Thursday, August 9, 2012

Role of Sound in Writing

Question: How does speaking help writers to write more effectively?

Answer/Quote: “Although speech and writing constitute different modes of communication and make different demands on a communicator, there is some reason to think that the act of speaking may directly assist the act of writing. Tovatt and Miller (1967) have reported results of an experimental composition program in which each student was taught to ‘test the patterns he writes against his ingrained oral pattern’ (p. 7). Citing Alexander Pope’s line ‘The sound must seem an echo to the sense,’ Tovatt and Miller claimed that reading a passage aloud can help writers examine their work for inept phrasing or lack of clarity. Robert Zoellner (1969) and Terry Radcliffe (1972) have argued that students are often able to say aloud that which they are not able to write. Both writers suggest that speaking aloud to another student can help students discover and clarify ideas they will subsequently write about.” P. 103.

Comment: All these ideas are worthy of being tested in the writing classroom. But they emphasize speaking and not standard English. Useful for generating ideas and, possibly, style. RayS.

Title: “Considerations of Sound in the Composing Process of Published Writers.” CR Cooper and L Odell. Research in the Teaching of English (Fall 1976), 103-115.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Standard American English

Question: What do three books on French education in the written language suggest about the existence of standard American English?

Answer/Quote: “For the contemporary world of teaching, we choose with Chartier, to follow the ‘invention of everyday life’…as the logic of school practice, over the abstract myth of a rational and scriptal culture of schooling. In this sense, before proposing new guidelines for literacy instruction to teachers, it seems prudent to understand how, at ground level, they devise effective practices that allow students to learn what they are expected to know. By adopting the spirit of occupying the common ground of the written record admitted into classrooms, many teachers, in their various ways, may yet be turning schools into spaces of inclusion and growth for all children..” p; 340.

Comment: My including this quote from a review of three histories of French writing instruction might seem to be a stretch. But I have noticed in the teaching of writing in the United States that more and more writing instruction encourages the use of informal English as opposed to formal, standard American English. I describe informal written English as using many of the characteristics of spoken English—needless repetition, beginning sentences with “there,” the use of imprecise verbs, such as “get,” “getting,” “gotten,” and nouns, “things.” I also include passive constructions, ignoring parallel structure and dangling and misplaced modifiers, among other transgressions against formal, standard American English. I think this tendency is inevitable in light of Facebook, Twittering, e-mail, etc.

The point of the quote is that this tendency toward the democratization of language flies in the face of a hierarchical society that privileges such differentiating characteristics as formal, standard American English as it opposes the elite language of the remnants of aristocracy in France. Therefore, the French classrooms are now more inclusive and democratic. Et too, Anglais? RayS.

Title: “Paradoxes in French-Language Instruction: Recent Social and Historical Research on Literacy I France.”  Elsie Rockwell and Ana Maria Galvao. Reading Research Quarterly (July/ August/ September 2012), 3288-341.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Question: What is “bilitereary” and why is it important?

Answer/Quote: “The study of Biliteracy has recently been gaining more attention because of the increased visibility of diverse communities where children are growing up bilingual and in some cases, biliterate. Research on biliteracy has also risen sharply in the last two decades because of a desire to improve the learning experiences of school children from diverse linguistic backgrounds in the United States and around the world. Further, globalization has brought increased interest in understanding multinational communities that are developing, and in maintaining linguistic communities where all children—both those who are part of the dominant linguistic community and newcomers—are ready to compete in a globalized world by drawing from the existing linguistic, multilingual, and multiliterate societal resources.” P. 307.

Quote: “The sparse extant research on biliteracy invites a reexamination of the contexts where biliteracy occurs and an ongoing consideration of ways to design biliteracy studies that draw on several theoretical perspectives. One set of contexts that needs to be explored is communities in which adults and children value and make use of various languages and multiple literacies. Relatedly, contexts need to be studied where spontaneous biliteracy makes its way into children’s and families’ interactions and exchanges of knowledge…. As such, research on biliteracy has supported what might be called a normalization of bilingualism and  multilingualism for everyone (not just immigrants) as part of national educational language agendas and initiatives.” P. 324.

Comment: The study of language is inevitably moving in the direction of their intermixing with a “bi-“ in the terminology. RayS.

Title: “Review of Research: Biliteracy Among Children and Youths.” Iliana Reyes. Reading Research Quarterly (July/ August/ September 2012), 307-327.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Reading Attitudes of Middle School Students

Question: How do middle-school students feel about reading in print and reading in a digital setting?

Quote: “To examine the current state of reading attitudes among middle school students in the United States, a survey was developed and administered to 4,491 students in 23 states plus the District of Columbia. The instrument comprised four subscales measuring attitudes toward: recreational reading in print settings, recreational reading in digital settings, academic reading in print settings, and academic reading in digital settings.” P.283.

Here’s the instrument:
> How do you feel about reading news online for class?

> How do you feel about reading a book in your free time?

> How do you feel about doing research using encyclopedias or other books for a class?

> How do you feel about instant messaging or e-mailing friends in your free time?

> How do you feel about reading online for a class?

> How do you feel about reading a textbook?

> How do you feel about reading a book online for a class?

> How do you feel about talking with friends about something you’ve been reading in your free time?

> How do you feel about getting a book or a magazine for a present?

> How do you feel about texting friends in your free time?

> How do you feel about reading a book for fun on a rainy Saturday?

> How do you feel about working on an Internet project with classmates?

> How do you feel about reading anything printed (books, magazines, comic books, etc.) in your free time?

> How do you feel about using a dictionary for class?

> How do you feel about being on social websites like Facebook of MySpace in your free time?

> How do you feel about looking up information online for a class?

> How do you feel about reading a newspaper or a magazine for a class?

> How do you feel about reading a novel for class? P. 291.

Quote: “The attitudes of females were more positive than those of males toward academic reading in print and digital settings and toward recreational reading of print. In contrast, males exhibited more positive attitudes than females toward recreational reading in digital settings.” P. 200.

Quote: “…the potential of digital environments for increasing engagement and fostering social interaction remains unrealized, and students’ attitudes toward reading are likely to be similar with respect to the two environments.” P. 299.

Comment: No clear-cut differences between digital and print reading. The questionnaire is interesting. Try it with your students. RayS.

Title: “Reading Attitudes of Middle School Students: Results of a U.S. Survey.” Michael C. McKenna, et al. Reading Research Quarterly (July/ August/ September 2012), 283-306.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Listening Skills and Inference

Question: What role does inference play in listening skills in children, ages 4 to 6?

Answer/Quote: “Vocabulary and verbal memory are necessary for inference making within narratives. Children need to understand words and have mental resources to connect different ideas to make inferences within narratives. Simultaneously, inference making may well facilitate vocabulary acquisition, as children learn to infer the meanings of words from context. Our findings support the theorized reciprocal relationship between vocabulary and inference-making skills, although the facilitating role of verbal memory is less clear. Overall, the contribution of inference-making skills to the development of narrative listening comprehension from age 4 to age 6 indicates that inference skills are already in place among pre-readers and play an important role in the construction of a meaning-based representation of a narrative.” P. 277.

Comment :4 to 6 year-olds already have in place the inferencing skills needed to learn vocabulary from context and for listening to narratives. Therefore, one can assume that pre-readers already have the skills needed to make inferences as they learn to read narrative materials. It would seem that teachers should take advantage of students’ ability to draw inferences when learning to read with narrative materials. Interesting finding. RayS.

Title: “The Role of Inference Making and Other Language Skills in the Development of Narrative Listening Comprehension in 4 -6-Year-Old Children.” Janne Lepola, et al. Reading Research Quarterly (July/ August/ September, 2012), 259-280.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Reading and the Common Core State Standards

Question: What is the goal in reading instruction for the Common Core State Standards?

Answer: “The Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts …2010….draw attention to text in an unprecedented manner. The goal of the CCSS is to prepare U.S students for college and their future careers, in part by increasing levels of text difficulty from the early grades through high school.”  P. 235.

Comment: Interesting. RayS.

Title: “Toward a Theoretical Model of Text Complexity for the Early Grades: Learning from the Past, Anticipating the Future.” HA Mesmer, JW Cunningham and EH Hiebert. Reading Research Quarterly (July/August/September 2012), 235-258.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Sentence Combining

Question: Does practice in sentence combining improve quality of writing?

Answer: “A review of the research on sentence combining which concludes that practice in sentence combining probably does improve overall composition quality, but to a limited extent.” RJ Marzano. 1976. P. 293.

Comment: Like everything else in producing successful compositions, many things contribute to the writer’s success. RayS.

Title: “Annotated Bibliography of Research in the Teaching of English, January 1, 1976 to June 30, 1976.” Daniel J. Dieterich. Research in the Teaching of English (Winter 1976), 278-293.