If an observer were to walk into my high school English classroom during the literature circle units, that person may initially interpret the scene as “controlled” chaos. The person would see students engaged in varying activities, texts, and conversations. Some students would be talking in animated ways about the latest development in their novel, while others would be working individually, headphones in, intensely focused on analytical writing. The person may also see loose pairs of students commenting on or sharing different nonfiction articles that connect their literature circle book to what is happening in our community, state, and country. As the teacher, I would not be at the front of the room delivering direct instruction. Instead, I might be conferencing with individual students on analytical writing, listening to group conversations, or answering questions students have about the nonfiction texts they chose to read. While these activities may initially seem unrelated, the unifying element in this unit is students’ agency over what they are learning and how they are learning. These varied activities fit into a pedagogical approach known as personalized, or blended, learning.
It's not strictly necessary to read both of Kenneth Koch's excellent and enormously important books on children and poetry, though I strongly recommend it, if only for the pleasure both books give. Each stands on its own, implying the whole argument. But they're better together, and to anyone for whom the subject is important- parents, teachers, anyone who has the normal human delight in true poetry, or anyone who wonders how this normal human pleasure was dwarfed and twisted- the pair of books will, I think, be a revelation.
"Wishes, Lies, and Dreams," originally published in 1970, is the record of Koch's highly successful experiment with teaching children to write poetry at P.S. 61 in Manhattan. In schools all over America, children are excited when the art teacher comes in; and a look at children's art in recent years shows that something really happens in those art classes. Why then should the art of poetry be, for children, an annoyance and a bore? Koch, himself the author of such books of poetry as "The Pleasures of Peace," "Thank You" and "Ko, or A Season on Earth" and a professor of English and comparative literature...
Giraffes, how did they make Carmen? Well, you see, Carmen ate the prettiest rose in the world and then just then the great change of heaven occurred and she became the prettiest girl in the world and because I love her.
Lions, why does your mane flame like fire of the devil? Because I have the speed of the wind and the strength of the earth at my command.
Oh Kiwi, why have you no wings? Because I have been born with the despair to walk the earth without the power of flight and am damned to do so.
Oh bird of flight, why have you been granted the power to fly? Because I was meant to sit upon the branch and to be with the wind.
Oh crocodile, why were you granted the power to slaughter your fellow animal? I do not answer.
Immigrant students who arrive in Canada speaking little or no English (henceforth bilingual/ESL students) face formidable challenges in catching up academically, particularly if they arrive after the initial grades of elementary school. By grade 4, the language of content areas such as social studies, science, and math has become increasingly complex, and students seldom hear this academic language in everyday conversations outside of school. School systems across North America have grappled with the question of how to enable bilingual/ESL students to participate academically when they don’t yet have the academic language proficiency to understand instruction in the mainstream classroom. Because they are unable to carry out grade-level assignments, they are frequently seen as underachieving, despite the fact that they may be making good progress in catching up academically. We argue in this paper that given the timelines required for bilingual/ESL students to catch up to their peers in English literacy skills, instruction that builds on students’ home language (L1) proficiency represents a...
There is something that bothers us about conversations about replacing face-to-face teaching with online learning: they often fall into a trap of assuming that incorporating synchronous interaction is the optimal way to make learning more personable, that it approximates the face-to-face setting closest, and is therefore preferable and better. More often than not, synchronous interaction here implies some form of two-way audiovisual interaction, even though there are text-only forms of synchronous interaction (e.g., Twitter live chat). There are also asynchronous forms of audiovisual interaction (e.g., voicemail, recorded lectures).
In many ways games and educational systems aim to accomplish the same things. Both are designed to move participants through an experience by equipping them with knowledge and skills. Both games and educational systems rely on goal setting, feedback loops, difficulty that scales along with participant experience, and incentivizing continued participation. Because of the similarities between the design and intent of games and educational systems it shouldn’t be a surprise that in many cases they reach the same conclusions about the best way to accomplish that intent. Video games have a big head start on the digital badge community utilizing badges and pathways. The gaming community just uses different terminology for them. In video games, badges are called achievements and pathways are called skill trees....
Successful academic writing involves presenting both your sources’ ideas and your own ideas fairly and effectively to your readers. According to Graff and Birkenstein, to do so, you should engage in “a conversation about ideas” in which you react critically to your sources (ix). Graff and Birkenstein’s templates may help you to have this conversation in a reader-‐friendly fashion, so that your thesis, supporting evidence, opposing evidence, and conclusion are clear. They Say / I Say discusses these templates more fully, and includes useful lists of them, especially in the end of the book. While you don’t want to adopt these templates mindlessly, the templates do provide sensible language for engaging in academic conversations, and we all benefit from adopting good language for our own purposes. ...
One of the least-examined assumptions among academics today is that being “formulaic” — using established formulas to structure thought — is always a bad thing. In the field of rhetoric and composition, to say that a mode of writing instruction is formulaic is to charge it with having a “cookie cutter” quality: the student writer presumably inserts raw material into a mold, and the product automatically comes out, no thought required.
That is the charge commonly leveled against the five-paragraph essay that has long been a dominant model for high-school writing. Specifically, it is said that the five-paragraph formula forces students to conform to a mechanical routine that chokes the life out of writing, encouraging them not to wrestle with ideas but to conform to a one-size-fits-all straitjacket.
Dennis Baron, a linguist and English professor, complains that the SAT’s “formulaic approach will reverse decades of progress in literacy instruction and ultimately turn students into intellectual automatons.” Like many academics. Baron uses “formulaic” pejoratively, as if the word always merits an eye-rolling grimace.
A Community of Writers: A Workshop Course in Writing by Peter Elbow (University of Massachusetts at Amherst) and Pat Belanoff (State University of New York at Stony Brook) (pp. 118-120, 124, 126-128) Copyright © 1987 by Peter Elbow and Pat Belanoff.
Sondra Perl is a professor of English at Herbert Lehmann College and founder of the New York City Writing Project.
Felt Sense: Writing with the Body is now available in our bookstore!
Any psychological process, whether the development of thought or voluntary behavior, is a process undergoing changes right before one’s eyes. . . . Under certain conditions it becomes possible to trace this development.’
— L. S. Vygotsky
It’s hard to begin this case study of myself as a writer because even as I’m searching for a beginning, a pattern of organization, I’m watching myself, trying to understand my behavior. As I sit here in silence, I can see lots of things happening that never made it onto my tapes. My mind leaps from the task at hand to what I need at the vegetable stand for tonight’s soup to the threatening rain outside to ideas voiced in my writ-ing group this morning, but in between “distractions” I hear myself trying out words I might use. ...