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.