Teacher Innovation #6: Using Zines to Promote Black History & Identity Work in the ELA Classroom

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Post #6 is close to my heart and comes from friend and colleague, Glenn Chance. Glenn is a second year ELA teacher at my school. And while technically Glenn is new to teaching, he came to the classroom with plenty of life experience. Glenn has guest posted before. On his first post, I explained his background as a high school dropout, longtime retail worker, and eventual scholar. The reason this post is close to my heart, as the title suggests, is Glenn writes about his use of zines and purposeful identity work in his classroom. Glenn is a relatively fearless, early-years teacher. We talked almost every day this past school year, and I enjoyed watching his tremendous growth. As you will see from his post, Glenn understands how important genuinely combining literature, writing, and identity work really is. I highly recommend reading this post all the way through–especially, if you are considering doing zine work in your own classroom.

Previous Series Entries: Part 1 // Part 2 // Part 3 // Part 4 // Part 5

by Glenn Chance

Introduction – What is a Zine?

Check out these links to learn more – Zines in Action
http://grrrlzines.net/agogo.htm
https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/blog-posts/john-depasquale/zine-making-101/

A zine is a way of saying magazine, just shortened to the last four letters.  Zines are magazines, only miniaturized.  They aren’t new, and have actually been around for decades.  If you’ve ever belonged to a fandom, chances are, there is a zine about it somewhere, or at least there was at one time.   Continue reading

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Teacher Innovation #2: “Using Affinity Spaces in the Secondary ELA Classroom”

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Post number 2 of the innovation series comes from another friend, but not one I have had the honor of working directly with yet, Derek Wright. Derek has been teaching for 4 years and in that short time has done some amazing work in his classroom and as a leader in his school.  Derek’s emphasis on exploring what James Gee calls “affinity spaces” with students is an innovative approach to building community in a classroom as well as develop those much desired, but often unquantifiable, metacognitive skills.

Previous Teacher Innovation Entries: Part 1

by Derek Wright

A very brief introduction:

All students want to learn. Period. But, if we are being honest with ourselves, all students do not want the way schools are currently setup. Everyday though students are learning, collaborating, and producing new content. They are doing this through an idea called “affinity spaces”. Affinity spaces are note only places where passionate learning takes place, but it is a place where content is being produced and consumed. These are highly engaging places that a community is built around learning, teaching, and producing. I am not going to spend a lot of time writing about the theory behind affinity spaces, but if you are interested in more theory about affinity spaces read Dr. James Paul Gee’s book What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literary, and read Dr. Jayne Lammers, Dr. Jen Scott Curwood, and Dr. Alica Marie Magnifico’s article “Toward an affinity space methodology: Considerations for literacy research”.  This assignment idea came from being in Dr. Ryan Rish’s class during my undergraduate degree at KSU. Continue reading

Student Voices: A Senior’s Perspective on a Unfamiliar Text, Using the Reading Process Paper

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In today’s post I bring you another student’s, Ali (name is changed to protect identity), reading process paper. What is unique about Ali’s paper is he is a senior at my school who has never done this sort of writing exercise. What I particularly enjoyed about reading Ali’s final draft was the honesty he appeared to put forth as he processed what he was reading and reflecting on the process over all. Ali would be considered ‘high-flyer,’ so I know it might be easy for teachers to dismiss this post as simply showing off a great student’s work. But I would argue, while Ali had the tools to do this work already, we should not discount the metacognitive work he was asked to do. This is the sort of mental work Ali has not had to do much. He’s good at school. Some information comes easily to him; he meets deadlines, and he is willing to study for subjects he finds troublesome. Still, the reflective process the reading process paper demands was foreign to Ali, which he comments on briefly in his composition. Before you proceed ahead, if you need a reminder of what the process paper is all about and my commentary on Sheridan Blau’s work, go here and here. Continue reading

Student Voices: Revisiting the Reading Process Paper and Student Reading Identity

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Today’s post is long, but I would go so far as to say it is also very interesting. Aida (name changed to protect her identity) is a student who was in my 9th grade English class two years ago and is in my directed studies class this year as an 11th grader. In both contexts, I asked her and her peers to experience what Sheridan Blau calls the reading process paper. I have posted about Blau’s work and the reading process paper in years past here and here. The reading process paper is a metacognitive exercise and encourages students who take it up to venture into reading an unfamiliar poem or short story and develop an interpretation of what they’ve read over several readings over time and space. The added impact of the paper is embedded in the reflective aspects of the assignment where a student will tie their interpretations to their experiences as reader in the past, in the process of reading a cold text, and after the interpretive work is done. I won’t detail how I set up the assignment here, but I will gladly share for anyone who reaches out for it. Rather, inside today’s post you’ll see Aida’s 9th grade reading process paper and her 11th grade reading process paper. I’ll add some commentary along the way. I highly recommend taking the time to read both of her papers and witness Aida’s growth as a writer, but maybe more importantly as a metacognitive thinker and the ways she explicitly and implicitly identifies herself as a reader. Continue reading

Zines, Black History, & Lived Experiences

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While many of the upcoming posts will chronicle Ms. S and Ms. C’s adventure into project-based learning, I am also working alongside my colleague Mr. Chance, who has written a post here before, as he uses zines as tool enrich his students’ experience with Black literature and connecting that literature to their own lives. Continue reading