Seminar on Reading Strategies

For those of you who are in my seminar, here is the link to the supplemental information that I showed in class tonight.

For those of you who were not in my seminar–and would like to find out about sociograms, collaborative annotation and Inspiration–I still encourage you to check it out.  This is a post on my blog in which gives a brief overview of my seminar and some useful links.

See some of you folks tonight.  Cheers.

Ray H.


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More thoughts on Atwell’s Afterward

I think Suzanne has raised some great points about the student – teacher relationship in her post on Atwell’s afterward.  I took away so much from this conclusion to the Beers text, including:

  • We must embrace technology in our classrooms, and we must NOT be nervous about our “lack” of understanding.  Our kids will know how to use the computer software and internet applications, and they will teach other as they go.  We simply need to create the opportunity for them to build multimodal projects into their syllabus. 
  • Atwell writes on pedagogy, “These are methods that ask and allow teens to read a lot and feel pleasure, to write a lot and feel satisfied, and to talk a lot and feel significant.”  I understand that personal preference in the classroom is a MUST when teaching kids how to feel pleasure, feel satisfied, and feel significant.  They need to help decide what they want to read and write.  This is their literacy journey, not mine!
  • Atwell writes, “Teachers of adolescents must read, must write, and must teach from our literate experiences and literary passions.”  As teachers, we must share the “personal” side of ourselves with our students.  This is the side that shows what we are reading outside of school for pleasure.  Atwell also reminds me that I can never stop reading for pleasure, stop studying the new developments in my field, or stop writing about the things I read.  I am very much a student on a literary journey, too, just like my students.
  • We must continually rethink our answer to the question about writing, “Why would anyone want to do it?”  This is the question we answer for our students, and this is our teachable moment.  We cannot expect our students to write about the things that we love to write about, or to write in the same style that we write, but we must challenge ourselves to share as many different kinds of writing as possible with our students.  As students learn to write and write well, we must show them all forms of text, including pictures, graphic novels, icons, nonfiction essays and articles, short stories, poetry, novels…the list goes on.  This is how students find their talent and their voice in writing.  We are resonsible for giving them the exposure they need.

 Most importantly, Atwell concludes her afterward with, “Teachers need to figure out how to structure our teaching so that it’s possible to know, and reach, individual kids.”  At the end of this semester in 541, I have learned through Atwell and many others that I have a duty to know my students’ interests and talents.  These interests and talents will fuel their learning experiences, and they are my springboard for our year together in the ELA classroom. Learning is individualized, and I will not assume that the great old texts that I love are the same texts that my students love and want to study, too.  I will try very hard to set a path for each of my students to set out on, which is filled with texts they care about and want to read, and which is also filled with experiences that make our projects feel important and meaningful. 


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Atwell’s Afterword

It seems that Nancie Atwell summed up the most important lesson I learned in my classes this semester:  as teachers we must provide a model of student learning, one that allows for an apprenticeship between student and teacher.  I wrote and presented on this idea for Kennedy’s class and most of you heard me speak about this.  I believe that Atwell is right in saying that one of the most important strategies for teachers to use is to show them examples of our own writing process.  Of course, creating a model that students will want to apprentice themselves to is of significance.  Atwell states, and I agree, that “we must read, write, and teach our literate experiences and literary passions (313).”  Students want to feel like the work they are doing is significant now and we, as teachers, want our lessons to be significant to them now not ten years down the road (although leaving a lasting impression is always satisfying!)  So the questions that we need to ask ourselves now and always as teachers should always include:  “Who are our students?  What do they care about?  What will they respond to (314)?” These questions seem to reappear in both of our studies on literacy and teaching writing.


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Class on Tuesday

“Learning needs to be hands on and when teachers tell you about their class in the beginning of the school year it sounds like it will bo so cool. But then they still teach the same things over and over and they talk and you listen. That’s it.” –Cortland HS student today


Dear Teachers, our agenda for tomorrow is simple. We will meet for c. 90 minutes and share our seminars (please bring folders for two other participants and me!) and then have an end-of-semester discussion* about constructions of “English” in relationship to who we are as English teachers. *Please review the Atwell “Afterword” in Beers and bring it to class. We will use it as a discussion starter.

If you have not yet responded to the blog post, “Sharing Your Thoughts.” from last week, please do so. You’ll find it below here.

I will be in my office before both the 4:00 and the 6:00 o’clock groups. Please stop in if you have books to return (oh so many!) and/or want to talk over any work you have done in our class. If you are taking 619** next semester, you are welcome to raid my office YA library for break reading.

I can extend the date (originally the 13th) for submission of unit plan reflections and critical articles through the weekend, but please no later than Sunday at noon.

Our groups for tomorrow are:

4:00–Jess, Jerry, Suzanne, Li Li, Raph
6:00–Donna, Ray C, Ray H, Mandy, Sofia

I’m not sure what room we will use yet but let’s see if G10 (I think that’s right) is open at 4. That’s the room downstairs next to the computer room — not our 506 computer room.

I am meeting with Allison and Jillian in Syracuse tomorrow morning.

If you have questions get in touch please. KES

**or if you’re not!

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Doris Lessing’s Nobel Lecture

Hey, check out Doris Lessing’s Nobel lecture.  I don’t believe she actually attended the ceremony.  She talks about education and the decline of literacy, but I’m curious to see what people might think of her assessment.

 J. Degan


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One Question for Dr. Stearns

Dr. Stearns,

I wonder if we need to post our responses to Unit Plan feedback on the blog. I will bring a hard copy to you on Dec. 11th as we meet for the seminars.  Thanks!

Posted by L. L.

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On the 11th

Dear Teachers, I’ve sent a Banner Web email to everyone about next week. Options are an a.m. and an afternoon class or an afternoon and an evening class. Please refer to email and get back to me. Thanks. The goal is to accommodate everyone and still be able to complete our semester appropriately. Be in touch. KES


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