Session 8 (online)

For this online session you will need to watch this video of a speech given by Gloria Ladson-Billings on culturally relevant pedagogy. While watching, please consider our class discussions; however, also push yourself to raise new questions based on what she has to say.

Then, please select one of the following articles to read:

Finally, you might be interested in checking out this article about Kendrick Lamar’s recent visit to a NJ classroom.


After reading/watching the videos/articles posted here please leave a comment on this post in which you reflect on how this reading/watching relates to the thoughts, ideas, and questions, that came up in our last class. Also feel free to pose new questions to the group.


Looking forward to our Twitter chat tomorrow night at 8PM! We will discuss the following questions. Please be ready to share your ideas.

How can teachers really know their students?How can knowledge of students drive instruction?


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 6 (online): Teaching Context

Hi everyone,

As we think about how different instructional strategies work in our own teaching contexts, it can be helpful to spend some time paying closer attention to the contexts in which we teach. When we say “that won’t work at my school,” what do we mean? What is the disconnect between the strategy and the context? For this online class, I would like you to explore your teaching context by taking the time to observe and notice the sensory details of that place. This activity will serve as a first step towards the development of your sense of what it means to teach in your particular teaching context.


One project I have done with students that gets us to think about this is the following Poetry Mapping Project.  Here’s a short piece I wrote about it a few years ago.

We began by reading the following chapter in Georgia Heard’s book Writing Toward Home. While this book isn’t exactly geared for students in the classroom, it is filled with prompts for writers and I have found it to be helpful when I’m trying to think of writing ideas for students.

Read:  “Where Does Writing Hide”

Then, I gave the students the following example of my own poem. If you open the following document you will see how I presented the poetry-writing experience to my students.  You might also want to use this as a guide for writing your own poem, as you will do today.

Read: Evolution of a Poem

The assignment I gave my students was to write a poem using sensory details (much like the one in my example, if they like) about a particular place.

When I worked in Queens, I used this Google map to publish my students’ poetry.

A few years later, when I taught on Long Island, technology had improved and we were able to include audio and visual elements to our Google map.

Teaching in Context: Writing about the neighborhoods where we teach

While the students in the examples above wrote about where they lived, you will write about where you work.  You will need to explore the neighborhood you work in. Take a walk on your lunch break, or take mental notes as you interact with the area surrounding your school building on your walk to or from school. Your poem will require that you pay attention to sensory details, so remind yourself to pay close attention to your surroundings. You might also ask yourself, what does “literacy” mean in this context? Are you introducing literacy to your students, or are there context-specific ways in which they already are literate?

Here you will find directions for how to write your own poem about the neighborhood in which you teach: Directions for EDLIT755 online assignment Session 6

Once you write your poem, go to the map, click on the upside-down teardrop thing, drag it to the location you want, and plant it down. Then, you will see a little box pop up that allows you to post directly on the map.  If you click on “rich text,” you will be able to add a picture to your poem or change the color of your font (cool!).

Please let me know if you have trouble! You can always send me an email with your poem and I will post it for you. Also, if you would like your poem to be anonymous, that’s fine – just send it to me so that I know and I’ll post it for you.

Click on the map:

Screen Shot 2013-07-25 at 10.38.25 AM


Edwidge Danticat

Edwidge Danticat

Once you have posted your poem, watch this conversation with Edwidge Danticat (particularly from around minute 22 and on), who wrote Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work. In it, she speaks of feeling that her own success was an “accident of literacy.”

Once you are done with this writing project, I would like you to leave a comment below in which you explain what the process felt like for you, what it made you think about, what you might have noticed in the poetry of your classmates, and how you might use or adapt this idea in your own classrooms. Also, please leave links to other poets/writers/educators whose work you would like to share with us.

Summary of what you need to do:

  1. Use the following document to write a poem about the neighborhood in which you teach: Directions for EDLIT755 online assignment Session 6
  2. Click on the Google Map I created for this class and use the marker to add your poem. You should post it on the location you write about.
  3. Watch the Edwidge Danticat video. What does she mean when she uses the terms “accident of literacy” and “birthright”?
  4. Read the following conversation between Aurora Anaya-Cerda (owner of La Casa Azul Bookstore) and Cati de los RíosClick here.

  5. Leave a comment at the end of this post in which you reflect on this work, and pose 1-2 questions to the group.

DUE: Tuesday, June 9, midnight.

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

Day 4: 6/4/15: Online Session: What does it mean to teach reading?

Hi everyone,

I really enjoyed our class last night. I love hearing about what you are all learning about in the first few years of classroom teaching!

For tonight’s online session we are focusing on the question: “What does it mean to teach reading?” Admittedly, this is a huge topic. I hope you will be asking it of yourselves for years to come. In order to start the conversation, I’m posting here a few resources for you to take a look at. Below you will find links to each resource.

Key questions to guide your thinking and discussion

  • How can we learn about our students lives and personal interests? How can we leverage that information to support their reading?
  • What are we willing/able to change about the reading practices of our students? Can we re-think what or how they read in ways that make our students feel valued as individuals? In what ways might that shift promote academic achievement?


Please read/watch/listen to Dr. Ernest Morrell’s presentation at the Literacy Summit 2014 (video) and at least 2-3 of the other links provided. and then post a comment in which you a) pose a question that has popped into your mind, b) reflect and/or connect on how the resources relate to your own teaching experience, and/or c) respond to a classmates’ comment or question. These comments and questions will serve as preparation for our Twitter chat tonight from 8-9PM (#hunterlit). If you would like to check out another Twitter chat that already happened, search for #WhatsnewAERA. By typing this hashtag into the search bar in the upper right-hand corner on the Twitter homepage, you will see all of the tweets that were posted using that hashtag.


Everyone please watch:

  • Dr. Ernest Morrell at The Literacy Summit 2014 (video – you should watch the whole speech, but particularly minutes 24-30).

Select 2-3 of the following:

Day 2: 6/2/15 Online Class: What is effective literacy instruction?

Hi everyone,

Here you will find everything you need to complete the Tuesday, June 2nd, online class for EDLIT755. In order to receive credit you will need to:

  • Add your name to a Professional Learning Community (PLC) group on this Google Doc. We can discuss this more in class on Wednesday, June 3, but it is helpful to get this information ahead of time.
  • Create a Twitter account (if you don’t already have one). Explore Twitter: Type the following hashtags into the search box to find Twitter chats: #HipHopEd   #WhatsNewAERA
  • Please print and bring the following document with you to class tomorrow as we will work with it in class (no need to read ahead of time). Hunter_Scholes_excerpts
  • Complete the following reading & writing assignments.

#1 Thoughts on Effective Reading Instruction

TO DO: Use the comment space below to post questions these articles/video raised for you about reading instruction. Feel free to respond directly to the comments of other students.

#2 Who are you as a reader?

On my first day of teaching, I walked into my classroom and immediately identified with my students. It had been at least a decade since I was in their shoes, but I remembered what it felt like to sit in a desk, to eye-down my peers, and wait for the teacher to begin the class. As I stood in the front of the room with those memories, I also quickly realized that my students were all different – they were not like me, and they were not all like each other. We all have such varied experiences with school, and whether they are good or bad, those experiences have a powerful influence on our conception of learning.

Just as our school experiences make us who we are as teachers and learners, our experiences as readers and writers influence us as well. At the start of every school year I ask my students to write short biographies of themselves as students, as readers, and as writers, and I find that they share everything from heartwarming stories of times when their writing was put on display in a hallway bulletin board, to one-sentence explanations (“I hate books”). Whatever they decide to share – the good, the bad, the ugly – this writing gives me the opportunity to hear about those experiences and understand both the joy and the pain that reading and writing has brought into their lives. This way, I get to know them as individuals, and not just a a collective group of students.

I’m sure many of you have asked your own students to perform similar writing tasks and have gotten to know your students well over the course of your first year. In order to get to know you all a little bit better, and to prepare for a month of discussions about how we can best support readers and writers in the classroom, I would like you to use the following questions as prompts for your thinking and write me an email in which you introduce yourself – as a student, a teacher, a reader, and a writer.

  • Who are you as a student? How does your student experience as a an adult compare to your student experience as a child?
  • Who are you as a teacher? Why are you a teacher? How do you relate to the students you teach? What are your goals in the classroom?
  • Who are you as a reader? What do you like to read? How have you grown as a reader throughout your life?
  • Who are you as a writer? What role does writing play in your life? How would you describe your strengths and weaknesses as a writer?
  • How does (or how will) your identity & experiences shape who you are as a teacher?