Live the Questions: Action Learning Project Celebration

3 05 2011

Thanks to everyone on your contributions to our “living the questions” this semester. It’s always most amazing to me how with the sharing of Action Learning Projects that we learn not only from the inquirer but from the connections that colleagues make. I’ll include spin-off ideas and resources below that grew out of the presentations and discussion.

Frederik – Could Integrating Technology and Teaching Modern Best-Sellers Make the Classics More Appealing?

Focus group with middle grade students about the role that technology and young adult literature might play in their study of English. Surprising group consensus that these would not be helpful.

Discussion on how these students because of the school culture that was more ‘green” may not value technology as much as most of society.

Question if tech tools and YAL may seem less rigorous in this school culture and some discussion about how AP English students and many teachers often look down on technology and YAL.

Questions/Comments/Positive Reinforcements:
[16:13] Narrator: It’s very nice to hear the classic suffice. [16:13] Narrator: classics* [16:14] BelieveAchieve: I agree, becuse ususally they get so immersed in technology [16:15] 2B Writer: me too, BelieveAchieve. I think this is a different culture
16:15] Greensleeves: wow!
[16:15] NikkiCastle: better! silly laptop.
[16:15] Greensleeves: That is such an interesting and surprising perspective
[16:16] Narrator: I think YA has to be selected well… I can imagine its easy for students to encounter YA that is weak and not challenging to them
[16:16] BelieveAchieve: maybe they didn’t make the connection [
16:18] Greensleeves: yes [16:18] Greensleeves: you’re making sense
[16:18] 2B Writer: thanks, Jen. I do worry about digital equity issues for all
[16:18] 2B Writer: Ah, Luddites, sort of
[16:18] NikkiCastle: Interesting observation.
[16:18] Narrator: Now that was funny.
[16:19] BelieveAchieve: so it is done intentionally for the sake of the green env. [16:20] Narrator: it was just surprising [
16:20] BelieveAchieve: thank you Fred
[16:21] Narrator: itd be interesting to test different groups [

Maureen – Can Contemporary YA Lit Build a Bridge? (5:16)

Survey and follow-up interviews with teens on the role of YA lit in the English class and, in particular, how bridging William Golding’s classic The Lord of the Flies and Janne Teller’s 2011 Printz Honor Book, Nothing, might contribute to critical literacy and empathy.

Questions/Comments/Positive Reinforcements:

Discussion on how students in both the high school classes (taught by teachers completing Masters degrees and high on integrating YA lit) and the Eva Perry Mock Printz Club (“We’re not normal.”) were better acquainted with YA lit than most teens.

Also, comments on the teens’ caveats on how not to teach YA lit — “not presented in such a way that young adults fall out of love with reading.” Dissect it in most irritating ways (basalize) or “dissect in most irritating ways.”

[16:24] Trixidawg: LOF one of the great books of all time! And I just finished Nothing two weeks ago. Great pairing.n
[16:30] BelieveAchieve: done. enjoyed it.
[16:31] NikkiCastle: wow! great interviews!
[16:31] Greensleeves: Very thorough
[16:31] maureen2: thx
[16:31] Narrator: I thought the students did a great job; I’m wondering if these students are simply well read and thus bridged it well as a result, or if they represent typical student samples
[16:31] BelieveAchieve: i was impressed by the 2nd lady’s frankness and how she related bothnovels.
[16:32] 2B Writer: Nikki is so cool
[16:32] Trixidawg: Oh there’s a difference. Trust me. Remember, the Perry kids said about themselves, “we’re not normal.”
[16:33] BelieveAchieve: It is a circle [16:34] NikkiCastle: combination of both 😀 [16:34] Narrator: mhmm
[16:35] maureen2: i think it has to do w/ the current grad programs
[16:35] maureen2: teaching ya lit i mean
[16:35] Narrator: glad you got students who were willing to be seen in videos! 🙂 [16:36] Narrator: true true
[16:36] Greensleeves: yes [16:36] Greensleeves: good line
[16:36] maureen2: the schwa [16:37] maureen2: erics students were some who took the survey

Jen – Can Literature Serve as an MKO?

Highly scaffolded lesson using several “bridge” texts – “classics” of Countlee Cullen’s poem, “The Incident” and Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” with contemporary YA short stories from Ann Mazer’s Knowing Where I’m Coming From and Academy of Achievement biographies
and a mapping tool, Bubblus

Resource Jen recommended for designing “bridge” lessons:
Fisher, L.W., 2002. “Bridge” texts: The rhetoric of persuasion in American children’s realist and historical fiction. Children’s Literature Association Quarterly, 27(3), 129-135. Project Muse <>

Questions/Comments/Positive Reinforcements:

Jen when asked about any surprise that this complex lesson worked out so well confessed to worrying that the teens weren’t getting the lottery connection and having “to hold her tongue” so she’d not tell them. Discussion about the value of waiting for students to develop their own insights. Scaffold well and then trust in the results.

16:47] Trixidawg: Wow! Very complex.
[16:48] maureen2: i agree w/ karen, nice work jen [
16:49] Narrator: I may just have not been paying attention closely enough, did you do this in one session?
[16:49] 2B Writer: love it
[16:49] maureen2: yes, teaches text to world and self connections
[16:50] 2B Writer: Had to be scaffolded really well
[16:50] BelieveAchieve: Althougn I could only watch 3 min., i Was so impressed by the way you helped me expand on the meaning of lottery [16:50] BelieveAchieve: helped them
[16:51] 2B Writer: Social Justice is a tough concept for all of us to truly understand [16:52] Greensleeves: yes
[16:52] NikkiCastle: show nit tell! very well done! [16:52] NikkiCastle: not
[16:53] Trixidawg: It is a great test of patience but absolutely necessary [
16:53] maureen2: yes makes it concrete
[16:54] 2B Writer: Holding tongue is good skill for teacher [
16:55] maureen2: so hard though sometimes
[16:55] BelieveAchieve: A chinese proverb-can’t remember it exactly”give a child a fish and he will eat it for a day; teach him how to fish. he will eat for the rest of his life.”
[16:55] 2B Writer: how about that [16:55] 2B Writer: Yes, Micheline — Peace Corps [16:55] BelieveAchieve: right
[16:56] maureen2: that was awesome, jen. i will refer back to it since we teach the lottery in ENG 111

Scott – How can I use multigenre inquiry to produce a love of reading and replace the dreaded research paper?

Teen writers, the Inklings, joined Scott to contribute to a collaborative multigenre project. Genres included bookcasts (a first!), poetry, and short stories inspired by Cormac MacCarthy’s The Road.

Questions/Comments/Positive Reinforcements:

17:19] Greensleeves: Excellent plan! Loved your approach to multigenre as a group project.
[17:19] 2B Writer: Terrific! More than one way
[17:19] 2B Writer: Others finished?
[17:19] Greensleeves: It would be a great idea for book clubs [17:20] Greensleeves: or reading groups
[17:20] Narrator: Definitely, I thought that too, Jen
[17:20] Narrator: keeps them writing with reading
[17:20] Trixidawg: I’m done. Loved the students’ products.
[17:20] maureen2: very interesting. students really seem to like multigenre inquiries
[17:22] Greensleeves: good point
[17:22] Trixidawg: Good teaching starts with good relationships. People want that human connection.
[17:22] maureen2: you made a really good point about teachers doing the same type of work their students do
[17:24] maureen2: also doing it along with the student provides good modeling for them
[17:24] Greensleeves: I loved the story J wrote. Tied in a coming of age perspective [17:25] 2B Writer: Loved J’s short story too [
17:25] Narrator: the good guys! thanks

Karen – How Can I Motivate My Students to Read?

60 tenth grade students assigned an independent reading project that was carefully and wisely scaffolded so that each student chose a book, created some type of tangible artistic response, gave an update on progress frequently, and then presented a book talk with their artwork at a coffeehouse-themed event complete with checked tablecloths, flowers, and refreshments.

Questions/Comments/Positive Reinforcements:

[17:39] maureen2: nice work karen how do you think you will continue to engage students in required reading?
Some discussion of how Karen can work with her enthusiastic librarian to provide appropriate World Lit-related text of interest to teens.

Micheline – How Can a Work of Art Turn Us From Mere Observers into Real Creators?

VoiceThread creatively used to encourage students to respond in their own unique ways to various poems by Naomi Shihab Nye. Responses ranged from singing to rapping to poetry to musical slide shows.

Questions/Comments/Positive Reinforcements:
[17:52] Narrator: so much creativity in so many forms
[17:52] Greensleeves: I love the technologies incorporated in your presentation! [17:52] Trixidawg: Poetry is my weakest spot Might have to steal your idea.
[17:52] maureen2: that was very creative i like all the different means of expression students sed
[17:52] maureen2: used
[17:53] Frederik: I really enjoyed your project Micheline – you really gave students the ability to express themselves in many ways
[17:53] Ajax Quinnell: i was amazed you got that out of voice thread

To learn more about each project: See Action Learning Projects and the blogs

Cris’s Wrap:

“Begin with a Poem” – Rosenblatt’s term for a reader’s response to any text is a “poem” from the Greek “poiesis” which means “to make” as in “to transform and continue the world” (see Wikipedia for more on poiesis). Take-away message: Always begin with a reader’s response to the text; once engaged, then critical literacy, literary criticism, the teaching of literary elements, writing, etc. can follow.

Book Clubs – Apply good collaborative learning strategies to scaffold successful book clubs. Tried and true strategies include having members each bring a question(s) to the meeting, documenting progress in a club log, conferencing with each club, and having club members self-assess and assess the group process.

Networked Learning – It’s vital for us to become not just visitors to the online space but residents who know their way around and how to learn there. Siements (May 2011) has written about the need to be “network-directed” and that “to be competent, to be creative, to be adaptable, requires that we are connected.” Stay connected through networks like Jim Burke’s English Companion Ning and create your own network with Twitter and/or blogging. Please follow #bookhenge for news of ECI 521 events and resources. We’d love to see you in the Bookhenge again. You’re always invited back to learn of the latest and greatest YA books and any other of our annual events.

Also consider sharing your students’ future bookcasts in The North Carolina Reading Association’s Bookcast Festival.

Intellectual Freedom – Help students to not only create but understand their rights and responsibilities as creators of media. Understanding fair use is part of our intellectual freedom – to stand on the shoulders of others. Readjust your attitude to consider copyright and fair use to be a positive part of intellectual freedom – individuals who create need to understand what it means to own intellectual property and to show respect for that of others.

Larry Lessig tells the story of John Sousa who warned that the “talking machine” – voice recorder—would take away our voices and he was right to a great degree – the twentieth century was primarily a “read-only” culture and the majority left the creation to the professionals. Digital media has give us a “read-write” culture, a participatory culture and we need not be professionals to create. Just look at the YouTube aesthetic!

Fair use is no mystery. It’s an analytical process that you use when you consider these four factors: 1. Purpose and character of use, 2. Nature of copyrighted work, 3. Amount and substantiality of the work used, and 4. $ effects on market $ or the owner’s ability to profit from their creation. Learn more at the Stanford University Libraries’ Fair Use site.

For an informative session on copyright and fair use with lots of resources, see “Copyright Remix: What’s Copyright, Copyleft, or Copywrong, in a Participatory Culture?”

Good example to consider as digital media gives us new ways to transform copyrighted materials by appropriating to remix and mash-up:

Uplar by Pogo of Perth (and Disney)

Finally, the Eva Perry entry into the American Library Association’s “Why I Need My Library” Video Contest. Do these teens have a passion for literature or what? It’s what we hope we can pass on to our students.

“Escape: Why I Need My Library”

Archive of Class, May 2, 2011 . . .




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