Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Elementary School Writing: Persuason.

The purpose of this Blog is to share interesting ideas I have found in publications dealing with the teaching of English at all levels.

Title of Article: "The Elementary Persuasive Letter: Two Cases of Situated Competence, Strategy, and Agency"

It's not too early to introduce 3rd- and 4th-grade students to persuasive letter writing. Students should read persuasive texts to study the techniques of persuasion. DD Anderson. Research in the Teaching of English. (Feb. 08), 270-314.

RayS. The author gives examples of writing letters to the principal about a particular problem in the school. From my point of view, students will also learn the mechanics of letter writing from the inside address to the complimentary close. They will learn to address an envelope. I know that e-mail has replaced letter writing, but letter writing is still useful occasionally. Using the letter format for persuasive writing at this early age is short enough to introduce the techniques of persuasion. The authors also emphasize adjusting expression to the audience. Finally, students could learn to apply their lessons in persuasion to e-mail. If I were still teaching, I'd try it. [Note: If I could take time away from standardized tests to try it.]

The author gives an example of a child's persuasive letter:

Dear Mrs. Salvo, [principal]

My name is Brianna and I am a fourth grader at Acme Road School. I am writing to you because I think we should learn to speak a different language.

It will help us to be prepared for high school and college. It gives us time to practice it over before we go to high school. If we talk to someone who speaks a different language we will know how to communicate with them. I want to know if we could learn to speak a different language. Maybe you could get some books and a language teacher.

Thank you for reading my letter. Bye!


PP. 270-271.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking. “The purpose of much political speech is to keep listeners from thinking clearly…. ‘The necessity of additional revenue enhancement to fund infrastructure upgrades’ = ‘new taxes to repair roads and bridges.’ ”C Leddy. The Writer. (Feb. 08), 9. [RayS. I intend to make a list of phrases that do not clearly express meaning.]

Critical Thinking. Rattskiss is an acronym for how to read critically. Riter’s’ background. Analyze (circle sentences that state main points). Tone (formal, casual, nostalgic, satirical, whimsical). Topic. K and I (controlling idea). Synthesize (hidden idea). Scrutinize (fallacies, etc.) S Snair. English Journal. (Jan. 08), 52-55. [RayS. Of course "RATTSKISS will catch the students' attention, but I like the attempt to show students how systematically to analyze a piece of material that aims to persuade.]

Monday, February 25, 2008


Some thoughts on censorship.

Censorship. Why do teachers assign the literary works that they do? Teachers need to clearly articulate why they are assigning books to read. Need to listen carefully to parents who complain about the literature their children are reading. Why are they complaining? SM Kauer. English Journal. (Jan. 08), 56-60.

Censorship. The issue in censorship. “…but I look forward to a day when educators, students and parents believe that it is more important to deal with difficult ideas, words and images than to obliterate them.” L Reid. English Journal. (Jan. 08), 10.

Censorship. Not use Huck Finn? In defending her not using Huck Finn, female English teacher asks, what is the most hurtful word a man can use for a woman? Would you want to read a book with that word repeated frequently on every page in a classroom full of boys? ME Dakin. English Journal. (Jan. 08), 12. [RayS. The problem is reading Huck Finn with a single or even a few black students in a classroom full of white students. The N-word hurts.]

Censorship. Rationales. Steps in completing a rationale for books you are going to read as assigned material: Goals. How use book to further learning goals. Review awards, recommendations. Previous experience with the book. Activities. Foreseen objections. How handle sensitive materials. Educational and literary merit that outweigh objections. Alternative selections. RC Lent. English Journal. (Jan. 08), 64. [RayS. I sorely wish that I had completed a rationale for every work of literature I taught in my junior high and senior high classes. I would have been a better teacher.]