Guided by Theory (First Class in Bookhenge)

1 02 2011

You would have thought we were all residents of Second Life!  Well, I guess we are now.  And we’re becoming residents of the digital world.  We’ve definitely embraced the visitor/resident metaphor over the immigrant/native.  Here’s the movie version . . .

I’ll share the highlights of the class for me and anyone is welcome to add to in the Comments.

Reader Response Activity for “The Road Less Traveled” by Robert Frost

Guiding Principles from Our Evolving “Learning Through Literature” Framework

Beginning the Dialogue about Action Learning Projects

Bookcasting in Response to Literature

Field Trip to Ramapo Island’s Amazing StoryWorld Inspired by “The Road Less Traveled” by Robert Frost




1.  Reader Response Activity for “The Road Less Traveled” by Robert Frost

Louise Rosenblatt’s acid test or guiding principle:  Does it get in the way of the live sense of the literature? (Rosenblatt, 1938).

Reader Response theory is valuable for helping readers make personal connections.  These can be efferent (“to take from,” usually nonfiction or more objective) or aesthetic (“to live through,” usually more evocative, emotional).  It’s never either-or but both-and for any reading experience.

Why Reader Response often gets “no respect?”

1.  There’s a mistaken idea that we begin and end with Reader Response and fail to move beyond the personal/feeling level to the more critical/analytical level.  Reader Response is a way to engage the reader and, hopefully, compel them to continue to read.

2.  Many believe that Reader Response is helpful for only fiction.  Research by Spires & Donnelly demonstrated that Reader Response works successfully in engaging readers of nonfiction (Spires & Donnelly, 1998).

Rosenblatt (1985) argued for the use of transactive rather than interactive.  Interactive is from a mechanical paradigm and implies an acting upon of separate entities while transactive reflects a more organic, systemic approach and represents the entities as acting upon each other.  Readers and texts transact and both are changed.

Reader Response + Creativity connection (Pink’s Creative Elements) — empathy (to take and understand another’s perspective), symphony (to see the “big picture” and its many facets/perspectives), and meaning (something larger than ourselves; purpose).


[Cris: Reflect on a road you have taken on your journey and how that decision has “made all the difference?”]

[16:07] 2B Writer: Cris — taking ECI 521 online and inworld

[16:07] BelieveAchieve: Micheline :the road that led me to the U.S. changed my life.

[16:07] NikkiCastle: Shannon – living on my own for the first time

[16:08] maureen2: Switching careers to become an English teacher.

[16:08] Narrator: A teacher made me drop Spanish and pick up Creative Writing in the 11th grade. Now I want to write and be an English teacher. – Scott

[16:08] Trixidawg: Trixidawg Karen–Choosing to be a high school English teacher many years ago

[16:08] Greensleeves: Jen – the road traveled was putting plans on hold to raise my children. Best choice I’ve ever made.

[16:08] Frederik: Frederik – Moving to the United States as a young teenager provided me with the opportunity for a great education and career as well

[16:08] cameraeye: Taking photography in college for an ‘easy A’. It wasn’t easy, but turned out I found my calling!

[16:09] Narrator: Just wanted to quickly point out Frederik and I had the same junior English teacher

[16:09] Narrator: It was.

[Cris reads “The Road Less Traveled” by Robert Frost.]

[16:10] cameraeye: I’m reciting it with you. One of my very favorites.

[16:11] BelieveAchieve: I wish I could recite it too.

[Cris:  What connections do you make to your own road chosen and Frost’s description of his road less traveled?”

[16:11] BelieveAchieve: My road was not a choice

[16:12] BelieveAchieve: It was my destiny

[16:12] Narrator: It was far more typical to get the proper amount of Spanish classes checked off for college admissions than to take a creative route

[16:12] cameraeye: I have had many moments in my life when I recited this to myself and chose the path no leaves had trodden black. In fact, I put an excerpt from this poem in my resignation letter when I left NBC news.

[16:12] BelieveAchieve: interesting!

[16:12] Greensleeves: I feel that mine is the road less traveled largely due to economics. Many women can’t choose to stay home with their children.

[16:12] cameraeye: Yes!

[16:13] maureen2: My road challenged me to try something new.

[16:13] Trixidawg: no one encouraged me to be a teacher; in fact, I was discouraged from doing so. I guess in that sense I took the less traveled path.

[16:13] cameraeye: Amen. I wish I could be a stay at home mom. I would miss my career, but I would rather miss the career than my children growing. thankfully my husband had flex hours and watched them for me.

[16:14] Frederik: It was very much made all the difference, had I not moved here with my family, I never would have met my husband – and next to my parents, he is the one person that has had the single-greates effect on who I am as an adult

[16:14] Greensleeves: If I hadn’t put my dreams of teaching on hold, I wouldn’t be here now. That would be sad.

[16:14] BelieveAchieve: Sometimes we get reluctant to take the path of a road less traveled, but I believe this is the challenge that makes us different.

[16:14] cameraeye: Yes. They are good boys. Straight As today and great conduct!!

[16:14] NikkiCastle: I’m usually on the road less traveled for the same reasons as the poem. I third the stay at home mommy route, I hope I can.


2.  Guiding Principles from Our Evolving “Learning Through Literature” Framework

We have curated what we’ve learned about important learning, literacy, and literary theories in a VoiceThread (Wave 1) and then synthesized the theories to begin to create a vision of what “learning through literature” looks like (Wave 2).  The next step is to create guiding principles that can help us create a framework for decision-making in our learning and teaching.

Rosenblatt’s acid test or guiding principle:  “Does it get in the way of the live sense of literature?” (Rosenblatt, 1938).

Our evolving list of guiding principles:

Cris:  Collaborate, create, contribute . . .

[16:39] Trixidawg: Provide students with variety of ways to react to literature. Don’t take away their creativity with your restrictions.

[16:39] maureen2: Allow students to work together in a collaborative environment to construct meaning from a piece of literature.

[16:41] NikkiCastle: Students can learn that a book can operate on many different levels from the plot to the moral of the book.

[16:41] Narrator: Our analysis of the text should add to our understanding and management of relationships.

[16:41] Frederik: Never stop finding new and creative ways to expose yourself and appreciate literature

[16:41] BelieveAchieve: create a class that engages students socially and democratically through diverse literature.

[16:41] cameraeye: There is a daily challenge of teaching to a diverse learning group. I have to remember that all students are not as outspoken about their learning as I would prefer them to be. The challenge lies in finding other ways for them to communitcate what they have learned from text without reading aloud or commenting to the group

[16:41] Greensleeves: Building on the knowledge of others we can create meaning with texts.

[16:42] BelieveAchieve: know how to ‘read ‘ a book from many perspectives to reach new ones.

[16:43] Greensleeves: Someone else’s experience may be the key to creating meaning with literature

College of Education:  “Our inquiry and practice reflect integrity, a commitment to social justice, and the value of diversity in a global community.

New theory introduced — a learning theory for the digital age — Connectivism.

“Our ability to learn what we need for tomorrow is more important than what we know today.” George Siemens

Connectivism is the theory that “all knowledge is distributed across a network of connectors, and therefore the learning consists of the ability to construct and traverse these networks.” Stephen Downes

We, as professional learners and teachers, must become accomplished at networked learning and develop our own personal learning spaces/environments.  We must learn to feel comfortable learning in this new digital space (become residents) and be able to connect (how to find and connect with others with similar interests, etc.), communicate/collaborate, create/express, control (flow of information), curate (remix, re-package, share the understanding).


3.  Beginning the Dialogue About Action Learning Projects

We briefly discussed how our guiding principles will inform our Action Learning Projects and the project specs.  To be continued in our RAPs.  It’s not too soon . . .

4.  Bookcasting in Response to Literature

The goal of a bookcast is to cast as in “to set forth or let loose” a creative response to literature.

These responses can be inspired by text-to-text, text-to-self, or text-to-world connections.


Text-to-Self — “A Hard Choice” by Ramapo Island Middle Schooler

Text-to-World — Micheline’s response to Nothing by Janne Teller

Ira Glass’s story “formula” — anecdote (sequence of events) + reflection — Jen’s response to Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan


5.  Field Trip to Ramapo Island’s Amazing StoryWorld Inspired by “The Road Less Traveled” by Robert Frost

Visit to StoryWorld, Ramapo Island’s powerful installation in Second Life — The StoryWorld was conceived and designed by Ramapo Island’s middle school students in response to Frost’s “The Road Less Traveled.”  The topic is eating disorders and the decisions are crucial.

Immersed in the StoryWorld!

Trixidawg chooses a door.

6.  Resources:

For the archived class . . .

For the slide presentation and transcript, see Bookhenge Wiki > LIVE Classes Artifacts


Pink, D. (2005).  A whole new mind.

Rosenblatt, L. (1985).  Transactions versus interactions: A terminological rescue operation.  Research in the Teaching of English National Council of Teachers of English.  Access January 31, 2011, from

Spires and Donley (1998), “Inducing Engagement with Information Texts”




2 responses

1 02 2011

Yes! Thank you, Micheline, for sharing your observation that we really are attempting to connect many theories to guide our coursework.

You and our class colleagues may have bumped into a few walls at the Ramapo Island Middle School but you succeeded in experiencing the immersive quality of this virtual installation with its movies, posters, and surround-sound poetry. Those I talked with said there was an overwhelming amount of information coming at them, but the results were powerful. I usually don’t even attempt a field trip on the first night of class but our class is catching on fast. You’re right, we’re rapidly becoming residents!

Again, thanks so for sharing your perspective. A reflective stance and a good sense of humor are vital in First and Second Life 😉

1 02 2011
Micheline Aoun

Our meeting in 2nd life was a very informative and inspiring experience!
I have to admit that I am amazed by the steps we are taking to become residents of the digital world. Wasn’t our meeting a reflection of many literature theories we were discussing – especially Engagement, Social Constructivism, and Participatory Learning? The most adventurous part for me was our field trip. My head is still hurting: I bumped it many times into the walls! A funny incident to remember for my 1st virtual tour!

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