Tag Archives: National Council of Teachers of English

This Week is United States Media Literacy Week

“The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education shall encourage school districts to implement instruction in media literacy skills at all grade levels, and in any of the core subjects or other subjects, to equip students with the knowledge and skills for accessing, evaluating, and creating all types of media.”


Media literacy is the ability to access, evaluate, analyze, act, communicate and create using all forms of media. The mission of Media Literacy Week, October 31 – November 4, 2016, is to highlight the power of media literacy education and its essential role in education today.

In today’s media-rich society, where students are exposed to an ever-increasing variety of traditional and nonprint texts, media literacy skills have become critical to the academic development of our students. Read more in Lesson Plans for Creating Media-Rich Classrooms. Visit this additional collection of lesson plans from ReadWriteThink.org on media literacy.

Social Critique and Pleasure: Critical Media Literacy with Popular Culture Texts” shows how popular music, for example, can offer powerful opportunities for dialogically teachable moments and engagement in literacy learning that is critical but does not come at the expense of children’s pleasure in such texts.

Media at the Core: How Media Literacy Strategies Strengthen Teaching with Common Core” includes an expansion of teachers’ conception of texts to include understanding and creation in a variety of media forms; integrating media and technology across school subjects; modeling strong research practices in an increasingly information-rich environment; analyzing and creating various genres of nonfiction texts; and engaging students in civic participation.

A popular one-semester elective class relies on student knowledge of and interest in sports to teach critical media literacy and rhetorical analysis as described in “Sports Stories and Critical Media Literacy“.

This digital package includes three one-hour, on demand Web seminars on teaching media literacy.  Learn ways to incorporate pop culture, youth media, and film in the classroom from leading experts, Frank W. Baker and John Golden. Read more from Frank on “Why Media Literacy Week Matters So Much“.

Did you know that there’s an NCTE Media Literacy Award?

October is National Bullying Prevention Month

bullyingNational Bullying Prevention Month is a nationwide campaign founded in 2006 by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center. The campaign is held during the month of October and unites communities around the world to educate and raise awareness of bullying prevention. The following resources from NCTE and ReadWriteThink.org help tp spread the message: “The End of Bullying Begins With Me!”

NCTE’s “Resolution on Confronting Bullying and Harassment” offers a rationale and a list of actions for confronting the kinds of abuse that have become far too common in schools, this resolution is an important reminder and resource.

The Council Chronicle article, “Stories of Us: Students and Film Director Collaborate The Problem of Bullying” shared how an anti-bullying film project can captivate students and also gives a glimpse of 21st Century Literacies in the classroom. Learn how to promote positive peer relationships at www.storiesofus.com.

“[T]wenty-five percent of today’s teenagers have inordinate emotional baggage beyond the normal angst of adolescence.” This burden can lead to unhealthy escapes, including substance abuse, sexual activity, violence, eating disorders, and suicide. One healthy escape, however, lies in books, where students can read about teenagers living in painful circumstances who make healthy choices. Read more in “Teachers Offering Healthy Escape Options for Teenagers in Pain” from Voices from the Middle.

Tune into the Text Messages podcast episode “Books about Bullying” to hear insights on bullying from bullying expert CJ Bott, author of The Bully in the Book and the Classroom and More Bullies in More Books. You’ll also hear about a variety of fiction and nonfiction books for teens that explore the problem of bullying. After listening to this episode, be sure to print out this list of recommended titles to take to the library or book seller. Find more book suggestions from the English Journal column, “Off the Shelves“.

The themed issue of English Leadership Quarterly, “The Deadly Power of Mean Words” provides resources to help answer, “How can we best teach students about the power of words? What do we do when classroom talk becomes harmful? How do we stand up against negative language, and how do we teach that to students?”

In the month of October, and beyond, remember “The End of Bullying Begins With Me!”

Join the 2016 Global Read Aloud

read-aloud-hiThe 2016 Global Read Aloud kicks off October 3rd. NCTE member Pernille Ripp created the project in 2010 with a simple goal in mind: one book to connect the world. During a 6-week period, a book that has been selected is read aloud to students. Also, during that time, teachers and students try to make as many global connections as possible. Hear more about GRA from its creator.

Teacher read-alouds demonstrate the power of stories. By showing students the ways that involvement with text engages us, we give them energy for learning how reading works. By showing them how to search for meaning, we introduce strategies of understanding we can reinforce in shared, guided, and independent reading. Read more in this strategy guide from ReadWriteThink.org.

If you aren’t fully convinced of the merits of a read aloud program, veteran primary teachers Jenifer Katahira and Kathy Egawa provide plenty of evidence, as well as lists of their favorite read aloud titles in this article from Talking Points.

In “Collaborative Read-Alouds: Engaging Middle School Students in Thoughtful Reading” two experienced teacher educators explore the features and benefits of collaborative read-alouds, using crossover picture books, the importance of attending to student voice in contemporary learning environments, and deepening student interactions with texts.

Response Journals: Keeping Students Tuned In during Read-Alouds” provides  concrete examples of how read-aloud can increase classroom community and help students to build background knowledge and improve listening skills.

The author of “Illustrating the Reading Process: The In-Class Read-Aloud Protocol” finds that letting students see his own struggles with reading encourages them to feel greater confidence and eases the way for productive interventions in the process.

How do you do read aloud?

2016 National Poetry Month

Small-Blue-RGB-National-Poetry-Month-LogoEach year the month of April is set aside as National Poetry Month, the largest literary celebration in the world! It’s a time when millions of readers mark poetry’s important place in our culture and our lives. NCTE is proud to be a supporter of National Poetry Month.

There are six main aims for National Poetry Month. Here they are, along with associated NCTE and ReadWriteThink.org resources.

  1. Highlight the extraordinary legacy and ongoing achievement of American poets.
    Middle school students can explore how our senses provide powerful tools for literary analysis and comprehension with the ReadWriteThink.org lesson “Color of Silence: Sensory Imagery in Pat Mora’s Poem ‘Echoes’“. The lesson is an extension of activities included in the NCTE book Living Voices: Multicultural Poetry in the Middle School Classroom.
  2. Encourage the reading of poems.
    NCTE established its Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children in 1977 to honor a living American poet for his or her aggregate work for children ages 3–13. Another Jar of Tiny Stars collects poems by winners of this award.
  3. Assist teachers in bringing poetry into their classrooms.
    In Getting the Knack, authors Stephen Dunning and William Stafford offer 20 exercises covering different types or phases of poetry writing. The authors’ humor and nonacademic style will appeal to experienced and novice poets of all ages. Read the chapter on “Found & Headline Poems“. See similar lesson plans from ReadWriteThink.org.
  4. Increase the attention paid to poetry by national and local media.
    360 Degrees of Text: Using Poetry to Teach Close Reading and Powerful Writing describes an approach to teaching critical literacy that has students investigate texts through a full spectrum of learning modalities, harnessing the excitement of performance, imitation, creative writing, and argument/debate activities to become more powerful thinkers, readers, and writers. View the sample chapter online to read more about poetry as a means into academic writing. Learn more with these ReadWriteThink.org poetry lesson plans from the author.
  5. Encourage increased publication and distribution of poetry books.
    NCTE Notable Poetry Books list 16 outstanding poetry collections to offer children and teens—not just this month, but throughout the year and across the curriculum. Use these books, and create connections with books from previous Notable Lists (2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011) to create even more poetry joy!
  6. Encourage support for poets and poetry.
    View videos and learn about the winners of the NCTE Poetry Award through the NCTE Poets Spotlight Series.

Looking for more fun to celebrate poetry? Check out NCTE’s Poetry Tournament idea: create a basketball tournament-pairing chart using poetry and determine a final winner by reading the poems. Locate 64 poems and pair them off, just like basketball teams. Read two poems each day and let the students vote on the “winner.” Keep going until you have a final four and the final winner!

How do you get your students to be civically-minded?

literacy-month2March is NCTE’s official Literacy Education Advocacy Month!  Literacy Education Advocacy Day in Washington DC kicked off the month long focus on Thursday, February 25, 2016. We know that teachers have the knowledge and classroom experience needed to talk with policymakers, school leaders, parents, and the public about the topics important to literacy teaching and learning. But what about students? Students should also speak out and advocate. The following resources from NCTE share examples of how this can be done.

Advocacy at the Core: Inquiry and Empowerment in the Time of Common Core State Standards” describes one 7th-grade teacher’s experience as she reconciles the Standards with the critical literacy theories of Patrick Finn (2009) and Paulo Freire (1970). The author creates an “Advocacy Project” that empowers students to identify opportunities for agency in their own lives. Students read and write personal essays proclaiming their passions, investigate the facts surrounding their chosen issue, and present their findings to their peers in presentations and research papers.

A collaborative team of five international teacher educators/researchers examine the importance of student voice for authentic discourse and instructional design in contemporary classrooms in “Using Student Voices to Guide Instruction“. Excerpts from their perspectives on teaching, research, and innovative programs are woven together and include suggested Actions/Reflections for the reader.

Fred Barton describes his use of an advocacy project for writing instruction in
Walking the Talk: Creating Engaged Citizens in English Class“. He contends that such projects meet the instructor’s pedagogical goals while helping students recognize their place in a democratic society with the ability to influence institutional change.
Not Going It Alone: Public Writing, Independent Media, and the Circulation of Homeless Advocacy” argues that the teaching of public writing should not neglect issues of circulation and local need. In a series of case studies involving small press papers and homeless advocacy, the authors seek to extend recent work begun by Susan Wells, John Trimbur, and Nancy Welch, which raises crucial questions about public rhetoric in the writing classroom.

Students in college writing courses need to understand world issues, including the oppressive effects of the global economy. But their teachers need to give them a sense of agency and authority, rather than simply telling them what political positions to take. “Student Investment in Political Topic” provides an example of a writing assignment that might engage as well as inform students involves analyzing Parade magazine’s annual list of the world’s worst dictators.

What civic activities do you and your students take part in?