed to read the world." B Trabold. CE (Mar. 06), 403.

How do protesting writers produce their protests in the face of oppression?
Author wants to study how oppressed protesters get their message out in spite of heavy oppression by the authorities. Uses the example of the anti-apartheid South African Weekly Mail as an example. B Trabold. CE (Mar. 06), 382-406.

Is the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) liberal in its bias?
Only 10% of the audience perceives such a bias. E Ervin. CE (Mar. 06), 407.

Other topics. 1. The rhetoric of white awareness of racism. 2. On writing outside of one's field.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

English Education (EngEd). October 2007.

Some ideas on preparing pre-service teachers in the teaching of English from English Education (EngEd), October 2007, a publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

How use technology in the classroom?
Pre-service teachers can begin communicating in various technological media on topics of social importance. TC Harste and P Albers. EngEd. (Oct. 07), 3-5.

What are some new technological tools to use in composing?
Composing on the Web. A Doering, et al. EngEd. (Oct. 07), 41.

How help pre-service teachers learn to use new technological tools?
Model them in our methods courses. They will then model them with their own students. A Doering, et al. EngEd. (Oct. 07), 42.

What are multi-modal communication tools?
Combine images, video clips and texts to engage audiences. A Doering, et al. EngEd. (Oct. 07), p. 50.

How should the new technological tools be used in the English classroom?
Not in a peripheral way but as central to communication. A Doering, et al. EngEd. (Oct. 07), 57-58.

How define literacy?
"...produced a shift in the notion of literacy from the conventional sense of reading and writing only print text to an enlarged sense of reading and writing multiple forms of non-print texts...." SM Miller. EngEd. (Oct. 07), 61.

How use technology to create meaning from reading a poem?
"In orchestrating the visual, music and narrative for a poetry video, for example, the teachers and their students performed their knowing; it was dynamic, evolving and constructed." S Miller. EngEd. (Oct 07), p. 71.

Other topic: Making aesthetic experience central to the curriculum.

Comment by RayS: In contrast to the emphasis in the preceding articles, I continue to maintain that the purpose of the English teacher is to work with words, to communicate with words, to read words, to write and speak with words, to create with words. I still think Joseph Conrad said it best: "My task is by the power of the written word to make you hear, to make you feel--it is, before all, to make you see." I maintain that images, sound and video are most valuable when they support the words we use. I remember reading in the book version of Civilization that Kenneth Clark said he could not emphasize law and economics in the TV version of his survey of the history of civilization because he could not find visuals to support those topics. Of course not. Those topics consist almost entirely of ideas. And words are the key to expressing ideas.

We are English teachers. And our job is to teach the use of words. I have no problem with teaching how to use other media to support words. We need to emphasize words because words are ideas. Pictures may be worth a thousand words as the cliche goes, but no picture will ever replace words as the best medium to express ideas. The NCTE and I do not agree on the centrality of multimedia. I maintain that to the degree that emphasis is taken away from words in our English classes, students' mastery of literacy will be significantly weakened.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Reading Research Quarterly (RRQ). October/November/December 2007.

Some research on teaching reading from the Reading Research Quarterly (RRQ), a publication of the International Reading Association (IRA).

How successful are urban children in learning to read?
"According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), about half the children living in urban areas in the United States cannot read at a basic level (2002)." WJ Donnell. RRQ (Oct/Nov/Dec 07), 468.

Why are urban students "at risk" in learning to read?
Poverty and ethnicity. WJ Donnell. RRQ (Oct/Nov/Dec 07), 468

How do faith-based [Christian Fundamentalist] schools approach literacy?
Their religion is an important ingredient in developing literacy. It does not necessarily produce better results. AJ Eakle. RRQ (Oct/Nov/Dec 07), 472-510.

How teach English as a Second Language (ESL) students to read and write?
14 7th- and 8th-grade students were grouped together emphasizing self-selected reading and teacher-directed large and small-group reading instruction using materials of interest to the students. Disappointed that teachers were able to succeed only with younger materials than the adolescent materials used by normal adolescent population. Could not succeed with the level of content for normal English-speaking adolescents. G Ivey and K Broaddus. RRQ (Oct/Nov/Dec 07), 512-549.

How important is vocabulary in comprehension?
The better the vocabulary scores, the better the comprehension scores. BW Riedel. RRQ (Oct/Nov/Dec 07), 547.

What skills did the National Reading Panel emphasize?
Phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. BW Reidel. RRQ (Oct/Nov/Dec 07), 546.

How effective are diagnostic instruments in providing intervention for reading difficulties?
Key concept: Does diagnostic instrument help instructors identify specific reading difficulties and provide information on how to help children with the identified reading difficulties? BW Reidel. RRQ (Oct/Nov/Dec 07), 561.

What seems to be a major problem in helping ESL students learn and use English?
How to make use of their native language in learning the second language. How to use their knowledge, academic strengths and needs in their native languages in learninng English. E Rubenstein-Avila. RRQ (Oct/Nov/Dec 07), 569.

What does multiculturalism mean?
Sensitivity to diversity in foreign-language education Two or more different cultures in a community. In general, people find it difficult to define "multiculturalism." CA Mallozzi and JA Malloy. RRQ (Oct/Nov/Dec 07), 590-597.

How is oral proficiency useful in ESL learning?
Important in learning English, but is often overlooked in instruction. RA Grant, et al. RRQ (Oct/Nov/Dec 07), 599. [RayS: Oral proficiency should be an important tool in working with English as a Second Language students because that is how native speakers of English learn to read. Learning to read in English means identifying the words in their listening and speaking vocabulary with the same words in print.]

Other topic: Reflections on the end of the editors' 5-year term at RRQ.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy (JAAL). October 2007.

Some ideas on teaching English from the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy (JAAL), October 2007, a publication of the International Reading Association.

How teach homonyms, homophones and homographs?
Homonyms, same word, different meanings (bank--for money; bank--by the side of a stream); Homophones, same sound, different words (their, there); and homographs, same spelling, different meanings (tear--to rip/ tear--cry). Special problem for English as second language learners: prior knowledge; visualizing; familiarity; categorizing; compare and contrast; modeling; guided instruction, assessment. J Jacobean, et al. JAAL (Oct. 07), 88 - 111.

What are some problems with literature discussion circles?
Teachers need to be aware of what is occurring in the discussions not relevant to the literary work; in other words, what is causing problems in discussion--problems of gender, power and ideology. [RayS: Students need to be taught how to discuss in groups.] LW Clarke. JAAL (Oct. 07), 112-131.

How deal with the frustration of dyslexia?
Teach students by-pass strategies. Be positive. Get to know the whole child. Highlight the successes. Encourage support groups. Highlight keywords. L Long, et al. JAAL (Oct. 07), 124-134.

How help struggling readers, including ESL students?
Teach students to use "think-alouds" (metacognitive) strategies. RG McKeowan and JL Gentiluai. JAAL (Oct. 07), 136-147.

What is one reason students don't like to read assigned academic reading?
The teachers don't like to read assigned reading either. [RayS: And they have not learned how to become involved in assigned reading, by way of SQ3R, etc.] M Lesley, et al. JAAL (Oct. 07), 150-162.

How help struggling readers?
One-on-one tutoring. J Cohen. JAAL (Oct. 07), 164-175.

Why is there a perpetual literacy crisis? (Why can't "Johnny" ever learn to read?)
Popular culture--sensationalist newspapers in the 1880s; movies in the 1930s; video games and text messaging today. [RayS: Interesting insight into the problem.] BT Williams. JAAL (Oct. 07), 178.

Other topic: Using blogs outside of school develops digital technology and traditional literacy.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Writer (Wrt). October 2007.

Some ideas on writing from The Writer, a magazine that publishes advice on writing by writers.

What to do about the subjunctive?
"If it were...." "I wish I were...." The definition of the subjunctive is "contrary to fact." If you can't figure it out, write around it. "If it were I, I would do it" becomes "I know that I would do it." "I wish it were I who could do it" becomes "I wish I could do it." The author explains the basics of the subjunctive, but he pretty much says to follow the definition of "contrary to fact" for "If" and "wish" or write around it A Plotnik. Wrt (Oct. 07), 15-16.

What is magical realism?
Realistic setting and plot jarred by the appearance of the fantastic. Quotes from five authors on the genre of magical realism. Ed. by Paola Corgo. Wrt (Oct. 07), 19-23.

How make children's books believable?
Through research, in the library, online, talking with friends and experts, or just watching kids in action. K Lay. Wrt (Oct. 07), 26-27.

How market your books?
Write blogs to which readers can respond. E Wilhelm. Wrt (Oct. 07), 28-29.

How can writing a journal help your writing?
Makes writing a habit. Set inner editor and critic aside. Write letters. Organize into random thoughts and observations, collect snippets of conversations and comments, collect quotes that inspire you. Poems. DM Raab. Wrt (Oct. 07), 30-33.

How would you write a co-journal?
Two people write and respond to each other. Then get together and read what ever they have written. [Hawthorne and his wife did this.] J Lehman. Wrt (Oct. 07), 34.

What was Johnny Cash's advice to his daughter about writing?
"Write. Write. Write. And don't care what anyone thinks." JP Morrell. Wrt. (Oct. 07), 35.

Should you shift point of view?
This author says yes. Gives examples of effective shifts in point of view. TE Kennedy. Wrt. (Oct. 07), 37-40.

Other topics:
Persecuted writers find sanctuary in the U.S.
What to consider when choosing a "print-on-demand" company.
Rankings of influential people and writers are the stuff to make arguments.
Museums devoted to Edgar Allan Poe.
Promotional book videos.
Profile of a children's book writer.
About women poets and their topics.
A writer on how she writes.
Review of a book about the Transcendentalists.
Review of a book on writing biographies.
Writing for the home [do-it-yourself] and garden market.
Review of the Bellevue Literary Review, founded by three doctors.
Example of types of commercial writing for free lancing.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Writer (Wrt). November 2007.

RayS note: For some reason, none of these topics interested me to the extent that I wanted to read the articles. I am sure someone will be interested in these topics. You will need to buy The Writer, November 2007, edition.

Author discusses neologisms like "bling" and "throwback," and then creates one, "funished," meaning he had fun writing it and now it is completed.

Begin with character, not theme or plot.

Publishers' Web sites offer book previews.

The history of Longfellow's house.

"Grammar Vandal" photographs and puts on-line signs with grammatical mistakes. Now other people are sending their photos of grammatical errors on signs.

Grant writing.

Overseas Mom turns e-mails home into published essays.

Article on how a writer had to leave a setting she had grown attached to.

On the value of taking an MFA, Master of Fine Arts degree.

Make the most of minor characters in your fiction.

Movies about writers and writing--Capote, All the President's Men, Almost Famous, etc.

Descriptions of different characteristics of writers that hold the writer back.

Read intense writing in order to write intensely.

Rookie mistakes in writing.

Podcasting what you have written.

If you're going to write about teens, write about today's teens.

Specialize in some subject in order to find articles to write.

Review of a book on a writer's experience including her being "mentored" by Howard Fast.

Publishing articles on parenting.

Review of a magazine, Ecoton, dealing with ecology.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Reading Teacher (RT). October 2007.

Some ideas on teaching reading and English from The Reading Teacher, a publication of the International Reading Association (IRA).

How improve vocabulary instruction?
Students learn to stop at words they don't know and try to figure out the best way to gain their meanings. [RayS: Worth thinking about.] One method is to teach groups of related words. JF Baumann, et al. RT (Oct. 007). 108-122.

What is wrong with our teaching of comprehension?
Comprehension is expected, not taught. We don't teach comprehension strategies. One strategy is to teach students how to understand the structure of narrative text. S Dymock. RT (Oct. 07), 161-167.

How improve comprehension?
Concentrate on the first three sentences of each chapter. Helps to get students thinking about what is going to happen in the text. DN Morgan and JL Williams. RT (Oct. 07), 168-172.

Other topics: Helping boys to change their attitudes toward literacy and to define their masculinity. Teachers working with 4th- and 5th- and 6th-grade students need a "tool kit" of techniques for working with content materials. Does not give specific suggestions for what the too kit should contain. Suggests four practices in teaching ESL (English as a second language) students: Explicit code and comprehension instruction. 2. Language-rich instruction--speaking and listening. 3. Socio-culturally informed instruction--students translate for parents. 4. Additive literacy instruction--focus on developing the native language.

Monday, October 8, 2007

English Journal (EJ). September 2007.

Some ideas on teaching English from the English Journal (EJ), September 2007, a publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

How use films with novels?
Gives students film clips and asks them to turn the clips into text. J Golden. EJ (Sep. 07), 28.

How can students learn more about English grammar?
Students learn more about English grammar by studying Spanish. J Golden. EJ (Sep. 07), 30.

How help students visualize the settings in novels?
Create a "virtual world" with pictures and maps accompanying text from the novel. CM Arver. EJ (Sep. 07), 37-42.

How help students expand their literary discussions beyond the classroom?
Students create blogs in response to the literature they are reading and discussing in class. Other students are able to respond to these responses on the blog. An advantage to students who are quiet and don't speak up in class discussions. C English. EJ (Sep. 07), 56-61.

How help students go beyond the books they are reading?
Using The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean as a model of the world of collecting orchids, students used either their own collectibles or started a new collection and researched the collectible from a variety of sources. Emphasis was on the variety of sources used and the variety of media used in the presentation. KE Moynihan. EJ (Sep. 07), 69-76.

How can students produce a research project on video?
Two fifth-grade students produced a documentary using video, stills and audio on African-American history. J Ranker. EJ (Sep. 07), 77-82.

What should we do about the digitized books now being collected by Google and other organizations?
One teacher had students compare the 16 different translations of the Odyssey. A Webb. EJ (Sep. 07), 83-88.

How help students improve their critical thinking?
Students reviewed critiques of products from different sources on the Internet. From this review came a list of standard questions to ask. M Rice. EJ (Sep. 07), 89-93.

How help students improve vocabulary for the SAT?
"Spark-Notes" has produced "vocabulary novels," novels that emphasize the vocabulary likely to be encountered in the SAT. [RayS: An idea whose time has passed. Vocabulary used to be important in the SAT when antonyms, analogies and sentence completions were three of the four verbal sub-tests, the fourth being reading comprehension. But now that only sentence completions remain part of the SAT, why go to the trouble of reading "vocabulary novels"? Just read to learn ideas, whether fiction or nonfiction. The vocabulary will come from extensive reading of interesting books. The same exposure to words comes from weekly reading of Newsweek, Time and US News and World Report. ]

Other topics:
The issue of choosing words in reading assignments to pre-teach. Visiting the NCTE Convention in New York city. Technology may change but "story" is essential. Learning some lessons on teaching by working with a personal physical trainer. Teaching students to critique on-line multi-modal Web sites.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Language Arts. September 2007.

Some ideas on teaching English from the journal Language Arts, September 2007, a publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

How help children practice their reading?
Children at noon meet adult volunteers from corporations to eat together and engage in a variety of reading activities. Such a program must be supervised. Teachers and reading specialists can help the volunteers select books and offer suggestions about activities to use with the individual children. ET Dawes. LA (Sep. 07), 10-19.

How help young children to relate literacy and science?
Kindergarten students observe bird feeder outside the classroom. They raise questions, learn to use bird publications, record their findings, take pictures for reference and evidence of the answers to their questions, etc. P. Whitin. LA (Sep. 07), 20-30.

How help young students become interested in words?
Student wears a "hat" (a crown) with an interesting word he has discovered written on it so that when other children or people ask about the word, he can explain it to them. P Pargh, et al. LA (Sep. 07), 31-42.

How involve the community in the classroom?
In this article, a poet who resided in the community became a guest teacher of poetry to 8th-grade students. AM Wiseman. LA (Sep. 07), 43-51.

How should schools be reformed?
Author suggests that beyond fifth grade in which basic skills are taught, students should engage in independent study with less and less time devoted to a standardized curriculum. J Lemke. LA (Sep. 07), 52-61. *** [RayS. One of the most interesting ideas I have encountered in my professional journals. Working out the details of such a reform will be difficult, but I think it is an idea worth pursuing.]

How deal with the problems of urban education?
We need to change the image of urban areas by presenting positive images of what actually occurs in urban areas. V Kinloch. LA (Sep. 07), 61-68. [RayS: All right, this will not solve all the problems of urban education, but I think it is one piece of the puzzle. The only images of urban areas I see are the "If it bleeds, it leads" of Channel 6, Action News each night--a daily chronicle of murder, rape, arson, and other assorted violence, etc. The perfunctory 30-second image of students gathered around the piano or receiving awards does not convey the kind of positive image needed to change people's views of urban areas.]

What are some examples of ugly and confusing language in educational publication or, when is an idea not an idea?
"Hope and possibility are key dimensions in the development of agentic identities." " opportunities to reframe the outcomes of education." p. 76. "One danger of undertheorizing transfromative learning...." p. 78. "It's about designing a particular kind of ecology that is saturated with tools, forms and networks of support...." p. 73. "Identifying the contradictions in the various activity systems that make up people's everyday lives...." p. 72. " practices that are not thoughtfully mediated...." p. 74. KG. LA (Sep. 07). [RayS. Ugh!]

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

College Composition and Communication. September 2007.

Some ideas on teaching English from the journal College Composition and Communication, a publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

What to do about plagiarism?
Have students discuss their problems with a student board--especially if the student is from another culture. E Whitaker. CCC (Sept. 07), 125-127.

What do we do about the increasing number of students speaking varieties of English?
Review of three books dealing with the problem of vernacular "Englishes," including African American Vernacular English, Indian English, Philippine English, Caribbean Creole English, Hawaiian Pidgin, West African Pidgin English, Spanglish and Tex-Mex English. Reviewed ideas are general and not very helpful. Main problem is how to bridge the gap between out-of-school English and academic English in the classroom. C Severino. CCC (Sep. 07), 128-138.

How valid is scoring compositions by machine?
Review of Machine Scoring of Student Essays: Truth and Consequences by PF Ericsson and Richard Haswell, editors. 1006. Variety of contributors. No easy answers. Gives information and research on machine scoring. The big question: machine scoring for what reason? The usefulness of machine scoring of essays depends on the the answer to that question. C Rutz. CCC (Sep. 07), 139-144.

Other topics: 1. The role of the writing clinic. 2. On the history of rhetoric in the writing program at the University of Chicago. 3. A study related to teaching learning disabled students in freshman English. 4. Much ado and mumbo jumbo on saying the right thing at the right time. 5. Discussion of the working conditions of adjunct writing instructors. 6. The self-doubts regarding teaching and scholarship of four women who have earned their doctorates. The problem is rooted in their mothers.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy (JAAL). September 2007.

Some ideas on teaching reading and English from the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, a publication of the International Reading Association.

What are the effects of inadequate reading skills on youngsters?
Think of themselves as non-readers or poor readers. Avoid reading. Attempt to become invisible Act out in order to create distractions. S Hughes-Hassell and P Rodgo. JAAL (Sep. 07), 22.

How approach the study of the Holocaust through The Diary of Anne Frank?
Separate myths from reality in reading and learning about Anne Frank. K Spector and S Jones. JAAL (Sep. 07), 38-48.

Why don't students read poetry?
One reason is myths about poetry and poets: using drugs; eccentric behavior; mental illness; bohemian sexuality; loves of poverty and misery. L Young. JAAL (Sept. 07), 50.

Other topics: 1. Dealing with problem students by recording every fact about them and then submitting to qualified professionals when concerned about their behavior. 2. Students who are studying fiction write fiction. 3. Response to an article about encouraging critical reading by embedding false information in reading materials.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

College English (CE). September 2007.

Some ideas on teaching English from College English, September 2007, a publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

How should we deal with plagiarism?
Leave out the anger. AE Robillard. CE (Sep. 07), 10-31.

What is the subject of composition?
Students have no trouble answering this question in biology and history, but they have difficulty answering it in composition. MR Boland. CE (Sep. 07), 32.

What was the role of Louise Rosenblatt in the reading of literature?
"She challenged the major theories and theorists of literary theory of the time and attempted to turn literary studies in a new direction. She did so by demonstrating the relevance to the study of literature of the human reader...." E A Flynn. CE (Sep. 07), 68.

What should college English consist of?
It's many things--literature, linguistics, creative writing, rhetoric, composition. We need to unite them all in a coordinated principle, see the parts as part of a whole. Northrop Frye. Author suggests rhetorical functions, poetic functions and referential functions. F D'Angelo, CE (Sep. 07), 89.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Teaching English in the Two-Year College (TETYC). September 2007.

Some ikdeas on teaching English from the journal, Teaching English in the Two-Year College (TETYC), September 2007, a publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

What is the mission of the two-year college?
Part liberal arts, part occupational training, part remedial education, part general-equivalency-diploma preparation. J Andelora. TETyC (Sep. 07), 6.

What should be the focus of two-year-college English instructors?
Learn how to teach grammar effectively. M Blaauw-Hara. TETYC (Sep. 07), 30-40.

What do we know about how instruction in writing classes meets the needs of the students in the disciplines?
"However, little is known about how instruction in writing classes meets students' needs in the disciplines." D. Becket, et al. TETYC (Sep. 07), 63.

What types of writing must students learn in other disciplines?
We need to learn what kinds of writing and specialized writing skills are needed in the disciplines and we, therefore, need to broaden our instruction in writing classes to take these needs into account. D Becket, et al. TETYC (Sep. 07), 63-72. [RayS: I was always under the impression that Writing Across the Curriculum people thought English instructors needed to teach instructors in other disciplines how to teach writing. The suggestion in this article assumes that instructors in other disciplines already assign specialized writing and the ones needing to learn how they do this are the English writing instructors. Probably the solution to meeting the writing needs of students in disciplines other than English is mutual understanding of what all disciplines do in writing. Interesting.]

How help students attend class more regularly?
Students must write a narrative which they read to the class in order to persuade the class that their excuses should be excused. Having completed the exercise, the teacher excuses the absence. K Dirk. TETYC (Sep. 07), 74-75. [RayS: The idea is so unusual I think it makes sense.]

How help students learn the language of grammar?
Students select a slip of paper with a grammatical term on it and then must write an explanation of the term. R Pourteau. TETYC (Sep. 07), 75-76. [RayS: Good idea. I would try it.]

How help students understand and enjoy poetry?
They write parodies of stanzas from famous poems--like, "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Rough Draft." M S Stewart. TETYC (Sep. 07), 76-78.

Other topics: On the role of scholarship in the mission of the two-year-college faculty. Using films to sensitize white American students to injustice against minorities, including African-Americans. Changing nature of the college classroom in which the mainstream culture now consists of minorities.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Reading Teacher. September 2007.

Some ideas on teaching reading and English from The Reading Teacher (RT), September 2007, a publication of the International Reading Association.

What is needed for student achievement in reading?
Focus on just three factors: motivation to learn; high expectations; time on task. D Fisher and N Frey. RT (Sept. 07), 323-43.

How teach economics to primary-grade children?
Through children's trade books, of which there are quite a few. Article lists titles. YV Rodgers. RT (Sept. 07), 46-55.

How help children develop personal global friendships?
Pen pals.; MA Barksdale, et al. RT (Sept. 07), 58-68.

What are some strategies for improving vocabulary and reading?
Generate synonyms, antonyms and other words related to the new word--better than writing the word in a sentence. Encourage students to think out loud as they read. Write a summary paragraph. R Boulware-Gouden, et al. RT (Sept. 07), 70-77. [RayS: I especially like the suggestions on vocabulary. Thinking out loud as the student reads could give insight into how the student reads. Writing a summary paragraph is ALWAYS a good idea.]

What are some examples of ineffective vocabulary instruction?
Giving students definitions. Writing words in a sentence. SR Gill. RT (Sept. 07), 78.

Other topics: The problem of Arabic speaking students and reading in American schools. Problems with literature circles.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Language Arts. March 2006.

Some ideas on teaching English from Langauge Arts (LA), March 2006, a publication of the National Council of teachers of English (NCTE).

[Note: This series of journal articles, like others I have read, seems to promise some definite ideas on how to teach in a multilingual classroom. However, the suggestions appear more often to be accidental discoveries, unsystematic, and often platitudinous, dealing more in theory than in actual, systematic practice. If that's the way it is, OK, then say so. Each time I go into a multilingual classroom, tell me that I am discovering how to cope, how to help the children succeed. That's the attitude I seem to take away from articles like the following. It's not that the articles do not contain some helpful ideas, but I keep looking for a step-by-step system and I'm not finding it.]

What are the issues in multi-lingual classrooms?
"Each year, more and more teachers enter multilingual classrooms to teach students with diverse language and literacy backgrounds. Although teaching in multilingual classrooms is not a recent development, it is a new experience for many teachers. Multilingual classrooms present teachers with significant opportunities, such as exploring multiple perspectives and preparing students to live in a diverse world, but they also present significant challenges. Those challenges become major tensions in contexts affected by the English-only movement where schools are defined as monolingual in disregard of the multilingual kids who occupy the classrooms in those schools. In contrast, educators in other contexts are able to offer many opportunities for children to bring their linguistic and cultural resources into the classroom." Editors. LA (Mar. 06), 287.

What are the issues in multilingual classrooms?
"When we restrict or prohibit the use of first languages in classrooms, we are asking children to choose between home and school cultures and are wasting incredible linguistic and cultural resources that would enrich classroom life and learning. We are also failing to prepare children for life in a global community." The Editors. LA (Mar. 06), 287.

What happened when a very bright Chinese girl who had excelled in learning Chinese in her first two grades in China came to the U.S.?
Complete culture shock. Father found tapes with "Three Little Kittens." Listened over and over. Mother Goose rhymes. Became an "aide" in a first-grade spelling class where she learned basic spelling while being considered by the students as a teacher aide. Supportive environment. Patience. People demonstrated words. Over 7 million American children, ages 5 to 14 years old, speak a language other than English at home. Don't emphasize grades at the beginning. "S" for satisfactory. [This story of his child's experience in a U.S. school was written by her father.] LA (March 06).

How help ESL (English as a Second Language) students learn English?
Dual-language books. Brainstorm ideas within the school for how to help. J Cummins, et al. LA (Mar. 06), 297-307.

How does "No Child Left Behind" (NCLB) affect the classroom?
Teacher engages students in drama involving their own poetry and is criticized by administration for not being on the same page at the same time with other teachers at her grade level. CL Medina and G Campano. LA (Mar. 06), 332.

How help ESL students learn English?
"Survival English" to understand important words. CL Medina and G Campano. LA (Mar. 06), 337. [RayS: What "survival words" would I emphasize in my secondary English classroom in teaching English? Interesting idea. A place to begin. This idea might be of value for native-English speakers. Reduce the class to key words or concepts that are really important to the meaning of the class. Mor realistic would be to begin units with key words.]

How help ESL students learn English?
Put yourself into the students' shoes. M Cahnmann. LA (Mar. 06), 342. [RayS: This is an idea that I would call "platitudinous," adding frustration to a teacher who is struggling to find ideas that work in helping students with a variety of different first languages deal with what I must teach in an English class.]

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Reading Research Quarterly. Apr/May/Jun 2006.

Some research studies from Reading Research Quarterly, April/May/ June 2006, a publication of the International Reading Association.

What should be the role of popular culture in the classroom?
New teachers do not use pop culture in the classroom because it just isn't done. But they need to understand the out-of-classroom culture of their students. J Marsh. RRQ (Apr/May/Jun 06), 160-174.

How reform inner city libraries to try to address the achievement gap between low-income students and privileged students?
Merely providing resources--print and technological--did not bridge the gap. Low-income students with low knowledge and background did not make better use of libraries even though the resources had been upgraded significantly. One idea, however, seemed to offer hope--librarians who got out from behind their desks to work actively with students. JP Neuman and D Celano. RRQ (Apr/May/Jun 06), 176-201. [RayS: I think the latter finding is significant. Librarians need to be teachers.]

How prepare teachers for the real world of the 21st century in education?
Have pre-service teachers engage in community work and then have them write about their experiences with emphasis on implications for literacy teaching. T Rogers, et al. RRQ (Apr/May/Jun 06), 202-223.

How involve science picture books in classroom teaching?
Analyze the types of science picture books available. CC Pappas. RRQ (Apr/May/Jun 06), 226-250.

Why don't teachers use science picture books in primary grades?
Reading and writing science are different from typical primary narratives. Predominance of the story genre. Not aware such books are available. Undermine the hands-on approach to science. CC Pappas. RRQ (Apr/May/Jun 06), 226. [RayS: Raises question as to how best to use information books in the primary grades.]

What can be learned from the "Reading Recovery" program?
The need for extensive monitoring of teachers trained in using the program so that they are truly using the principles of the program. "Of most importance, we feel, is the underlying requirement that the teachers must become not only highly knowledgeable about the literacy development process, but also willing to commit to the considerable time and effort that monitoring and supporting the literacy development requires." BE Cox and CJ Hopkins. RRQ (Apr/May/Jun 06), 265. [RayS: Interesting implications. With any program, teachers need to be monitored.]

Which students are in need of special reading help?
Students with reading problems, socioeconomically disadvantaged students and English language learners. LS Eckert, et al. RRQ (Apr/May/Jun 06), 275.

How encourage teachers to participate in action research?
Publish their work. LS Eckert. RRQ (Apr/May/Jun 06), 288.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy (JAAL). March 2006.

Some ideas on teaching literacy from the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy (JAAL), March 2006, a publication of the International Reading Association.

Scale of the value of each idea to me, RayS.
* Not much interest, either because the ideas are not new or the topic is uninteresting.
** I'll think about it.
***Very much interested.

Why do people become teachers?
"None of us became teachers out of a burning desire to raise students' test scores." CM Santa. JAAL (Mar. 06), 475. *** [RayS. In light of the No Child Left Behind law, I think it is time to poll teachers on why they became teachers. How do the effects of the No Child Left Behind law affect their goals as teachers?]

How can teachers learn and use multicultural literary works that are unfamiliar to parents?
Prepare rationales for teaching the multicultural literary works. [RayS. For examples of rationales for teaching literary works, go to] Share the books with parents and other groups. Expose yourself to people different from you. RJ Stallworth, et al. JAAL (Mar. 06), 478-489. ***

How introduce critical literacy into the classroom?
Read supplementary texts with different points of view on issues. EH Behrman. JAAL (Mar. 06), 490-498. ***

How do you define "literacy"?
"...speaking, reading, listening, writing and understanding language is being literate." MC Taylor. JAAL (Mar. 06), 500. *

How teach literacy?
By modeling the practices you are asking your students to learn. J Trier. JAAL (Mar. 06), 510-523. *** [RayS. I think modeling the skills you are teaching is simply the best teaching method ever invented. Show your students how you listen, speak, read and write.]

How is reading related to thinking?
The question is good. The answer by this author involves listening when reading. [RayS. Didn't make a great deal of sense to me.] R. Bomer. JAAL (Mar. 06), 524-535. **

How teach effectively?
Teacher explains exactly what she is going to do to the students who therefore understand what and how she is teaching them. BT Williams. JAAL (Mar. 06), 536-540. [RayS. The best dentist I ever had, the most painless, was the one who explained to me ahead of time exactly what he was about to do and what to expect. I think explaining how you are going to teach is another form of modeling that helps students understand what they are learning and how they are learning and how to go about teaching themselves. I think this technique is worth thinking about.] ***

Other topics: Teaching is discovering like the Lewis and Clark expedition. Forming policy on listening--written in language I almost choked on. *

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Reading Teacher. March 2006.

Some ideas on teaching reading and English from The Reading Teacher, March 2006, a publication of the International Reading Association.

Scale of the value of each idea to me, RayS.
*Not much interest because the ideas are not new or the topic is uninteresting to me.
** I'll think about it.
*** Very much interested.

What is bilingual writing?
Students write family stories in Spanish or English, or a combination of both, then translate them--with help. JE Dworkin. RT (Mar. 06), 510-520. **

How teach students to respond to reading?
Teacher reads to small group, interspersing questions while she reads. Students then re-tell the story. "Dialogic reading." BG Doyle and W Bramwell. RT (Mar. 06), 554. **

How do students write?
They change their methods depending on the type of writing requested. S Dix. RT (Mar. 06), 566-573. ***

How encourage students to read?
Students organize their own classroom libraries by categorizing the books in their classrooms. Need to arrive at a decision of how to categorize a particular book. Requires skimming in order to learn the content and type of book. JA Jones. RT (Mar. 06), 576. **

How help students remember details of what they have read?
Use story webs with events and partial details listed. Students than add details. TJ Arthaud and T Goracke. RT (Mar. 06), 581-586. *

What can be learned from an international reading assessment?
84% of students read fiction; 56% read nonfiction. Teacher autonomy associated with higher achievement. More resources correlate with achievement. High interest in computers correlates with reading performance. Pressure for reading achievement is a negative correlation. Grading systems do not correlate internationally. Pre-school correlates with highest achievement. Principals spend most of their time on administrative duties. Teachers had 15 hours or fewer on professional development. With fewer types of schools, higher performance. Children with high performance were read to at home. Higher reading performance correlated with more than 100 books at home. Higher achievement with parent involvement. Socio-economic indexes for the school were more important than individual's poor socio-economic status. Females outperformed males in all countries. Males read newspapers, comics, e-mail and Web pages for information. Time spent reading was an important indicator of the gap between good and poor readers. K Topping. RT (Mar. 06), 589-590. *** [RayS. I think I knew much of this, but individual points raise some interesting questions.]

What types of informal reading inventories should teachers use?
Phonemic awareness. Alphabet. Word recognition. Oral reading fluency. Comprehension through re-telling. Motivation through interviews and surveys. S Walpole and MC McKenna. RT (Mar. 06), 594. *** [RayS: OK, these tools will give the teacher some information on the student's "readiness" for reading--"reading readiness" is a "no-no" these days in favor of terms suggesting "development"--but the issue remains, in medicine and reading: after the diagnosis, what then?]

Other topics: Taped literary discussions; then students reflected on what they had learned from hearing the recorded discussion. Evaluating CD-Rom storybooks. Attempt to break apart assessment and accountability.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Teaching English in the Two-Year College (TETYC). March 2006.

Some ideas on teaching English from Teaching English in the Two-Year College (TETYC), March 2006, a publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Scale of the value of each idea to me, RayS.
* Not much interest, either because the ideas are not new or the topic is uninteresting.
** I'll think about it.
*** Very much interested.

Why don't students revise?
Extra work. First draft is as good as it's going to get. Won't have time to revise on the job. Done only to satisfy teachers. RH Zigmond. TETYC (Mar. 06), 296. *** [RayS. Students need to understand the purpose of revision. James Thurber said it best: I revise to make what I write seem effortless.]

What are some criteria for evaluating writing?
Readability: Engaged; interesting, easy to follow; understandable; ambiguous; confusing.
Argument: Clear, logical; clear, lucid; logical; incomplete; little argument.
Revision: Thoughtfully reconsidered; revised in response to feedback; sentence-level revisions; little revision; no revision.
Mechanics: Correct; minimal sentence errors; distracts from reading; interferes; incoherent; frequent to severe. RH Zigmond. TETYC (Mar. 06), 302. *** [RayS. Another method of communicating strengths and weaknesses in writing to students. Of interest because a frequent complaint by students is that they do not understanding teachers' comments on their writing.]

How write a college handbook on writing?
Review of a textbook: Make it all-inclusive from the process to a handbooks of usage, punctuation, etc. An interesting wrinkle: author writes from an "I-You" perspective, giving clear opinions on every problem in writing. W Murdick. TETYC (May 06), 315-317. *** [RayS: Sort of like what I do when I review articles in professional journals.]

Other topics: History of writing laboratories in two-year colleges. Guidelines for writing centers. Sometimes people who should know do not know that the writing center exists. No longer peer tutoring or peer response, but peer evaluation of other students' writing. Forum on adjunct faculty. *

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy (JAAL). April 2006.

Some ideas on teaching literacy from the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy (JAAL), a publication of the International Reading Association.

Scale of the value of each idea to me, RayS.
* Not much interest, either because the ideas are not new or the topic is uninteresting.
** I'll think about it.
*** Very much interested.

What can be learned from analyzing case studies of tutoring sessions?
Don't put too much effort into pre-tutoring instruction. Put more effort into providing support during the time that the sessions are taking place. A Belzer. JAAL (Apr. 06), 560-572. ***

How encourage college students to use their textbooks?
Author uses "open-book tests" at the beginning of each unit--15questions which students are asked to answer in 20 minutes using their text book. ***

How help students re-evaluate their initial responses to literary works?
Students answer initial questions about literary works after completing reading. They then discuss the questions with the rest of the class and their responses sometimes change significantly. BG Pace. JAAL (Apr. 06), 584-594. ***

What are low-frequency words in vocabulary?
"In general, low-frequency words have a high frequency of occurrence in standardized tests. "Adventure," "balloon" and "fool" are examples of high-frequency words on a third-grade list of vocabulary terms, whereas "abbey," "antiquities" and "blight" are low-frequency 12th-grade level words." AV Manzo, et al. JAAL (Apr. 06), 810-811. ** [RayS. In other words, low-frequency words are hard words. The low-frequency words are the ones that should be pre-taught before reading. ]

How well are U.S. college-bound 18-year-olds doing on standardized vocabulary tests?
Dropping sharply. "In 1940, these students typically knew the meanings of 80% of the words on a standardized reading test. By the mid-1990s, the typical students scored only 30%, which is little better than random guessing." AV Manzo, et al. JAAL (Apr. 06), 811. *** [RayS. If this finding is accurate, one of the effects of non-reading has been a tremendous loss of the knowledge of words.]

What are some indications that vocabulary knowledge is weaker today?
People shy away from newspapers like the NY Times and LA Times. Example of words in these papers? "Mot juste," "potentates," "febrile," "Plumping" and Armageddon." AV Manzo, et al. JAAL (Apr. 06), 813. *** [RayS. And the average local or city newspaper now has only five or so stories on a page with several large pictures. The average newspaper has become like the tabloid in format. The readability of the average newspaper has been significantly dumbed down. I can foresee that in the near future, the quantity and size of pictures will further replace text in the average newspaper.That's what people want to "read."]

Other topic: The importance of researching the needs of a globalized work force. * [RayS. A "no-brainer," but the author only asserts the need, does not talk about how the needs can and should be met.]

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Reading Teacher. April 2006.

Some ideas on teaching English from The Reading Teacher, April 2006, a publication of the International Reading Association. This particular issue is a gold mine of ideas.

Scale of the value of these ideas to me, RayS.
* Not much interest, either because the ideas are not new or the topic is uninteresting.
** I'll think about it.
***I'm very much interested.

How do students have to adapt their reading skills to doing research on the Internet?
Students need to search efficiently, to organize the information they find and to present it effectively. LA Henry. RT (Apr. 06), 614-627. *** [RayS: A new concern is the need to search the Internet efficiently, although that problem is not new either because students have always had to learn how to find information efficiently. Only the medium is new. Organizing and presenting the information has always been a part of instruction in the research paper.]

What are some problems in learning to read?
"...even though most primary-grade reading teachers focus on both phonics and meaning, some children negotiate this transition more easily than others." *** KB Cartwright. RT (Apr. 06), 628. [RayS: In other words some students view reading as sounding out words and ignoring meaning or focus on meaning and don't learn how to sound out the words they already know in their speaking and listening vocabulary. Students need to sound out words for the purpose of gaining meaning. Seems like common sense, but we have all encountered "word-callers," students who can sound out the words they encounter, but have no idea what the meaning is. That's the problem.]

What are some problems in improving comprehension skills?
Thre is a link between oral reading fluency and comprehension. J Hasbrouck and GA Tindal. RT (Apr. 06), 636. *** [RayS: The point is that students need to be trained in reading fluently, but fluent reading does not necessarily increase comprehension; fluency is one of many elements that go into comprehension. The advice, I think, should be that improved fluency probably indicates, but not necessarily, good comprehension. Again, "word callers" can be quite fluent but understand little of what they have read.]

What are some methods for creating interesting research projects?
Use real historical artifacts to motivate research on the artifacts. CJ Fuhler, et al. RT (Apr. 06), 646-659. ***

What are some problems in 6th-grade students' learning to write?
Failure to teach them the differences in organization between expository and narrative writing. T Engel and R Streich. RT (Apr. 06), 662. *** [RayS: Narrative writing consists of a series of paragraphs that tell about an incident. The incident is usually told chronologically. These paragraphs may or may not have topic sentences. Expository writing is organized around the following formula: "Tell them what you are going to tell them; tell them; tell them what you told them." Or "Introduce it. Say it. Sum it up." Expository writing can include narrative writing, but narrative writing rarely contains expository writing.]

How do students feel about teachers' practices in their teaching?
Ask them. You might be surprised by what they say. AB Pachtman and KA Wilson. RT (Apr. 06), 680-684. *** [RayS: At the least, you will probably learn what works and what doesn't from the students' point of view.]

What are the advantages of having students participate in drama?
"My fifth-grade class eagerly looks forward to drama time each day when they participate in theater games, improvised scenes from books,assume the role of a literary character, and much more." S Fennessey. RT (Apr. 06), 688. *** [RayS. "Much more" can be found on the Internet. Type "Theater games for kids" into Google and you will find 26,600,000 Web sites. One way to improve your teaching: before you teach anything, check the topic on the Internet.]

How can students practice working with a skill involved in reading?
It's a gimmick, but organize a sheet with tic-tac-toe. Put activities in each of the nine spaces. Students choose three to complete tic-tac-toe and carry them out. **

What can an illiterate mother do to help her children become ready to learn to read?
Talk. Make up stories from picture books. Show and tell. Speak in long sentences. Use complex or uncommon words. Tell family stories. Point to objects as she tells about them. Teach her that just by talking and listenng, she can help her child to be a reader. KS Cooter. RT (Apr. 06), 701. ***

In teaching students to improve reading fluency, what is the technique of repeated reading?
Students practice reading orally. Poetry, song lyrics, rhymes, plays, monologues, dialogues and letters. The purpose is to read for performance. *** T. Rasinski. RT (Apr. 06), 704-706. [RayS: Put "Improving Reading Fluency" in Google and you will find 999,000 Web sites. Some will try to sell you something, but many will offer some good ideas.]

How improve vocabulary?
Never let a word go by without learning its meaning. Point to objects. Dramatize words. Use Internet pictures. Read-alouds. Go over the pictures before you read the book. Put sticky notes on sentence with word you don't know and then try to figure its meaning from contest. Roots, prefixes, suffixes. Check dictionary, but don't copy long meanings. P Cunningham. RT (Apr. 06), 708-711. *** [RayS: Checking Internet pictures for meaning of vocabulary words is a new idea for me. I have long urged students to extract key words from the dictionary definition; try to reduce the meaning to one or two words, if possible. Easier to remember. I also recommend pre-teaching unfamiliar vocabulary before reading selections.]

How provide background information when reading literature?
Check related topics on the Internet. J Castek, et al. RT (Apr. 06), 717. ***

Friday, August 31, 2007

Classroom Notes Plus (CN+). April 2006.

Some practical ideas on teaching English from Classroom Notes Plus (CN+), a publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Scale of the value of each idea to me, RayS.
* Not much interest
** I'll think about it.
*** Very much interested

What are some methods of involving students in grammar?
Students re-read composition they have written. On index cards, they write anonymously questions about grammatical problems. Cards all go in a box. Teacher takes out card. Other students answer if they can; Teacher, if they can't. B Davet. CN+ (Apr. 06), 12-14. ** [The value of this technique from my point of view is that most students do not understand teachers' comments on their compositions. This method gives the students the opportunity to ask for explanations. "What do you mean by 'awk'?" RayS. ]

Other topics in this issue: Using debate with The Scarlet Letter. Using films in conjunction with literature study. Find and discuss a favorite poem. Six degrees of separation: using a graphic organizer, student try to relate themselves to people with whom they live and work. Change tense in order to find the verb of the sentence. *

Thursday, August 30, 2007

English Education. April 2006.

Some ideas on teachng English from English Education (EngEd.), April 2006, a publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), dealing with the training of pre-service teachers.

Scale of the value of each idea to me, RayS.
* Not much interest
** I'll think about it.
*** Very much interested

What models do new teachers follow when they begin teaching?
They model teachers and teaching from their own experience--good and poor. MT Moore. EngEd. (Apr. 06), 159. **

How does the public feel about teaching?
"Overwhelmingly, the American public believes that knowing how to teach is just as important as knowing what to teach...." Dudley-Marling, et al. EngEd. (Apr. 06), 168. [I beg to differ. All that I have read in newspapers suggests that teaching teachers how to teach is what teacher training institutions do, taking away from learning what to teach (content). Doesn't help that most teacher candidates come from the lower third of the class at most, if not all, universities. RayS.] **

What does a "highly qualified" teacher know?
Literary/reading/composition theory. Children's and adolescent literature. Computer technologies. Interact with other teachers. Strategies for teaching literature and reading. Strategies for teaching composition/writing. Assessment strategies. Working with students of different cultures and languages. Engaging in active learning. Lecture skills. Working with parents. Management techniques. Dudley-Marling, et al. EngEd. (Apr. 06), 178. **

What do new English teachers need to know?
They need to know that memories of their own teachers are insufficient for becoming successful teachers. J Agee. EngEd. (Apr. 06), 213. **

Why are students intimidated by poetry?
They feel as if they need to know the "right" answer and when they don't they feel foolish. S Webster, et al. EngEd. (Apr. 06), 245. ***

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Teaching English in the Two-Year College (TETYC). December 2006.

Some ideas on teaching English from the journal Teaching English in the Two-Year College (TETYC), December 2006, a publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Scale of the value of each idea to me, RayS.
* No interest
** I'll think about it.
*** Very much interested

How teach grammar effectively?
Says that we have yet to learn to teach grammar effectively and we need to learn how to do it because the ability to write correctly is the greatest weakness in students' learning to write. M Blaauw-Hara. TETYC (Dec. 06), 165-178. **

What is an alternative to an academic research paper?
Students research the style and methods of short story writers and then try to write a story using the methods they have learned. T Blue. TETYC (Dec. 06), 179-184. **

Why read literature?
Course is called "Survival" and the literature read on that topic is supposed to help the students who read it learn in a practical way how to survive. In other words, the literature on survival should provide models for survival. K Dailey. TETYC (Dec. 06), 196-201. **

How respond to student papers?
Author develops statistics on the various writing problems in classes, then feeds the statistics into a free graphing Web site where the software produces pie charts, bar graphs and other visual depictions of these statistics. For example: confusing sequence, tedious introduction, lack of clarity, minimal support, lack of focus. Also another group of problems: ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, conventions. Can do the same thing by individual students who can then compare to group charts. T. Finley. TETYC (Dec. 06), 202-205. **

How teach writing poetry?
Students write a deliberately bad poem and discuss why it is bad. EA Dougherty. TETYC (Dec. 06), 207. ***

What are some interesting writing assignments?
Write a paper praising yourself. DC Elder. TETYC (Dec. 06), 207-208. **

How correct student papers?
Put check marks in the margin. If multiple errors, put in multiple check marks. M Blaauw-Hara. TETYC (DEc. 06), 175. Idea borrowed from Richard Haswell, "Minimal Marking." On their own, students will find 60% to 70% of errors because of carelessness, not stupidity. **

How help students identify problems in their writing?
At the beginning of the semester, identify nine grammatical concepts and encourage students to focus on them in preparing final copies of papers. M. Blaauw-Hara. TETYC (Dec. 06), 176. ***

Other topics: Complaint that institutions are encouraging teaching at the expense of research. [Unbelievable! Most institutions--except two-year colleges--emphasize research to the detriment of teaching. RayS.] Two teachers combine classes in literature and history. *

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

College English. March 2007.

Some ideas on teaching English from College English, March 2007, a publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

How can this journal's readers respond quickly to articles in the journal?
Web site for College English at which readers can respond immediately to articles published in this issue of the journal. [However, only members of the NCTE and subscribers to the journal are able to use this service. RayS.] J Schilb. CE (Mar. 07), 313. ***

What do good university teachers do?
Know subject. Know process of learning. Understand that knowledge is constructed rather than received. Use high level questions. Understand that student motivation should be intrinsic rather than extrinsic. Inquiry-driven with on-going self reflection. Expect more depth of students. Speak well. Encourage students to talk. Use assessment to learn what students know, not to evaluate. Use variety of methods for students to display their learning. Not teaching as telling, but teaching as learning. P. Donahue. CE (Mar. 07), 393-394. *** [Each one of these traits needs to be reflected on in more depth. RayS.]

Other articles contained anecdotes of racism in American society. One of the related issues is the document, "The Student's Right to His Own Language," produced in the 1970s by James Sledd, which proposes that nonstandard English ("Black English") be accepted in English writing classes. Two sides of the issue: Language is part of a person's personality and to denigrate the person's language is to denigrate the person. The other side of the issue is the reality that standard English is expected by educated people. In terms of economics, those who speak and write standard English are rewarded. Those who speak and write nonstandard English are rejected. RayS.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Writer (Wrt.) May 2007

Some ideas on writing from The Writer, May 2007.

Scale of the value of each idea to me, RayS.
* Not much interest
** I'll think about it.
*** Very much interested

How can I learn to know editors for whom I would like to publish?
Read their blogs. E Dreifus. Wrt (May 07), 9-10. **

How can I prepare to become a freelance writer?
This author learned everything she could about freelancing from trade magazines, newsletters, books related to freelancing. L Berger. Wrt. (May 07), 14. ***

Where can I find ideas for stories?
Base your story or article on books or literary works that have already been written. For example, use or adapt the plots. A Henry. Wrt. (May 07), 23. **

How should I go about writing a book?
Never polish the first chapter until the last chapter is done. T Hillerman. Wrt. (May 07), 25. **

How should I go about writing a novel?
One argument against outlines: can't wait to see how the book will turn out. T. Hillerman. Wrt. (May 07), 26. **

How should I prepare to write a book?
Create a story board. TJ MacGregor. Wrt. (May 07), 27-29. ***

What are editors' pet peeves about writers?
Don't know the publication. Get name right. Unexciting query. Sending unsolicited, finished articles. Expecting immediate reaction. Don't expect me to remember you. taking the assignment down the wrong road. Belaboring the point. Ignoring word counts. No headline or "kicker" ending. No nutgraph--up-front paragraphs that spell out the point. No contact list--sources you used with information where you can contact them. Don't like to be edited. D. Geiger. Wrt. (May 07), 30-33. ***

How can I find ideas to write about?
Spin off multiple articles from one topic. Wrt. (May 07), 34. ***

How should I go about revising what I wrote?
Complete the article, story or book before going back to revise and tighten. J Hart. Wrt. (May 07), 41-43. ***

Other topics: How to write a love poem. Chick lit grows up.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy (JAAL). May 2007.

Some ideas on teaching English from the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy (JAAL), May 2007, a publication of the International Reading Association.

Scale of the value of each idea to me, RayS.
* Not much interest
** I will think about it.
*** Very much interested

What is one way to organize a tutoring session?
Students first read a novel and then an expository book on the same topic. EB Ambe. JAAL (May 07), 632-639. **

Among college students, who reads more frequently outside of class?
Chinese college students who are education majors read less often outside of class than students in other majors. SY Chen. JAAL (May 07), 642-653. ** [True also with education majors in the U.S.? RayS.]

How do words change meaning in various subjects?
"...a water table is different from a math table is different from tabling a motion." L Freedman and C Carver. JAAL (May 07), 654. *** [You can't assume that students will understand the meanings of the same word in various disciplines. RayS.]

How does pop-culture influence students?
Teacher asks students to compare the values of pop-culture character to their own value system. BT Williams. JAAL (May 07), 680-685. ***

Other topics: Pre-service teachers and literature. How secondary teachers can help secondary students with reading. Contrast between in-school and out-of-school literacy practices. Interesting topics, but the information was not noteworthy. RayS.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Language Arts. May 2007.

Some ideas on teaching English from Language Arts, May 2007, a publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). Theme is "No Child Left Behind" (NCLB).

Scale of the value of each idea to me, RayS.
* Not much interest
** I'll think about it.
*** Very much interested

How has teaching changed because of NCLB?
Thanks to "NCLB" or "No Child Left Behind," teachers are becoming technicians rather than professionals. TE Wolman. LA (May 07), 410-418. **

What are the effects of NCLB?
Author suggests that NCLB is leading testing to replace teaching. M Gebhard, et al. LA (May 07), 419. ***

How can students learn to understand literacy?
Students write and develop a continuing literacy autobiography. DC Suskind. LA (May 07), 450. [In other words, students continually analyze and learn how they learn to read and write. RayS.] ***

How can pre-service teachers learn the most from their student-teaching experiences?
Pre-service teachers design and present an action research study involving literacy during their practice teaching. Examples: drama and reading comprehension; pictures and vocabulary; multi-genre research projects; peer tutoring. DC Suskind. LA (May 07), 454. ** [Nice idea, but I think pre-service teachers have enough to do just to acclimate themselves to working daily in a classroom. Adding action research might give the experience more meaning and prepare them for doing the same thing when they are full-time teachers, but it could also become a distraction from the actual purpose of student teaching--understanding and managing the day-to-day workings of a classroom full of students. RayS.]

What is the goal of NCLB?
Close the achievement gap between white and minority students. C Edelsky. LA (May 07), 457.
[What are the implications of such a goal? RayS.] ***

What is wrong with NCLB?
The failure of one sub-group on a standardized test for two consecutive years turns the whole school into a failing school. When a school fails, parents in rural areas have no where else to go and in urban schools, "performing" schools may have no room. No research has been done on whether punishing schools results in improved teaching; no research on whether standardized tests are best for assessing learning; no research on whether commercial reading programs improve reading proficiency. Dropout rates are rising. Teachers are leaving. Curriculum is becoming test prep. Cheating is increasing. C Edelsky. A (May 07), 457. *** [Pretty damning. RayS.]

What are the assumptions behind NCLB?
Raising standards will raise achievement. People will try harder. M Johnson. LA (May 07), 476. **

What are the NCTE's thoughts on NCLB?
Multiple assessments. Teacher quality. High-need students need the best teachers. Reading First has ethical and legal violations. Re-define "scientifically based reading research. **

What has been the effect of NCLB on the use of children's literature?
"...books no longer hold a permanent place in many classrooms; instead, they are being increasingly replaced by programed reading instruction, highly codified textbooks, and leveled readers." B Chatton. LA (May 07), 490. ***

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy (JAAL). April 2007.

Some ideas on teaching English literacy from the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy (JAAL), April 2007, a publication of the International Reading Association.

Scale of the value of each idea to me, RayS.
* Not much interest
** I'll think about it.
*** Very much interested

How can teachers improve their teaching?
Teachers need to become students again. Audit a colleague's course. Take classes on some unfamiliar topic. Learn again what it is like to be a student. WD Lenoir. JAAL (Apr. 07), 527. *** [I'm especially intrigued by the idea of taking a course on some unfamiliar topic. RayS.]

How improve the teaching of vocabulary?
Connect new words to related words. Analyze word structure--roots, prefixes and suffixes. Understand multiple meanings. Teach students to try to infer word meanings from context. K Bromley. JAAL (Apr. 07), 528-537. *** [For me, one of the most significant activities to increase vocabulary is pre-teaching unfamiliar vocabulary before students read an assignment. Can use all of these techniques in pre-teaching. RayS.]

How encourage children to read?
If you want your children to read, they need to see you (adults) reading. M White-Kaulaity. JAAL (Apr. 07), 580-588. *** [How is reading treated by role models in pop culture? RayS.]

Other topics: working with adults who have learning problems; encouraging Native Americans to read; inquiry-based projects; helping adolescents develop their reading skills.* [Either the topic was of little interest to me or the ideas were not new. RayS.]

Monday, August 20, 2007

Classroom Notes Plus (CN+). August 1007.

Some ideas on teaching English from Classroom Notes Plus (CN+), August 2007, a publication of practical classroom ideas from the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Scale of the value of each idea to me, RayS.
* Not much interest
** I'll think about it.
*** Very much interested

What are the values of graphic organizers?
Help students learn and remember. See connections among different items of information. Note-taking aid. D Fisher, D Zike and N Frey. CN+ (Aug. 07), 2. ***

Note: If you need examples of graphic organizers, type "graphic organizer" in Google and you will find 1,999,000 Web sites dealing with graphic organizers. You will have more examples than you need.

What is a "foldable" graphic organizer?
Fold a 8 1/2" X 11" paper in many ways and record connected pieces of information on each field. Good way to review for tests. You can even paste two folded pieces of paper together. D. Fisher, D Zike and N Frey. CN+ (Aug. 07), p. 1-12. ***

Other topic: multiple intelligences.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Teaching English in the Two-Year College. May 2007.

Some ideas on teaching English from Teaching English in the Two-Year College (TETYC), a publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Scale of the value of each idea to me, RayS.
* Not much interest
** I'll think about it.
*** Very much interested

How do editors rate submissions of articles to this journal?
Editor invites readers to evaluate the articles in this issue of the journal. Criteria: Contributes to field (1-5); Appropriate to audience (1-5); Quality of presentation (1-5); Quality and currency of scholarship (1-5); Quality of classroom application (1-5); Accept as written; Accept with minor revisions; Encourage major revisions with resubmission; Do not accept. Comments invited after each criterion. J Sommers. TETYC (May 07), 361-363. ***

How provide topics for freshman composition courses?
Author teaches freshman composition, using a theme--the paranormal--as the source of topics. LJ Black. TETYC (May 07), 405-413.
[Problematical for a number of reasons--lack of interest on the part of students for one--but an interesting idea. RayS.] **

How teach students to revise their writing?
Students practice writing timed essays like the state-mandated writing exam. Then the teacher encourages students to revise them. NL Remer. TETYC. (May 07), 414-419. ***

Other topics: What to do when students tell too much about their personal lives; first-year freshman composition teachers without experience in teaching writing collaborated to learn from each other; digital literature. Sorry, but these ideas were not of interest to me, RayS.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Research in the Teaching of English (RTE), May 2007.

Some ideas on teaching English from Research in the Teaching of English, May 2007, a publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Scale of the value of each idea to me, RayS.
* Not much interest
** I'll think about it.
*** Very much interested.

How do second-graders write?
Second-grade student based his writing on experiences with popular culture--video games, television, Web pages and comics. J Ranker. RTE (May 07), 402-434. ***

[I am not surprised by this finding. One first-grade teacher with whom I worked noted the close relationship between her students' stories and the stories she had read aloud to them. They did not copy the ideas. They used their own experiences, but the format was identical to the picture books she had read to them. RayS.]

What is the effect on student writers of being taught the "Five Paragraph Theme" (FPT)?
"Writing instruction does not look the same for all students. It may well be that the five-paragraph theme (FPT) can be a recipe for some students and a cookie-cutter for others; a road map for some and a road block for others. Surely, this study suggests that organization is not a one-size-fits-all proposition." BR Albertson. RTE (May 07), 458. ***

[What does the FPT mean as a formula? Does it mean that the essay is limited to five paragraphs? Is it not allowed to contain narrative elements?

[For me, the so-called FPT was a model based on "tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, tell them what you told them"--or, as another professional writer put it: "introduce it, say it, sum it up." For students in my classes, introductory paragraphs often went well beyond a single paragraph, but were always followed by a statement of purpose or thesis sentence(s). Intermediate paragraphs went well beyond single paragraphs. Narrative was an important part of the model. I have yet to find in professional journals any articles not based on the FPT model--they introduce, identify a purpose, begin intermediate paragraphs with topic sentences and they summarize their main points. I suspect, the issue is one of the "letter of the law" vs. its spirit. In other words, the FPT is a recipe and a road map. A model. Not a rigid formula limited to five paragraphs.]

Other topics in this issue: interdisciplinary studies; non-standard (minority) English, which the author calls "Plantation English." These topics might sound interesting, but their content provided no new ideas for me.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Writer. September 2007.

Some ideas on teaching English from The Writer (Wrt.), September 2007.

Scale of the value of each idea to me, RayS.
*Not much interest
** I will think about it.
***Very much interested.

What is the purpose of the first draft?
"All first drafts are experimental, chaotic, messy, and all take time, energy, patience and persistence. You won't get it right the first time, and that's as it should be. The purpose of the first draft is not to get it right, but to get it written." J Dufresne. Wrt. (Sept. 07), 23. *** [I have constantly preached: brainstorm, thesis sentence and first draft from the thesis sentence to the final, summary paragraph. The purpose of the first draft is to get it all down in one sitting, if possible. RayS.]

How does one prepare to write for a particular magazine?
In order to write for a magazine, you have to read it to try to understand its guidelines, its audience, the kinds of topics in which the editor and the audience are interested. S McDonnell. Wrt (Sept. 07), 75-76. **

How can you help yourself become a better travel writer?
If you're going to be a travel writer, try new experiences. Ride that roller coaster. Take that hike. Do the things you are going to write about. S. McLachlan. Wrt. (Sept. 07), 42-43. **

What are some unusual magazines for which to write?
Magazine gives the first line of a short story. Writers then compete to complete short stories beginning with that first line, with a prize to the best. E Dreifus. Wrt (Sept. 07), 46. **

Other topics: copyright problems and the new technologies; creating vivid scenes and characters; writing for comic books; an online writer's conference; emotions in writing love scenes; landing an agent; writing and life's rhythms; writing narrative history; most common mistakes in writing fiction; what it's like to be a real CSI (crime scene investigator); putting emotion into fiction; 10 ways to evoke emotion in prose; how to get a byline; writing sports reports for a local newspaper; successful free-lancers; how to be your own editor. Note: These topics might sound interesting, but the advice has been often repeated or is "pie-in-the-sky." RayS.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Research in the Teaching of English (RTE). August 2007.

Some ideas on teaching English from Research in the Teaching of English, August 2007, a publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Scale of the value of each idea to me, RayS.
*Not much interest
**Some interest. I'll think about it.
***Very much interested.

What's wrong with preparing students to read literary works?
"Scaffolding," preparing students to learn by giving them background information, might be good in some aspects of language arts, but might be hurtful in literature because it leads students to expect right or wrong answers. MS Aukerman. RTE (Aug. 07), 56-103. *

[RayS.: The Junior Great Books program does not believe in preparing students to read a literary selection for just that reason--students will be forewarned that there is a right or wrong interpretation. Therefore, the Junior Great Books program simply gives the literary work to the students and tells them to read it.

In the best of all possible worlds, motivating students to read would not be necessary. In the real world, motivation is crucial. Students have too many technological distractions and will not read without some reason to do so. I always prepare students for what they are going to read, including background information, pre-teaching difficult or unfamiliar vocabulary and establishing a purpose for reading.]

What role does confidence in writing play in successful writing?
If students are confident that they have the skills to write, they are more likely to be skillful writers. F Pajares, et al. RTE (Aug. 07), 104-120. **

[RayS.: My response to this finding is "Duh." One of my goals in teaching writing is to help students gain confidence in writing. This article seems to be saying that having confidence in writing creates the self-fulfilling prophecy of successful writing. Duh.]

What should teachers focus on in teaching language in English class?
The functions of language. MJ Schleppegrell. RTE (Aug. 07), 121-128. ***

[RayS: Those functions could put grammar into context.]

Other topics in this issue of RTE: reading the literature of the Holocaust. This topic could be of interest to other readers, but not to me. RayS.

Monday, August 13, 2007

College English. May 2007.

Some ideas on teaching English from College English, May 2007, a publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Scale of the value of each idea to me, RayS.
*Not much interest
**Some interest. I'll think about it.
***Very much interested.

What should we do about the problem of increased numbers of autistic children coming into the schools?
For whatever reason the number of diagnosed cases of autism has significantly increased. If we are going to teach autistic students to write, we need to learn as much as we can about autism. A Jurecic. CE (May 07), 421-442. *** [You can call it another medical fad, like learning disabilities, but if you are going to teach these students, you had better know about their conditions and characteristics. RayS.]

What do we know about the research on paragraphs?
The discussion of paragraphs has all but disappeared from composition research. M Duncan. CE (May 07), 470. * [The article deals with the first-sentence topic-sentence paragraph and the non-first-sentence-topic-sentence paragraph, that is, the topic sentence might appear somewhere else in the paragraph besides the first sentence. One thing I learned about the paragraph long ago is that people paragraph for a number of different reasons, including typographical variety and that the topic sentence might appear in the first of a string of paragraphs, but the following sub-paragraphs developing the same topic sentence will not have topic sentences. RayS.]

What do most writing textbooks say about paragraphs?
The first-sentence topic-sentence paragraph is designed to make for easier reading. M Duncan. CE (May 07), 490. ** [If the purpose of writing is reader comprehension, using the first-sentence topic-sentence paragraph seems like a no-brainer. Not long ago, a nephew of mine completed his doctoral dissertation in engineering. He told me that using topic sentences kept his writing under control and that when he was ready for his defense, he simply compiled all of his topic sentences to help him master the details of the content of his dissertaion. RayS.]

Other topics in this issue concern homophobia in the college English department, the problems of women's literacy through the years and a different definition of "style" [multimedia] when reading on the Internet. The topics might sound interesting, but the authors' comments on them were not of interest to me.