Friday, January 29, 2010

Topic: Two-Year College Teachers

Ten-second review: In what way are two-year college teachers perceived differently from four-year college teachers? Teachers in community colleges are ‘marginalized” when compared to teachers in four-year colleges because two-year college teachers usually do not engage in scholarly activities, i.e., publishing.

Source: J Andelora. Teaching English in the Two-Year College (March.2005), 107-108.

Comment: Two-year college teachers are focused on teaching sometimes difficult students with problems in motivation for learning, not on publishing and research as in the four-year college in which undergraduates are often taught by graduate students. RayS.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Topic: Learning How to Learn

10-second review: How can teachers help students become more conscious of how they learned what they learned? What is assessed is what is taught. However, teachers can deepen students’ understanding of how they learn effectively by having them reflect on what they did as they learned.

Source: P Johnston. Reading Teacher (April 2005), 684-686.

Comment: An interesting idea. Each time you learn something, you reflect on how you learned it. RayS.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Topic: Adolescents

10-second review: How should teachers deal with adolescents? Florez-Gonzalez tells educators to pay particular attention to the interests and needs of individual adolescents rather than treat them as a homogenized population without regard for individual differences.”

Source: F Serafini, et al. Reading Research Quarterly (Oct/Nov/Dec 04), 488.

Comment: I think the same idea applies to students having trouble in learning. Don’t look at them as typical but try to get at the problems as the students themselves see them. Learning journals in which students respond to what they are learning can go a long way in helping teachers gain insight to how the students perceive what is occurring with their learning. RayS.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Topic: Stereotypes of Adolescents

10-second review: What are the effects of the traditional stereotype of the adolescent? “Traditional…conceptions of adolescence as a time of turbulence, raging hormones and immaturity diminish adolescents’ voices and agency. These conceptions downplay adolescents’ individuality and diversity. An emerging awareness of adolescence as socially constructed, rather than biologically determined, helps create space for new understandings of adolescents and what they need to succeed in school.”

Source: F Serafini, et al. Reading Research Quarterly (Oct/Nov/Dec 2004), 487-488.

: I think, as in dealing with any other minority group, we need to stop thinking of adolescents as a stereotyped image. I think the idea expressed above is vital in working with adolescents. Look at them as individuals, not as a group stereotype. RayS.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Topic: Critical Thinking Activity

10-second review: Students collect bumper sticker messages, then discuss and interpret them and infer the characteristics of people who display them.

Source: LA Morton-Meier. Journal of Adolescent and Adult literacy (November 2004), 280-283.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Topic: Defining Critical Thinking

10-second review: “I link the term critical thinking with the doubting game. I don’t see how ‘critical’ can ever be pried away from its connotations of criticism, arguments, doubt and skepticism.”

Source: P Elbow. College English (March 2005), 39.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Topic: Application of Skills in Real-World Situations

10-second review: How apply student learning to real-world situations? The Math Standards recommend that students should learn math in contexts outside of math, in other words, in real world applications, like finance. Source: HS Shultz. Mathematics Teacher (April 2005), 531-532.

10-second review: Author sets out to answer the question, “How fair and accurate are drug tests of student athletes,” another real-world application of math. Source: IE Lyublinskaya. Mathematics Teacher (April 2005), 536-543.

Comment: I think in English, a major problem exists in helping students tackle real-world writing situations. We may teach the basics, but they need to be applied. Writing in real-world situations will almost certainly involve changing formats from the standard model of the five-paragraph essay. Students need to be taught how to make those adjustments. RayS.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Topic: Teaching Literacy Across the Curriculum

Ten-second review: Charting teacher growth in understanding of interdisciplinary studies. Article contains questions asked by pre-service and inservice teachers about literacy across the curriculum—at the beginning of class, during the class and at the end of the class.

Source: M Lesley. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy (December 2004), 320-334.

Comment: I would anchor my approach to literacy across the curriculum in the directed reading assignment, writing to learn, the essay exam and research paper, activities that would fit comfortably with what content teachers already do. For excellent descriptions of each of these activities, see the Internet.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Topic: Teaching Students How to Learn

10-second review: Teach students how to learn by involving them in tutoring.

Source: ES Friedland & DM Truscott. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literature (April 2005), 550-562.

Comment: In teaching others, students learn how to learn. RayS.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Topic: Reading in the Content Areas

10-second review: Focus on two purposes—study skills and the directed reading assignment. Teachers of all subjects who have no knowledge of how to teach reading can do both successfully.

Title: Cognitive Skills Development for Secondary English Teachers.” JM Stanchfield and M Wiseman. Journal of Reading (October 1974), 34-40. Publication preceded Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy by the International Reading Association (IRA).

Comment: All teachers have learned how to study the subjects they teach. They should teach the students what they have learned about studying chemistry, biology, art, shop, math, social studies and English.

The directed reading assignment is the best method for helping students read difficult material.

1. Help students build up information, background knowledge about the topic on which they are about to read.

2. Pre-teach four or five key words that are likely unfamiliar to the students. Even simply pointing them out and discussing them will mean that they will see and interpret them when they read. Students tend not to see words that they don’t recognize when they have not been pointed out to them.

3. Survey the chapter. Read the title, sub-title, first paragraph, first sentence of each intermediate paragraph and the last paragraph. Pay special attention to charts, graphs, maps, pictures, etc. Students review what they have learned from the survey and formulate questions to read to answer, their purposes for reading.

4. Read to answer the questions.

5. Discuss answers to the questions.

6. Apply or extend what has been learned from reading the chapter. Researching the topic on the Internet will be useful both before and after reading. RayS.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Topic: Reading Courses in the High School Elective Curriculum

10-second review: Basic Reading, Developmental Reading, Speed Reading, Advanced Reading I, Advanced Reading II, Reading for Research, Reading Seminar, Reading Nonfiction, Reading Skills for College.

Title: “Reading as an Elective in the English Program.” P. Hodges. Journal of Reading (October 1974), 30-33. Publication preceded Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy by the International Reading Association (IRA).


Basic Reading for students who are reading below grade level.

Developmental Reading for students who need study skills.

Speed Reading: see my chapter in Teaching English, How To…. for the description of one method of teaching speed reading.

Advanced Reading I: Focus on the different structure and style in different types of reading. [I think I would substitute“Previewing” with different types of reading material. RayS.]

Advanced Reading II: Study two novels in depth.

Reading for Research: Focus on note taking and preparation for a thirty-page research paper.

Reading Nonfiction: Suggestions on how to read nonfiction efficiently—and writing nonfiction.

Reading Skills for College: SAT and ACT prep. Use of the library. Reading textbooks. Note-taking from lectures.

Comment: An interesting list of courses, each clearly delineated. RayS.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Topic: Vocational Education and Reading

10-second review: Two vital reading skills in vocational ed are finding details and techniques quickly and learning the vocabulary of the trade.

Title: “The Reading Teacher in the Vocational Classroom.” JD Johnston. Journal of Reading (October 1974), 27-29. Publication preceded Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy by the International Reading Association (IRA).

Summary: The author’s focus was on skimming to find details and word roots to learn the specialized vocabulary of the trade.

Comment: Makes sense. RayS.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Topic: Writing Books

10-second review: Students turned their research papers into paperback books. Their compositions became anthologies.

Suggested by: “Reading Skills Through Social Studies Content and Student Involvement. JC Frankel. Journal of Reading (October 1974), 23-26. Publication preceded Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy by the International Reading Association (IRA).

Summary: Typed in a word processor with book-fold technology (like Microsoft Publisher). The students’ books filled a book case and other students read them. They were also displayed around the room. Included cover design, publication information, table of contents, foreword or introduction and chapter headings with subheadings throughout the chapters when useful to the reader.

Comment: Pride in publication. Rays.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Topic: Adult Reading Habits.

10-second review: Don’t assume that your friends, colleagues, relatives read.

Title: “Alternative Education Programs.” Turee Olsen. Journal of Reading (November 1974), 190-191. Publication preceded Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy by the International Reading Association (IRA).

Summary/Quote: “How many adults do you know who read? Not who can read, but who do? Don’t be too confident that all your friends read often or much or even that your colleagues in education do much leisure reading. The next time you’re with a group of adults, ask several of them the title of the last book they read. And when they read it. Ask about their magazine subscriptions. How much time do they spend reading a daily newspaper? Do any of them set aside a regular time for reading everyday…? Their answers may surprise you.”

Comment: John F. Kennedy said he never saw his father read a serious book. My father told me that when he graduated from law school, he said he would never read another book. To my knowledge he never did. He read newspapers and news magazines from cover to cover, but never books. He never had the attitude of Abraham Lincoln: “What I want to know is in books.” Probably his attitude came from being required to read books in school.

I read books for ideas. I find them in nonfiction and fiction. I have learned how to sift through the many pages to find the most interesting ideas. And I record them and reflect on them and sometimes use them. RayS.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Topic: Parents and Secondary Reading

10-second review: Reading teachers offer a ten-week course, one night a week, in which they share with parents what they are teaching to their students. Parents can then reinforce with their children what is being taught in class.

Title: “Quality Reading Programs at Bargain Basement Prices.” N P Criscuolo. Journal of Reading (November 1974), 127-130. The Journal of Reading was the secondary school publication for the International Reading Association (IRA), since replaced by the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy.

Comment: Not as easily done as said. Problems with teachers volunteering time to work with the parents. But would help parents understand what it means to teach reading in the secondary—or, for that matter—elementary school.

I remember a high school English teacher, Nancy Rosenberger, who was teaching her students the novel The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane. She met with parents one night to explain to them why she was assigning the novel, shared some information about the novel, and discussed some of the activities she would be using with the students concerning the novel. The parents left that meeting highly satisfied that their children were engaged in a solid literature program. Might do the same for writing and speaking. RayS.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Topic: Inservice Session on Reading in the Content Areas

10-second review: Teachers of different subjects exchange textbooks and identify problems students are likely to have in reading the textbooks. An English teacher, for example, exchanges a copy of Shakespeare’s play she is teaching in her English class with a science teacher who is using a textbook to help explain genetics.

Title: “Shock Treatment Inservice Program Adds New Life to Reading.” B Osburn. Journal of Reading (November 1974), 122-126. The Journal of Reading was the secondary school publication for the International Reading Association (IRA), since replaced by the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy.

Comment: I remember one time that I, an English teacher, was looking over a chemistry text. I said, matter-of-factly, to the chemistry teacher, a nice guy, that I was overwhelmed by it. He shot back, “And I’m overwhelmed by Shakespeare.”

It might be a good idea to have teachers of different subjects evaluate each other’s textbooks to identify the difficulties they would have in studying them. If chemistry teachers define the difficulties they have with reading a Shakespearean play and if English teachers identify why reading about genetics is difficult, a good discussion might follow on how to overcome the difficulties. Just a thought. RayS.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Topic: Using Book Previews as Motivation to Read

10-second review: Summarizes key scenes in a novel and asks what the student would do, then gives the page numbers on which the scene will be found with what the character in the book actually did.

Title: “Teaching Reading and Literature to the Disadvantaged, Part IV: Method.” Saul Bachner. Journal of Reading (December 1974), 238-240. The Journal of Reading was the secondary school publication for the International Reading Association (IRA), since replaced by the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy.

Summary/Quote: “Whether Johnny can read or Johnny can’t read, the initial problem quite often in the English classroom is that Johnny won’t read.

“Last year, to combat this problem, I developed a previewing technique using…key scenes from Richard Wright’s autobiographical novel, Black Boy. Each scene I selected from the book spanned only a few pages. I briefly summarized each scene…. Instead of using the main character’s name, however, I substituted the pronoun ‘you,’ thus automatically forcing each student to take on a little part in the novel by becoming the main character himself. …[asked] the students what [they] would do in the situation, along with the page numbers in the book where the student could read the actual scene.”

Sample scene summarized: “You work for a woman who promises to feed you two meals a day. The first meal in her house consists of spoiled molasses and stale bread, even though there is fresh food in the house. Your are a Negro and the woman is white. What would you do? Would you say anything? What would you say? You need the job.

After previewing several of these crucial scenes, the students were very much interested in reading the novel.

Comment: One of these days I’m going to include in my blog a variety of methods for previewing books to motivate students to read them. This is a good one. RayS.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Topic: Research

10-second review: Suggests how to find basic research tools in a library. I have suggested how to do the same on the Internet.

Title: “Locating Information: The Process Method.” J Sanacore. Journal of Reading (December 1974), 231-233. The Journal of Reading was the secondary school publication for the International Reading Association (IRA), since replaced by the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy.

Summary: Suggests beginning in the library with Shores’ Basic Reference Sources. Locate the source needed to answer the question, Find the quotation by Soren Kierkegaard which begins with the line, ‘Life can only be understood backwards…. ”

Comment: To find basic research sources/sites on the Internet, use Internet Public Library . It won’t have all of the sources you might need on the Internet, but it will have many of them. For resources not available for free on the Internet (Oxford Companion to…., for example), you’ll have to consult a library reference section.

The best search engine I have found for research is Microsoft’s Bing. The article asks for answers to ten questions. I found nine of the ten very quickly by putting key words from the questions into the Bing search engine.

Example: When and where was John Stark alleged to have exclaimed, “There, my boys are your enemies, the red coats; you must beat them, or my wife sleeps a widow tonight.” I put John Stark "There, my boys are your enemies….” into Bing and the answer came right up. (Use quotation marks only for quotes in the search engine.]

Another example: Find a map with a line drawing of Cumberland Road. No problem. I found it easily by putting Map. Cumberland Road into the Bing search engine. RayS.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Topic: Notetaking Skills

10-second review: ‘Literally no one teaches notetakin skills…taking and using notes.”

Title: “Notetaking Habits for College Students.” RA Palmatier and JM Bennett. Journal of Reading (December 1974), 215-218. The Journal of Reading was the secondary school publication for the International Reading Association (IRA), since replaced by the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy.

Summary/Quote: “Only thirty-seven of the 223 students surveyed (17 percent) reported having received any formal instruction in the skills of note taking. Further, in most cases the instruction was of extremely short duration, thirty minutes or less, and was in effect more warning as to the necessity for taking notes rather than instruction on how to do so. High school English teachers usually provided whatever instruction the respondents had received.”

Comment: The Walter Pauk or Cornell system of note taking is, for me, the most useful with 8 ½” x ll” paper. The left hand margin is 2 ½” , the note taking space is 6” and the bottom margin is 2”. The left margin is for brief key words drawn from the lengthier notes in the 6” section. The bottom margin is for a summary of the notes on that page. Allows for both taking and using the notes with key words in the left margin and the summary at the bottom. Rays. (How to Study in College. Third Edition. Walter Pauk. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1984.)