Session 15

Hi everyone,

During this session we were treated to informative presentations on the following books:

I really enjoyed getting to know all of you this month! Please keep in touch via email or on Twitter, where I hope to continue the #hunterlit conversation with future students.

Please don’t forget that your email correspondence is due Sunday, 6/28, and your unit plans are due Tuesday, 6/30. NOTE: When you email your unit plan to me, you must tell me what you would like feedback on. If you don’t include that information, I won’t be able to give you detailed feedback.

Have a great summer!


Session 13

In this session we will have group presentations for the following titles:

In each presentation, students will run the class for 20 minutes. They will present the book, share a strategy from it, and provide a handout for us. I’m looking forward to what they will teach us!

NOTE: These presentations might give you some ideas for strategies you might like to incorporate into your unit plan (due Tuesday, 6/30).

Also, I thought you might be interested in the following links to articles, podcasts, and videos, shared on Twitter by your classmates and myself, which relate to our ongoing discussions:

One Teacher’s Quest To Build Language Skills … And Self-Confidence (NPR)

African Men. Hollywood Stereotypes. (video)

“For a Teacher, Back-to-Back Marathons, Then Fourth-Graders”

Session 12 (online)

For Thursday, June 18.

For this session, we are focusing on the role of language in literacy education. As many of you have shared, either you have had the experience of learning English as a new language, or you have worked with students who are learning English. The following texts will prepare you for our Twitter chat (Thrs. from 8-9PM) so please bring your questions to that session.

Please read/watch the following texts. You are given options so that you can have some control over your inquiry of this topic. When you have read/watched your selections, please leave a comment below in which you might…

  • offer your reflection
  • share moments that stood out to you and explain why
  • make a connection to your own learning and/or teaching
  • pose a question to the group
  • address a question/comment presented by a classmate

You must read:

Watch one of the following two speeches by prominent scholars:

Watch one of the following three author documentaries/speeches:

Session 9

In this session we focused on “Writing Next,” and engaged in a “silent discussion” on the text.

This discussion quickly led to questions about character and grit, and thoughts about whether or not we sometimes make learning too easy for students. For example, do students need to memorize math facts? Or, should they just learn how to use calculators? I noted that similar questions could be raised about writing. Do students need to be able to write by hand? We noticed that in the writing-by-hand activity that started our class that night, a few students decided not to use paper and pen. Instead, they opted to type on their laptops. Is that “okay”? Who decides? These questions about skills and what students need to do are always controversial, influenced by power, identity, and a long history of exclusion in education. They are also at the heart of what it means to study literacy.

Moving from our questions about what students need to do, what learning looks like, and what behaviors we associate with literacy and academic posture, students began to raise other important questions. How do we know when we are the ones doing more work than the students? Will students develop the expectation that teachers will always make exceptions and accommodations for them? Several students pointed out that for students with disabilities, the assistance is necessary; their students have plenty of “grit,”they work their hardest all of the time, and so modifications are not optional, but necessary.

I brought in an example of my own teaching to show that some of the same ideas we have been discussing – making learning cultural relevant, bringing students’ lives into the classroom, differentiation, multimodality – don’t need to be seen as approaches to literacy that make things easier for students. I tried to explain by sharing a project I worked on with a 10th grade honors class, where we used photography and social media to develop an approach to literacy influenced by critical literary theory. These theories are often not incorporated in the secondary classroom; Deborah Appleman has pointed out that many teachers view them as too sophisticated for teenagers to understand. In her book, Critical Encounters in High School English, she shows how these ideas can be utilized. In my own work, I found that utilizing multimodal texts (such as photographs) made the concepts more accessible to the students and helped them push their thinking and literary analysis to new levels. After they wrote their papers, I asked them to take the ideas in the papers and present them in a form other than the traditional essay form. The results surprised me, as the students used multiple genres and modes to share their ideas — reinforcing their comprehension not only of the texts they read, but also the ideas that they wanted to share.

Power Point: EDLIT755 Session 9

Session 7

In class today we discussed active reading strategies, and culturally relevant pedagogy. We watched a TED Talk by Chimamanda Andichie, called “The Danger of the Single Story.” Then we reviewed all of the poems posted on our Google Map, sharing how they tell our multiple stories of teaching in NYC.

We tried out a pre-reading strategy described in Kylene Beers’ book, called “Tea Party.” In this strategy, everyone is given a card with words/phrases from the text they are about to read. Students rotate partners, each time sharing their predictions about the text. Then, we engaged in a Round Robin reading of “My Name,” from The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros. Finally, we listened to Cisneros read the passage herself.

We also began an interesting conversation on Culturally Relevant Pedagogy.

Power Point: EDLIT755 Session 7

Handout: EDLIT755 MyName

Session 5

istock_000010676885smallWhat is vocabulary instruction?

Today we will focus on a number of strategies for teaching vocabulary. We will begin by trying out a strategy using color and word sets, and then we will meet in groups to brainstorm ideas for teaching vocabulary in the content areas. We will also watch a few videos that depict different approaches to vocabulary instruction, and we will discuss how these approaches might be used in your own classrooms.

We will also review the syllabus today to make sure that everyone understands what they need to do for the online sessions of this course.

Today’s Power Point: EDLIT755 Session 5