Principled Teaching and Learning

11 09 2012

There was laughter, not a little of which may have masked a bit of nervous awkwardness (which Tracey suggests) as we gathered for our first class in the Bookhenge.  For those who would like to revisit those two hours, there is a video archive and accompanying slides and transcript.

Reviewing the products of the session and Critical Reflections posts for the week, I’d offer this brief synthesis of the weeks that were and preview for the week to come.

Principled Practice

First off, our evolving Framework for Learning Through Literature with Young Adults and the principles we’re crafting to link theory to practice.  Here’s a first attempt at a visual way to represent connections I’m seeing.


The general “principled practices” to the left include more specific ones to the right and the green arrows indicate connections (created with MindMeister). Click to enlarge.

I opted for the term “principled practices” to better achieve that real connection between theory and practice that many of us expressed that we hope this process will encourage.

For an example of principled teaching made visible through critical reflection, I’d recommend Chad’s latest blog post: “What We Made Today, September 6, 2012.  His mantra seems to be: “We need to write, make, and play along our students.”

And for more on social-emotional learning (or the affective as Doug reported in his introduction of the Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy), I’d recommend this dream team panel with Daniel Goleman of emotional intelligence fame and George Lucas who needs no introduction though you may not have been aware of his educational non-profit, Edutopia.

Finally, on the topic of principled practice, at the heart of the NCSU College of Education mission is the goal of promoting social justice.  We’ll do all we can this semester to bring this noble cause to the practical level by including it in our principled practice at every opportunity.  Jessica Wise’s powerful video, “How Fiction Can Affect Reality,” should become a touchstone for our work.


Thanks to our scouts who are boldly going into the new world of multiple media for sharing on the Web.  SoundClouds enthusiasts are many.  We also have two courageous vloggers:  Caroline and DougSonya has designed a multimedia approach that often includes audio and video.  And Teresa invented her own multimedia format for storytelling that includes dramatic readings, visuals, and well-chosen words.  I’m seeing many other innovations tweeted and look forward to checking them out.

This exploration of multiple forms of media is good preparation to develop a truly unique 21st century literacy that Henry Jenkins calls “transmedia literacy.” You’ll remember Jenkins from Jill’s spirited introduction to Participatory LearningChad includes it as a goal: “I want my all of my children to tell stories across several forms of media.”But in addition to multiple forms of media, we need to consider multiple genres of expression, too.  Remember Oldfather and Dahl’s research findings that motivation for literacy learning today is a result of a lack of “self expression and personal response” in English Language Arts programs.  Readers need to explore not only new technologies and media but forms of storytelling.Toward this goal, we’ll try our hand at bookcasting.  Bookcasting uses video as a medium for expressing personal responses to literature.  I’ve written much about it.  See the course wiki and the North Carolina Bookcasting Festival.  Essentially, it’s sharing the story of the personal theme that you take from the book.  Actor-Writer Stephen Tobolowsky describes the principle eloquently when he describes how to “put life into a performance or piece of writing.”

“Where there’s truth, there’s life. … Aristotle talked about something called techne. … There is a little jolt that we get when we recognize the truth, and it gives us a little burst of pleasure. Aristotle said it is the basis of comedy and it is the basis of all drama, trying to find techne. I think that’s helped me in my comedic acting, and it’s certainly helped me in writing my book, in that I have to have faith in what really happened, and I hope that techne is created in people’s brains as either they read or if they watch me on screen. … When we see truth in someone else’s story, we recognize it as part of a universal story.”

The best way to prepare for bookcasting is to watch this “poemcast” response to Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken.  This Ramapo Middle School student discovered truth in it and was inspired to tell a story that of her own decision-making, “A Hard Choice.”  Hats off to Bernajean Porter for her ground-breaking work with digital storytelling.

See you in the Bookhenge soon!  Please do add comments, questions, resources to this post.  It’s good practice for the commenting we’re beginning for our collaborative critical inquiries beginning with the Promise and the Peril Collaborative Critical Inquiry.




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