by Mary Buckelew
“Before choosing The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney for my self-selected book, I figured that I’d be reading aesthetically as I wanted to read for entertainment. After reading, I can say I read mostly with an aesthetic lens, but I did read efferently at times to soak in new information regarding my major.” (Ethan, undergraduate criminal justice major)
“I wish I’d known about the different stances of reading long before this, and I wish my high school teachers hadn’t focused solely on the efferent aspects of reading and books. I only read books in high school to pass tests, write required papers, and other test oriented stuff . . . I don’t think my teachers knew that the aesthetic stance existed. Even summer reading was always selected for us and then we were tested – efferent all the way.” (Sarah, undergraduate biology pre-med major)
“I now like to think about how I am reading, why I am reading, and I even apply efferent and aesthetic to other classes and life in general.” (“Honest Anonymous Feedback” from the end of the semester evaluations, Lit. 165 2:00)
Sarah, Ethan, and the anonymous student were enrolled in my Literature 165 classes this past spring semester. They shared these ideas in their final reflections and in final evaluations.
by Meg Clementi
Is reabhloideach mise. I am a revolutionary.
As a math teacher, I am questioned by peers as to why I have my students write. What is
my purpose in asking students to explain their thinking? Why have I attended conferences, courses and programs whose attendees are comprised of 99% English teachers and Elementary reading and writing teachers? I stand at the edges, accepting the shaken heads and wonderings of my peers.
Is reabhloideach mise. I am a revolutionary.
I have my students write because their ability to explain their thinking is important to me. Their ability to justify their processes and answers is critical. Their depth of knowledge is essential. My students write because as their teacher, I demand this level of participation, performance and comprehension from them. I am not satisfied with them simply renting knowledge and discarding what they have learned as they place their hands on the doorknob and walk out of my classroom for the last time. I want them to own knowledge.
Is reabhloideach mise. I am a revolutionary. Read more
by Lynne Dorfman
Fabulous! Inspirational! Captivating! Award-winning author Jen Bryant has created another masterpiece with Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille. In this touching story, Bryant gives us the fictionalized voice of young Louis Braille, capturing the full range of emotions as he confronts his blindness and becomes a teenage inventor who makes his mark on the world.
From an early age Louis Braille loved to spend time with his father. An accident in his father’s workshop led to an eye infection that eventually caused his blindness. Luckily, he had a family who loved him and tried in every way to help him. A big decision that probably changed his life – Louis was sent to a school for the blind in Paris.
By Janice Ewing
My grad class is small this term, a seminar-like community with lots of conversation and sharing of ideas and experiences. The comfort level among the group is a welcome respite at a time when everyone is striving to fulfill end-of-year requirements and scrambling to reach unmet goals, while keeping up with grad school and family obligations.
Recently, a few of the teachers shared experiences that were unexpectedly positive and rewarding. For example, Anne (names have been changed) teaches in an alternative high school for students who have previously dropped out or taken other detours from the traditional path to graduation. Most, if not all, have had struggles and negative experiences with reading, robbing them of the pleasurable experience of getting caught up in a book. By chance, Anne acquired a large enough collection of Walter Dean Myers’ Monster to accommodate her small class. She had not read the book, but had read reviews and commentaries and it seemed like a great fit for her students. She decided to jump in without reading it ahead, which was not her usual practice. Next issue: a well-meaning colleague pointed out that there were related “packets’ available, which would provide questions, prompts, discussion points, etc. An inner voice told her to forgo the packets, and she listened to it. Read more
By Janice Ewing
Instructions for living a life:
Tell about it.
Mary Oliver (from “Sometimes”)
These are among my favorite lines from Mary Oliver, and I think that these “instructions” apply to poetry, too. Once again we find ourselves in April, Poetry Month. Many of us have considered the value of giving poetry its special twelfth of the year, versus reading, writing and enjoying it all the time. This year, I’m feeling a little more mellow about that issue. I’ve come to believe that we can immerse ourselves and our students in poetry through all seasons, and still take the month of April to celebrate it with fun and fanfare. Read more
Middle Grade Book Reviews by Gabija Fischer
Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate
Crenshaw, Jackson’s imaginary cat, states, “Imaginary friends are like books. We’re created, we’re enjoyed, we’re dog-eared and creased, and then we’re tucked away until we’re needed again.” And for Jackson who feared homelessness…again, the time of need came all too often, and in times of need, Crenshaw would appear. While his parents cannot seem to catch a break, both of them out of jobs and his father battling multiple sclerosis, Jackson and his little sister spend much of their time worrying about losing the last of their possessions. For once those possessions are sold, what would be left for Jackson but a giant, talking, imaginary cat and a crowded van in which his family would spend their days? Could Jackson ignore the truth of his situation or would admitting the truth finally set him free? Read more