Friday, October 30, 2009

Topic: Revision

10-second review: Taught eighth-grade learning disabled students strategy for revising. Pretest and posttest. Proportion of revisions rated as improvements increased from 47% to 83%; second drafts were rated as significantly better than the first drafts. Overall quality of final drafts increased substantially from pretests to posttests. Gains were maintained at two-month intervals and, even though the students in the study used word processing, gains were maintained in handwritten compositions.

Title: “A Peer Editor Strategy: Guided Learning-Disabled Students in Response and Revision.” B Stoddard and CA Macarthur. Research in the Teaching of English (February 1993), 76-103. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Summary/Quote: What is revision? “…revising distinguishes expert from novice writers. Older and more competent writers revise more extensively, make more revisions at the sentence and text level that affect overall meaning, and generally succeed in improving their compositions through revision. Revisions by less-skilled and younger writers are restricted primarily to corrections of mechanical errors and other minor changes that do not affect the overall meaning or quality of writing.” p. 76.

Strategy for teaching revision: “…focused on substantive revisions such as stating the thesis clearly, adding reasons, elaborating reasons, and closing with a concluding statement. The instruction resulted in increases in total revisions, in substantive revisions, and improved overall quality of compositions.” p. 79.

Comment: Useful definitions of terms. RayS.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Topic: Integratng Sources for a Report

10-second review: Studied students’ integration of sources in producing text on a history problem.

Title: “The Role of Tasks in the Development of Academic Thinking Through reading and Writing in a College History Course.” Stuart Greene. Research in the Teaching of English (February 1993), 46 – 75. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Summary: 15 undergraduates. Compared using reports or problem essays. No difference in the ability to integrate the sources. “Underscores the important role that extended writing can play in students’ acquisition of knowledge.”

Comment: What’s important about this study is the usefulness of lengthy student writing assignments vs. the short essays that are featured in most college writing classes. Once the student has learned how to organize a short expository paper (brainstorm; thesis; draft, including middle paragraphs with topic sentence, final paragraph, introduction; revision and editing), students should spend the majority of time on writing assignments that require fully developed, lengthy text—instead of the genres of description, comparison/contrast, etc. That’s what I would do if I were back in the college classroom. I would have students complete at least three research papers. RayS.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Topic: A Critical View of English Education Research

10-second review: Be careful when looking for definitive answers in professional English education research.

Title: “From the Editor.” Sandra Stotsky, Editor. Research in the Teaching of English (February 1993), 5-6. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Quote: Too many people believe that research has definitive answers to questions. “Too many educators seem to believe that a single piece of research, or even a small group of studies, can provide definitive answers to complicated questions about the classroom, the curriculum, or educational policy.

Quote: Writing researchers should be quite modest about their achievements. “As Alan Purves remarked in hi reflective essay on writing assessment in the January 1992 issue [of this journal], writing researchers have much to be modest about with respect to their claims about the findings of writing research and assessment.”

Comment. Moral: If the speaker or writer says, “Research says…,” get up and run away as fast as you can or put on your critical thinking mentality. RayS.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Topic: Problems in English Education Research

10-second review: Problem with reviews of previous research prior to describing the author’s research.

Title: “From the Editor.” Sandra Stotsky, Editor. Research in the Teaching of English (February 1993), 5-6. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Summary/Quote: Inadequate research reviews and belittling previous research. “…problems with their ‘review of the literature’ (such as inadequate review, the unfocused review, or even occasionally the non-existent review). Sometimes the author has attempted to belittle related research to characterize it in hostile ways…. It is the tone, not the substance of the author’s remarks….”

Quote: Purposes for research. “…a researcher undertakes a new study because previous research has not answered all possible questions about the topic…. …an author is obligated to indicate in some detail what previous research on the topic has found, what it has not looked at or found, and how the author’s study grows out of that previous work, whether to refine important features of previous procedures, to explore new aspects of the topic, or to use different theoretical assumptions altogether. But denigration of related research…convey[s] an unflattering touch of arrogance.”

Comment: Unfortunately, too many educated people tend to denigrate the work of other professionals in professional journals. That’s a bore. RayS.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Topic: Critical Thinking--Writing about Controversial Issues.

10-second review: What are the different effects from reading the two following interpretations of the Vietnam War written for a history textbook?

Title: “Remembering Things Past: A Critique of Narrow Revisions.” J Reiff. Research in the Teaching of English (February 1990), pp. 101 – 106. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Passage #1:

Communists Threaten South Vietnam

The most serious threat to world peace developed in Southeast Asia. Communist guerrillas threatened the independence of the countries carved out of French Indo-China by the Geneva Conference of 1954. In South Vietnam, Communist guerrillas (the Viet Cong) were aided by forces from Communist North Vietnam in a struggle to overthrow the American-supported government. During the Kennedy administration the United States sent some 10,000 servicemen as advisers, instructors, pilots, and supporting units to help the South Vietnamese government build a military force to fight the Viet Cong. In President Kennedy’s opinion, preserving the independence of South Vietnam was of ‘vital interest’ to the United Stated.

After President Johnson took office, he continued to follow the Kennedy policy of limited support for the South Vietnamese government. Then, in the summer of 1964, North Vietnamese torpedo boats were thought to have attacked two American destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin. In response, Johnson ordered an air strike against North Vietnamese coastal bases. but during the presidential campaign of 1964, the President made it clear that he did not want to broaden the war.

The Vietnamese War is Escalated

Shortly after the election, Communist gains prompted President Johnson to alter his policy concerning Vietnam. American military forces in Vietnam were increased from about 20,000 men in 1964 to more than 500,000 by 1968. Even so, North Vietnamese troops and supplies continued to pour into South Vietnam. In order to cut off this flow of men and material, the President announced that American planes would bomb North Vietnamese supply routes, bridges, and other military targets. The bombing attacks began in 1965 and, like the troop buildup, steadily increased over the next two years. American military leaders asserted that the air strikes were effective. Yet communist troops and supplies continued to enter South Vietnam from the north. Meanwhile, the Johnson administration did what it could to bolster the South Vietnam government. A constitutional convention was held, and in the fall of 1967 South Vietnamese voters elected a president, vice-president, and a 60-member senate.

Johnson tried to get the North Vietnamese to the conference table. Early in 1966 and again in 1967, he suspended bombings and redoubled his efforts to get peace talks under way. But the president of North Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh, proved unwilling to talk. He said there would be no talks until ‘the bombing raids and all other acts of war’ against his country were stopped ‘unconditionally.’ American planes resumed their attacks on North Vietnam.

Passage #2:

The U.S. intervenes in Vietnam: Conflicting Explanations

As the U.S. grew increasingly involved in a war in Vietnam, sending money, weapons, and eventually increasing numbers of soldiers, Americans grew increasingly divided about how to understand the war and whether we should be involved at all. Each group pointed to different sets of acts and drew different conclusions from them. The ‘hawks,’ who included many of the government policy-makers, pointed to the involvement of communists in the struggle after World War II to drive out the French colonialists. They pointed to communist victory in nearby China in 1949, to the 1950-1953 war in Korea between communists in the north and anti-communists in the south, and believed that the struggle in Vietnam was part of a world-wide communist movement, directed by the Soviet Union, to gain control of the world. When France was facing defeat by the Vietnamese revolutionaries, the hawks believed that the U.S. had to step in with its superior power and intervene.

The ‘doves,’ who came to include some government officials , and included many people from other segments of American society, rejected this reading of the war. While America’s intentions in intervening may have been honorable, they believed that we misunderstood the depth of Vietnamese nationalism, and that we failed to see that the revolutionaries in Vietnam were fighting for the right to determine their own form of government, just as Americans had 200 years before. Whatever political gins we might make from containing communism in Vietnam, the doves believed that those gains were not worth the awesome amounts of death and suffering imposed by our efforts to continue the war.

A third interpretation of the war came from the radicals, who saw American intervention in Vietnam as a form of ‘neo-imperialism,’ of a new form of colonialism. In this view, the U.S. sent money and troops to Vietnam for the same reasons that it sent troops to the Philippines in 1898 and Marines to Nicaragua in the first decades of this century: to bolster U.S. control over the resources and markets of a particular region. While the resources in Vietnam itself were not critical to the United States, success in its struggle for national liberation would send an encouraging signal to liberation movements in other countries exploited more deeply by the U.S. Thus the radicals understood increasing U.S. intervention as a measure of how deeply committed the U.S. governing elites were to maintaining global control.

Comment: Well, how did the two passages written for a history textbook affect you? How will they affect your students? What can they learn about critical thinking from comparing the two passages? RayS.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Topic: Collaborative Writing

10-second review: Analyzes the roles and assumptions of three people who are constructing a letter to a state official. What happened?

Title: “The Oral Language Process in Writing a Real-Life Writing Session.” RW Shuy and DG Robinson. Research in the Teaching of English (February 1990), 88 – 100. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).


1. The three failed to define explicit goals before writing.

2. Had preconceived stereotypes about the type of language that is appropriate for this type of letter to a state official: “…without any further delay,” “…to our mutual satisfaction,” “…help expedite this matter,” “Thanking you, I remain….”

3. The roles of each participant shifted during the writing of the letter and one person basically took over the leadership, the person in authority, in writing the finished product.

Comment: Thus, the final letter was neither direct nor clear in purpose, the language was stilted and, in the end, the collaboration broke down. RayS.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Topic: Persuasive Writing

10-second review: Rated persuasive papers for “claim,” “data” and “warrant.” “Claim” = statement of the problem. “Data” (evidence) supports the “claim” or statement of the problem. “Warrant” is the bridge used to relate the claim (problem) and data (evidence).

Title: “Linguistic/Rhetorical Measures for International Persuasive Student Writing.” U Connor. Research in the Teaching of English (February 1990), 67 – 89. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Summary: Analyzed each element: “claim” (statement of the problem), “Data” (evidence), and “warrant,” bridge from “claim (problem) to “Data” (evidence), from “none” to “some” to “explicitly observed” as primary traits.

Comment: I’m much more comfortable with “statement of the problem,” “supporting evidence” and the “bridge” between the two. RayS.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Topic: Cohesion and Coherence.

10-second review: For awhile in the history of writing research, researchers were interested in studying the relationship between cohesion and coherence. This particular study defines the two.

Title: “Textual Cohesion and Coherence in Children’s Writing Revisited.” DL Spiegel and J Fitzgerald. Research in the Teaching of English (February 1990), 48 – 66. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Summary: Cohesion is at the sentence level and involves sequence in sentences. Coherence is at the whole composition level and involves primarily unity of the composition.

Cohesion was measured by detecting certain elements that related sentence to sentence: repetition; synonym; antonym; hyponym (animal/dog; dog/cat/ giraffe); meronym (hand/finger; United States/ Texas) and equivalence (Mr. Bush/ President).

The authors concluded that the existence of these elements in relating sentences led to greater unity in the complete composition.

Comment: Before I read this research, I never realized that cohesion of sentences was an element in coherence or unity of the entire composition. I know. I’m dumb. Why wouldn’t it? RayS.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Topic: Writing and Audience.

10-second review: Fifth graders wrote for a good third-grade reader and an experienced adult reader. Did they adjust for audience?

Title: “Writing to Be Read: Young Writers’ Ability to Demonstrate Audience Awareness When Evaluated by Their Readers.” LA Frank. Research in the Teaching of English (October 1992), 277 – 298. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Summary: “…the fifth graders were more successful addressing the third-grade than the adult audience.” p. 277.

: The author notes that “many researchers agree that audience awareness is a critical component of transactional [expository] writing.” RayS.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Topic: Computers and Writing

Topic: Computers and Writing

10-second review: “Papers written on computers were rated significantly higher by trained raters on all four dimensions of a holistic/analytic writing assessment scale.” p. 249.

Title: “The Effects of Word Processing on Students’ Writing Quality and Revision Strategies.” Research in the Teaching of English (RTE) (October 1992), 249-276.

Summary: Compared two expository papers, one written entirely on computer and one handwritten.

Quote: “There is some evidence that the work of rewriting by hand may be a serious impediment to revision.” p. 249.

Comment: Evidence that use of word processing produces better papers. Suggests that revising is easier with word processing than with handwritten papers. Maybe that depends on the writing practices of the writer. I tend to begin with hand writing, especially when I don’t know what I am going to say. For revising and editing, I type in the draft on the computer. Maybe some writers are more comfortable writing, revising and editing by hand rather than with the computer. RayS.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Topic: Back to Basics.

10-second review: Nobody seems to agree on what the “basics” in teaching English are.

Title: “Notes and Quotes on Back to Basics.” Rodney J. Barth. English Journal (November 1976), 88-91. The secondary school journal of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Summary/Quote: “If the back-to-basics movement is going to be anything more than a meaningless phrase, those who refer to ‘basic skills,’ ‘back-to-basics,’ ‘the basics movement,’ or just plain ‘basics’ need to define their terms.” p. 89.

Comment: Why bring up this issue from the past? First, it will come up again and English teachers would do well to formulate their own answers to defining the “basics.” Second, I have learned one important lesson as K-12 English supervisor: When people say "Our kids can’t read, write,” etc., you need to ask them to define their terms: “What problem are your children having that suggests they can’t read? or write? Do you mean that they can not decode words? Are they having trouble comprehending in biology classes? Are they just not reading outside of school? Do they have a lot of problems with spelling and grammar? Are they having trouble organizing their papers? Don't give them ideas like those I just suggested, but let them tell you what they perceive as the problems.

The question should not be asked defensively. You need to learn exactly what problems the students are exhibiting so that you can do something about them.

I remember a parent who said her children were not learning to write. When I asked her to explain why she thought that, she said that compositions never came home and she assumed they were not learning to write. The fact was that the compositions were being kept in folders in school and we realized that at some point students should be taking them home for the parents to see what they were learning before storing them in folders. Why were we storing them in folders? For use later, to provide students with the opportunity to note their progress throughout the year—and beyond. RayS.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Topic: Writing and Reading Coordinated.

10-second review: Students read the same kind of materials that they are writing. If they are writing narratives, they read stories. If their writing is expository, they read essays and nonfiction. If they are writing poetry, they are reading poetry.

Title: “Tonawanda Middle School’s New Writing Program.” Charles R. Cooper, et al. English Journal (November 1976), 56 -61. The secondary school journal of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Quote: “Since writers are helped when they can read the same kinds of writing they are trying to produce, the reading and literature in the English program should at least occasionally match the writing students are doing.”

Comment: Makes sense. Not restrictive. But at least some literary selections should be the same type as the students are learning to write. RayS.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Topic: The "Basics" in Writing.

10-second review: Some people think the basics in writing are spelling, capitalization and naming the parts of speech. The author of this article says the basics (which he calls “fundamentals”) in writing include pre-writing, planning, first draft and re-writing.

Title: “How to Talk to a Writer, or Forward to Fundamentals in Teaching Writing.” Robert W. Blake. English Journal (November 1976), 49-55. The secondary school publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Summary: In addition to the author’s definition of the writing process, he suggests that the “fundamentals,” not “basics,” of writing, include writing in several genres, not just exposition; the skills of writing—passive vs. active verbs, parallel structure, dangling modifiers, etc.; better sentences through practice in sentence combining; and the ability of the teacher to talk to students about their writing clearly enough to help the students improve their writing.

Comment: The author’s definition of the writing process fits all genres of writing. The author’s other fundamentals—writing in different genres, including exposition and narratives; skills; sentence combining and the ability to communicate clearly to students about their writing—are worth thinking about.

Student teachers take note: the ability to define the fundamentals of writing will impress superintendents, principals and supervisors. RayS.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Topic: Spelling Reform

10-second review: Want to reform English spelling to make it conform more to pronunciation? How do you feel about this example of reformed spelling?

“ ‘Forskor and seven years agoe our faadherz braut forth on this continent a nue naeshun.’ The Simplified Spelling Board presented this as a reasonable revision in our spelling.”

Title: “Sp.: The Problem of Spelling.” Murray Howard. English Journal (November 1976), pp. 16 – 19. The secondary school publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Summary: The author reminds us that “rain,” “rein,” and “reign” were once pronounced differently, “but time made them homophones—words pronounced in the same way.” p. 17.

Comment: I don’t know about my readers, but I found myself sounding out each unfamiliar spelling, which would quickly destroy my comprehension. As inconsistent as standard spelling is, I’m used to it and I can read it quickly so that I can concentrate on ideas and not on words.

In my book Teaching English, How To…. (Raymond Stopper, Xlibris, 2004), I devote a whole chapter to spelling with methods that worked for my students. I focused on predictable misspellings—words with the indefinite vowel (schwa), multi-syllable words, words ending in –sede, -ceed and –cede, etc.—in a way that students enjoyed learning to spell.

With today’s spelling checkers and my consistent program in spelling predictable misspellings, spelling should not be the problem that it apparently still is for “challenged” spellers.

Make no mistake. Spelling is important. Misspelled words suggest laziness, lack of education, carelessness, inattention to detail and failure to seek excellence—in other words, flaws in one’s character. Spelling counts. And reform in order to conform to pronunciation won’t improve it because pronunciations differ across the country and change with time causing spelling to then change. That’s even more complicated than what we have today. RayS.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Topic: Pre-writing

10-second review: “Odell found that college freshmen could improve their writing as a result of being given help in pre-writing.” p. 73.

Title: “Research Round-up: Oral and Written Composition.” Charles R. Cooper. English Journal (December 1975), p. 73. The secondary school publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Summary: Lee Odell did not give a clear description of the pre-writing activities he used with the college freshmen writers.

Comment: The idea of focusing on pre-writing activities is useful. Teachers might try several techniques to help them determine which ones help them to write: brainstorming; free writing (begin to write and let your thoughts follow in any direction they want to go); outlining.

I find that brainstorming works best with me as a writer and seems to work well with most of my students. I urge the students to brainstorm for fifteen minutes, jotting down words and phrases in a list without concern for spelling, grammar, etc., and then to review the brainstorm and formulate the thesis sentence. RayS.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Topic: What Good Writers Do

10-second review: Charles Stallard ‘’…compared the writing performance or behavior of fifteen good writers and fifteen randomly selected writers in Grade 12.”

Title: “Research Roundup: Oral and Written Composition.” Charles R. Cooper. English Journal (December 1975), p. 73. The secondary school publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Quote: “The good writers can be described in the following way: They spent more time thinking about the assignment before beginning; spent more time planning and writing; wrote more slowly, producing about half as many words per minute as the randomly chosen writers; did more revising; frequently stopped writing to read over what they had written; and expressed concern about having a purpose in their writing.” Charles Stallard.

Comment: Comparing my own writing process to that described by Stallard, I think about and plan my writing as do they. However, I rapidly complete the rough draft before spending time revising and editing. I find that if I don’t complete the rough draft quickly, my re-reading what I have written will stall my writing and I might never actually complete it. Of course,

I do re-read what I write as I revise and edit. My purpose is usually part of my planning.

Might be useful to share this summary of what good writers do with students and have them describe how they go about writing. RayS.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Topic: Sentence Combining

10-second review: “…that sentence-combining practice will increase both syntactic maturity and overall quality in the writing of both elementary and junior high school students.” p. 72.

Title: “Research Roundup: Oral and Written Composition.” Charles R. Cooper. English Journal (December 1975), 72-74. The secondary school publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Quote: “…no other single teaching approach [i.e., sentence combining] has ever consistently been shown to have a beneficial effect on syntactic maturity and writing quality. This conclusion about the importance of sentence-combining practice is a relatively sudden and dramatic development in English teaching. It is also an unusual demonstration of the fact that research does influence teaching practices.” p. 72.

Comment: The research says, therefore, according to Charles R. Cooper, that sentence-combining practice has some very positive effects on improving sentence structure and writing quality. To what extent are today’s English teachers and students (2009) using sentence-combining practice? RayS.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Topic: Multi-media Expression

10-second review: Even in 1975, about five years before computers began to be a part of schools’ programs, English educators had been trying to move teachers away from reliance on words and print. Nothing wrong with that. But I want to comment on the relevance of pictures to words and print.

Title: “Why Should We Teach Multi-Media?” Nancy Cromer. English Journal (December 1975), 68-71. The secondary school publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Summary: The author says that, as usual, educators are reluctant to make use of tools that people out side of schools are using. She urges English teachers, who have probably 100% of students taking English, to begin to teach students to express ideas using multi-media.

Comment: The worst examples, it seems to me, of the use of pictures are in English education journals. They’re loaded with print, and I virtually ignore the pictures that are static and add nothing to the meaning of the text. Simply adding pictures in order to have pictures is, in my opinion, a waste of effort.

A number of years ago, I encountered a beautiful book, Twelve Moons of the Year by Hal Borland. Borland wrote essays every Sunday for the New York Times about nature and the changing seasons in the rural countryside in which he lived in Connecticut. Just before he died, he began to assemble a calendar of essays, one for every day of the year.

However, the essays were completely made up of text in which he referred to birds and wild flowers with many of which I was unfamiliar. On my own, I created a page-a-day calendar of his essays and, using the Internet and my own pictures, I added pictures to each essay. The pictures showed the unfamiliar birds and wild flowers and greatly enhanced my enjoyment of the text. I could see pictures of birds and wild flowers that I could not visualize because I was unfamiliar with them.

Now that is when pictures should be added to the text! RayS.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Topic: A Unit on Independent Study

10-second review: Teaching students how to learn how to learn through independent study. Every student in the classroom begins with a question, clearly states objectives of the study, identifies resources—books, articles, Internet, people—identifies methods of study—taking notes, interviews, images, film, etc.—and estimates the nature of a completed project and method of presentation.

Title: “Mini-Courses for the Self-Contained Classroom.” Mary J. Meiser. English Journal (December 1975), 62-63. A secondary school publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Comment: Such a program will be made easier if computers are available, but assistance from the librarian in helping students find specialized reference books, nonfiction, fiction, and articles will be essential. Students will need to learn how to skim and scan printed materials to find relevant material, both on the Internet and in books and articles. They will also need to take notes and learn how to attribute sources, especially from the Internet.

Note: This article was written before students had access to computers and computers were not available to the author. She still pulled it off. RayS.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Topic: Oral Activities into Writing Activities

10-second review: The students begin with giving oral directions to drawing a triangle or octagon, etc. They note the techniques they used orally in giving clear directions and then write directions for drawing or making or assembling other objects. Next, they read stories aloud and discuss the meaning of the story and then, after the teacher reads a story aloud, the students discuss the meaning in writing. Each time the teacher tries to draw from the students the steps to take in completing the writing assignment. Finally, the students tell stories and then tell the same story in writing.

Title: “Oral Communication as Pre-writing Activities.” JN Golub and RW Reising. English Journal (December 1975), 60-61. The secondary publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Sample activity for story telling:

In groups of five or six, one student begins a story orally. After two minutes, the next student continues the story and then the third student, etc. All of this story telling is done orally. Now the students do the same thing, but this time on paper. One student begins the story for two minutes, then passes the paper to the second student who continues it, etc.

Comment: Of course, the idea behind this technique is rehearsing a writing assignment by first trying to complete it orally. Should students talk out what they are going to write before writing? It seems to me that that is one of those techniques that might work for some students and not for others. No harm in having students try it on for size. RayS.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Topic: Classroom Arrangements

10-second review: “…classrooms today do not seem to be designed to foster activity; in fact they prevent it. Often not much active teaching and learning can be achieved in the classroom with teacher’s desk in front and students’ desks in straight rows.” p. 56.

Title: “Any Teacher Can! (Create a More Liveable [sic.] Classroom Environment).” Gilda Povolo. English Journal (December 1975), 56-58. The secondary school publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Comment: There’s no doubt about it. The only activities the traditional secondary classroom encourage is teacher talk and students’ listening. It’s pretty stark. The author suggests classroom libraries, rugs on the floor.

I suggest keeping a bulletin board with pictures of the students in action—writing, reading, discussing, acting. Put quotes by writers on writing in various locations around the room. Put up students’ compositions around the room. Students—and other teachers—will enjoy reading them.

Of course, there’s a practical problem. The room is only mine for five class periods. Other teachers use it for the other three periods. And if I’m a “floater,” I’m all over the school. RayS.