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. ***