Friday, March 16, 2007

English Update March 16, 2007 Archive

Curriculum….. Technology….. What are the advantages and disadvantages of technology in the classroom? “What one gets from a technology must be balanced against what one stands to lose as a consequence of it….” H Karl. EJ (Nov. 04), 22.

English as a Second Language….. Content….. What is the goal for ESL students? Developing language facility as an ESL learner and at the same time acquiring content knowledge is difficult. MW Seng. “Oral Language Instruction and the Development of Cognitive Skills: Some Perspectives.” 571-583.

English as a Second Language….. Teaching….. What works with ESL students? Finds that a challenging curriculum that teaches academic vocabulary, promotes awareness of multiple word meanings and models word-learning strategies such as using contextual information, morphology and cognates significantly improves the performance of both ELL and EO fifth graders…. MS Carlo, et al. RTE (Nov. 04), 198. (abs.)

Language….. Competency….. How test a person’s competency in using language? “Transformational grammarians often use the ability of native speakers of English to interpret ambiguous sentences as evidence of linguistic competence. For example, the person who perceives two interpretations of a sentence like "Visiting relatives can be bothersome" must be able to process the grammatical relationships involved in each interpretation.” Sr. JM Jurgens. “Perceptions of Lexical and Sturctural ambiguity by Junior and Senior High School Students.” 497.

Literature….. Image….. How help students understand the concept of “image”? Begins with a dollar bill and questions about the images on it. Proceeds to images of American minorities and majorities. Raise questions about the images and their origins and the impressions they give. Does the same with literature of the decades—what image of the decades do the works of literature project? R Petrone & R Gibney. EJ (May 05), 35-39.

Literature….. Purpose….. Why read literature? “The poorest human in the world is he who is limited to his own experiences….” SW Lundsteen. “A Thinking Improvement Program Through Literature.” 512.

Literature….. Censorship….. What are some of the reasons that books are censored? Edward B. Jenkinson’s list of reasons books are challenged and banned: Children question authority; profanity; characters speaking non-standard English; African American literature and dialect; portrayal of women in traditional and non-traditional roles; mythology; non-Christian culture; supernatural; ethnic; violence; sex acts and language; invasion of privacy; too many cartoons; homosexuality; do not champion work ethic; don’t promote patriotism; negative view of parents and authority; SciFi; questionable authors; trash; nontraditional family; promoting self-awareness and self-understanding; promoting critical thinking; unfavorable to African Americans; use of masculine pronouns to refer to male and female. LK Winkler. EJ (May 05), 49.

Literature….. Censorship….. How help students understand the concept of censorship? Students examine picture books to find elements that could be challenged. Students play roles of parents, administrators, etc. Prepare position on whether the book should be banned, restricted or retained. Essay organized as follows: intro with student’s opinion about the book and author; summary of the book; reasons for the opinion; show understanding of others’ point of view; conclusion. LK Winkler. EJ (May 05), 50-51.

Literature….. Censorship…… What is the essential issue in censorship? [We do expect books and language to influence the attitudes, actions and lives of students. Censors don’t want books that will influence students to copy the use of profanity, engaging in sex, etc. For example, the use of the word “Nigger” with the tone of hate and contempt in Huck Finn could generate feelings of racism in the reader. How deal with these characteristics of books in such a way that the students remain objective and are not unduly influenced to the degree that they use them as models of behavior?] Here’s the passage that inspired this reflection: “While literature may not eliminate homophobia, nor alleviate the risks stemming from it, well-written books may help subvert the culture of silence still current in many school environments and offer a supportive framework for self-understanding by gay and lesbian teens. Moreover, books such as the ones discussed here may help heterosexual students who are homophobic to question their traditional assumptions in order to lead lives not bound and threatened by prejudices and fears. These recent works will generally affirm the lives of gay and lesbian teens and may expand the horizons of their heterosexual peers.” TL Norton & JW Vare. EJ (Nov. 04), 69. [Who’s to say that these books, on the other hand, will not turn homosexuality into an attractive life style for their heterosexual peers?]

Literature….. Censorship….. Why are folktales censorable? “The use of folktales, especially fairy tales, is somewhat controversial. Some disapprove ‘for moral and religious reasons, asserting that the craft and cunning that often help folk heroes achieve their purposes does not instill worthy ideals in children.’ Others contend that youngsters can and do differentiate between fantasy and realism and folk literature does not condone this kind of behavior; it merely shows that it exists.” CM Kirkton. “Once Upon a Time… Folk Tales and Storytelling.” 1025.

EJ = English Journal. RTE = Research in the Teaching of English.

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