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Posts from the ‘Literacy’ Category

180 Days Book Review

by: Bruning, Cardillo, Clarke, Coladonato, Patton, & Peltier

180 days

Kelly Gallagher and Penny Kittle’s new book, 180 Days: Two Teachers and the Quest to Engage and Empower Adolescents, published by Heinemann, is a stimulating read during a time of educational dismay. Gallagher and Kittle disrupt the mold of state-mandated testing as well as tightly bound curriculums and bring educators back to their original teaching philosophies. While many education texts provide quick-fix teaching strategies for a specific skill set, this book, as the title suggests, opens up a discussion on what 180 days in the classroom looks like with engaged and motivated students. Gallagher and Kittle work together on lesson plans and teaching approaches in two very different environments—Gallagher in an urban, California school with a diverse student population and Kittle in a rural, New Hampshire school with a homogenous student population. They base their year of collaboration on research and core beliefs, all in hopes of sharing what they believe is most important: creating student readers and writers that are engaged, inspired, and curious about the world around them. Read more

Book Review: Sparks in the Dark by Travis Crowder and Todd Nesloney

by: Anne Busciacco, Marissa Caldwell, Lauren Foley, Erika Hunsicker, Tom Lang & Dan Lonsdale

sparks in darkNavigating through a maze of students absorbed in their independent reading books, I pause before Ryan. Our second-day-of-school conversation echoes in my mind . . .
“I don’t like to read,” he declared, doubtful seventh grade would change anything.
His friend, Charlie, smirked at him, “That’s because you only read teacher-assigned books.”
Now, four weeks later—after interviewing many texts and abandoning two—Ryan sits nestled in a bean-bag chair, engrossed in Booked by Kwame Alexander. During our last conference, he claimed it as one of the best novels he had ever read.
“ # What child have you seen impacted by a different kind of teaching style?” (79).
In Sparks in the Dark, by Travis Crowder and Todd Nesloney, you will meet a plethora of  students like Ryan whose lives were forever impacted by the power of choice. Read more

Snorkeling and Scuba Diving in an Undergraduate General Education Literature Course: Diving into the Educational Theory Behind “Next” Practices*

 by Mary Buckelew

Student Voices
“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. 

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Guest Post: Is reabhloideach mise.

by Meg Clementi

b4ce9c74625bfa28595da719e6f32686.jpg-2.gifIs 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

Books on the Blog: Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille

by Lynne Dorfman

Fabulous! Inspirational! Captivating! Award-winning author Jen Bryant has created SixDotsCoveranother 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.

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Teacher-to-Teacher: End-of-Year Epiphanies

Adobe Spark (22)

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