Sunday, February 25, 2007

English Update February 25, 2007

What are some interesting writing assignments? Students write and illustrate a “How To….” on some topic about which they have knowledge and then on a topic about which they have little knowledge. J Savory. CCC (May 78), 197-198. Students engage in an oral history project. LS Ede. CCC (Dec. 77), 380-382. Have students research and try to resolve a community problem. JM Palmer. TETYC (Sept. 04), 106-112. Students take photographs and then write about them. JK Ligerman. CCC (May 77), 174-178. Try to engage students in real writing assignments for real audiences with real outcomes. K Lindblom. EJ (Sept. 04), 104-108.

What is the history of children’s literature? John Newbery chose a direction previously untried, that of publishing books expressly for children…. In the simplicity of Goody Twoshoes, its ability to teach and entertain, came an awakened interest in literature for children. B Siderius. LA (Jan. 76), 40. Children’s literature has grown to include not only abortion, illegitimacy, drugs and divorce, but also homosexuality, organized crime and murder. C Gosa. LA (May 77), 529.

How help students improve comprehension? Project paragraph. Students as a group cross out all words that are not absolutely necessary. Now read without those words. State the main idea. Students do the same with other paragraphs. [Source unknown.]

How help students to read critically? Students need to practice thinking about other perspectives in looking at an issue—other than the author’s. What’s the issue? What is the author’s perspective on the issue? What are some other possible perspectives on this issue? M McLaughlin & G DeVoogd. JAAL (Sept. 04), 52-62.

What are the basic elements of a language? In all forms of language the basic elements are vocabulary, syntax, organization, ideas, audience, personal response & technical skills—articulation, phrasing, volume, tone, inflection, eye contact, posture. MH Buckley. LA (Sept. 76), 625.

Why do censors censor? Frances Fitzgerald: Not only fundamentalists but progressives as well have a strong tendency to think that the schools should present the world, or the country, as an ideal construct. The censorship of school books is simply the negative face of the demand that the books portray the world as a utopia of the eternal present—a place without conflicts, without malice or stupidity, where Dick (black or white) comes home with a smiling Jane to a nice house in the suburbs. To the extent that young people actually believe them, these bland fictions, propagated for the purpose of creating good citizens, may actually achieve the opposite; they give young people no warning of the real dangers ahead, and later they may well make these young people feel that their own experience of conflict or suffering is unique…. To the extent that children can see the contrast between these fictions and the world around them, this kind of instruction can only make them cynical. ASCD Update. (Nov. 81), 4-5.

What are some suggestions for effective conferences with student writers? Try to get students to identify problems with their writing. Isolate the most serious problem. Teacher and student agree to work on the problem together. Articulate clearly what the students must do to resolve the problem. R Arbur. CCC (Dec. 77), 338-342.

What type of Young Adult novels do teachers tend to teach? Teachers seem to love depressing YA “problem novels,” which Barbara Feinberg’s son hates. “These books describe, with spare realism, child and teenage protagonists weathering abuse, addiction, parental abandonment or fecklessness, mental illness, pregnancy, suicide, violence, prostitution or self-mutilation—and often a combination of the above.” “They win all the awards.” L Miller. NYT (Aug. 22, 04), Internet.

EJ = English Journal. LA = Language Arts. JAAL = Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy. CCC = College Composition and Communication. NYT = The New York Times. TETYC = Teaching English in the Two-Year College.

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