Tag Archives: ncte

literacy

Connecting Families to What Is Happening in Schools

literacyAs 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?

1960s-classroom

Using Film as a Tool in the Classroom

1960s-classroomThe 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?

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Poetry and English Education

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
like pneumonia.
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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thank-a-teacher

Teacher Appreciation Week

thank-a-teacherSince 1984, National PTA has designated one week in May as a special time to honor the men and women who lend their passion and skills to educating our children. This is a week for everyone to show teachers just how much they are appreciated!

Here is an activity to do with students that celebrates teachers:

Read a book about a teacher such as Thank You, Mr. Falker, Miss Nelson is Missing, The Miracle Worker, Tuesdays with Morrie, or A Lesson Before Dying. Why are the teachers in these stories special? Have a class discussion about some of your students’ favorite teachers. Then have students try these follow-up activities:

  • Compare a favorite teacher to a teacher from a book with a Venn Diagram.
  • Write a letter to a favorite teacher using the Letter Generator.
  • Create a character map of a storybook teacher with the Story Mapping tool.
  • Use the Word Mover to create a piece that describes the teacher or school.

To round out Teacher Appreciation Week, watch a movie that inspires you and makes you feel proud to be in the field of education where YOU really do have an impact. Enjoy!

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Poetry and College English

During National Poetry Month, we posted poems that originally ran in one of the ten journals published by NCTE. This poem “A Professor Attends a Poetry Reading” by James E. Robinson comes from College English and wraps up our celebration:

A Professor Attends a Poetry Reading
I sat up front to avoid
the backs of heads
It is important to fix attention
on the eyes
And gesture
and hear the voice take flight
A reading is a prosopopoeia
an imitation of the act
that bent the being of the poet
into the poem
in the first place

Earlier that day I was glad enough
To have an audience
Go one way
And me another
Leaving the paper lecture
Afloat in the afternoon
But now I would take hold
In the night drawn rearrangement
And let the poet fix me with his meaning
As he pleased
The poem went on
And I missed pretty much the whole thing
It was about a poet being a paper poet
Building a paper house
It went up in smoke
I don’t think that was in the poem
Rather it was something that crossed my mind
But then maybe the poet meant it to

I thought perhaps I should have sat in back
To see what others do
When listening
What did alabaster girls and boys
I build in classrooms
Hear there
In the air
Where the poem was hanging
The poem went on
And I missed pretty much the whole thing
It was about a fountain and a statue
And water pouring over thighs
And down the drain
I don’t think that was in the poem
But it crossed my mind
But then maybe he meant it to

The poet wore a dark grey suit
And a dark blue shirt and tie
The face was cut from something hard
And the voice was round and clear
And the poem was solid sound
Between us all
And still I wondered what he was to me
And the others
Or I or they to him
Who is audit of which fleeting presence
Which life is rounded by which sleep
Which poem should I take hold of
As I was meant to do

The words came from the dark clothes
Vaguely priestly
And the hard face
Vaguely smiling
Like ballet steps and patterns
Which I chased across the stage
And round the room
The poem went on
And I missed pretty much the whole thing
It was about a boy bewitched by a balloonist
And an irritated father with a broken pipe
Pulling the boy away
Into thin air
Or was it the balloonist who disappeared
Whatever it was that crossed my mind
Was gone before I could be quite sure
I caught something of what he meant me to

When it was over
All the alabaster girls and boys
Gathered round to shake the hard hand
Of the Ballet Priest and Paper Poet
And I wanted to say something too
Because I had had a good time
But as the poem went on
In the room
And in the scattering crowd
And in the air outside
Having never said hello
Having failed to say goodbye
Having missed pretty much the whole thing
I just went away
As I think I was meant to do

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