As a teacher, I often spend the summer getting caught up on things I set aside during the school year. When I am busy teaching, I might skim my professional journals but not read them deeply. But in summer, I enjoy spending time immersing myself in professional publications.
Did you know that NCTE publishes ten peer-reviewed journals? They offer the latest in research, classroom strategies, and fresh ideas for educators at all levels.
- College Composition and Communication
- College English
- English Education
- English Journal
- English Leadership Quarterly
- Language Arts
- Research in the Teaching of English
- Talking Points
- Teaching English in the Two-Year College
- Voices from the Middle
Journals are available in print and online, along with an extensive archive of past issues. To access back issues, click on the “Individual Issues” link in the left menu of each journal. Make sure to dig into the additional online content that many of these journals have to offer!
Interested in submitting to a journal? Check out these calls.
What are you reading professionally this summer?
The National Spelling Bee Finals are held this week! Hundreds of student spelling champions, ranging from 9 to 15 years old, will travel to Washington, DC to compete in the National Spelling Bee.
Most students won’t win the National Spelling Bee, but most students can learn to spell. They need to see words in print through lots of reading and lots of writing, and they need strategic help from their teachers. The sixth standard of the NCTE/IRA Standards for the English Language Arts states that “students [should] apply [their] knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation)” in their speaking and writing.
In this article in Primary Voices, Sandra Wilde suggested the following:
The Speller’s Bill of Rights
- The right to express yourself in first-draft writing regardless of what words you do and don’t know how to spell.
- The right to do a lot of reading, which is probably the greatest single factor in spelling acquisition.
- The right to actively construct knowledge about the spelling system.
- The right to developmentally appropriate education in spelling.
- The right to learn that spelling does matter.
- The right to know about and have available a lot of ways to come up with spellings (including just knowing how to spell the word).
- The right to learn to proofread.
- The right to have spelling placed in its proper context as a small piece of the writing and language-learning process.
- The right to be valued as a human being regardless of your spelling.
Will you tune into the Spelling Bee?
As educators, we understand the shifts we are making in our own practices. It’s important to think about how these changes are being communicated to families. What is essential to share? It seems best to keep it simple. Better yet, our challenge is to show not tell as we involve families in the literacy learning happenings within our schools on an ongoing basis.
Here’s a group of educators that didn’t need to tell families about the importance of reading and writing more complex texts across the disciplines because they are showing it:
- Meet third-grade teacher, Bev Gallagher. She made notebooking a regular part of her instructional practices. These notebooks will become a treasured part of each child’s school career long after third grade.
- Julie Wollman, a ReadWriteThink.org and NCTE author, shows us how to get started with family message journals as a means for students to write to an authentic audience about their learning.
- Because the ways we teach writing are often quite different from the ways most of our students’ parents learned to write, it is important to think about productive ways to get families involved as strong allies for excellent writing instruction. The authors of “Inviting Parents In: Expanding Our Community Base to Support Writing” describe workshops and other methods for getting parents productively involved in their children’s literacy development.
- Watch as a parent who is in a Community of Practice with teachers shares what it means to learn, talk, and design activities as a full CoP member with teachers.
Join us over at ReadWriteThink.org on the Parent & Afterschool Resources site for engaging ways to introduce children to reading or to encourage teens to write. Need some age-appropriate book suggestions or rainy day activities? These materials are your answer—all of them created by experts to be fun, educational, and easy to use outside of school.
What role do parents and families play in your school?
The first Academy Awards ceremony was held during this week in 1929. To celebrate this milestone, here are some resources for using movies to support the literacy learning in the classroom.
The Language Arts article “Let’s Go to the Movies: Rethinking the Role of Film in the Elementary Classroom” argues that elementary language arts teachers should expand their definition of “text” to include film, a valuable instructional resource. The article notes that today’s elementary students come to class with a great deal of knowledge about films — prior experiences which teachers can tap into — and discusses the application of reader-response theories to film.
Based on the above Language Arts article, the ReadWriteThink.org lesson Get the Reel Scoop: Comparing Books to Movies asks students to compare and contrast books with their movie counterparts and then work in groups to design a readers theater response to the film version.
Ask students to play the role of moviemakers with techniques from the Voices from the Middle article “Meeting Readers: Using Visual Literacy Narratives in the Classroom“. The article describes a literacy narrative project — a concise digital video in which students meld still images, motion, print text, and soundtrack in communicating ideas/insights/discoveries about who they are as readers and writers.
Students take on the role of film director in the ReadWriteThink.org lesson
You Know the Movie Is Coming — Now What?. After exploring cinematic terms, students read a literary work with a director’s eyes, considering such issues as which scenes require a close-up of the main character and when the camera should zoom out to see the entire set.
The English Journal article “How Movies Work for Secondary School Students with Special Needs” demonstrates how to use scenes from films to help special education students improve their visual and auditory skills, build confidence in their abilities to talk about and analyze the components of a narrative, and feel comfortable engaging in writing and class discussion.
In the ReadWriteThink.org lesson Decoding The Matrix: Exploring Dystopian Characteristics through Film, students view and analyze clips from The Matrix and other dystopian films to gain an understanding of the characteristics found in dystopian works, such as Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, and 1984.
Research has shown that contemporary popular films are a valuable resource in the ESL classroom, but what about older films? The Teaching English in the Two-Year College article “Unspoken Content: Silent Film in the ESL Classroom” explores how overlooked silent films can facilitate the development of ESL students’ critical thinking and writing skills.
Teacher educators can challenge students to explore how educators are represented in movies and television shows. Share the English Journal article “Teaching English in the World: All I Need to Know about Teaching I Learned from TV and Movies” with preservice teachers and ask them to film their own revised versions of the real life of teachers in the classroom. Encourage discussion of ways to counter flawed visions of the profession locally and at state and national levels.
How do you use film in your classroom?
To celebrate National Poetry Month, we will be posting poems that originally ran in one of the ten journals published by NCTE. This poem “To the Loud Mouth in Room 114: An Elegy” by Jeff Spanke comes from English Education:
To the Loud Mouth in Room 114: An Elegy
I see you standing on the six inch stage up front,
wrinkled Oxford sleeves rolled to the elbow,
matching shoes and belt, a power clashing tie,
all fittingly worn—
the student-centered sage waiting to change the ways
they embrace the world:
your fresh clay to mold into busts
of justice and peace and hope and yourself,
the revival of a spirit that comfort ignores.
They close the door and turn forward to feast
upon the riches you’ve sworn to provide.
Worms to the birds, all infant and chaste.
You have arrived. You will succeed. You are above
the stigma and crap that cripple your colleagues
from those classes you took before you Became.
You are a teacher, both identity and function.
You’ve earned this moment, this space.
You swear you’ll never hurt them.
I want to go up to that Me and slap his face,
Shut Up, I’d plead—you won’t last five years.
You’re going to lose here, curse the Leaders,
damn the System, and spread blame
You’ll never own your fault, in whole, though,
and you’ll hurt them when you leave.
You were great today; they needed tomorrow.
Don’t show that movie, don’t send that email.
Answer that parent and do your job.
Grade what you assign, and don’t resign
without a humble fight.
Go to the meetings and sleep
with eyes open and engaged.
Pass out their stupid tests; then teach
democracy, metaphors, commas, and Wow.
Shutting your mouth can’t silence you.
They give you braces if you’re not white and straight,
but you don’t need teeth to smile.
There’ll always be tests.
Don’t resist accountability.
You have a house and a family,
a name to protect and a plate
they’ll take off your door and throw in the trash
with the rest of the shit they find in lockers
when school’s over.
You’ll scare your baby when you cry,
And the loss of sleep will grease your hair and
make your breath reek of mourning.
Your wife will count quarters, keep coupons.
She’ll work longer hours and start searching
for cheaper daycares.
You’ll lie on Thanksgiving and die inside
when Dad says he’s proud.
Just Stop, I’d tell the Loud Mouth Me.
You don’t have to lose.
They need you close and can’t afford the cost
of your textbook excuses.
The mine may be toxic,
but you’re more than a canary.
Teach for the students, the kids in their seats:
Not their parents, your principal, the Super,
or anyone else.
Don’t let them beat you.
Find a wind farm, a dam, or some other source
of power—Or don’t.
Change some lives, fight the fight,
the school will blink, and you’ll be gone.
You’ll be me.
An ornithologist, grounded.
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