Coming Around Again

30 09 2012

We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know that place for the first time.

— T. S. Eliot

A mobiius strip brings us back around to where we began, and often, as T. S. Eliot reminds us, we come “to know that place for the first time.

MidTerm is a good time to “come back around.”  It’s a good time to do a bit of critical reflection.

I’m re-posting Teresa’s thoughtful explanation of critical reflection to remind us that critical reflection is all about examining our beliefs and our assumptions.  Each week we critically reflect on what we’re learning and how that might be changing our beliefs about teaching and learning with literature for young adults.

So far, we’ve examined our assumptions about young adult literature and its role in the English Language Arts classroom, and along the way we’ve studied theories of learning, literacy, and literature and begun to develop a pedagogical framework complete with principles to guide our practice.  We’ve also begun sort of a meta conversation about the technology we’re using and how it may be shaping our teaching and learning.

We’re beginning a project that will continue for the rest of the semester — The Change Project, a project dedicated to teaching for critical literacy and social change.  It’s both an author study of Marc Aronson, well-known author and editor of nonfiction for young adults, and a collaborative critical inquiry into how we might design literature-based projects that teach for social justice.

Meanwhile in the next few weeks, we’ll continue with our collaborative critical inquiries into important topics/issues that include: “Sequential Art, a Radical Change?,” “Nonfiction: The Neglected Stepchild”; “Whose Face Do I See in the Mirror: Are We Post-Multicultural?”; and “Making Bold Choices: Intellectual Freedom and the Right to Read and Create.”

First up is “Sequential Art, a Radical Change?”  Many of you have not read nor even considered reading sequential art also known as graphic novels.  You’ve much to examine then about your assumptions about how intellectually rigorous and compelling this art form can be.

This collaborative critical inquiry includes the typical compelling question with resources to explore before blogging a creative response, “weaving” what you learn from colleagues to extend the conversation, and then bringing all of your questions, assumptions, and beliefs to the Bookhenge for a live seminar next time we meet there on October 11.  We’ll also have a passionate fan of sequential art, founding member of the Eva Perry Mock Printz Club and now grad student in Library Science, Lauren Nicholson aka Serenity Engineer, talk with us.

The Sequential Art CCI also includes our first collaborative assignment — a book club.  One book club has already formed around the book, The Arrival.  Pitch your own graphic novels via Twitter and make sure your group gets listed on the wiki project page.  It takes three readers to create a club and a club usually maxes out at four.  Book clubs will meet to discuss their book and prepare an introduction to the book that will engage our class.  Ideas for these “performative engagements” include collaboratively produced bookcasts ( WeVideo has great potential for collaborative online editing), dramatic performances, Reader Response activities, and others not yet seen in The Bookhenge.  These book club presentations will take place October 18.

Yes, that’s a week later than the original due date, but Marc Aronson has rescheduled for November 29 so we have an extra week to work with.

Here’s an overview of The Change Project:

The Change Project, Part I — Bittersweet: Freedom at a Cost — Due Oct. 25  Form and organize groups . . .
You need to join a group to research a question — probably the question you suggested; Share your research journey — what you learned and resources you found helpful on a Wiki Project Page; Engage class in a performative engagement.   Note that these wiki project group pages are for archiving your project in one central location.  You may link to any other tool you prefer (Glogster, Google Sites, Weeby, etc.) from your wiki project page.  Many groups also find organizing and working behind the scenes using Google Docs to be helpful.

The Change Project, Part II — Aronson Anchor Book — Due Nov. 15  Form and organize groups . . .
You need to join a group to choose an Aronson book Design a Collaborative Critical Inquiry with question, related resources, plan, etc. Share with class. Engage us with the book in a performative engagement, too.

The Change Project, Part III— Aronson Interview — Nov. 29th
We’ll welcome Marc Aronson to The Bookhenge.  By this time we will have constructed a Wallwisher with questions to guide our interview.  The world is invited, and with nonfiction’s new-found popularity due to the Common Core State Standards, this event should make a real contribution as well as all of our collaborative project work that is shared freely on the Web.

That pretty much spells out our two collaborative projects.  Let me know if you have any questions.  Please post in a comment here and tweet to update others.  As always, if you have a variation on these assignments that would hold more value for you and your group, pitch it and we can negotiate a rubric that will meet course goals and your own personal goals.

See you in the Bookhenge!


Session 1, Weekly Update: Getting to Know YA Literature

25 05 2011

Let me begin by sharing the quote that inspired my new mantra: “I am growing . . .”

If you want to feel secure, do what you already know how to do. If you want to be a true professional & continue to grow . . . go to the cutting edge of your competence, which means a temporary loss of security. So whenever you don’t quite know what you’re doing, know that you are growing. — Madeline Hunter

I’ve seen some growing this week, and I hope it’s feeling good.

I’m also really enjoying your creative work. I can see that this class is going to enjoy the work we do with infusing creativity into our teaching and our students’ learning in the English Language Arts. I just learned of an extraordinary opportunity to hear Sir Ken Robinson, noted authority on creativity, speak tonight so I’m sending this update out a little early. See below for the details.

Time to get started on Session 1. This is a longer session, lasting from Thursday, May 26 to Wednesday, June 8. Sessions to follow will be only a week long. We’ve much to accomplish in this session – you’ll complete your Funds of Knowledge Inventory (FOKI), learn to use Google Docs, start your blogging, read two YA books, create your first bookcast, and enter the new world of Second Life. Whew! Just take it step-by-step, and create your own rhythm. Slow, steady, and celebrate each small success!

Special Heads-Up: Our informal, optional meeting in the Bookhenge will work best on Thursday, June 2, from 7 to 9 pm. That way everyone will have more of a chance to complete their first personal conference and try out their Second Life skills ahead of this opportunity to try them out in class.

LIVE Class in the Bookhenge


1. Essential Questions

What do we bring to the course that we can use to create and contribute to our class, a larger audience of educators, and teen readers?

How can we use digital tools to model and encourage participatory learning through literature – or what Louise Rosenblatt referred to as to “perform in response to a text”?

What does literary quality look like in Young Adult Literature?

2. Action Items, May 26 – June 8

• Set up your portfolio blog and post the link to our blog directory. (Blog) Fri., May 31, 11:59 pm
• Complete your Pre-FOKI and post to your blog. Tag and tweet. (Blog, Twitter) Fri., May 27, 11:59 pm
• Share Colleague’s FOKI on Class FOKI Matrix (Part 2, Tues., May 31, 11:59 pm)
• Create your 3D virtual identity and begin to develop your virtual multiple intelligences. (Second Life) By your personal conference time — by Fri., June 3, 11:59 pm. Ideally by our first meeting (optional but highly recommended) in Second Life on Thursday, June 2, 7 pm.
• Schedule and complete first personal conference. Complete by Fri., June 3, 11:59 pm
• Read Maberry’s Rot and Ruin and contribute to “The Printz of YA Books” Literary Quality CCI (eReserves, Blog, Twitter, Second Life). Fri., June 3, 11:59 pm
• Read one title (your choice) of the 2011 Printz Winner/Honor Books and produce, publish, and prepare to introduce your first bookcast (bookcasting tools of your choice) Tues., June 8, 8 am
• Reflect on how students can “perform” literature. Blog if you’d like but be sure to bring ideas to our LIVE Class. Tues., June 8, 7 pm
• Set up your Reflective Assessment Process (RAP) (Google Docs) Wed., June 8, 11:59 pm
• Review and reflect upon your work this week in your RAP (Reflective Assessment Process). Wed., June 8, 11:59 pm
• Stone Soup — Generous sharing of connections made, articles, research, resources, etc. via Twitter, Diigo, Zotero, blogging and commenting . . .

Heads-up: Plan to choose a nonfiction book, read, discuss with club, and collaboratively produce a multimedia project by Tues., June 14, 8:00 am. Blakely has already pitched a great book, Spiegleman’s Maus, the first graphic novel to ever win a Nobel Prize for Literature. Yes, it could count toward either graphic novel or nonfiction genre assignment. But not both.

2. Stone Soup
Contributions via Twitter are going great with talk already about genre books and ALPs not to mention lots of good questions. Join in!

Plus there’s some talk of fave YA books and authors. I’d encourage you to follow some YA authors on Twitter. Here are a few that are really interesting:

Neil Gaiman — @Neilhimself
Jon Maberry — @JonathanMaberry
John Green — @realjohngreen
Laurie Halse Anderson — @halseanderson

Please share others!

3. Genre Book Club

It looks like we’ll have enough people in the class to have three bookclubs for each genre (nonfiction and graphica). Let’s say that if you pitch a book then you’re responsible for closing it out at three members total (counting you). You can tweet to let us know when your book club is full. Then we’ll be sure to have three clubs and not two with an overload.

4. Research Groups?

I begin with a recommendation of Zotero since it’s open source and odds are not great that they’d ever hook you and then charge big-time. But this tool doesn’t work with Internet Explorer or Chrome so Mendeley, which is still free, would be a good alternative. The goal is that you learn to use a research tool that saves your citation information and a lot of time when writing your papers. So make your choice. I joined both and will publish to both.

Here’s the ECI 521 (Bookhenge) Zotero Group . . . and here is the ECI 521 (Bookhenge) Mendeley Group . . .

5. First Personal Conference and First LIVE Class in the Bookhenge

I just scheduled my first personal conference and will look forward to scheduling others. Be sure and work through Second Life sign-up process — before we meet. We’ll meet in the Bookhenge for only around 15 minutes or so. Just long enough for me to help you with a few basic skills that you’ll need for participating in a LIVE session in the Bookhenge and answer any questions that you have about the course.

Our first informal, optional meeting in the Bookhenge will be on Thursday, June 2, from 7 to 9 pm ET. Yes, I’m moving it a couple of days into the future to be sure everyone has time for their personal conference ahead of time.

I’ll look forward to meeting you in the Bookhenge soon!

6. Sir Ken Robinson

You’ll watch his famous TED speech when we study creativity ( Sir Ken is one of the most powerful and talented voices today on the subject of creativity. He’s set to speak LIVE at 8 pm tonight in an Elluminate session. I attended his last session and there were over 550 people there. This is a rare opportunity so be sure and catch it if you can. Sign in at

Keep cool!