Session 2 Synthesis: Guiding Principles and Neglecting Nonfiction Never

16 06 2011

Theories sometimes don’t get the credit they deserve because we can’t seem to pack them up and take them with us, or at least not easily. Just as mobile technology frees us to have what we need to communicate anytime, anywhere, “mobile” theories allow us to take them along in our back pockets. How do you make a theory mobile? By giving it wings! By converting it to set of guiding principles or a framework for decisions.

That’s what we did as the final stage of our collaborative critical inquiry on learning, literacy, and literature theories. Called “Waves of Change,” layer 1 includes “resident experts” sharing their understanding of various learning, literacy, and literature theories, Wave 2 presents the connections/syntheses made, and Wave 3 became a set of seven guiding principles synthesized from Wave 2. Heads-up that these seemed in my perspective to be the “biggies” but I’d appreciate any input. The beauty is that we can each pack our own guiding principles to take along our teacher’s journeys.

Guiding Principles for "Learning Through Literature with Young Adults" Framework

Discussion of Principles

The principle clearly at the foundation of our framework is creating a learner-centered classroom or to quote Ali — “value what the learner can bring to the learning.”

“Communication skills are more vital in our social, technoloyg-based culture.”
Will shared update on Carrboro High and its openness to social media like Facebook.

Two interesting, related articles —

Twitter Finds a Place in the Classroom Twitter as a backchannel in his face-to-face classroom . . .

Against the Whole-Class Novel More than an argument against the whole-class novel, Particia calls for transforming the English classroom using today’s digital tools.

We’ll add to and refine our framework as we continue throughout the term.

Session Highlights

Some of the newest “Waves of Change” theories were reviewed, including Reader Response, Pink’s Six Elements of Creatvity, and Social Constructivism/Connectivism. Rosenblatt (1938/1995) argued that each reader transacts with a text to create a “poem” (from the Greek “poiesis” to make; to do something; to change). So we begin with the reader’s poem and build on that relationship to engender deeper, more reflective, more critical and creative thinking. Susie used storytelling to explain how the context also affects “the poem,” as her response to Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye evolved.

Story is one of Pink’s Six Elements of Creativity. Along with design, symphony, meaning, and play. Kendra reminded us of the importance of being a teacher who models creativity in her work. Crabtree (2004) reminds us that “keeping students engaged in learing requires having the latitude to be highly creative, to build strong relationships, and tailor to the learning needs of the student.”

We are teaching during an exciting time, a transformative time as the Constructivism theory of the 20th century evolves and many begin to adopt Siemens’s theory of Connectivism. It really is more than simply a shift in metaphors — it’s a shift in understanding how we learn and how that learning is evolving in a digital age. Will described Social Constructivism as “co-constructing” and Amber explained that Connectivism is “the process of making connections through external resources and then internalizing them.” See our Collaborative Critical Inquiry for more on theories. We’ll discuss others more in depth in other sessions.

Many of us have a passionate interest in teaching for social justice and I shared the NC State College of Education’s mission statement and made the connection to democratic principles and the role that literature can play.

Louise Rosenblatt and John Dewey were contemporaries; Reader response is influenced by tranactional theory

Nonfiction, the Neglected Stepchild

Most of us came to the realization that, as Susie tweeted, that we have been neglecting nonfiction. We also realized, thanks to Hannah, that nonfiction is a multi-faceted genre, including biographies, memoirs, and creative nonfiction to name a few. Blakely was inspired to include primary sources into the mix.

Using nonfiction, which is “living and breathing” literature (Hannah), makes the study of literature more relevant, dynamic, and contemporary. Read an article that Hannah discovered in her research that speaks of the transformation of the English classroom — “English Language Educators Balance Text-Only with Multimedia Tools.”

About guys and their preference for nonfiction, we reviewed some Smith and Wilhelm research and discussed ways that we can use sound pedagogy, applying many of the theories we’d studied, to “situate, model, and make social” (Smith) the study of literature.

We also returned to scenario building to create essential questions for

Maus Multivoice Poem written and performed by Blakely, Frances, and Will (for text)

Maus Book Club (Will, Frances, and Blakely) perform their multivoice poem. Second Life's lag factor makes all the more aurally interesting!

Essential Questions:

What lengths would you go to to survive? And what does morality mean in that situation?

How do our parents’ decisions affect us?

Interview parents and create own graphic novel.

The Glass Castle Book Club: Jenny, Amber, and Matt

Essential Question: How have you learn to persevere?

Relevant speech by Stephen Krashen on the poverty of our children today and our need to re-evaluate our priorities to provide them with the food, healthcare, and books they need to succeed. Krashen’s speech begins at 34:34.

The Forbidden Schoolhouse Book Club: Kendra, Susie, Ali, Hannah

Essential Question? What in your life is worth standing up for?
Suggestion: Combine with fiction in a project, possibly Huck Finn or To Kill a Mockingbird.

To learn more about essential questions . . . Grant Wiggins on Essential Questions

To watch videos of past ALPs that relate reflect the Learning Through Literature with Young Adults conceptual/theoretical framework and nonfiction projects . . . Session 2 Videos

To learn of additional nonfiction and fiction for a diversity of learner needs, interest, and abilities — YALSA’s Book Awards and Booklists

To review the live UStream of the class:

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