Wednesday, February 28, 2007

English Update February 28, 2007

How help students realize that certain constructions are grammatical errors? Have students create the error in their own words from models, then resolve the error. M Gliserman in RL Larson. CCC (May 79), 201.

What is the purpose of individualized instruction? Make students responsible for their own learning. Prepare them to learn on their own after their formal school experience. [Individualized instruction makes students responsible for their own learning. At first this may be a novel and even rather frightening experience for many students. But there’s no alternative if a major goal of education is to prepare individuals to learn on their own after the formal school experience is completed. Professional Report; Secondary. Croft Teacher’s Service. JB Cunningham & CH Heimler. 1973, 4.

How help students learn to work in small groups? Each student is assigned a role with typical questions that put that role into practice. Elaborator: “I’d like to know more.” “Would you please expand on that idea?”/ Clarifier: “What exactly do you mean?” “I don’t understand; would you please rephrase that statement?”/ Comparison: “I would compare that to….” “How does that compare to what was previously said…?”/ Contrast: “How would you contrast that idea with what Sam said previously?”/ Justification: “What are you basing your answer on?” “I think that idea would work because….”/ Evaluation: “My reaction to that idea is….” “What do you think of that idea?” JH Bushman. LA (Sept. 76), 631.

What are some ideas for improving inservice programs? Handouts with ideas for teaching.

How use literature to make history interesting? We should bear in mind that children don’t relate to names of battles, to dates of treaties, to statistics. Like us, they relate to individuals, to emotions they can feel within themselves, to stories that arouse their curiosity. C Gay. LA (Jan. 76), 11.

How help students become better interviewers? Interviewing influences improvement of oral expression through formulating worthwhile questions; speaking in a clear and easily understood voice; developing listening skills; expressing appreciation for the information given; developing poise and self-confidence; summarizing what was learned. EG Cowe. LA (Sept. 76), 633.

What are some suggestions for helping students become a community in the classroom? Group résumé: background, accomplishments; hobbies; special talents; special interests; travel experiences; family; sports; musical abilities; groups and organizations. Students give name and finish unfinished sentence on board. Give three things they enjoy doing ending in –ing.

What problems do students encounter in interpreting poems? Difficulties encountered by students in interpreting poems. [Cf. Squire whose work with the same problems in reading short stories appears to be a knock-off of Richards’ 1929 book, Practical Criticism.] 1) Making out the plain sense. 2) Put off by the unexpected form of the poem. 3) Failure to understand the imagery and the figurative language. 4) Sidetracked by personal experience. 5) Stock responses. 6) Sentimentality. 7) doctrinal adhesions. 8) general critical preconceptions. RE Shafer. JR (Nov. 70), 101-108. Reasons for failure to interpret literature accurately: 1) Failure to grasp the meaning; misunderstand key words; fail to grasp implications of details; make incorrect inferences. 2) Reliance on stock responses, such as “adolescents are not responsible for their own actions”—“like father, like son,” etc. 3) Happiness binding. 4) Critical predispositions: It’s true to life or it’s not. 5) Irrelevant associations—association of the elements in a story with personal experiences of the reader. 6) The search for certainty. James R. Squire. “Sources of Difficulty in Literary Interpretation.” [Source unknown.]

LA = Language Arts. CCC = College Composition and Communication.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

English Update February 27, 2007

Why do teachers give the grades in writing that they do? The most significant influence proved to be the strength of the content of the essay. The second most important influence proved to be the strength of the organization of that content. The third significant influence was the strength of the mechanics. SW Freedman. CCC (May 79), 163.

How help students interpret figurative language? Helping students systematically to interpret figurative language: 1) recognize nonliteral language; 2) seeing comparisons; 3) defining confusing words; 4) understanding the author’s purpose of the comparison. PA Sherer. JR (Apr. 77), 559-562.

How teach formal expression to students? Give students exercises to help them translate spoken dialect into formal writing. P Silber. CCC (Oct. 79), 294-300.

Where does one begin when thinking critically? If you see a generalization, question it. Generalizations are often half-truths.

How teach students to write letters of application? Letters of application are often written for jobs that do not clearly match the educational background of the student. Students must be shown how to relate the job to the educational background and personal experience of the applicant. EM Walsh. CCC (Dec. 77), 375.

What is the difference between a synopsis and an abstract? Synopsis defined: chronologically ordered summary of the main events of a novel, short story or play. DM Guinn. CCC (Dec. 79), 380. Abstract defined: Summarizing a sequence of ideas. Two types: descriptive and informative. Descriptive concentrates on topics covered by the writer. Informative concentrates on what the original says. DM Guinn. CCC (Dec. 79), 380-381.

How help students develop sentence variety? Have students select individual sentences from their writing and try to reorder the words in them in a more interesting way. R deBeaugrande. CCC (Oct. 77), 240-246.

Why teach grammar? The goal then of learning the rules is to render them invisible. A reader does not see correct punctuation; only mistakes show. Correct spelling is an invisible conduit through which the writer’s point of view flows to the reader…. A misspelled word, rendered visible, draws attention to itself, invites a judgment and distracts the reader from the writer’s point of view…. I tell my students…I want you to know that I lost sight of your point of view because what I was seeing were (sic.) the errors in spelling. If it’s OK with you that your point of view goes down the drain…. If it’s not all right with you, then in your next paper do whatever you have to do in order to make your spelling invisible and thereby supportive of what you wish to communicate. BJ Mandel. CCC (Dec. 78), 368.

What does research tell us about teaching grammar? Reports of grammar’s uselessness in improving writing are based on research that is neither thorough nor completely convincing, with generalizations usually drawn from one study—the Harris study in 1962. The Elly study (1976) draws the conclusion that the study of grammar does not help students in editing, an interpretation that goes beyond the data. Suggests that maybe one valid conclusion from the Elly study might be that grammar should be introduced at the later junior and high school levels. J Neuleib. CCC (Oct. 77), 247-250.

How use sentence combining? Students “deconstruct” professionally written sentences as they would for sentence combining, then reconstruct them. J W Ney, 1976. CCC (May 77), 189.

JR = Journal of Reading. CCC = College Composition and Communication.

Monday, February 26, 2007

English Update February 26, 2007

What are the differences between writing and speaking? 1. Writing is learned behavior; talking is natural behavior. 2. Writing is an artificial process. 3. Writing is a technological device; talking is organic. 4. Most writing is slower than talking. 5. Writing is stark, barren, naked; talking is rich, inherently redundant. 6. Talking is based on environment; writing must provide its own context. 7. With writing the audience is absent; with talking the listener is present. 8. Writing produces a visible product; talking does not. 9. Because writing produces a product, writing is more responsible and committed than talking. 10. The written word is permanent; talking is ephemeral. 11. Writing is a source of learning with its product; talking is easily forgotten. J Emig. CCC (May 77), 123-124. …people read about twice as fast as they speak, which means that you can read something in about half the time it will take a speaker to tell you the same thing. TM Sawyer. CCC (Feb. 77), 45. How do writing and speaking to an audience differ? “The speaker can relate to the audience with a fairly certain knowledge of its response, while the writer can never know for sure what his or her readers are like or what they next expect.” RJ Connors. CCC (Oct. 79), 286. Thomas Sawyer points out that ‘because the listening audience is sure to miss portions of live speech and cannot preserve it for review…communication must be redundant—repetitious—to be memorable.’ RJ Connors. CCC (Oct. 79), 288. Writing also has the advantage over speech in the precision it allows in word structure…. RJ Connors. CCC (Oct. 79), 289.

What should we look for when revising? We’re all guilty of padding (“at this point in time” vs. “now”). Each of us uses certain phrases without thinking. The trick is to identify them so we can eliminate them. Start by searching your copy…. Once you know your pet phrases, get into the habit of using your computer’s “find-and-replace” function to eliminate them. GA Workman. Wrt (Sept. 04), 10.

What is meant by “correcting”? I think most writing teachers label, rather than correct, errors, letting students figure out how to correct. Since students don’t understand the label, they are not able to correct.

What are some criticisms of education? Laments a company official in a recent study on education in industry by the Conference Board in New York: “We’re doing what the educators ought to be doing. College graduates can’t write reports; high school graduates can’t read, spell or write…and they all have poor vocabularies. Twelve years is a long time to spend in school and not come away with the basics.” USNWR (Jul. 16, 79), 70. Robt. Craig of the American Society for Training and Development: Engineers and managers need to be taught how to write and speak and how to hold meetings. USNWR (Jul. 16, 79), 70.

How consistently and accurately do teachers correct students’ papers? Author inherited a collection of papers corrected by different teachers. These corrections showed arbitrary correction of punctuation, involved grammatical mistakes in the teachers’ corrections, unnecessary and stilted rewriting of the student’s expression and revelation of the teachers’ biases in response to student’s thoughts. G Sloan. CCC (Dec. 77), 370-373.

What are the characteristics of good and poor writing? Judgments of quality in writing. Identifies sophistication in handling modifiers, particularly final, free modifiers, as a feature associated with judgments of quality; negatively, identifies brevity, the frequent use of modal auxiliaries and of “be” and “have” as auxiliaries and a limited range of verbs (possibly signifying a limited vocabulary) as features associated negatively with judgments of quality. EW Nold in RL Larson. CCC (May 79), 208.

CCC = College Composition and Communication. Wrt = The Writer. USNWR = US News and World Report.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

English Update February 25, 2007

What are some interesting writing assignments? Students write and illustrate a “How To….” on some topic about which they have knowledge and then on a topic about which they have little knowledge. J Savory. CCC (May 78), 197-198. Students engage in an oral history project. LS Ede. CCC (Dec. 77), 380-382. Have students research and try to resolve a community problem. JM Palmer. TETYC (Sept. 04), 106-112. Students take photographs and then write about them. JK Ligerman. CCC (May 77), 174-178. Try to engage students in real writing assignments for real audiences with real outcomes. K Lindblom. EJ (Sept. 04), 104-108.

What is the history of children’s literature? John Newbery chose a direction previously untried, that of publishing books expressly for children…. In the simplicity of Goody Twoshoes, its ability to teach and entertain, came an awakened interest in literature for children. B Siderius. LA (Jan. 76), 40. Children’s literature has grown to include not only abortion, illegitimacy, drugs and divorce, but also homosexuality, organized crime and murder. C Gosa. LA (May 77), 529.

How help students improve comprehension? Project paragraph. Students as a group cross out all words that are not absolutely necessary. Now read without those words. State the main idea. Students do the same with other paragraphs. [Source unknown.]

How help students to read critically? Students need to practice thinking about other perspectives in looking at an issue—other than the author’s. What’s the issue? What is the author’s perspective on the issue? What are some other possible perspectives on this issue? M McLaughlin & G DeVoogd. JAAL (Sept. 04), 52-62.

What are the basic elements of a language? In all forms of language the basic elements are vocabulary, syntax, organization, ideas, audience, personal response & technical skills—articulation, phrasing, volume, tone, inflection, eye contact, posture. MH Buckley. LA (Sept. 76), 625.

Why do censors censor? Frances Fitzgerald: Not only fundamentalists but progressives as well have a strong tendency to think that the schools should present the world, or the country, as an ideal construct. The censorship of school books is simply the negative face of the demand that the books portray the world as a utopia of the eternal present—a place without conflicts, without malice or stupidity, where Dick (black or white) comes home with a smiling Jane to a nice house in the suburbs. To the extent that young people actually believe them, these bland fictions, propagated for the purpose of creating good citizens, may actually achieve the opposite; they give young people no warning of the real dangers ahead, and later they may well make these young people feel that their own experience of conflict or suffering is unique…. To the extent that children can see the contrast between these fictions and the world around them, this kind of instruction can only make them cynical. ASCD Update. (Nov. 81), 4-5.

What are some suggestions for effective conferences with student writers? Try to get students to identify problems with their writing. Isolate the most serious problem. Teacher and student agree to work on the problem together. Articulate clearly what the students must do to resolve the problem. R Arbur. CCC (Dec. 77), 338-342.

What type of Young Adult novels do teachers tend to teach? Teachers seem to love depressing YA “problem novels,” which Barbara Feinberg’s son hates. “These books describe, with spare realism, child and teenage protagonists weathering abuse, addiction, parental abandonment or fecklessness, mental illness, pregnancy, suicide, violence, prostitution or self-mutilation—and often a combination of the above.” “They win all the awards.” L Miller. NYT (Aug. 22, 04), Internet.

EJ = English Journal. LA = Language Arts. JAAL = Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy. CCC = College Composition and Communication. NYT = The New York Times. TETYC = Teaching English in the Two-Year College.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

English Update February 24, 2007

Language Investigation Activities. Students become language detectives. For example, they investigate apparent lapses, like sentence fragments, used by authors intentionally. MB Monahan. LA (Jan. 03), 206-214.

Language Investigation Activities. Students can collect and analyze the names of automobiles and try to guess why they are named as they are. D Burmester. M&M (May 73), 30.

Vocabulary. The usual method of teaching vocabulary is to give out a list of words for the week, tell students to look them up and then study them to take a test on Friday. Much better to discuss a whole group of words built on the root, “mort.” AP Nilsen & DLF Nilsen. LA (Nov. 02).

Reading and ESL. Students for whom English is a second language face considerable difficulty learning to read English because learning to read a language is based on oral proficiency. M Droop and L Verhoeven. RRQ (Jan/Feb/Mar 03), 78.

Vocabulary. Teach “source-based” words. For example, body parts, i.e., words using parts f the body: “headquarters,” “footnotes,” “skeleton outline,” “arterial highway,” “shoulder a responsibility,” “back out of a commitment.” Farming: “fertile imagination,” “cultivated person,” “harrowing experience,” “budding genius,” “grainy photograph.” Food: “salt of the earth,” “souped-up car,” “bringing home the bacon,” “carnival,” “breaking bread with a companion.” AF Nilsen & DLF Nilsen. RT (Feb. 03), 436-439.

Inservice. Teachers observe and record student behaviors that concern them, in academics as well as with discipline. They then try to interpret it by suggesting many possible implications and by discussing with other educators, leading to hypotheses and action. LA (Feb. 96), 105.

Inservice. Most inservice programs leave teachers passive and bored. EJ (Dec. 93), 25.

Inservice. Teachers replicated workshops in which they had participated back in their home schools. RTE (Oct. 94), 268.

Fads. Most innovations peak in a year and a half, decline and die in four years. RTE (Oct. 94), 280.

How are the four traditional modes of writing used in the real world? Advertisers use the four traditional modes of discourse: descriptive, narration, exposition and argumentation. FJ D’Angelo. CCC (Dec. 78), 356-361.

Why read aloud to students? By reading selections from literature orally to the students, teachers of English provide students with the opportunity to experience the power and emotion of language…. JE Twining. JR (Mar. 75), 476.

What is Rogerian argumentation? State the issue objectively; summary of the other person’s point of view, showing that you understand his/her point of view; objective statement of your point of view with reasons; statement of what the differing opinions have in common; proposal to resolve in a way that injures neither party. AA Lunsford. CCC (May 79), 147.

Argumentative writing. Prepare for writing argumentative papers by writing dialogue. L Rockas in RL Larson. CCC (May 79), 209

What is the purpose for writing literature? Chekhov: …you confuse two things: solving a problem and stating a problem correctly. It is only the second that is obligatory for the artist. B Blaisdell. Wrt (Sept. 04), 30.

LA = Language Arts. M & M = Media and Methods. RRQ = Reading Research Quarterly. RT = Reading Teacher. EJ = English Journal. RTE = Research in the Teaching of English. CCC = College Composition and Communication.

Friday, February 23, 2007

English Updates February 23, 2007

Why Read Literature? “...the substance beneath the shadow, the reality behind the surface appearances of life; the power of literature to clarify experience, to make the reader more intensely aware of life, to extend that awareness. W. Loban. EE (Nov. 66), 751.

Why Read Literature? “It is crucial that children develop an awareness of viewpoints other than their own to help them in working out human relations.” M Mansell. EE (Jan. 75), 33.

Is This How You Teach Literature? A teacher had just passed out copies of Hawthorne’s The House of the Seven Gables and was in the process of explaining that the class would have to read it. During the explanation, one student turned quietly to one of his classmates and observed: “Gawd! This book’s 357 pages long!” The classmate replied, “Yeah! And look at the small print and no pictures.” A third, overhearing their conversation, commented, “Yeah! Ya know, I’d even try to read it if I thought it’d be interesting, but all the rest of the stuff we’ve read in here has been so dull, this’ll only be a lot more of the same thing.” To which the first student answered, “It doesn’t make any difference anyway. Just throw her a few of those tough questions and she’ll end up discussing it with herself.” A Dittmer. EJ (Oct. 73), 1009.

Discussion. Two types of discussion: “dialogic” (authentic) or inquiry into a problem or issue; and “recitation,” pre-specified answers to the teacher’s questions. The teacher wants the right answer. With the latter, students may wonder, “Why should I bother saying anything?” LR Johanessen. EJ (Sept. 03), 73.

Discussion. “Students and teachers play a game I call, ‘What’s on my mind?’ Teachers ask questions with known answers, evaluate students’ responses (usually in monosyllables like ‘Good’), focus on...mainly literal levels and maintain a clear hierarchy of authority.” R VanDeWeghe. EJ (Sept. 03), 88.

Teaching Poetry. “The typical scenario goes something like this. Teacher tells students that they are going to study a wonderful poem by _____ (Fill in the blank). Teacher then tells students a few things about the wonderful poet. Teacher reads the poem aloud, while students follow along in their books. Students find the poem incomprehensible. Teacher asks questions about the poem. Students stare into space. Uneasy with the silence, teacher answers her own questions.” C Jago. EJ (Jan. 02), 21.

Literary Criticism. Students should respond to reviews and criticism of literary works they have read. JM McCann & JM Flanagan. EJ (Sept. 02), 29-35.

Responding to Literature. Students formulate open-ended questions about the literature they are reading. They then read and respond with quotes from the literature that suggest answers to the questions. V Mendoza. CN+ (Oct. 02), 9-10.

Why Read Literature? The function of real literature is to ask questions. J Hansen. Wrt (Sept. 73), 17.

Response to Literature. Recognize that there are things we do not understand in the literature we seek to interpret. Make students aware of and sensitive to the things they don’t understand in the world around them. JK Young. CE (Jul. 04), 632-651.

Grammar as Science. Another reason for teaching grammar may be that the study of grammar can help students discover how to collect data, formulate and test hypotheses, draw generalizations—in short, it can help students learn to approach something as the scientist does. C Weaver. Grammar for Teachers. NCTE/ 1979, 89.

EE = Elementary English. EJ = English Journal. CN+ = Classroom Notes Plus. Wrt = The Writer. CE = College English.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

English Update February 22, 2007

Annotating, summarizing and interpreting. Teach students the difference between information and interpretation in annotating. Use post-its to annotate books that can’t be written in. C Porter-O’Donnell. EJ (May 04), 85.

Literature: Why read it? “To me, fiction, poetry, writing of all kinds keep me in love with the world. It is an explanation of the world and an interrogation of it. It unravels and glues the world together.” M Nair. Wrt (Feb. 03), 23.

Quote of the Book. Students select quotes from the book they are reading. They designate one passage as “quote of the book.” Students explain why each quote is important to the novel and why the “quote of the book” summarizes the essence of the book. Write reflective paper about reading the book and selecting the quotes. Use post-its to mark places for quotes. AJ Arvidson. I+ #20 (2002), 17-20.

Literature: Why read it? Children need constant experience with literature in order to learn to understand life—how people think and feel and what makes them behave as they do. R Strickland. The Range of English. NCTE 1968, 124. :

Literature: Why read it? Who reads short stories? “...they are read by discerning and well-informed men and women who seem to feel that narrative fiction can contribute to our understanding of one another and the sometimes bewildering world around us.” J Cheever. [Source unknown]

Shakespeare: How would you persuade a young student that study of Shakespeare is important? Dr. RM Frye: “There is wisdom, beauty, compassion. A sense of life, a sense of values. There is a lot of compassion in Shakespeare, even for a weakness. There is in him a depth of human understanding which we can’t match—and which I think we cannot do without. We have to live with each other. H Knight, Discover, The Bulletin (Dec. 3, 78), 9.

Shakespeare: Why read him? Why is Shakespeare relevant today? Dr. RM Frye: “Well, Shakespeare is not going to help you fill out a prescription or build a bridge. There are some things that are relevant for the moment but not for the next. And there are some things that seem to be permanently relevant. Shakespeare has the second kind of relevance. Human nature has changed very little in the course of history. And there are a few people in recorded history who have understood it with remarkable depth and breadth and have written about what goes into lives which are full and worthy, and lives which were wasted…. Shakespeare...knows what lasts and what doesn’t last.” H Knight. Discover, The Bulletin (Dec. 3, 78), 6.

Shakespeare: How would you persuade a young student that Shakespeare is important? Dr. RM Frye: “Watch what happens to a man who is consumed with ambition. He doesn’t care what he has to do to get to the top. It’s all in Macbeth. You see what little is left of what he’s gotten out of ambition. And this is the point—you start off with a basically good man but he has this driving ambition that he wants it all, he’s got to have it all. He’s willing to commit murder. Today people don’t generally get to the top by murder but they can get to it by other means almost equally disastrous. Macbeth in the end is completely alone. He has no sense of his worth or anybody else’s. It is the ultimate case study of the man who didn’t care how he got to the top. It is inevitable then and it’s inevitable now. The way Stalin’s daughter Svetlanna describes her father at the end. Stalin was Macbeth. H Knight. Discover, The Bulletin (Dec. 3, 78), 9.

EJ = English Journal. Wrt = The Writer. I+ = Ideas Plus.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

English Update February 21, 2007

Learning how to learn. Encourage children to teach what they have learned to others. JW Birch. Tchr. (Mar. 78), 66.

Either/Or issue. John Dewey in 1943: adjust school to the learner or require the learner to adjust to the school. “Killer dilemma.” RT (Nov. 92), 190.

Language Experience for older students. Use the language experience approach (LEA) with older students who have special needs, including students for whom English is a second language (ESL). Students dictate stories or information; recorded on chart paper; and then they read aloud what they have dictated. Ganske, et al. RT (Oct. 03), 121.

Either/Or issue. There is a belief that teachers know more about methodology than about their subjects. DLN (Jul. 8,94), A7.

Reading aloud. Students select a passage that has meaning to them to read aloud to the class. Share first with partners in order to practice reading aloud effectively. They tell why the selected “powerful passages.” RH Yopp & HK YOpp. RT (Nov. 03), 285.

Writing assignment. Students watch a scene in a movie. They then describe the scene—re-create it in writing. H Hoffner. RT (Sept. 03), 788-80.

Literature. Preparing to read the classics. Students research information about the times of Romeo & Juliet. Then set up a “museum” in the classroom with displays explaining various topics, like fashion, manners, transportation, etc. A Lewis. CN+ (Oct. 03), 5-6.

Reluctant readers and the classics. First, the teacher tells the story of the classic [Beowulf] and then students read excerpts. CS Adams. EJ (Sept. 03), 19.

Literature goals. “We want them [our students] to explore the ideas of literature and writing, to develop the skill to ask questions…. We do not ask our students to be experts; it is enough that, like them, we seek to better understand the world.” TJ Hunt & R Hunt. EJ (Sept. 03),95.

Literature goals: “Literature is about the...senses and the power of language to waken them. Literature is about strength and frailty, sacrifice and hypocrisy, worldliness and naiveté, grand moments of grace and irredeemable acts of evil. Literature is about coming to know the lived experience of others, how that living might connect with us, how we can be sensitive to others’ values and triumphs and losses.” T. Romano. EJ (Jan. 02), 17.

Book reports—alternative. Students list 3 events from a story, 2 significant quotes and pose 1 critical thinking question. M Dolan. CN+ (Apr. 04), 1.

“New Criticism,” says Robert Scholes (The Crafty Reader), “separated poetry from life by focusing on technical form—and terminology like tone, irony, paradox and theme—rather than on human experience.” L Ellis, et al. EJ (Sept. 03), 44.

Preparing to read the classics. Students research the era of the novel they are going to read. They then write “A Day in the Life of…” a character who is living in that era. B Eisenhardt. CN+ (Jan. 02), 7.

Literature unit. Organize a literature unit by using a children’s book, a Young Adult book, popular adult book as a build-up to a classic book, all on the same theme. JD Richison, et al. EJ (Nov. 02), 76-81.

Tchr = Teacher Magazine. RT = Reading Teacher. DLN = West Chester Daily Local News. CN+ = Classroom Notes Plus. EJ = English Journal.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

English Update February 20, 2007

Letters. Never write any letter that is longer than one page. Nobody in the world wants to read a letter from you that is longer than one page, not even your mother. D Greenburg. Wrt (June 04), 32.

Spelling and visualization. Primary grade child: “When I see a word in a book, my brain takes a picture of it and when I need to write it, I know how to spell it.” KL Dahl, et al. RT (Dec. 03/Jan. 04), 319.

Interviews. Students interview older relatives about their memories of historical events. M Faust. JAAL (Apr. 04), 572.

Previewing. Show students how to skim over nonfiction books to find ones that appeal to them. D Gallo. EJ (Nov. 03), 91-94.

What do children learn from the barrage of tests they are now subjected to? “The lessons my kids walk away with include learning that there’s only one right answer; that the right answer is never our own idea but always involves figuring out what someone else was thinking; that often someone is tricking us into choosing the wrong. answer.” D Santman. LA (Jan. 02, 211.

Reading. Standardized reading tests do not stimulate pleasure in reading. EM Bularzik. EJ (May 04), 102-104.

Writing. “...and the purpose of this introduction is to make clear to the reader from the start the direction taken by the book as a whole and the way in which the individual chapters are related to its ultimate object.” Lorenz, On Aggression.

Reading textbooks. “Go beyond the facts in a textbook to explore the facts and their implications in depth.” JJ Williams. CE (Nov. 03), 204-205.

Responding to reading. After reading a book or an article, students list facts, raise questions suggested by these facts, requiring answers from other sources. CA Allen and L Swistak. LA (Jan. 04), 229.

Effective inservice. Participants are involved from the beginning planning; on-going rather than one-shot sessions; rely upon local personnel for design and conduct of inservice; aimed at changing teacher behavior rather than student performance. RTE (Oct.94), 261.

Previewing. Teacher distributes sentences from text they are about to read. From the single sentences, students in writing try to predict what will happen in the text. RH Yopp & HK Yopp. RT (Nov. 03), 284.

Reading instruction for adolescents. “The Adolescent Literacy Position Statement of the International Reading Association (1999) asserted that ‘Adolescents deserve instruction that will build both the ability and the desire to read from increasingly complex texts.’” [As opposed to the readability people’s dumbing down the text to enable problem readers to succeed in reading content area assignments.] JL Knickerbocker & J Rycik. JAAL (Nov. 02), 196.

Reading. Make a chart and display it in the classroom telling students what to do before they read, while they read and after they read. R Fryer. EJ (May 04), 20-21.

Wrt = The Writer. RT = Reading Teacher. JAAL = Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy. EJ = English Journal. LA = Language Arts. CE = College English. RTE = Research in the Teaching of English.

Monday, February 19, 2007

English Update, February 19, 2007

Essential question for the future of society: What can people do that computers can’t? People can organize ideas. People can generate ideas. Computers can help. Inq. (Jan. 31, 95), G1/G3.

Attributing “nonstandard quotes.” The author refers to phrases like “personal potential” and “to be all that you can be” as “nonstandard quotes.” Students use them, put them in quotes because they have been used elsewhere, but do not attribute. She cites the “to be all that you can be” as part of a U.S. Army recruiting ad—but fails to note that the coach in the movie Hoosiers uses the same phrase, antedating the Army ad—and the Army ad didn’t attribute either. In addition, I have seen the same phrase in many, many educational journal articles . In the long run, a great many phrases we use tend to be “nonstandard quotes.” Maybe we need to show students how to “write around” nonstandard quotes. Suggested by B Schneider. CCC (Dec. 02), 188-207.

Research paper Redux. If anything characterized my elementary and secondary school years, I suppose, that was it. Go to the library and do a report on Lincoln! Oh, it wasn’t necessarily Lincoln. Sometimes it was Washington. Or Jefferson. Or my favorite, George Washington Carver. Whatever the report, the routine was the same. Go to the library. Find the World Book Encyclopedia. Look for the first letter of the last name of the man (generally it was a man) that you were studying. Grab the volume you need. Thumb through the pages. Find the entry you want. And then—copy. Word for word. Line for line. Period for period. After all, the assignment was to get it done—and quickly. Besides, for your final copy, you could change some words, add a quote or two, slap on a cover and hand it in. Sound familiar? That existed throughout my entire public school career. D Gallo. EJ (Nov. 03), 91.

Visuals and words. Are visuals becoming equal, not subservient, to words in communicating to the readers? D Geiger. CCC (Sept. 02), 11-39.

Plagiarism. Encourage students to ask questions about plagiarism. M Price. CCC (Sept. 02), 105.

Empathy in teaching. The research on teacher empathy suggests that there is a robust positive correlation between high teacher empathy and student achievement. At all grade levels, students of high-empathy teachers showed more gains in achievement than those of low-empathy teachers. Goldstein and Michaels. CCC (Oct. 95), 419. [The best way for teachers of writing to empathize with their students is to write themselves, to put their writing on the line by trying to publish professionally.]

Good teaching? Possibly the most valuable English classes I have had the pleasure of visiting were those in which both teacher and students were learning together, sharing ideas and feeling free to make mistakes. BS Miller. EJ (May 69), 509.

Teaching defined? How does the view of teaching today differ from the past? Fellow learners rather than dispensers of knowledge. LA (Oct. 93), 509.

Teacher education and Inservice. Pre-service and inservice programs should provide concise summaries of the research base on the topic. P Neufield and J Fitzgerald. RTE (Aug. 01), 101.

Query letter in submitting a proposal to publish a book: State the basic idea of your book in its briefest possible form—preferably in a single sentence. M Gunther. Wrt (Sept. 72, 15.

Professional writing. Submitting techniques for publication in professional journals: Goals? Reason for using the technique? How introduce the technique? How involve students? What is the progression in implementing the technique? How encourage student reflection on the technique? How judge effectiveness of the technique? Changes in using the technique in the future. CN+ (Aug. 99).

Inq. = Philadelphia Inquirer. CCC = College Composition and Communication. EJ = English Journal. LA = Language Arts. RTE = Research in the Teaching of English. Wrt = The Writer. CN+ = Classroom Notes Plus.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

English Update February 18, 2007

Proofreading and revision. Lovitt (1975) noted that many writers consider revision as simply changing punctuation marks and misspellings. To move beyond this limited concept of proofreading, students must be taught specific steps to follow in revising their own written work. EA Polloway, et al. Focus on Exceptional Children. (Nov. 81), 6.

Teacher comments on student compositions. Knoblauch and Barnnon: “The depressing trouble is, we have scarcely a shred of empirical evidence to show that students typically even comprehend our responses to their writing, let alone use them purposefully to modify their practice.” RS sprinkle. TETYC (Mar. 04), 273.

Teacher responses to student compositions. Ask students as part of turning in the revised paper how helpful your comments on their writing were. A. Edgington. TETYC (Mar. 04), 287.

Cohesion and coherence. Cohesion is the sequence of related sentences; coherence involves the whole composition, how well the text holds together. RTE (Feb. 90), 49.

How does grammar contribute to making sentences memorable? LR Missiche. CCC (Jun. 04), 716=739.

A conference on “advocacy” [emphasizing your personal ideas on controversial issues] in the classroom. Most attendees were advocates of politically correct positions. Conclusion: Advocacy was not a problem so long as it didn’t slide over the line into indoctrination. However, Anne Shaver, a Woman’s Studies professor at Dennison, put it this way: “I let my students know where I’m coming from, and also that they’re free to write papers which disagree with positions I’ve taken in class, but those papers had better be very, very good because I’ll read them with a more critical eye than the ones I agree with.” WSJ (Jun. 29, 95), A16.

On how parents respond to teachers’ failing to consider the importance of the basics in writing: . In an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Monday, May 24, 2004, p. B2, Nick O’Dell says, “I knew we were in trouble some years ago when my 10th-grade son brought home an essay for which he had received an A+, and it contained numerous spelling, grammatical and punctuation errors, none of which had been corrected. At a parent/teacher conference I was told: ‘We don’t want to stifle a child’s creativity by being over (sic) concerned about technicalities.’ I then gave the analogy of an architect designing a beautiful building that fell down because he hadn’t bothered with technicalities like material strengths—and it fell on deaf ears.”

Research papers. Students construct annotated bibliographies on their topics BEFORE writing the research paper. CN+ (Jan. 04), 16.

On standard English. “Children need to perfect or acquire the prestige dialect—not because standard English is correct or superior in itself but because society exacts severe penalties from those who do not speak [or write] it. Unless they can learn to use standard English, many pupils will be denied access to economic opportunities or entrance to social groups. W Loban. EE (May 68), 693.

Memorable lines in Poetry. Students collect lines of poetry that are memorable. N Baart. EJ (Jan. 02), 103.

Significant sentences. Students look for significant sentences in the literature and books they read. When students read their compositions aloud, they listen for and record the significant sentences from their colleagues’ papers. The teacher records the significant sentences in students papers. PM Holloway. CN+ (Jan. 02), 2.

TETYC = Teaching English in the Two-Year College. RTE = Research in the Teaching of English. CCC = College Composition and Communidation. WSJ = The Wall Street Journal. Inq. = The Philadelphia Inquirer. CN+ = Classroom Notes Plus. EE = Elementary English. EJ = English Journal.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

English Update February 17, 2007

Teachers of reading should themselves read. If they do, they will influence their students to share in the joy of reading. They need to be models of what they want their students to be as readers. AJ Applegate & MK Applegate. RT (Mar. 04), 554-563.

The reading habit. Author asked 150 students in grades 9-12 the last book they read cover to cover without its being an assignment. Only 17 could remember and most of them remembered books from elementary school days. M Wolfthal. EJ (Sept. 02), 13.

How to organize writing. Introduce it, lay it out, sum it up. William Safire in Safire and Safir. Good Advice on Writing, 1992, p. 238.

EB White on organizing writing: “I like to get to the point without too much horsing around.” EJ (Jun. 76), 23-25.

Organizing writing. “The basic structure of an article: you must catch the reader’s interest in the introduction; in the next section identify your topic; in the body of the piece, present your material; and close by drawing a conclusion or repeating a key point.” R Berman. The Writer’s Handbook, 2001, 306-311.

Paragraphing: The purpose of the first sentence. . “The first sentence of a paragraph may look backward to the preceding paragraph, but its most important function is to point forward—to begin a kind of mental ‘action,’ to generate in the reader some expectations about what is to follow, and thereby to establish a point of reference that will guide the interpretation of succeeding sentences.” RL Larson, CCC (Feb. 67), 21.

Paragraphs: How long should they be? “No one can say how long a paragraph should be; subject, purpose, audience, editorial fashion and individual preference all affect the length and complexity of paragraphs; numerous brief paragraphs are likely to be disjointed and underdeveloped; great long ones fatigue readers; an occasional short paragraph of 15 to 20 words may work very well; so may an occasional long one of 300. TS Kane in Safire and Safir, Good Advice on Writing, 1992, 169.

Writing in the workplace. Devote an entire unit to using models of different kinds of genre that might be used on the job. Bring in people who have to use those genres, lawyer’s briefs, etc.

Stories...are woven through my arguments, persuasion and analysis. Stories help me to make abstractions clear, help me explain what I mean, provide...specificity to concepts. Wrt. Qtd. By KR Morgan (Nov. 02), 111.

Modeling writing. Teachers first have to think of themselves as writers—reflect on their own writing processes—before they can teach writing by modeling their processes. CR Frank. LA (Mar. 03), 185-195.

Writing assignment. Students use the New Yorker types of writing as models—”Talk of the Town,” “Profiles,” “Reviews,” “Letter from….” PL Martin. CN+ (Oct. 02), 8-9.

Checking your organization. Put your topic sentences individually on separate index cards. Mix them up. Partner tries to put them in order. Check if the partner’s order is your order. J Gritter. I+ #20. (2002), 11-12.

Pre-writing. Parnes and Osborn found that in idea production, quantity leads to quality. D Young. EE (May 66), 512.

RT = Reading Teacher. CCC = College Composition and Communication. LA = Lanaguage Arts. I+ Ideas Plus. EJ = English Journal. Wrt = The Writer.
CN+ = Classroom Notes Plus. EE = Elementary English.

Friday, February 16, 2007

English Update February 16, 2007

Improving reading comprehension. George Spache: “Students who can set strong purposes for their reading comprehend significantly better than those who set vague purposes” (or read with no purpose at all, RS). C Cox. LA (Sept. 75), 771.

Teaching: Keep a journal describing and reflecting on the process of teaching, noting problems, questions, possible answers, etc. D Gorman. JAAL (Mar. 98), 434-442.

In reading Westerns, readers are looking for information as well as story, including details about American tribes.

Comprehension. “Interest and background knowledge are two factors that enable students to read beyond what is considered their normal reading level.” K Ganske, et al. RT (Oct. 03), 121.

Research: “As education policy becomes a hot topic among those campaigning for local, state and national office, that well-worn phrase ‘all the research shows’ is cropping up with new abandon. We believe that research can indeed provide important insights to guide practice and policy—but given the complexity of school settings and students’ diverse needs, the research record seldom yields simple solutions that will do everywhere and for all.” A DiPardo & M Sperling, eds. RTE (May 04), 349.

High School Reading: “Ellen explained that she had been rudely awakened during her first year of teaching when she discovered her students could not read well. She had assumed that students in high school classes would be independent readers. ‘Well, first I assumed that everyone in my class could read, which is not the case…. Well, they could read but not the level of literature that we were reading. They could read the words but they couldn’t comprehend them.’ ” FL Hamel. RTE (Aug. 03), 66.

Punishments and Rewards: “There is too much emphasis in the world on trying to get people to do things by threatening them with punishment rather than by offering them positive rewards. That’s true in all spheres, including government education and child rearing.” BF Skinner. USNWR (Nov. 3, 80), 79.

Planning. “The best way to demonstrate the value of long-term planning is to plan all the work which the class will do, to explain the plan to them, to make sure that they keep it in mind, and after the work has been completed to look back over it and sum it up; the young have very little ability to make long-term plans; they live from day to day, or at least from one Saturday to another.” Highet, The Art of Teaching, p. 69.

Questions. There are really two different reasons for asking questions of a class: to find out if each individual has done his work...and to expose the difficulties they have preparing the work; the former is a method of making them learn, the latter helps them to learn. Highet, The Art of Teaching, p. 125.

LA = Language Arts. JAAL = Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy. RT = Reading Teacher. RTE = Research in the Teaching of English. USNWR = US News and World Report.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

English Update February 15, 2007

Thinking. Six levels of thought: lowest—recall facts (knowledge); summarize, explain (comprehension); relate to real life (application); compare/contrast (analysis); create something new (synthesis); give an opinion (evaluation). A Paziotopoulos & M Krull. RT (Apr. 04), 673.

Example of using levels of thinking. Knowledge: draw and label the parts of the human heart; comprehension: describe the functions of each part of the heart; application: write a paragraph describing the things you do to keep your heart healthy; analysis: compare and contrast the lifestyles of a person with a healthy heart to a person with heart disease; synthesis: describe the journey of a blood cell through the arteries of an unhealthy heart; evaluation: evaluate a friend or relative’s lifestyle related to what you know about maintaining a healthy heart and make any recommendations for improvement. A Paziotopoulos & M Krull. RT (Apr. 04), 676.

Remedial. Teach students labeled “reluctant,” “alienated,” “disadvantaged,” etc. to learn how to learn. LR Johannessen. JAAL (May 04), 638-647.

The formula for writing nonfiction: 1. Tell them what you’re going to tell them; 2. Tell them; And 3. Tell them what you told them. D Greenburg. Wrt (June 04), 32.

Questions. Preparing students to read: Give students a question, the answer to which is hidden in the text, that contradicts their prior beliefs. VA Ciardiello. JAAL (Nov. 03), 228-239.

Ernest J. Boyer, president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching: “Around the fourth grade students stop asking ‘Why?’ and start asking ‘Is this on the test?’ We need to keep ‘Why?’ alive for our students. ” Inq. (Nov. 2, 95), W3.

The teacher should cease to accept the role of fact-peddler and become with the student an investigator, a questioner. C McKowen. EJ (Nov. 65), 702.

What was Marshall McLuhan’s contribution to education? Degree of involvement is key to how much we learn; inquiry is essential; exploration rather than instruction; need to be able to apply what is learned in activities outside of class. EJ (Jan. 93), 55.

Proverb: “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” N Quisenberry & M Willis. LA (Sept. 75), 885.

One of the chief aids to learning is the sense of purpose. Highet, The Art of Teaching, 69.

Profile of eighteenth-century Mennonite school master Christopher Dock reveals that his methods were strikingly modern. He saw the need to motivate students to learn rather than to expect motivation and emphasized treating students as individuals. Inq. (Jan. 20, 96), CC6.

Lewis Perleman: Learning has to do with satisfying curiosity; education is being told things. Inq. (May 18, 95),G1/G6.

Motivation: That which gives both direction and intensity to human behavior. Frymier. EJ (May 69), 709.

Students need explicit demonstration of what good readers do while they read…. Struggling readers must come to know that their job is not just to answer questions, but also to ask them. This may necessitate pointing out that skilled readers question as they read as a way to monitor their understanding and that...raising questions aids comprehension. Ganske, et al. RT (Oct. 03), 123-124.

RT = Reading Teacher. Inq. = Philadelphia Inquirer. JAAL = Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy. Wrt = The Writer. EJ = English Journal.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

English Update February 14, 2007

English Updates

In July 2004, I published a book entitled Teaching English How To.... Now, I am a professional literature "junkie." I collect ideas on teaching English from newspapers (New York Times, Wall Street Journal, etc.) from magazines (The Writer) and from professional journals: English Journal, College English, Teaching English in the Two-Year College, Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literary, College Composition and Communication, Research in the Teaching of English, Reading Research Quarterly, Language Arts, Reading Teacher, English Education, etc.).

I like to summarize these ideas. I find them helpful in making me a better English teacher. The ideas deal with research and techniques that help to solve problems in English education. For those who do not need every detail, but who can take a brief summary of an idea and use it, adapt it to their teaching situation, these ideas could be very helpful. I give brief citations for those who wish more information about the idea. To save me time in recording the ideas, I usually cite the author and the details of publication, but not the name of the article. Writing out titles takes too much time.

Many of these ideas support the ideas I expressed in my book, Teaching English How To.... Many are unrelated to the book. Some contradict the ideas in my book. All of the ideas were of interest to me. Many of them deal with grade levels different from yours, but still might be relevant to your teaching situation. My grade level of interest is from kindergarten through college.

In hopes that we share similar interests in teaching English, I begin this blog. I will enjoy reading your responses to the ideas that I publish every day.

Raymond Stopper

How can writers get started on a writing career? Become an expert on something and then write aobut it. K. James-Enger. Wrt (Sept. 04), 18-19.

What do writers need to know about publishing? "Nowadays, writers largely have to edit themselves. The better you can make your manuscript before submitting it to a publisher, the greater your chances of getting published." C Leddy. Wrt (Sept. 04), 41.

Why study literature? "Our focus should be on helping chidlren learn from literature about themselves, about their lives, about the lives of others." H Mills, et al. LA (Sept. 04), 51.

What kinds of questions do we ask? John Searle: There are two kinds of question, (a) real questions, (b) exam questions. In real questions S wants to know (find out) the answer; in exam questions, S wants to know if H knows the answer. WB Horner. CCC (May 79), 169.

What is the attitude of secondary teachers about helping their students read? Secondary teacher: "I'm not a reading teacher; students should already know how to read when they get to middle school. My job is to teach them social studies content." [The author calls using the directed reading assignment "teaching reading." I disagree. Teaching reading to me is teaching reading skills directly, finding main ideas, details, inferring, etc. For me, using the directed reading assignment in content areas is not teaching reading, but helping students succeed with specific reading assignments that are difficult to read.] DD Massey & TL Heafner. JAAL (Sept. 04), 26-40.

How prepare students for writing a research paper? Author suggests substituing the familiar FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) format--questions followed by answers--for the traditional research paper. Suggests FAQ format also as a method for introducing students to the research process with students' questions anticipated and then answered in writing. J Strickland. EJ (Sept. 04), 23-28.

What kinds of questions do teachers usually ask? Evidence from previous research suggests that teachers in all academic disciplines are given to low-level factual questions. RA Lucking. RTE (Winter 76), 269.

What is the relationship between speed of reading aloud and reading silently? "It is of interest to note that the rates of 250-300 words per more-or-less 'maximal' rates for silent reading, correspond closely to the fastest rates at which trained readers can read aloud." TG Sticht in Understanding Reading Comprehension. J Flood, ed. Newark, DE, 1984, p. 150.

How help students develop study skills? Prepare videotape for each content class showing the use of study skills with the actual materials being used in that class. MF O'Hear. CCC (Oct. 77), 277-279.

How construct a book proposal? Elements of a book proposal: title; content; rationale; competition; format (# of words, charts, illustrations, appendices, glossary, sidebars); market; chapter-by-chapter summary; credentials; sample chapters. M Allen. Wrt (Sept. 04), 34-37.

How construct a book proposal? A good book proposal tells publishers the things they most need to know: what your book is about, why it's important, and whom it's important to. Perhaps the best way to approach your proposal is to ask those quesitons of youreself--not as a writer, but as a reader. What wuould persuade you to pick this book from the shelf? What would make you want to buy it? The answers just might be the arguments you need to make a sale. M Allen. Wrt (Sept. 04), 34-37.

[Wrt = The Writer. LA = Langauge Arts. CCC = College Composition and Communication. RTE = Research in the Teaching of English. JAAL = Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy. EJ = Englsh Journal. ]