Class Next Week

Dear Teachers,

I so wish we could have had a synchronous conversation tonight during our normal class time. I was able to do that at SUNY Oneonta with the Blackboard software they supported. It was fun! Have you done that w/a Web CT supported class at Cortland? Or at another institution?

Is it possible for us to meet earlier next week — and shorten our last class?

Or meet in 2 smaller groups, one of which could meet earlier? I know some of you would like that. And I would like to be sure there is time for those of you who would like to meet one-on-one to discuss course work, esp. the article for publication.

What do you suggest?

Our planned seminars are important and you have worked hard on this assignment.

It is our culminating project and deserves our full attention.

Let me know what you would like to do and I will respond. KES

P.S. Atwell anyone? Do post on the Beers’ “Afterword” separately or as the kickoff to your response to “Sharing Your Thoughts.”



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Persepolis-Coming to a Theatre Near You

Raph here.

I have yet to read Persepolis, but am determined to after seeing the trailer for the film. This looks incredible. I was unaware that there was going to be a film version. Since everyone in class is familiar with this title, I thought some of you might want to check it out.



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Book Review #3

Below is my final book review. For some unknown reason, I cannot find the Reviewers’ Page to post it on. I hope this is acceptable. Thanks! Keep warm everyone! ~Jess

Jessica Exter

Author:  David W. Moore & Kathleen A. Hinchman

Title:  Teaching Adolescents Who Struggle with Reading: Practical Strategies (2006, Pearson Education, Inc., Boston, MA)


            Reputable and well-respected amongst educators, authors David W. Moore and Kathleen A. Hinchman offer novice and veteran teachers of secondary schools an accessible, easy-to-read guide to reading strategies and exercises. Teaching Adolescents Who Struggle with Reading: Practical Strategies describes adolescents who struggle with reading as a challenge, but not impossible. Founders of The Commission on Adolescent Literacy of the International Reading Association, Moore and Hinchman use plausible classroom scenarios so that educators who read their instructional book can relate. Moore and Hinchman convey in their text that teachers who have a passion for reading and meticulously plan out strategies, goals and exercises of relevance can produce fervent readers.

Recently my Methods class was assigned to come up with strategies for teaching a few texts from a 5-week unit plan students made. Moore and Hinchman’s guide to practical reading strategies is an excellent resource for my Method’s assignment. Each chapter opens with a question that gives the reader an area of concentration for the upcoming chapter and engages him/her. The authors respond in the form of vignettes and short categorized paragraphs as to avoid chapters that drone on for pages. At the close of the chapter, the reader revisits the question as a means for reviewing the strategy and assessing what has been learned. Difficult terminology is explained as to avoid confusion, and outside resources are included that the reader may refer to in case he/she needs further clarification.

For my Methods class, I chose Moore and Hinchman’s strategy called Story Frames. Story Frames help students that find it difficult to retell a story into their own words with sentence starters and endings. A series of aspects may be touched upon in a Story Frame: Story Summary with One Character, Important Idea or Plot, and Character Analysis. An example for Story Summary with One Character would be, “This story is about __________. ___________ is an important character in (the) story. ___________ tried to ____________. The story ends when ______________” (Moore, 69). For simplicity, I will use the classic children’s story Cinderella. The students complete the Story Frame as follows: This story is about a young woman who is abused by her step-mother and step-sisters and forced to be a servant to them. Cinderella is an important character in (the) story. The story ends when Cinderella marries the Prince and escapes the cruelty of her step-family. Students use this approach for assistance, but will not depend on it. A strategy like Story Frames intends to guide the students into independent writers. As time progresses, Story Frames should be less frequent while the students advance towards restructuring stories on their own.

The importance of being able to read and read well is evident in the emphasis Moore and Hinchman put on instruction that promotes self-efficacy and stimulates students to achieve literacy goals inside and outside the classroom. Moore and Hinchman’s text comforts and motivates not only the struggling reader(s), but the struggling teacher(s). Professor Richard T. Vacca, of Emeritus Kent State University, writes in Teaching Adolescents . . .’s Forward, Moore and Hinchman, “. . . present down-to-earth direction that is meant to be in touch with the real world of teaching . . . providing quality instruction . . . and adaptable for educators who need information now” (Moore, x). The authors introduce the reader to the text with the “4 P’s” of teaching and learning: passion, partnership, purpose and plans. Moore and Hinchman explain that a teacher who expresses his/her passion for reading humanizes the act of reading, thus making reading an acceptable and enjoyable activity. Prompting and modeling the act of reading, that is reading along with the students and discussing one’s own favorite pieces of literature, “. . . rubs off on students” (Moore, 3). A passion for reading and writing combined with a passion for the development of the students’ reading and writing skills create an encouraging reading and writing-centered environment. Purpose is described as the point when “you’ve got to think about big things while doing small things so that all the small things go in the right direction” (Moore, 3). A purpose for every exercise, strategy and lesson keeps order, provides a goal to work towards and helps the class move forward. Moore and Hinchman add that creating community between the students and teacher allows students to become brave and daring readers. The strategies offered in the text ask for students to participate and voice their opinions. Diversity is welcomed and encouraged. In order to achieve openness and participation, the students and teacher need to have a comfortable, accepting relationship.

With each strategy they present, planning is the most crucial step, Moore and Hinchman reiterate throughout the text. Plans can be coupled with purpose. A classroom’s arrangement and the distribution of work (i.e. type of assignments, due dates and grading scale) need to be premeditated, but also open for change, the book explains. Moore and Hinchman stress the importance of planning ahead and having alternative plans for the possibility of an exercise not working out or having time left over.

Moore and Hinchman make multiple connections between their lessons and strategies with the lives of adolescents. They show how reading strategies connect with the school structure, school culture and popular culture of the students. Moore and Hinchman find that strategies succeed when all aspects of school are involved. From bell schedules, to counseling, to reading materials that are readily available, Moore and Hinchman teach their readers a multitude of ways that will mold adolescents into strong readers. 

David W. Moore and Kathleen A. Hinchman use Teaching Adolescents Who Struggle with Reading to simplify the complexity of lesson planning, strategies and reaching goals through visual aids, such as graphic organizers, lists, charts and illustrations. This text calls for readers to ponder what type of classroom environment and culture they wish to construct. Acknowledgement of classroom and personal goals, and framing strategies based on their appeal and abilities of the students become more realistic after reading Teaching Adolescents Who Struggle with Reading.



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Snow Day and House Keeping


Hi Dr. Stearns and class,

I see from our Binghamton news cast that Cortland classes are off today due to snow.  Dr. Stearns, I will be emailing you attachments of my seminar strategies, my YA paper revision, and my 3rd book review by the end of the day.

Just wanted to check and see if there was any other requirement due to the snow day?



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Sharing Your Thoughts

I am preparing the seminar groups for our class tomorrow night and thinking about all of you and the good work you have done this semester.

Would you please use the Atwell piece (“Afterword”) in Beers as a jumping off point to reflect on what you think is the most important work we have done together this semester. That will help me tremendously for future planning.

My big question: how are you thinking about ENGLISH (what English is? And teaching it!) in contrast to how you might have been thinking about it before 541? What has been most important to you this semester? What has been foundational? Transformative?

Recall Yagelski’s emphasis on a “pedagogy of possibility.” Where are you finding possibilities for the future in your own classroom in the work you have done in 541?

And how are your understandings (yes, overarching!) about what constitutes a progressive ELA pedagogy evolving?

This has been a new project for me and and it’s been challenging to include all of the things I have wanted to include in a one-semester Methods class. I have learned a great deal myself as any teacher does teaching a new course. The rule of thumb is that it takes 3x through any new course or content before a teacher knows the territory well enough to be confident about the content/organization, etc. etc. I can surely attest to that!!

I wonder if you agree with what I think have been the emphases in the class–in no particular order:

• focusing on critical literacies (multiple perspectives–Tyson/Appleman)
• honing a teacher’s voice speaking to other teachers (the YA lit article)
• writing for publication as a model for your own work with students (YA lit article)
• developing as an informed professional (NCTE membership, professional reading)
• considering transformative pedagogies (I have to say it–Gruwell!)
• focusing on collaborative and multiple structures that support adolescent readers (Atwell, book club)
• selecting multiple texts to engage a wider range of readers and readings (Beers chapters, unit plan)
• planning for teaching with the “end in mind” (UbD unit planning)
• establishing a classroom community (blogging, small group class discussions)
• investigating new literacies/new media (Beers chapters, your unit plans, etc.)
• honoring the truth that all kids can/want to learn – but from different texts and w/different tools (Beers chapters)
• gathering a toolkit of strategies to use to engage readers in reading complex texts (seminar assignment)

What would you add?

I always require a final reflection in any course I teach; but this semester w/the final class activity and your revising such an important paper, I did not assign a specific final reflection.

But if you choose to add pts to your unit plan grade, you have the opportunity to reflect in writing between tomorrow and the end of next week. I hope you will.

I look forward to reading your blog posts on this prompt and seeing you in class tomorrow night.

If you are on campus earlier than start of class, please stop in and pick up your unit plan before class. I will begin reading last book reviews and newly revised YA lit article submissions after our last class and will send feedback between now and the start of the exam week at Cortland.

I invite you to make an appt. to meet with me next week sometime if you would like to talk about your work and/or my assessment of it. KES


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An Amusement

Check out this story.  Depressing, but amusing.

 J. Degan

1 Comment

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Sorry I Kept you Waiting

Sorry about responding back so late, I have been so busy. I am just reading your comments today!This is a response I wrote to someone. Thought you might like to read: 

First, let me clarify something-When I said ignorant people I wasn’t talking about you directly but people in general. Many people have argued the same case you have. I have searched the web and found many discussions.

I am not undermining the horrors that happened to the Irish at the hands of English colonists. During the 19th century, many Irish immigrants were sent to the Caribbean Islands as Indentured Servants. English colonist used to mate Irish and blacks together so they could make more slaves! That’s one of the reasons why so many blacks are light skinned!

However, there is a difference between Indentured Servitude and Slavery. Indentured Servants have a contract, usually seven years long. Slaves are slaves until someone decides to abolish it. Indentured servants were taught training skills (many bought farms after their contracts were over), and the families they worked for often times covered their expenses if they wanted to travel to another country. Slaves could go nowhere except if they were transferred from one plantation to another. The biggest difference, however, was that indentured servants were allowed to keep their names.

I realize the situation of the Irish. They had to work for english absentee landlords in exchange for land so that they could grow enough food to feed their families. The difference between owning land and not owning land was the difference between life and death for many Irish people. The potato was the only crop that they could grow in abundance so, this is why they became so dependant on it. However, they received a bad shipment from South America (during the 1840’s) that had a type of fungus. They couldn’t even export anymore. However, even before happened, the Irish had had problems for years trying to stabilize the potato crop. It had been a problem for them since the 1700’s.

Although the Irish had many problems, most of their problems revolved around the fact that they had no food or money. The Great Hunger was primarily about the starvation of the Irish people. The Great Hunger was not about how the Irish were attacked by the English for speaking their language. Did you know that many Africans had their language taken from them?

Irelend’s population shrunk to about 20% because of the famine. There are similarities between the two hardships but it’s still very different. It’s one thing to loose your rights and land. However, being a slave was no picnic for blacks. You should read the book, From Slavery to Freedom, by John Hope Franklin. He explains the history of black people since the days of Mansa Musa in the 1300’s. You should also read, The Autobiography of Frederick Douglass. He enlightens us on what it was like to be a slave. He hated the institution so much that even after he escaped he still fought against it. He sent both of his sons off to fight in the Civil War! He didn’t even have to because at the time he was one of President Lincoln’s advisors!!

Also, I don’t think you have read WEB DuBois essay Double Consciousness. This was not just about “Consciousness” merely, but it was about blacks having to use survival techniques so they could survive long enough to seek their freedom from their oppressor! America!

I’ll check out your books too!

Also, slavery started for blacks in the 1500’s because that’s when the England East India Company first began capturing Africans. Slavery started in the U.S. much later of coarse because the colony had not yet been established until 1619. But I think you are thinking about when slavery started in the U.S. but not when it initially began.

However, you are right Jerry, Irelend was colonized.

But you got to really understand what actually happened to get a grasp of why African American criticism is so popular and why Tyson loves it!

Also, when the Irish left Irelend, some went to Austraila, Canada, Scotland, and the U.S. What I am saying is that they had a choice. Slaves don’t get a choice to go anywhere.

Some would argue that when the Irish came to America, there problems were all but over. However, after being scooped up in nets, and dragged across the Atlantic, and being thrown to the sharks as cargo,-black people’s nightmare didn’t begin until they first reached the auction block!!!

You should also understand that when most immigrants came to America (including the Irish) many changed their names! They also dropped their accents (if they had any) and most white Americans (of english ancestry or wasp) couldn’t tell themselves apart from the Irish because their was no identifier! The reason being is because Irish people have the same complexion as their english brethren! That’s why slavery didn’t work when Americans first tried to enslave their own because they couldn’t tell who was who if their slaves ran away! You can always tell with blacks. That’s why Irish people can infiltrate different organizations that blacks could not. Religion has nothing to do with it.

Also, blacks had slaves, but every race on the face of the earth has head slaves. Since most of these slave masters enslaved their own people, every race on the face of the earth has been enslaved! Slavery is one of the oldest occupations, besides prostitution!

However, taking people away from their continent across the Atlantic had never been done before. Every country in the world profited from black labor. No other race on the face of the earth has been used by everyone.

If blacks kept a tally, you know how much the world would owe us? Why do you think we talk so much about reperations!!! lol

In this country, right before the Industrial revolution, it was estimated that the cotton which blacks picked in the south alone constituted about seven percent of the world’s cotton.

There could not have been an Industrial revolution without black people.

In addition, the slavery you speak of between blacks and other blacks was based primarily upon captives being prisoners of war. It wasn’t about economic gain! At least not in Africa.

And very few blacks owned slaves in America and if they did it was for survival; but trying to survive is again very different from economic gain.

However, I appreciate this discussion because it enlightens us all, so its worth something. Maybe we both have a lot to learn about each other’s culture!

Thanks for responding!!!

P.S. Later we will talk about the Missouri Compromise and the Dred Scott Case-America’s broken promises!!!!

Ray C.


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