curriculum

Service to School: Creating Connections, Creating Democratic Cultures—from The Activist Learner

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Author: Jeffrey D. Wilhelm, Whitney Douglas, and Sara W. Fry

Summary: This sample chapter from The Activist Learner explores how the school itself can become a site for service learning. Two examples are discussed in detail: 1) engaging students in the process of documenting the school’s history; and 2) transforming school culture through a civic participation framework. A valuable resource for service learning curriculum design, this chapter also focuses on service learning as an important form of inquiry.
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Narrative Knowers, Expository Knowledge: Discourse as Dialectic

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Author: Anne DiPardo

Summary: DiPardo addresses the divide between narrative and expository writing, noting the problematic tendency in composition teaching and scholarship to privilege “pure” exposition. She argues that instruction which fosters this divide, which contends narrative and expository are separate modes, denies students the opportunity to develop a complex and more realistic way of knowing and writing. This article is useful for professional development on expository writing to encourage rethinking of the genre, to realize that the best “real-world” examples of expository writing are indeed multimodal in nature and embrace narrative in myriad ways.
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Breaking the Boundaries of Texts: Video Game and Literacy Curriculum Development for English Language Learners

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Author: Nora A. Peterman, Lan Ngo, Robert J. LeBlanc, Susan Goldstein

Summary: This article describes a study of a literacy video game designed to help English learners negotiate new vocabulary and unfamiliar language structures as they read. The game, collaboratively created on Gamestar Mechanic by a team including a public high school teacher, actively engaged that teacher’s EL students who developed a sense of ownership over their learning. The authors discuss gaming as a literacy practice and suggest how it might be adapted to other contexts. This article may be useful in professional-development discussions of EL students and multimodality and could be a suggested reading as teachers develop inquiry into these issues.
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Real World History: Six Videos that Model and Inspire

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Summary: Looking for ways to involve high school students in using historical tools to craft arguments and make personal connections to current issues? These six short NWP-produced videos spotlight Real World History, a high school course that frames history as an argument about the past and teaches students to think like historians. The video footage, focused on a study of the Great Migration of the 20th Century, could be a springboard for curriculum design or spark conversation in classes or professional development focused on disciplinary literacy with a social justice bent.
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Teaching in a Movement for Justice

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Author: Paul Allison

Summary: This collection of blogs, podcasts, articles, videos, and other media provides a variety of textual experiences you could use to give students a layered reading and writing experience related to Ferguson and Black Lives Matter. The collection creator, Paul Allison, poses two qustions: “How can we help students to connect around important issues of race and justice in our time?” and “How do we build curriculum, rituals, tools, and skills in modular, open, inspiring ways that will give students the permission to follow their passions, yet also invite them to go deep into important issues as committed and informed citizens?” While the collection focuses specifically on the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and its aftermath, it underscores the value of creating multimodal resource collections to encourage teachers and students to explore issues of social justice locally and more broadly.
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Joined at the Hip: The Joys and Travails of Teaching “Linked” Courses

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Author: Matthew Teorey

Summary: This article features one university’s program offering “Freshman Learning Communities” in which two instructors from different disciplines work together developing curriculum by coordinating two sets of complementary readings and assignments. In this cross-disciplinary approach, a community environment helps the students succeed in their freshman year. The resource provides an example of co-teaching and of coordinated literacy integration with specific writing and critical thinking skills across disciplines and has the potential for adaptation to the high school curricula.
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Digital Directions in Professional Development

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Author: Elyse Eidman-Aadahl and Cindy O’Donnell-Allen

Summary: In a conversation sponsored by NCTE’s Language Arts, two NWP leaders discuss the transformations in the classroom and in teacher practice that happen when connected learning and digital tools are integrated into curriculum planning. They emphasize that the tools do not replace the teacher; the teacher becomes even more important as a model, or “lead learner,” for writing in today’s digital age.
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Planning for Writing Instruction

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Author: Mark Overmeyer

Summary: In this brief tip from his book, When Writing Workshop Isn’t Working, Mark Overmeyer describes a process of collaborative backward planning that provides a scope and sequence for the year that meets district curriculum requirements, allows for the study of genres connected to various disciplines and units (e.g., research, narrative, memoir, and technical writing), and culminates in a student-generated magazine that draws from strategies learned throughout the year. This would be a useful resource for school-based planning teams as well as for professional development focused on writing workshop and cross-curricular planning and assessment.
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Honoring the Word: Classroom Instructors Find That Students Respond Best to Oral Tradition

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Author: Michael Thompson

Summary: In this award winning essay, Native American teacher and NWP site director Michael Thompson, reflects on his own practice and shares findings from research interviews he conducted with instructors in tribal college and university classrooms to learn how they approach literature and writing. In particular, he wondered if assigned texts represented “the value that Native people have historically given to traditional stories, teachings, speeches, tribal journeys, and accomplishments.” Instructors reported that Native communities typically value the spoken word over the art of writing and described language practices such as collecting personal narratives of elders in documentary films and digitized recordings. Classroom teachers, study groups and professional development leaders interested in exploring resources and practices that support efforts to “reclaim and honor oral traditions” of native peoples may find this article of interest.
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Linking Genre to Standards and Equity

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Author: Tom Fox

Summary: Here is an important article that offers a framework and looks at how genre studies can help writing teachers design meaningful and engaging writing instruction. Fox suggests that standards-based writing curricula do not go far enough when we only teach students about how various genres work. He argues that writing may be construed as “meaningless” and ultimately serve to disenfranchise students if we sidestep the more fundamental question: “Why do people write?” Teachers already familiar with arguments about “authentic” writing will especially appreciate Fox’s call to examine how teachers and students might pursue “urgent” writing situations.
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