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

See You @ #GCTE2016

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Though the conference actually begins this morning, I will not be able to join the festivities until this afternoon. I am really looking forward to another great conference. This year I have recruited my friend Taylor Cross (Decatur HS) to present with me. Our session info is below:

Session: Zines, Blogs, and the Remix: Leveraging ‘Unschooled’ Literacy Practices to Engage Student Writers
When: 9:10AM, Saturday, February 20th//Concurrent Session H
Where: GCTE 2016 Lanier Islands Legacy Lodge//Grand Ballroom 3

If you’re there, come find me.

Oh, and I passed my proposal defense. Onto data collection and analysis!

Banksy Revisited: Student Encounters w/ Critical Visual Literacy

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A semester of being on A/B block for the first time has messed with my grand scheme a bit. Being sick since NCTE does not help much either. (I’ve concluded I will not be thinking clear-headedly much this week!) Still, I am excited to be venturing back into the microcosm of the artist known as Banksy. Two years ago I used his (her? their?) stencil-style graffiti art to introduce the impact visuals have on how we read the world with my students. In the first iterations, seen here and here, I was simply happy to have students create their own media, their own digital Banksy-style visuals to comment on the world around them. This year, however, I am hoping to guide my students to think through and write about their visual expressions. Inside today’s post are a few of the newest creations students have built as well as explanation of how we will work to make the experience a bit more critical as we close the semester.

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The Remix and the Reflection: Trying to Measure Impact

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This is a post that should have happened a few weeks ago, but time and sickness found a way to keep me from drafting my thoughts until now. My last post on my students’ argumentative letters presented the narrative of an approach to teaching argument that I had never used before. Predicated on having a real audience, my initial goals were to have students draft letters to editors of magazines that addressed a position they took on an article in that magazine. Those letters were then stuffed in envelopes, addressed, and mailed. If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram (@theprofjones), you saw that a few of my students even received letters back already. (More on this later.) Beyond the letters, I wanted to stretch my students creatively and critically. Thanks to some inspiration acquired during one of my doc classes this past summer (thanks Dr. Rish) and a current fall course (thanks Dr. Dail), I designed my argument unit to include multimodal remixes of student arguments followed by a written reflection essay.  Continue reading

Seeking a Real Audience: A Revised Approach to Teaching Argument

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I believe providing student writers a real audience to write for is at the core of improving writing and developing its relevance to a student. The problem is finding that audience. The most difficult issue I struggle to overcome in teaching writing is discovering and obtaining a real audience for students to address. If you’re an English teacher, or any kind of writing instructor, you probably understand my dilemma. Through some heavy thinking and the influence my doctoral classes and Peter Smagorinsky, I developed an argumentative writing unit that I’m proud of and that connects my students to the world outside my classroom. That being said, the process wasn’t all peaches and cream; my students and I struggled to cultivate an understanding of how a ‘school’ argument transfers to a business letter format, and students specifically struggled with conceptualizing that their writing would wind up in the hands of another adult not named Mr. Jones. Continue reading