Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Alternative to the Research Paper

Note: The English Journal is celebrating 100 years of publication. In this particular article, today’s English teachers talk about an article from the Journal that caused them to act.

Name of article: “Just the FAQs: An Alternative to Teaching the Research Paper.” James Strickland (September 2004).

Teacher who read it and acted on it: Mary Buckelew, West Chester State University, West Chester, Pennsylvania.

Quote: “Jim [Strickland] wrote: ‘Instead of requiring students to write a paper in fifteen weeks that proves a thesis, we might better focus on teaching inquiry that is organic, developing, and changing as the researcher wonders and learns.’ Rather than come up with a thesis statement, students select a topic, identify an audience, and brainstorm questions that interest their audience and themselves. As student research the answers to their questions, they have the freedom to explore the side roads, to change direction, to find historic and theoretical sites that may inform their answers. Throughout, their awareness of their companion travelers (readers) is heightened.” P. 22.

Comment: I remember reading this article and being impressed with the idea. Of course, students also have to learn to format the research paper, including quotes and bibliography, etc. RayS.

Title: “An English Journal Article That Made a Difference: A Forum.” Compiled by D Zancanella. English Journal (January 2012), 19-26.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Reading Intervention for Struggling Middle School Readers

Question: What can teachers in the middle school do to help improve struggling readers’ achievement in reading?

Quote: “The first thing one has to realize about intervention and children in the middle grades is that there is virtually no research base upon which we can draw. As was noted by the National reading Panel (2000), almost all intervention research published to date has been done with children in grades K-5, and, in fact, most of this recent research focuses on intervention designs in grades K-1.” P,10.

Question: How many struggling readers are estimated to be found in middle schools?

Quote: “Probably the best evidence we have is the NAEP 8th-grade reading data. The most recent NAEP reading assessment reports that one-quarter of eighth-grade students perform below the basic level of proficiency. ) Basic readers are typically defined as those who, while not proficient, are able to accomplish some lower-level tasks with grade-level material.) But students working below this Basic level will find it difficult, if not impossible, to read grade-level materials with understanding. Therefore, at least one of every four middle school students will struggle mightily to learn grade-level content from the textbooks matched to the grade level of the students.” P. 10. 

Quote: “For reasons I don’t really understand, reading instruction largely ends after 4th or 5th grade.” P. 11.

Quote: “Again for reasons I fail to understand, many middle school intervention reading programs emphasize developing decoding skills. I say this because the research suggests that perhaps only 10% of older struggling readers have problems with decoding.: p. 11.

Quote: “I would go further and argue that many, if not most, middle school students are not provided with any effective reading instruction. Perhaps this phenomenon, more than anything else, accounts for the fact that the reading achievement of older readers remains largely the same as it was in 1971 when the national assessments of educational progress began.” P. 15.

Comment: So the article does not really answer the question, how can teachers help struggling readers in middle school? I say, begin with the directed reading assignment.

> Begin by asking students what they know about the topic of the reading assignment. Add information about the topic.

> Pre-teach unfamiliar vocabulary by emphasizing context and roots.

> Students read the title, sub-titles and bold-faced headings. Students read the first paragraph, the first sentence of each subsequent paragraph and the last paragraph.

> Either establish a purpose for students to read or have students raise questions they are going to read to answer.

 > Students read to answer the questions or fulfill the purpose established by the teacher.

> Students discuss what they have learned and then investigate the topic on selected Web-sites.

That’s a start, anyway. RayS.

Title: “Reading Intervention in the Middle Grades.” RL Allington. Voices from the Middle (December 2011), 10-16.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Learning Difficulty

Question: “Most of us can think of times when we struggled to learn something. What was yours?” p. 7.

My Answer: Statistics. I can still see the instructor filling the blackboard with figures that meant absolutely nothing to me. And feeling the sinking feeling that I was overwhelmed. What did I do? I took the topics which the instructor was filling the blackboard with, found a book that clearly and plainly explained each topic, ignored the course text and the instructor, and managed to achieve a “C” on my exam.

 I offer my readers the opportunity to answer this question for the benefit of my other readers. Please send your answers to raystop2@comcast.net.

Title: “Intervention: Seeing and Supporting the Individual Within the Community.” D Lapp, D Fisher and N Frey. Voices from the Middle (December 2011), 7-0.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Radical Change in Publishing Novels

Question: What’s next in the publishing industry?

Answer: Novels that are a mix of print and technology.

Quote: “A new crop of digital books comes loaded with videos, songs, animated shorts and pop-up graphics. Is this the future of publishing?”

 Quote: “The Novel, Remixed: Readers of Chopsticks can select 'shuffle read,' which reorders the pages.

 Quote: “The new novel Chopsticks tells the story of a troubled young piano prodigy—using family photos, letters, documents, instant messages and YouTube videos. It's a love story, a mystery and a parable about creativity and madness.”

Quote: “It's also an experiment, one that could have far-reaching implications for the book industry, as publishers stretch the definition of what constitutes a book. Chopsticks straddles the digital divide that is transforming the publishing world—it's both a novel and a digital app.

Comment: I still equate words with ideas and ideas with words. All the other stuff is window dressing, supporting the ideas expressed in words. RayS.

Title: “Blowing Up The Book.” By ALEXANDRA ALTER. The Wall Street Journal. January 20, 2012. Internet.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

English Language Learners and Academic English

Question: How can teachers equip English Learners (who are not native speakers of English) with the academic skills needed in content area classes?

Response: “Susana Dutro is a founding partner of E.L. Achiev e (www.elachieve.org), an organization dedicated to assisting educators in equipping English learners for academic achievement.”  P. 339.

Question: What are some of the challenges facing adolescent English learners?

Dutro: “Many have achieved adequate fluency in everyday language, yet they struggle with advanced reading and writing, lack depth of vocabulary and syntactical knowledge, and are not yet equipped with sufficient English knowledge for academic tasks requiring complex inferences, analyses, hypotheses, and summaries. This lack of language proficiency and academic achievement can mask students’ potential to learn.” P. 339.

Comment: Dutro frames the problem succinctly: many English learners are relatively fluent in everyday English but do not have command of academic English, the English needed in school. RayS.

Question: “What approach do you take in meeting the academic language needs of adolescents who are learning English?”

 Dutro: “A well-designed program for English learners includes systematic instruction in the conventions of standard English along with explicit instruction in the discipline-specific language of core content areas….”

 Comment: Sounds good, but the author does not really help the ordinary classroom teacher achieve these goals, with this exception: RayS.

Dutro: “…the biology teacher shows student how to use word banks and sentence frames when responding. The students now have access to content terms such as vacuole and membrane as well as functional phrases like serve the purpose of and operate as.” P. 341.

Title: “Research Connections: Equipping Adolescent English Learners for Academic Achievement; An Interview with Susana Dutro and Ellen Levy.” S Dutro, E Levy and DW Moore. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy (December 2011/January 2012), 339-342.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Reading Aloud

Question: How can teachers turn response to poetry from groans to enjoyment?

Answer: Read your favorite poems aloud—and other literature as well. As the author says, “Reading aloud can motivate students to read and to read more.”

Another idea: “Play the opening tracks of an audio book as students come into the classroom.”

Comment: Ask your students if they remember any books read to them by parents and relatives when young and by teachers through the grades. RayS.

Title: “Accidentally on Purpose.” JTS Lesesne. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy (December 2011/January 2012), 336.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Technology in Education

Question: An attempt to integrate blogs into pre-service training of teachers. Why did it fail?

Answer/Quote: “Our assumptions were problematic in a couple of ways. First, we inadvertently lumped our students together, considering all of them to be tech savvy and anxious to spend more time on the computer to create community. Second, we now realize that the majority of the students who came to us already tech-savvy benefited little from this addition to our course, and more from the other instruction taking place. Teaching is always a humbling experience for us. Luckily, we get to take a step back, look at what we have found, and try again, hopefully learning from our mistakes.” P. 334.

Comment: I guess this attempt to integrate blogging into teaching failed because the teachers did not find out what the students knew and felt about the technology. They also failed to discover what the students wanted from the course. Pretty basic stuff. I applaud the authors for explaining why they failed. RayS.

Title: “Learning from Our Mistakes: What Matters When Incorporating Blogging in the Content Area Literacy Classroom.” H Hungerford-Kresser, J Wiggins and C Amaro-Jimenez. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy (December 2011/January 2012), 326-335.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Teaching Teachers to Reflect on Their Teaching

Question: How can we encourage teachers to reflect on their teaching?

Answer/Quotes: “Students [teachers] start the semester writing their literacy autobiographies and constructing their literacy self-portraits.”

“As the students and I present autobiographies and self-portraits, I have listeners note ideas from each presentation that resonate with them, personally.”

“Once we have all shared, students choose one person whose presentation stands out and write a note to that person explaining what resonated with them.”

“During the reading of each article/chapter in assigned texts for the course, students then note their ideas on some sort of strategy: note-taking form….” etc.

 After exploring literacy and working with several reading strategies, students…reflect on the strategies they have learned, including how they would use the strategy in their own content area classroom.

Comment: Well, it’s a beginning anyway. One thing I have always regretted in my teaching career is my failure to take the time to reflect on my teaching practices, concerns, problems, etc.  Therefore, I was not as good a teacher as I could have been. RayS.

Title: “From Resistance to Advocacy for Math Literacy: One Teacher’s Literacy Identity Transformation.” E Spitler. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy (December 2011/January 2012) 306-315.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Content Area Reading Assistance

Question: Should content area teachers (math, science, social studies, art, etc.) teachers try to teach reading?

Answer/Quotes: “I was introducing my content area literacy course to a new group of social studies, language arts, music and art pre-service teachers and feeling confident about my focus. I told them that they would not be teachers of reading, but that I would be showing them ways to use literacy as a tool to support the teaching of content.”

“I was ready to move on, when Alan (pseudonym), an art major raised his hand. ‘Wait a minute,’ he said. ‘you mean we’re not going to learn how to teach reading in this class?’ ‘No,’ I replied, ‘you’re going to learn how to use literacy as a tool to help you teach art.’ Alan countered, ‘But my students can’t read. If I don’t teach them how to read who will? I really want to know how to help my students read better.’ I asked the class how many agreed with Alan. The majority raised their hands.”

“Is it reasonable for teachers like Alan to have students’ reading development as an instructional goal? In some ways, I applaud this thinking; on the other hand, how feasible is it that an art teacher should teach reading? Although I admire Alan’s motivation, I agree with Rissman, Miller, and Torgeson (2009), who wrote,

                "While it is clear that content teachers cannot be expected to teach struggling readers basic reading skills, they can help students develop the knowledge, reading, strategies and thinking skills to understand and learn them from increasingly complex text in their content areas.” (p. 13) p. 276.

 Comment: Boy, does this issue ring a bell. I was involved in a reading-in-the-content areas workshop in a school district. In marched the district administration. When I said that I was not asking content teachers to “teach” reading, they all got up, huffed and walked out. It still hurts that they did not stay around to learn what I meant by that statement.

“Teaching” reading as a reading teacher means identifying main ideas, inferencing, and certain levels of comprehension as ends in themselves. What content teachers can do, while teaching their subjects, is to show students how to use certain strategies to support their reading, specifically, the Directed Reading Assignment.

The directed reading assignment provides background information about the topic to be read.

Even asking the students what they already know about the topic helps.

The next step is to pre-teach unfamiliar vocabulary in the chapter. Words that students don’t know they will pass over. Pointing out the meaning from context or roots alerts students to the words. The words pre-taught should be crucial to the meaning of ideas in the chapter.

Next, the students read the title, sub-titles and bold-face print to build up their background information about what the chapter contains. Then, they read the first paragraph, the first sentence of each intermediate paragraph and the last paragraph as more background about the contents of the chapter.

Now, students ask questions about what they want to know from the chapter about the topic. They read to answer their questions. After discussing the answers they have found, they go to the Internet to answer unanswered questions in the chapter and further questions about the topic.

That’s what content area teachers can do to help students read the content in their subjects. What do most content teachers say about this strategy? “It’s doing the work for the students.” I say it’s supporting them in their reading. You can’t win. RayS.

Title: “What RTI [Response to Intervention] Means for Content Area Teachers.” S Lenski. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy (December 2011/ January 2012), 276-282.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

KWL and Comprehension

Question: What is a popular strategy for improving students’ comprehension?

Answer/Quote: “ ‘K-W-L’ is one of the most ubiquitous acronyms in today’s elementary schools when it comes to reading comprehension instruction. The Know-Want to Know-Learn (K-W-L; Ogle, 1986) instructional techniques accesses students’ prior knowledge and prompts students to ask questions about an expository text. Then after reading, students reflect on what they have learned. The K-W-L is widely used across the grades and content areas.”

Comment: When I have used K-W-L, I have had students brainstorm what they know (K) about the topic of the assignment, raise questions about what they want to know about the topic from the assignment, and after reading the assignment to discuss what they have learned (L) about the topic from reading the assignment. RayS.

Title: “Comprehension and Authentic Reading: Putting the Power Back into K-W-L.” K Hilden and J Jones. Reading Today (December 2011/January 2012), 15-16.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Writing Summaries of Novels and Short Stories

Question: How does one go about summarizing plots?

Answer/Quote: “The starting point is the ‘Masterplot,’ which combines three phrases into a one-sentence description of the story. To create a Masterplot, the writer chooses an A, B and C clause. A clauses establish the protagonist, B clauses start the action of the story, and C clauses resolve the action, For example: “A person in love (A clause), falling in love at a time when certain obligations forbid love (B clause) emerges happily from a serious entanglement (C clause.)” p. 19.

Title: “A Formula Can Cure the Plot-Sick Writer.” A review of Plotto: The Master Book of All Plots by William Wallace Cook. Tin House Books, 450 pages. Hardcover or digital, $24.95. Reviewed by Martha Lundin. The Writer (February 2012), p. 19.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Connecting Students, Teachers and Famiies

Question: How help families learn what is going on in class?

Answer/Quote: “It seems as though each year our team of four core fifth-grade teachers and one learning support teacher debated on what to do to keep the families abreast of their child’s academic and social progress. This past year Terry (first author) suggested that the students write a letter to their parents each Friday detailing their behavior and academic accomplishments for the week. It was important to increase communication between students and families, but it was equally important that the students became involved with communicating this message to their families.” P. 275.

Outline for the Friday letter:

Dear _______________

This week at school I learned ___________________________________.

                My behavior during this past week was ___________________________

                One thing I really liked this week was _____________________________


Quote: “The letters provided students the opportunity to review the week’s lessons and practice writing with a clear focus to an authentic audience.” P. 280.

 Comment: I don’t think I would use the middle sentence about behavior. I might have students provide details on a topic that was taught. Students could indicate what they need to learn more about a topic. RayS.

Title: “Friday Letters: Connecting Students, Teacher and Families Through Writing.” TH Newman and SA Bizzarri. The Reading Teacher (December 2011/January 2012), 275-280.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Fluency: Phrase Reading

Question: How improve fluency through understanding phrase boundaries?

Answer/Quote: “One approach for helping students develop their ability to phrase texts essentially involves making visible those normally invisible phrase boundaries for students. We have noticed that public speakers, when giving a speech, will often mark phrase boundaries in the written texts of the speeches they are reading, as visual cues to assist them in phrasing their oral rendition of the speech. If this benefits fluent speakers when reading, a text, would it not benefit children learning to become fluent readers?” p. 253.

Quote: “Find a relatively short passage (100-400 words in length) from a text that students have previously read or will be reading …. With a pencil, mark what you believe are the appropriate phrase boundaries in the text where reader would pause with slash marks—one slash mark for short phrase boundaries and pauses within sentence and two slashes for boundaries (longer pauses) between sentences.” P. 253-254.

Example of phrase markings for a story: from Seven Brave Women by Betsy Hearne: “My grandmother did great things.//Betty lived during World War II/ but she did not fight in it.// She took fencing for fun/ and played basketball/ on the first girls’ team in her state/ and went to France/ To take harp lessons/ from a famous harpist there.//

Sequence of activities: “First, read the text to students while having them follow along silently…. Then, chorally read the passage with your students, again placing emphasis on expressive and phrased reading…. Next have students practice the passage on their own….. Finally have selected students individually, in pairs or in small groups read the passage in performance for the other students.” P. 254.

Comment: Interesting idea—if it translates into fluency when reading silently. RayS.

Title: “Building Fluency Through the Phrase Text Lesson.” T Rasinski, K Yildirim and J Nageldinger. The Reading Teacher (December 2011/January 2012), 252-255.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Lifelong Readers

Question: What are some characteristics of lifelong readers?

Answer/Quote: “Lifelong readers do not pick up books to get better at reading; they pick up books to hear a great story, to escape the reality of their daily existence or find information to help in their endeavors. The story becomes an end in itself, not requiring anything else to be done with it. In Better Than Life, Pennac (1990), offered Ten Rights of a Reader. Among them are the right to read anywhere, to read anything, to read out loud or silently, to skip ;pages, and the right to put down books that are no longer interesting. It is an important list to consider as we incorporate children’s and young adult literature into our classrooms. To Pennac’s wonderful list, we would add ‘the right not to have to do so much @#$%^&* before or after I read.’ ” P. 241.

Comment: Whoa, Nellie. Not so fast. The author might be referring to classroom before and after activities, especially someone else’s questions at the end, but speculating on the nature of the story beforehand through cover blurbs, titles and pictures, and reflecting on the story after it’s told are important in deepening the reader’s expectations and comprehension. And I could add some other “rights” of my own. Reading the first and last paragraphs of chapters in information books is a good preparation for reading. And when novels become boring as they almost always do during certain stretches, reading a paragraph per page maintains the continuity of plot until the reader’s interest is restored.  RayS.

Title: “Integrating Children’s Literature: When Bad Things Happen to Good Books.” Frank Serafini. The Reading Teacher (December 2011/January 2012), 238-241.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Teen Reading

Question: Are teens really not reading?

Problem/Quote: “Over the last several years, the popular and scholarly presses have been rife with publications reporting that teens are not reading. The widely publicized 2004 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) study ‘Reading at Risk’ claimed: ‘Literary reading in dramatic decline.’ In 2007, a follow-up study ‘To Read or Not to Read,’ (NEA, 2007) indicated that young adults were reading significantly less in print.” P. 254.

Answer: The author says teens ARE reading, but not necessarily traditional books. They are reading on the Internet. They are reading e-books and they are listening to audio books—it’s all reading says the author.

Comment: This study is limited. I will be looking for evidence that teens are reading across modes, such as e-books and audio-books. I’m pretty sure they are reading on the Internet.

I am not a “normal” reader of traditional books. I don’t read page by page—at least initially. I skim, scan, sample text as a way of familiarizing myself with the ideas in the text. Sometimes that sampling is all I need to read. Sometimes I only need to read parts of the book. The sampling points out what I need to read. Sometimes I need to read the entire book. In this “sampling” phase, I don’t read every word on every page, of every chapter, from first word to last.

 E-books encourage reading page by page. Sampling, as I do initially, is cumbersome with e-books. Audio books also “read” every word on every page, in order. I confess I don’t know how people read on the Internet. I usually select topics  then tend to read everything—if it’s reasonably short.

I’m suggesting two ideas about today’s reading. Is it occurring across modes, with adults as well as teens? And how do these readers read? I submit that active reading is what I do—skim, scan, sample—and that can occur most easily in traditional books. RayS.

Title: “What Does It Really Mean to ‘Read’ a Text?” Jessica E. Moyer. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy (November 2011), 250=256.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Question: What is some advice on writing and promoting memoirs?

> “Reach out to potential review markets or outlets that will help you promote your book.

> “Network to find experts willing to provide blurbs or a foreword for your book.

> “Include specific details (think numbers and statistics) as part of your marketing plan.

> “Submit excerpts from your book to magazines, newspapers or online publications.

> “Compare your book to similar ones and show how  yours will fill a hole in the market.”

Comment: I wish I had read this advice before publishing my memoir, Teaching English, How To….

Title: “How to Make Your Memoir A Stand Out.” M Allen and C O’Shea. The Writer (January 2012), 44-45.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Advice on Writing Nonfiction

Question: What is some good advice on writing?

Cory Doctorow: “Write every day. Write even when the mood is not right. Write when the book stinks and isn’t going anywhere. Stop in the middle of a sentence…to start the next day. Write even when the world is chaotic.”

Bill Wasik: “Outline.”

Barry Boyce: “Planning, planning, planning.”

Sylvia Boorstin: “Don’t write from beginning to end. Write in the order that particular parts take form.”

Mark Frauenfelder: “Write the book that you want to read.”

Joshua Wolf Shenk: “Get through a draft as quickly as possible. Break it into chunks. What’s the idea/argument in sentence or two?”

Seth Mnookin: Start each day with some discrete goal. You’re going to spend a lot of time in your head.”

Title: “Writing Your First Nonfiction Book.” Steve Silberman. The Writer (January 2012), 34-37.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Beyond a Single Textbook

Question: How can students move beyond the single textbook to explore the many other resources available to them?

Answer/Quote: “With the rise of the digital age, if there is one artifact of our classrooms that needs rethinking, it is the textbook. No longer can teachers rely on a single source of information to meet our curricular needs. With many states subscribing to adoption models, the textbooks stay around too long and their content is frequently outdated.”

Quote:” For this reason, strategy guides can be useful vehicles for bridging textbook content and the myriad of information available to us via digital sources. Strategy guides are not the study guides of yesterday—essentially a series of question students had to answer while reading a textbook chapter. With the increasing need to develop strategic readers and writers, strategy guides…take students outside of a chapter and into multiple sources of information, touring virtual worlds, blogging about issues and synthesizing information from websites, online encyclopedias and so forth.” P. 248.

Comment: Makes sense. RayS.

 Title: “Real-Time Teaching: Bridging Print Literacies and Digital Literacies Using Strategy Guides.” KD Wood. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy (November 2011), 248-252.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Reading Profile

Question: How can teachers assess students’ attitudes toward reading?

Part I:

> What are your earliest memories of reading?

> What was the last book you read? Was it for school or your own reading?

> How do you choose a book? (Circle as many as apply)

I want to learn something

I like the author

The picture on the cover

A friend recommended it

My teacher requires it

The description on the back cover

It’s short

I like the genre (romance, adventure, fantasy, nonfiction)

> What is the best book you ever read?

> Do you have a favorite author? If so, who?

> What would you like to learn more about?

> If you could be any character from any book, television show, or movie, who would you be? Why?

Part II: Complete each sentence—

> When I have time to read….

> To me, books….

> I like to read about….

> I’d rather read than….

> I’d read more if….
Comment: I think I might throw in a question about using E-readers, regular books, magazines, etc. RayS.

Title: “Making Magic with Young Adult Literature.” J Haskins. Teaching Young Adult Literature, Mark Roberts, Editor. English Journal (November 2011), 101-104.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

College Writing

Question: How can high school teachers prepare students for the writing they will be required to do in college?

Answer: Students pick their expected college majors, identify the types of writing in their fields through questions to college teachers and course descriptions from college catalogs and on the Internet and analyze these types of writing. For example, type in “Writing for Physics” in Bing or Google and you will learn what types of writing assignments will be expected in the field of physics.

Comment: Interesting idea. Students will discover that the writing formats in their chosen fields has sometimes little in common with the writing they are taught in English. RayS.

Title: “They Can Get There from Here: Teaching for Transfer Through a ‘Writing about Writing’ Course.” J  Wells. English Journal (November 2011), 57-68.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Challenging Question

Question: What is good writing?

That is the challenging question. Students ask parents, relatives, faculty and college teachers that question. The results?

Quote: “Students generally thought good writing was simply writing that had no grammatical errors. Many students added they felt they were not good writers because of the feedback on errors they had been given by their teachers over the years. Even though the interview activity led Reesha, a junior to exclaim, ‘Good writing is as controversial as the topic of boys!’ It also raised a number of great questions…. Why are ideas about good writing so different? Why do teachers assign types of writing they don’t like? How do you know when to write about for whom?” p. 58.

Comment: This question reminds me of another. I once asked a colleague why he did not teach writing. He said, “My students can’t even writ a good sentence.” What is a good sentence? RayS.

Title: “They Can Get There from Here: Teaching for Transfer Through a ‘Writing about Writing’ Course.” J  Wells. English Journal (November 2011), 57-68.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Exploring Content Area Writing

Question: How can English teachers and their students discover how texts in content areas other than English are written?

Answer: There’s a whole world of writing in subjects other than English. This author challenges students to explore that world of writing by analyzing the types of texts used in other subject areas. Students could be writing these types of texts ten years from now. Begin with textbooks. Also, check out the Internet. Type in to Bing or Google “Writing in Sociology.” You will be given information about the types of writing expected in the field of sociology. Example: “The Challenges of Writing in Sociology. What distinguishes Sociology papers from the papers you might write in other courses, including English?


Comment: Good idea. RayS.

Title: “Purpose Beyond This Years: Students Analyze Future Genres.” L Beckelhimer. English Journal (November 2011), 50-56.