Friday, January 29, 2010

Topic: Teachers and Writing

One-minute review: “Reports a survey study among 361 high school teachers in the United States about the way they teach writing. The writing practices in three disciplines were examined: language arts, social studies and science. Finds that most writing assignments involve writing without composing (short answers, worksheets, and lists) and/or writing to understand reading material (responding to reading and writing summaries). Teachers were not positive about the quality of the preparation they received to teach writing from the colleges and universities they attended.”

Title: “Teaching Writing to High School Students; A National Survey.” SA Kiuhara, et al. Journal of Educational Psychology, 101 (1), 136-160, 2009.

Comment: According to this research, most writing assignments do not involve composing. Teacher preparation for the teaching of writing is unsatisfactory according to teachers.

Does this type of writing support or conflict with the writing required in college courses? What types of writing assignments are required across the disciplines at the college level?

Given the kinds of writing assessment at the state, national, SAT and ACT levels, I find this report on the kinds of writing surprising, at least in language arts. I would also expect more uses of the research paper and essay exams in social studies and science. RayS.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Topic: State Writing Assessments

10-second review: “Analyzes the types of prompts and criteria employed in 41 states and national direct writing assessments. Finds wide disparities across different state assessments…raising questions as to the validity of generalizations on a national basis about students’ writing abilities.”

Title: “Constructs of Writing Proficiency in U.S. State and National Writing Assessments: Exploring Variability.” JV Jefferey. Assessing Writing, 14 (1), 3-24, 2009.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Topic: Authentic Audiences for Writing

10-second review: “Focuses on a writing-to-learn approach to biology, in which students wrote explanations of biology concepts for different audiences: teacher, younger students, peers, or parents. Examines the impact of audience on students’ understanding of biology concepts. Finds that students writing for peers or younger students performed better on conceptual questions. The findings support the use of authentic audiences.”

Title: “Writing for Different Audiences: Effects on High-School Students’ Conceptual Understanding of Biology.” M Gunel, et al. Learning and Instruction, 19 (4), 354-367, 2009.

Comment: Excellent use of writing to learn. RayS.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Topic: Self-Monitoring Writing

10-second review: Learning disabled students monitored their writing by using checklists. For three of the four students, the quality of writing increased.

Title: “Effects of Self-Monitoring on the Narrative and Expository Writing of Fourth-grade students with Learning Disabilities.” YL Goddard and C Sendi. Reading and writing Quarterly, 24 (4), 408-433, 2008.

Comment: I used a checklist when I was grading students’ expository compositions:

Unity: (thesis, topic sentences, final, summary paragraph). 25 pts.

Clarity: (word choice, sufficient details, question marks). 25 pts.

Revision (evidence in drafts). 25 pts.

Editing (spelling, sentence structure, punctuation, usage). 25 pts.

That checklist as part of the grading was also a guide for how to organize, clearly express, revise and edit. It wasn’t a foolproof system. Students could fake it. Most didn’t
. RayS.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Topic: State Standards and Assessments in Writing

10-second review: Based on teacher responses in their students’ completing the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP, 8th-grade teachers (83%) believed that state standards supported effective instruction in writing, but only 50% believed that state assessments were valid measures of students’ writing abilities and 63% thought that preparing for state assessments took too much of their instructional time.

Title: “What Is Happening in the Teaching of Writing?” AN Applebee and JA Langer. English Journal, 98 (5), 18-28, 2009.

Comment: Something to think about. RayS.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Topic: Use of Computers and State Writing Assessments

10-second review: “While 12th-grade students report an increased use of computers for writing drafts and revising between 2002 and 2007, 8th-grade students report a significant decline in the use of computers for drafting/revising possibly due to the use of paper/pencil state writing assessments.” Report from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

Title: “What Is Happening in the Teaching of writing?” AN Applebee and JA Langer. English Journal, 98 (5), 188-28, 2009.

: I think students need to learn different modes—computer and paper and pencil/pen—in writing. I think students should take the first steps in the writing process—brainstorming, thesis, first draft—using paper and pen/pencil. They should then revise and edit on the computer. It’s not either/or. It’s both. RayS.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Topic: Parents and Teacher Collaboration

10-second review: Found that parents of immigrant Sudanese parents were eager to collaborate with teachers in helping their children learn.

Title: “When Two Elephants Fight the Grass Suffers: Parents and Teachers Working Together to Support the Literary Development of Sudanese Youth.” D Walker-Dalhouse and AD Dalhouse. Teaching and Teacher Education, 25 (2), 328-335, 2009.

Comment: Need to explore ways teachers and parents can collaborate. Any suggestions? RayS.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Topic: Reading vs. the Media

10-second review: Media is not making reading obsolete. Quote: “…the NEA study over generalized the results of reading literature to the reading of all books, noted that the NEA conclusion that media use competes with reading was not supported by other research, and posited that readers are reading media and web pages in addition to print reading and, hence, are reading differently, but are not at risk.” In short, because people are not reading literature does not mean that people are not reading.

Comment: What does “reading media” mean?

A communications graduate from Penn State told me that nobody reads stuff like Henry James any more. He’s probably right. I suspect that even in academic institutions more students are finding ways to escape from reading the classics. Their minds are the poorer, I suggest.

It’s also true that most of what appears on the Internet is read—the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, local newspapers, etc. I don’t think reading is obsolete, but reading classic literature is probably diminishing—maybe significantly. Do you know anyone who is reading the classics after a hard day on the job? That’s not a rhetorical question. Do you? RayS.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Topic: Reading Comprehension and Fluency

10-second review: Common-sense conclusion that teaching comprehension and fluency not be separated as isolated approaches to reading instruction. “Recommends that fluency and comprehension not be partitioned during instruction or assessment, but rather be treated as interactive and intertwined processes.”

Title: “ ‘She’s My Best Reader; She Just Can’t Comprehend’: Studying the Relationship Between Fluency and Comprehension.” MD Applegate, AJ Applegate and VB Modola. The Reading Teacher, 62 (6), 512-521 (2009).

Comment: The purpose of fluency training is to improve comprehension. I think that this is a kind of dumb study that was necessary to prove what anyone with common sense would know. RayS.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Topic: National Writing Project

10-second review: Students of teachers who participated in National Writing Projects were better writers than students of teachers who were not participants in National Writing Projects. They were better in content, structure, stance and conventions.

Title: Writing Project Professional Development for Teachers Yields Gains in student Writing achievement. Berkeley, CA: National Writing Project. Retrieved from the Internet on July 14, 2009.

Comment: In my experience, most of what participants in National Writing Projects produced as writers was pure gush—almost entirely narrative and personal writing. Never did I see writing samples form the Projects that were expository in nature. I will have to study carefully this research in order to be persuaded that students of teachers who participated in National Writing Projects were better than students of teachers who did not participate in National Writing Projects. RayS.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Topic: Civic Activity and Reading

10-second review: “Increased civic activity enhances trust [in society] by increasing book reading and reducing heavy TV use.”

Title: “Building Social Capital in Young People: The Role of Mass Media and Life Outlook.” D Romer, KH Janieson, and J Pasek. Political Communication, 26 (2), 65-82, 2009.

Comment: Suggests that an active involvement in civic activities leads to more reading and less TV. I wonder. RayS.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Topic: How Teens Use Media

10-second review: 25 % read newspaper. 83% use text-messaging, sending or receiving an average of 2,899 text messages per month. They view an annual average of 31.4 movies compared to the average of 25.3 for all other groups. Advertisers spend $240 million for ads in 14 teen magazines with apparel and beauty ads being the top two product areas. Says that preferred TV shows and Websites are not all that different from adult preferences.

Title: “How Teens Use Media.” The Nielsen Company. June 2009. Internet.

Comment: The one statistic that jumps out at me is the 25% of teens who read newspapers. I think we need to consider working more with newspapers in the classroom, but the decline in the number of articles in today’s (2009) newspapers perhaps has helped to make today’s newspapers less appealing, so what’s the use? Why bother? Compare TV coverage with newspaper coverage of issues? And don’t forget the availability of the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and the New York Times on the Internet. RayS.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Topic: Print Literacy in Children's TV

10-second review: “Analyzes instances of portrayals of print-literacy in top ten viewed programs for children ages 2-5. Finds few instances of print literacy…and few positive messages about print literacy.”

Title: “Portrayals of Print Literacy in Children’s Television Programming.” AM Moses and NK Duke. Journal of Literacy Research, 40, 251-289, 2008.

Comment: Interesting. Hard to dramatize the act of reading on TV. Also hard to believe that literacy is not emphasized on Sesame Street. RayS.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Topic: Undergraduates' Use of Time

10-second review: 539 undergraduates. “Students devoted more mean hours per day to the Internet (2.47 hours) than academic reading (2.17 hours), television viewing (1.93 hours), or recreational reading (1.14 hours).

Title: “The impact of Internet and Television Use on the Reading Habits and Practices of College Students.” K Mokhtari, CA Reicard and A Gardner. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 52 (17), 609-619, 2009.

Comment: That’s almost 8 hours a day spent with the Internet, TV and Academic and recreational reading. That’s 3 ½ hours of reading a day. Interesting. RayS.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Topic: Reading About Politics

10-second review: Suggests that readers select articles that only reinforce their political attitudes.

Title: “Looking the Other Way: Selective Exposure to Attitude-Consistent and Counter-Attitudinal Political Information.” S Knobloch-Westerwick and J Meng. Communication Research, 36 (3), 426-448, 2009.

Comment: Says something about critical thinking. People will either not read or ignore what they do not agree with. RayS.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Topic: Reading and Personal Problems

10-second review: Suggests that people with deep problems avoid reading about these issues, while people with less difficult problems seek out information to address these issues.

Title: “Coping or Escaping?: Effects of Life Dissatisfaction on Selective Exposure.” S Knobloch-Westerwick, MR Hastell and M Rossmann. Communication Research, 36 (2), 207-228, 2009.

Comment: Might be of interest to people who believe in bibliotherapy, the technique that recommends books to deal with particular life problems. RayS.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Topic: Student Aggression

10-second review: What are some predictors of student aggression?

Title: “Personality, Parents and Media Influences on Aggressive Personality and Violent Crime in Young Adults.” CJ Ferguson, et al. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma. 17 (4), 395-414, 2008.

Summary: Finds that personality and family physical abuse are significant predictors of aggression, while media exposure is not.

Comment: Hard to argue with this conclusion, except for one point. I find it difficult to believe that the frequency of violence in the media and on video games does not increase the tendency to aggression.

I realize that a single incident is not conclusive evidence of the effect of violence in the media, but one young man, attempting to rob a florist in our neighborhood, stabbed the owner of the shop repeatedly while yelling in exasperation, “Why don’t you die? Why don’t you die?” I speculate that all of the killings in the media and on video games are quick, not dwelling on the suffering of the victim, and when this young man was involved in the real thing, he expected the same quick death in real life as on video. (By the way, the owner of the florist shop survived and the young, violent thief did considerable time in state prison.) The frequency of violence on video must make violence seem part of normal behavior to some young minds. RayS.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Topic: On-line Newspapers

10-second review: What are the effects of people reading on-line newspapers?

Title: Surveying the Digital Future. Center for the Digital Future. University of Southern California, Annenberg School for Communication. June 16, 2009.

Summary: Participants read on-line newspapers 53 minutes a week. 22% stopped their subscriptions to print/news magazines. 61% indicate that they would miss their print version if it were not available.

Comment: The advantages that I have found in reading the on-line version of the Philadelphia Inquirer are no rain-soaked newspapers. The newspaper is not scattered all over the driveway. The newspaper is not dropped in the middle of the road to be run over by passing cars. And the newspaper delivery is not periodically missed, causing me to call the newspaper to request one. Another advantage of the on-line version is that it provides the complete story without interrupting my reading to turn to page A4 from page A1. However, a device for translating print text to online is used in printing on the screen and sometimes does not recognize certain words and garbles them.

I tend to favor reading the print version of the paper, probably from habit. I have a feeling that some people will prefer reading online and some people will prefer the print version. There is probably a need for both. But can both survive in the present economy? RayS.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Topic: English Language Learners (ELLs) and Textbooks

10-second review: Suggests the need for more multi-modal materials in textbooks for ELL students.

Title: “English as a Second Language Learners’ Exploration of Multi-Modal Texts in a Junior High School.” Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy 52 (7), 585-595, 2009.

Comment: “Multi-modal” means text, pictures, sound and film. Certainly more pictures will help to generate more discussion, especially pictures or diagrams of complex topics. More pictures to accompany any topic, whether in a textbook or not, makes sense in increasing the opportunity for discussion with English language learners. RayS.