Use this space to post your book club journal about Jewell Parker Rhodes's "Mixed Blood Stew." As you post, think about what you would want to/need to think about if you were going to teach this essay--or use it in a class to teach it, what you'd want your students to know/think about in this essays.
OVERVIEW: Students often enjoy the first part of Lives on the Boundary more than the back half where he gets more into the nitty-gritty of what he things will support excellent literacy instruction at every level. But while his personal story is compelling, it is what we learn about what should be happening in the classroom that matters most.
WHAT TO POST: To that end, complimenting what we posted about last week, and having completed Rose, please post your summary of the last chapters of Lives on the Boundary. As you do, please consider what the implications are for what should be happening in a classroom and suggest a possible assignment or way to accomplish an assignment that would be in keeping with what you understand to be a best-practice.
THIS POST RELATES TO THE LAST MAJOR ASSIGNMENT OF THE SUMMER: The Assignment Design assignment asks you to consider what you've learned in class about using writing in an ELA classroom--how to scaffold writing assignments, how to use low-stakes and high stakes writing, how to use group work, how to use presentations, how to use workshops, how to (most importantly) create an assessment process that support good literacy instruction and student learning. Here is a first chance to start to think about what that looks like, what it could look like.
During our first two weeks of class, we've been about confronting myths and stereotypes one the literacy classroom. We've looked at our own experiences as students. We've looked at writing instruction through the lens of history. And we've looked at how the general public and the media have understood the work of literacy instruction and teaching in general
Mike Rose's memoir of his own time as a student and teacher is the culmination of this part of the class. In Lives on the Boundary, Rose offers his own experiences as a way to ground a larger discussion of the project of literacy instruction I the United States. I am interested in hearing about what you take away from his experiences and argument. We are beginning this part of the discussion asynchronously. We'll wrap it up in a face-to-face discussion next week.
For Today's Post: Please identify between 5 and 7 takeaways about teaching and learning from the first part of Rose. You can write it as a numbered list in your post, and provide some evidence from the text to support your claim that this is a significant takeaway from the text. As you post, consider the ways Rose's text challenges ideas we hold about what should be happening in a classroom, what counts as an accomplished, literate reader/writer, what the solutions to education crises should be. Think about some of the ways we've been talking about literacy instruction in class and see where Rose meets up or challenges these ideas.
For Today's Response: Read your colleague's post and respond to at least TWO of them. Identify one of the following things to respond to in the texts: 1) where you agree with their takeaway. Please identify a different part of the text than the one the original poster uses to make your point. 2) where you have a different interpretation of Rose than the original poster did. Please identify the parts of the text that support your challenge.
Use this space to post your book club journal on the poem "Number Theory".
Overview: When I'm on a flight I am almost always grading papers. It's just how it is. And when that happens, some neighbor I didn't entirely want to talk to notices and asks me what I teach. And when I say English they invariably say "oh, I better watch my grammar." What I want to say to my fellow traveler is that if they talked less it would probably cut down on any possible grammar errors (I hate talking to people on planes), but I don't. I just smile and say, and I mean it, your grammar is fine. Everyone worries too much about grammar.
This is no more true than it is for folks who teach English, folks who think that they should be absolute experts on dangling modifiers and the like. And, to be clear, I'm not saying you shouldn't be, I'm just saying, more than likely, you are better at grammar and punctuation than you think you are. The deficit thinking that surrounds writing and writing instruction is making you think you are "terrible at grammar."
WHAT TO POST
What I am hoping to talk about today is the relationship of grammar and grammar instruction to writing instruction. For this discussion board post, please include your summary and analysis of the Constance Weaver reading you had for homework. Then please answer the following two questions: What would CW say about the grammar test you just took? About how you felt taking that grammar test? Secondly, what is a "rule" that you always struggle with or simply don't understand?
Use this space to post whatever you wrote as your book club "journal"
I will share mine:
I’ve worked with this poem a lot for this very exercise for a lot of years. Students always think I know the answers. But I don’t. Each time I read the piece, If feel like I come away with a different idea. I feel like the speaker is a woman because woman have historically been the people who cook. And I feel like they are running--stream of conscious, the way you might talk inside your own head--running through a meal--perhaps it is the end of summer (she talks about eyelet, a fabric I associate exclusively with women and with summer), and there is a feast, and end to the summer. But there is a kind of sadness, a kind of nostalgia to the piece--I get this because I feel like that’s why she is always saying something is or isn’t. It’s trying to get at a feeling or a precise language aroudn what she is thinking thorough. I keep focusing in on that line “a rested development”. The idea of being rested, of being ready. The idea of a development--or something that has developed over time. That also feeds into this idea of nostalgia for something not necessarily lost but something passing, something done. A feast, a summer feast after a harvest could feel that way. I know some things about GS, and so I sometimes wonder if this is about the passing of a time of fertility. Food standing in for the production and care of something. Don’t know. Just thinking through. When I read the material on Stein, I think about the stuff about cubism--how this feels like a verbal kind of cubism--it makes a picture of something, but it can be difficult to determine what. It demands we look at each individual cube, and here I think her language does that. It forces us to read both the sentences that make sense and the ones that don’t. This for me makes it possible to imagine this as stream-of-consciousness, a review, perhaps while cooking, of a life, perhaps a life in middle age, which would correspond to an end of summer.
We started class together talking about your experiences as a student. And that's important. I can't say this enough times: we teach the way were taught and so it is important that we interrogate our student experience so that we are the best teachers we can be.
Now we are moving towards thinking about the culture for teachers in the US classroom. This is tougher because, for most of you, you've never been in the position of teacher--never had to talk to a parent, master new teaching technology, learn the curricula, design and implement lessons to teach that curricula, or suddenly move all of that to the zoom sphere because of a global pandemic. This asynchronous post is a snapshot of what the experience of the teacher is based on the very unscientific work of finding a bunch of mainstream articles on teaching.
For your asynchronous post today: Please summarize your two articles in 200-300 words. Be sure to identify the major issues as they related to teachers, teaching, and the classroom.
Once you've posted, respond to a colleague: Please identify another classmate who has an article that agrees with, contradicts, or expands/adds to the point your article is making. Respond to that person with the ways you see the article agreeing, contradicting, expanding/adding to your article. You have between 100 and 200 words to do this.
A NOTE: Why did I ask you to locate two articles? You probably know the answer. Any article written after March 2020 will be about teaching in the pandemic. Because that has dominated the classroom, it's important to capture that moment. However, it's not like everything was perfect before we all went online. And so it's important to capture other aspects of what it means to teaching in a classroom, which is why I asked you to locate an essay written before 2020.
REMEMBER: Asynchronous posts are due by Midnight tonight--so 11:59 PM on Thursday, 27 May 2021.
During our first class together, we looked at the iconic essay "Why Johnny Can't Write." Written in 1975, if came at a very particular cultural moment--the article calls it "the political activism of the past decade" by which the author means the civil rights movement. We tend to think of civil rights exclusively through the lens of race and racism--as we should, but we need also to think about it in terms of gender, class, and language, and immigration status.
1970 is an important moment in post-secondary education. The era of "Open Enrollment" began in the wake the Civil Rights movement. It demanded that colleges and universities make a college education available to a wider and wider segment of the population. As a result, the rules that governed how one should talk and write (a middle-class, white "habits" as the writer Asou Inoue calls it in a text we will read this semester), met up against students new to the university that challenged the value and effectiveness of this rules.
We can understand "Why Johnny Can't Write," in 1975, as a backlash to the kinds of pedagogies that were embraced as part of the work to include these students in the benefits of having a college education--which means, as well, that the article was also, at least in part, backlash against those students as well.
Situated this way, the article feels very different. Let us now turn to the "Why blank can't blank" articles you found.
For this post, please identify the following:
BE PREPARED: Once folks have posted and we have spent some time reading each other's posts, I am going to ask you to talk in small groups about what this says to you about literacy instruction today. You'll have some time to talk in small groups and then I will ask you to come back to class and share what you talked about.
USE THIS SPACE TO POST QUESTIONS OR CONCERNS.
This is a permanent Q&A discussion board. So if you have a question about class, please feel free to post here. I check the discussion board during office hours. I will answer any questions I can here.
Of course, if you have a concern that is of a personal nature, feel free to email me directly or come to an open student office hour. However, it's true that a lot of times students have the same question. I will admit to you that I get annoyed at having to answer that same question 25 times. So please use this discussion board for questions that are of a general class nature--if you have that question other people have it too.
The topic of our class today is what outside forces are shaping the US ELA classroom today. We started today talking about our own experiences in the classroom and what those experiences, good and bad, tell us about what we think should be happening between teacher and student in a literacy classroom. That is one force that shapes us as educators.
On the other end of things are the forces we have no control over and little say, as classroom teachers. We start today's class with a wide focus on the kinds of things people think about, protest about, legislate about--which sometimes means that people other than educators are making decisions about what happens in the classroom.
I've asked you to read this 1975 article from Newsweek, "Why Johnny Can't Write." If that title seems familiar to you, it is because, since that appearance, the trope of "why Johnny can't" (or Jane or American Students, etc) do whatever (read, write, code, do algebra, etc) has persisted in education.
I would like to use this article to frame our discussions this summer. For that to happen, I think it's important to consider what the article is actually saying: