First off, congratulations for making it to the end of week five of a very busy five weeks together after the hellscape of the last academic year.
For our last post of the summer session I, I would like for you to consider two things:
1. Accurately summarize and analyze the reading for today--not an insubstantial task.
2. From what you read, identify one or two criteria, based on the readings we did this evening, but in a larger sense, based on the reading and discussion we've had all semester, for what an excellent assignment would look like in an ELA classroom.
Think carefully about that last part, we will use what you come up with as a starting point for our last workshop today on your assignment design materials.
Overview: The introduction that you read from Asou Inoue's Antiracist Writing Pedagogy lays out the basis for his text: that the way we design and assess writing classrooms have historically been rooted in the values of the white, middle-class--that what we consider "good" writing is not actually universally good, but very much situated in the white habitus of K-12 education.
But it is in the rest of the text that he deepens this argument and identifies the ways a classroom can impact BIPOC/ALANA students. The final chapter, offers a very specific lens and ways to mitigate the affects of systemic racism in the classroom. This is a dense text and to have everyone read all of it would be asking too much (though it is free and you are welcome to do so).
For this post, you will first talk in your group with others who have read the same parts of the text that you wrote.
FOR OUR FINAL BOOK CLUB I would like to look at how book club can be used with informational texts. Typically we think of book clubs in the ELA classroom as something used for reading literature, but book clubs are essentially just a group of people trying to figure out what something means. It's low-key groupwork.
There are a lot of reasons to embrace small-group reading strategies: 1) students are happy to not do work for a teacher, but they don't like to look like the slack-ass in a small group--not usually; 2) students actually feel better about themselves when they realize they are not the only one struggling; they'll have conversations about what confuses them with peers much more often then with a teacher; and 3) students actually figure things out together--what one student doesn't get another does and then another student understands something else and by the end of the conversation, everyone has a better idea about the entire text. These are things that make reading difficult informational texts easier and, thus, an excellent recommendation for the use of book clubs for this kind of reading.
WHAT TO POST: So for our final book club, post your summary and analysis of Asou Inoue's introduction to Antiracist Writing Pedagogy. Do your best to determine what he means by "antiracist" and how that intersects with writing pedagogy. Try to determine what he means by an "ecology of assessment". Feel free to write about what you don't understand in the text as well. Finally, this is the introduction. It sets up a lot of argument but offers no details. What questions would you like answered in the rest of the text? We'll use these questions to shape discussion around the rest of the text (each person in class will only be responsible for reading one other chapter for our last week of class).
RESPOND: to at least one other classmate. You have two options for responding. You can try to clarify a point that is confusing to your classmate--or at least try to offer some clarity. You can also validate, expand, or tweak someone's question about the rest of the text.
USE THIS SPACE to propose one possible question for our guest teachers during week five. There will no doubt be some redundancy. And I have a few questions I like to always ask, but in order to get to a final and reasonable list of questions for our visiting teachers we have to start somewhere.
Certainly, think about questions you've had about the profession, things you've wondered about. Also, think about some of the things we've been reading and talking about in terms of classroom practice. Consider formulating questions around those issues as well. Also, consider the posts of your other colleagues. If one of you asks a good question, perhaps try to come up with a different question rather than just repeating what you read and "pinned" (see below in How to Respond) as a good question already.
WHAT TO POST: Propose one or two questions for our teachers and offer a brief explanation of why you want to ask this question.
HOW TO RESPOND: Indicate with any kind of reply--even just "yes, this one" to Indicate that you think one or more of the questions your colleagues posted would be a good one to ask. This will pin this question for use with our teachers.
OVERVIEW: I picked the texts for this post for a number of reasons: 1) to give you a reading break because everyone needs those; 2) critical literacy is not just about being able to read literature--or even print based media. Critical literacy is the ability to read and makes sense of the many texts that a student will encounter in life--from Shakespeare to The New York Times to their favorite TV show to video games to a social media post a sign they see on the side of a bus. Everything is a text that merits analysis; and 3) I want you to offer these to you as a way to revisit one of our earliest conversations about what makes a good or bad learning experience.
FOR THIS POST: Consider what teaching and learning looks like in these different texts. Then consider the story one of the stories one of your classmates told and try to analyze it through the lens of what the podcast and TED talks tell us about great learning experiences. I'm asking you to do this because great teachers need to be able to analyze teaching experiences with some objectivity and with the knowledge of what should be happening in a classroom. Further, these stories make clear the complexity of teaching--when you are a student it is hard to think of it from the teacher's perspective, but these pieces demand that you do. Finally, they offer good context for interviewing teachers next week.
You do not need to respond to a classmate for this post.
AS YOU KNOW, I'M TRYING TO KEEP YOU FROM PROCRASTINATING and that is why I am asking you, this week, to post initial ideas about your assignment design to this space. You do not need to respond to a colleague for this post. And remember: we will discuss your assignment in our short conference this week. So posting here only helps you prepare for that meeting.
WHAT TO POST: In roughly 300 words, identify what texts you intend to use in your assignment, what your learning goals are, and, finally a general idea of what the writing assignment looks like. Make an argument about why this idea is a good one--why students will learn what you think they'll learn, why they might not hate doing it, etc. Connect your choices back to things we've explored in class, and, in particular, connect your ideas to what you read in Kittle and Delpit for today's post. Directly address this in your post.
OVERVIEW: We've read examples of poetry and nonfiction. This week, we are reading a selection of short fiction. I think it's useful to read short fiction because a lot of what students read in K-12 ELA classrooms is short fiction--and you don't really read it all that often beyond K-12 unless you take an actual class on the short story.
FOR THIS WEEK'S BOOK CLUB: I want us to explore how writing about character can help a reader/writer to understand the story more broadly. Student readers almost always like or don't like a book based on a character. Identify one character from the short story "She Said It Like She Meant It" and identify the role they play in elucidating a possible theme for the text.
BECAUSE THIS IS AN ASYNCHRONOUS BOOK CLUB: it's necessary that you respond to one or more of your classmates. Identify, very specifically, places you agree with a colleague's reading or disagree. Identify portions of the text or read differently the portions of the text that colleague uses to make his/her point.
OVERVIEW: Last week, I asked you to read and respond to Louise Rosenblatt and Frank Smith and consider what they have to tell us about what we do when we read, how we do it, how it shapes us, what the ideal conditions are for reading. Rosenblatt was a teacher and cared about reading as a teacher of reading. Smith was a linguist and. cared about reading from a physiological perspective.
This week, we wrap up our reading of reading theory with Wolfgang Iser. I know that Iser is not an easy read. Iser is writing at the height of postmodernism--the early 1980s--at a moment in literary criticism when folks were very engaged in Big Theory. His writing deeply reflects that. He writes about reading as someone who cares about defining and evaluating literature--capital L for sure.
To be clear, I am not interested in defining and evaluating literature and that's not why I'm asking you to read Iser. Rather, I think that the value of Iser is that he helps me, as a teacher of literacy, explain to myself why it's important for me to challenge my students as readers--to bring difficult texts into the classroom that my students might struggle with.
FOR TODAY'S POST: Explain me to me. In other words, as you summarize and analyze the Iser selection, please connect with what I'm saying about the value of difficult texts in the classroom. Using Iser's terminology and argument, identify what a "difficult text" would look like for a reader. What makes it difficult? What is the job of the reader when they approach a difficult text? And why is this a good thing?
KEEP IN MIND: There is definite overlap between Smith and Iser in particular. Make that connection in your post.
FINALLY: Remember how I tell my first year students that if they are confused by parts of the text they should feel free to ask those questions, to talk about that confusion? You are allowed to do that to and, in fact, I encourage you to do that.
IN RESPONSE TO ONE OR MORE OF YOUR COLLEAGUES: Help your classmates out by offering your ideas about what they don't understand. Additionally, if you think someone missed the point of something, add that to their response. If you can connect ideas in Iser to ideas in either Smith or Rosenblatt--particularly if those connections help to clarify ideas in Iser.
OVERVIEW: Louise Rosenblatt and Frank Smith make similar arguments from very different perspectives: Rosenblatt, writing as a teacher for teacher, talks about the conditions surrounding excellent reading and argues for why teaching literacy is important and vital. Smith, writing as a psycholinguist, is interested in explaining what our body (our eye, our brain) is doing when we read, what fluent reading looks like, and why it is good for our bodies.
WHAT TO POST: For this discussion board post, please do two things . . .
1. In your summary and analysis, please identify the ways these two theorists compliment each other in terms of their ideas--in what ways are they similar? Be specific here. Use their terminology as you connect one theorist to the other.
2. Think back to your experience reading Gertrude Stein's Tender Buttons. How would Rosenblatt and Smith explain what happened there--both the initial fear and loathing and the ultimate meaning making you experienced during the process. Here again, try to use the terminology of these two writers to explain the experience.
HOW TO RESPOND: Identify one other person that is saying something similar to what you are saying and connect and expand on their thought. Alternatively, if you disagree with someone, identify where you see your ideas about the texts as different.
Use this space to post one of your annotated bib drafts. We will use this space to workshop each other's annotated bibs in class.
What to post:
1. Post your initial draft of your annotation. Include the citation along with the draft of the actual annotation.
2. Watch as I edit someones annotation.
3. In pairs, read and respond to your partners annotation on the discussion board. Do the following things: cut out unnecessary words, reorder sentences, rework sentences that are clunky and/or just fluff, and, finally, ask questions about what is not clear to you about the argument and methodology that the article makes/uses.