Thursday, September 30, 2010

Topic: Assumptions in Research

10-second review: Methods don’t come first in research. Examining assumptions does.

Title: “Examining Our Assumptions: A Transactional View of Literacy and Learning.” JC Harste, et al. Research in the Teaching of English (February 1984), 84-108.

Quote: “We went into our program of research assuming the young child had much to teach us about written language and the written language learning process. By reflecting our beliefs through the prism of the children we studied, we came to identify some of our assumptions and to challenge our existing dogma. We learned that methodology does not stand outside of theory, and that the assumptions we make limit what can be learned. Alter those assumptions and the potential for learning expands.”

Comment: I think this finding in a research study raises the question about assumptions in our teaching. What do we assume? About the nature of our students? About their backgrounds? About their knowledge? About the nature of our subject? What do we accept as dogma in our teaching? I think that, like these researchers, “the assumptions we make limit what can be learned. Alter those assumptions and the potential for learning expands.” RayS.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Topic: Language Experience

10-second review: Provide experiences for students that they respond to while their comments are recorded on chart paper or black or white boards.

Title: “A Workshop Tried and True: Language Experience for Bilinguals.” JR Feeley. Reading Teacher (October 1979), 25-27.

Summary: Whether reading a story or poems, or doing a science experiment, or cooking from a recipe or field trips, any group experience can become a source for students’ dictated language that is recorded on chart paper and then read back by the students.

Comment: Language experience is a direct method for teaching reading. Students learn to read by connecting their listening/speaking vocabulary to words in printed form. Giving the students direct experiences to which they respond orally is one of the best methods for using language experience, which is also an early experience with organizing and composing with writing. RayS.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Topic: Validity of Holistic Scoring in Writing Assessment

Purpose of this blog: Review of interesting articles and ideas in past English education journals, K-12.

10-second review: “Holistic ratings should not be ruled out as a method of evaluating writing abilities, but those who use such ratings must seriously consider the question of the validity of the scores that result.” p 79.

Title: “The Validity of Using Holistic Scoring to Evaluate Writing: A Critical overview.” D Charney. Research in the Teaching of English (February 1984), 65-81.

Quote: “The research available suggests that even in carefully supervised rating sessions, holistic ratings may be unduly influenced by superficial features of writing samples” [like handwriting and spelling]. P. 65.

Quote: “A reliable measurement is capable of replication under equivalent conditions So a reliable method of assessing writing ability would yield a consistent judgment of a student’s abilities if applied again, all else being equal. A valid measurement assesses what it claims to assess.” P. 65.

Comment: So if the raters rely on perceptions of surface features (like handwriting, spelling and grammar) in writing, true writing ability—unity, coherence, structure and word choice—would not be measured accurately by holistic scoring. RayS.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Topic: Writing Across the Curriculum and Writing in Real Situations

Purpose of this blog: Review of interesting articles and ideas in past English education journals, K-12.

10-second review: Writing across the curriculum is important, not to help English teachers, but to help children control the language they use in different subjects. Real writing situations are important for the same reason.

Title: “The David H. Russell Award for Distinguished Research in the Teaching English—1983. Statement by Walter Loban in Presenting the Award to Margaret Donaldson for Her book, Children’s Minds.” Research in the Teaching of English (February 1984), 82-83.

Quote: Walter Loban: “There are two important movements whose time has come in education. The first of these is language across the curriculum, not to help English teachers but because thought must be organized into words, because pupils gain dominion over concepts and ideas in any subject by talking and writing about those ideas; no multiple-choice or short answer workbook will accomplish such a desirable outcome.

The second important movement is based on the idea that growth in language power and effectiveness derives mainly from the dynamics of using language in real situations, not from studying about language. Granted, instruction about language is necessary, but when knowledge about language becomes an end in itself rather than a means to genuine communication, vast amounts of money and effort are wasted. Because universal education is such an enormous task, our schools have unduly stressed what is easier to manage, the more obvious skills and visible aspects of language, assuming that by isolating these bits and pieces, pupils will profit. But this is a dangerous assumption. The path to power of language is to use it, to make it work for us in situations that are real rather than contrived. It is to this second important movement whose time has come that Children’s Minds contributes so significantly.”

Comment: A lot of common sense in what Loban says. Writing across the curriculum and writing for real situations give students a clear purpose for writing. RayS.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Topic: Language Experience for Deaf Children

Purpose of this blog: Review of interesting articles and ideas in past English education journals, K-12.

10-second preview: Deaf children can learn to communicate in writing through language experience. Their maturity in writing will grow.

Title: “The Language Experience Approach to Reading Instruction for Deaf and Hearing Impaired Children.” RG Stauffer. Reading Teacher (October 1979), 21-24.

Summary: When the students as a group tell a story aloud to be recorded by the teacher, the teacher fills in the missing connectives that they leave out. When the students read back the story, they also read back the “fillers.” This way they develop the ability to speak and read like normal people.

Comment: I don’t know if language experience is still popular in early education, but it is a useful tool. It helps students recognize words in their speaking and listening vocabulary as they are recorded by the teacher on chart paper. That’s how children learn to read—they recognize words in their speaking and listening vocabulary when they see them in print.

And that’s how language experience works. The children dictate a story on a topic. The teacher records it for the children to see—on chart paper or white or black boards—and then the children read it back. A lot of information on language experience can be found by typing “language experience” into Google or Bing. RayS.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Topic: Writing Process vs. Product

Purpose of this blog: Review of interesting articles and ideas in past English education journals, K-12.

10-second review: The editors of Research in the Teaching of English believe that the pendulum has swung too far in the battle over process vs. product. They suggest that the process and product are both important.

Title: “Musings.” JA Langer and AN Applebee, eds. Research in the Teaching of English (February 1984), 5-7.

Quote: “Much recent research in both reading and writing has shifted attention from examination of final performance to analysis of the process. Such a shift was necessary to correct previous imbalances, but the pendulum may have swung too far. We need to remember that processes are driven by purposes related to the final product, and develop in interaction with those purposes and goals. If we study process without relating it to the product that emerges, we may severely limit our understanding of both.” P. 6.

Comment: I go so far as to say that the purpose for working with students on the writing process is a better product. RayS.