Get Your Air Horn Ready: Debate Is Now in Session

Teaching (2)

by Dr. Kim Foster

“It. Was. Awesome.”

Let me paint a picture for you. It’s April. There are three weeks of school left for my senior students. To use one student’s exact words, he is beyond ready to “low-key get on up out of this building.” And I understand. I was a senior in high school once. I was a senior in college once. And I was 8 months pregnant defending my dissertation once. I get it. They want to be done, and I want that for them. They have earned it! However, we have three weeks left together, and I want these weeks to be meaningful. So, as I have for the past three years with seniors, we do a debate unit at the end of the year. “Arguing” with one another keeps them highly engaged. They want to win. They want to be right. Continue reading

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GCTE Preview: See You in Athens!

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The Georgia Council of Teachers of English (GCTE) conference in Athens, GA is in just a few short weeks, and this year feels particularly special since I have so many of my colleagues presenting this year too. I cannot entirely pinpoint why I wanted to ensure more of the ELA teachers at my school presented this year, but I know part of the inspiration came from the stellar work they were doing. I have always, no matter the setting, worked with phenomenal ELA teachers. My current school is no exception, so when the time came, I sent an email encouraging several of my compatriots to submit a proposal. Thankfully, most all accepted the challenge, submitted a proposal, and were accepted! In today’s post, I will preview many of the presentations/workshops my colleagues and I will be showing on the weekend of February 9 and 10 as well as why you should check them out! For anyone interested, it is not too late to go to GCTE this year. Go here for conference information. Continue reading

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

Adobe Spark (6)

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

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

Adobe Spark (2)

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