Discussions about Teaching and Literacy Learning

Dear Teachers, great talk last night!! Please do post insights into how last night’s discussion made connections to reading we have been doing/conversations we have been having all semester. Pick a couple of texts as reference points.

What are you thinking about after last night’s presentation/discussion? How are you re-envisioning the power of your unit plan? Did anyone come away sold on wanting to teach at the middle level? Curious minds want to know.

I hope Ray and Jillian will continue to post some teasers for thinking about their topics next week–Sofia and Jessica, please do the same. What are some things you want us to think about as we read Tyson and Appleman especially? What texts might you suggest we read from your particular critical perspectives?

What do you find interesting and important about the EJ and ENGLISH RECORD articles? Soter? Does her first chapter add anything useful?

I especially hope all of us will share the new YA titles we’re reading and try out multiple readings of those texts.

I’m planning to do a series of posts on unit planning over the next week. If you have a question you would like me to address, please share it here.

What are some of the enduring/overarching understandings that define our discipline? We find many of those in the readings we’ve been doing all semester. What ARE the essential questions that drive “English?” Good time to review as these understandings and questions will inform your work on your unit planning.

I look forward to your blog posts. KES



Filed under Class Notes

2 responses to “Discussions about Teaching and Literacy Learning

  1. sfarah19

    I thought Tuesday’s class was one of the most informative to date. Not to say we haven’t learned valuable lessons over the course of the semester, but Tuesday’s discussion with the teachers from surrounding areas helped give me some insight into what I’m getting myself into : ) I was so interested in hearing about what the English teachers are doing in different schools: literature circles, novels, journals etc.. Professor Mahar’s presentation was certainly interesting. I hope I have that kind of energy after 40 yrs of teaching! All these things helped get me a little more excited (maybe a little anxious too) about my unit especially after hearing from Joe about the importance of knowing how to plan a lesson when you’re student teaching.

    I enjoyed hearing about how most of the teachers try to incorporate some of Atwell’s ideas on reading workshop. Particularly interesting, was Mahar’s comment about Atwell’s workshop being geared more toward students from more affluent communities and how the workshop leaves ESL students behind. I never thought about how this may be because I was so intrigued by her ideas. The teacher from Jamesville-Dewitt seemed to be able to find a proper balance even among the diverse students but is the workshop only effective in small classes with adequate resources. What do you all think? Is Atwell’s workshop another perpetuation of the dominant discourse? Do you think it leaves out those who are not a part of that discourse? I would like to say no because I really believe in her ideas, but I never saw literature circles in Bushwick.


  2. sunyprof

    You ask a critical question Suzanne re: varying structures for reading with adolescents that we see or don’t see, as you point out, in schools.

    What Martin Haberman calls the pedagogy of poverty (google this topic to find the pdf) is a great place to focus a discussion of your question about the dominant discourse.

    It seems that you are really asking “how do we grow independent readers?” And IS that a question that we expect to answer differently for different student populations?

    My response is that what’s good for the best prep schools in America is good for kids who come from disadvantaged economic communities.

    If sitting around the “seminar” table w/books (or any texts) spread out for deep talk about important topics grows (and has grown for centuries) our nation’s leaders why would we keep that opportunity from kids who do not have easy access to cultural capital?

    Whatever scaffolding we need to do to give all adolescents the same opportunities to read material that interests them, discuss it with their peers and their teachers, and generate ideas out of and around key texts we must do.

    What are some practices we see that Haberman would label pedagogies of poverty? Do check out that pdf. Again, google “Martin Haberman and pedagogy of poverty.” Here’s a link to his book Star Teachers: The Ideology and Best Practices of Effective Teachers Serving Diverse Student in Poverty which is the result of 4 decades of his own research in urban schools in the Milwaukee area. KES

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