Friday, September 11, 2009

Topic: Inservice

10-second review: One of the problems with changing teachers’ behavior is that they return from the workshop to the same setting in which they taught before participating in the workshop. No matter how energized they were in the workshop, their desire to try the new ideas will erode in the same deadening home-school environment.

Title: “Analyzing Voice in the Writing of Chinese Teachers of English.” E Spalding, J Wong, E Lin and G Hu. Research in the Teaching of English (August 2009), 23-51. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Summary: The authors tried to develop the concept of voice in writing by emphasizing personal narrative writing. The authors were pleased with the results, but worry that when the participants return to their schools, the atmosphere will deaden their desire to develop the concept of voice with their students.

Quote: “The question remains whether and to what extent, the Chinese English teachers will sustain and further develop their voices when the workshop environment and similar kinds of support are no longer present. No matter how energized teachers become by learning new methods and strategies in professional development settings, they return to the same teaching conditions, with the same colleagues and the same students, in the same schools, and their good intentions are gradually eroded. This is as true in China as it is in the United States, and more research is needed to examine the effect of context on the implementation of language teaching reform.” p. 47.

Comment: Workshop was an Attempt to balance the teaching of expository writing and narrative. This workshop took place in China with Chinese teachers of English. The larger problem is how to insure that workshop participants will sustain the ideas from the workshop in their home schools.

In the U.S. the emphasis on the five-paragraph essay in 25 minutes will stifle the desire to emphasize narrative writing. Part of the workshop has to include fitting the new ideas into the framework of expository writing which is tested in high-stakes tests like the SAT. First, the teachers need to learn to expand the five-paragraph essay with multiple paragraphs in the introduction and within the middle paragraphs. Personal narrative is often used as part of expository writing when illustrating points being made. The emphasis has to be on the use of narratives within the expository framework. The five-paragraph essay in testing is not the same as real-world expository writing in which the five-paragraph essay is a model for organizing expository writing. . RayS.

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