Tag Archives: writing

We are back to blogging

Hi Literacy Teaching and Teacher Education Blog Followers

research team

We had a little hiatus from blogging. Clare was super busy with construction at the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study; Pooja and Lydia both started new tenure-stream positions at Simon Fraser University and University of Alberta respectively; Cathy has been working on her thesis and teaching new courses;  and Clive and Yiola have been super busy. Lots has happened in our work and we will be updating you on our work ….

Team member: Lydia Menna

said-imageSaid (pictured to the right) will be joining our blogging team.

 

 

 

To those in Canada — Happy Family Day.

To those in the US – Happy President’s Day

To our friends around the world — looking forward to continuing our conversations.

 

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Star Trek, Drafting & Pat Barker

 

Image Sue DymokeI (Clare) read this blog by my good friend Sue Dymoke. I thought she had many excellent points about writing. If you have not seen Sue’s website definitely check it out. https://suedymokepoetry.com/

Sue Dymoke

WeShatner went to hear novelist Pat Barker speak on Thursday. She was in fine conversation with Sharon Monteith at Nottingham Playhouse in a benefit for Nottingham Unesco City of Literature funds to support literature/literacy initiatives across the city. She read from new work in progress, inspired by Homer’s Iliad, that brought alive the previously silent voices of two young women. In a wide ranging discussion afterwards, with some excellent questions from the audience, she talked about her writing processes. She urged the writers in the audience to go into the writing ‘wanting to surprise yourself’ because if you can’t do that then no-one else will be surprised by what you write. I love the element of risk implied in this approach: you are going out into the unknown in your writing, exploring, as Captain Kirk would say,’strange new worlds… new life and new civilisations, to boldly go where no (one)…

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Edujargon

 

jargon.jpeg

http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2016/04/12/473016059/a-simple-cure-for-educations-jargonitis

Anya Kamentz from NPR sat down and tried something we all should try. She attempted to make the latest  buzzwords in educational research simple and easy to understand. If you were at AERA last weekend, you probably attended sessions (like I did) which were so jargon heavy it was often difficult to follow along. As researchers and writers, our job is to communicate big, complex, and messy ideas to those who didn’t conduct the research or know as much about your particular topic as you do. Jargon often gets in the way of that. creating a divide between researchers/writers and the audience.

Kamentz set out to define some of the most popular educational jargon using only the most 1000 common words in the English Language. Here are a few of my favourite:

Authentic (learning or assessment)
What does this schoolwork have to do with my life or the real world?

Culturally responsive teaching
Do you know where your students come from and what their lives are like?

Hybrid education
Let’s use computers and people to teach students.

Implement
You have a good idea. Making it happen is the hard part.

Mastery-based
Don’t stop until you really know a thing.

Professional development
Teach the teachers too.

Project-based learning
Don’t just write words and numbers. Do something.

Reform
Schools need to change.

Scaffolding
Teaching things step by step so the student can do more and more by herself.

Stakeholders
Lots of people care what happens in schools, like students, teachers, parents and leaders. You should listen to everybody.

Teacherpreneur
A teacher should act like a businessperson.

 

 

The “Google generation”

Many of our learners have grown up with access to all sorts of search engines, namely Google which has quickly turned from a noun to a verb: “Just Google it.” With access to Google, many of our learners have instant answers that are just a few clicks away.

There has been an ongoing debate on whether Google is harmful or not to our ability to critically think about texts. Tan (2016) from Mindshift recongnizes, “with the advent of personal assistants like Siri and Google Now that aim to serve up information before you even know you need it, you don’t even need to type the questions. Just say the words and you’ll have your answer.” However, there are ways to ensure questions/inquiries in the class are “Google proof.” A former Kentucky middle-school teacher suggests re-thinking our instructional design is key in making work Google proof. He says, “Design it so that Google is crucial to creating a response rather than finding one…if students can Google answers — stumble on (what) you want them to remember in a few clicks — there’s a problem with the instructional design.”

I envision project-based learning and inter-disciplinary approaches as a way into creating Google proof material. Any suggestions? What have you tried/created/heard about?

 

 

Ta-Nehisi Coates on Writing

Celebrated writer and editor of blog The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates, provides advice to writers. Coates writes about social, cultural, and political issues for The Atlantic, The New York Times, and has published several books. In this short yet powerful video, Coates describes writing as an “act of courage.” He explains: “I always consider the entire process about failure, and I think that’s the reason why more people don’t write.” Coates reminds new writers that ultimately writing is about perseverance.

Source: www.theatlantic.com
Source: http://www.theatlantic.com

Watch the video here:

http://www.theatlantic.com/video/archive/2013/09/advice-on-writing-from-i-the-atlantic-i-s-ta-nehisi-coates/280025/

Writer’s Block

Many of us who write frequently have at one time or another had to cope with the dreaded writer’s block. Through a simple web search one can uncover various strategies recommended to avoid or cope with writer’s block, such as, engaging in a free write, brainstorming ideas, talking out the ideas, concept mapping or the bride/reward yourself technique. A friend of mine finds it helpful to cover her laptop screen with a towel and then proceeds to free write any ideas that come to mind. The inability to see her computer screen prevents her from trying to edit her work as she is trying to get the ideas down. Her mantra is “editing is different than writing, the processes are separate.” Any of us who have experienced writer’s block might find it interesting to hear what some established writers have to say about how they deal with writer’s block: http://www.clickhole.com/article/6-worlds-greatest-writers-explain-how-they-deal-wr-2748?utm_campaign=default&utm_medium=ShareTools&utm_source=facebook For example, Neil Gaiman notes, “the secret to writing is just to write. Write every day. Never stop writing. Write on every surface you see; write on people on the street. When the cops come to arrest you, write on the cops. Write on the police car. Write on the judge. I’m in jail forever now, and the prison cell walls are completely covered with my writing, and I keep writing on the writing I wrote. That’s my method.”

Rules for Writing

There are many rules to writing and as quickly as new genres are entering the literary scene, so too are the rules changing.
Here is an interesting explanation of a rule of writing and its evolution:

http://writerscircle.com/2015/03/straight-from-the-editors-mouth-the-verdict-on-ending-sentences-with-prepositions.html

I see two big issues at play: 1) the rules of writing 2) writing with genre and audience in mind

It seems to me (Yiola) the rules are changing and this is in large part because genres are so rapidly evolving and being introduced.

There is much to be said for the traditional forms and genres of literary expression. And, it is the traditional forms I believe we still teach in schools. And yet with digital literacy there are many new forms being implemented and introduced in classrooms too.

I (Yiola) see writing as an art. The crisper the writing the more vivid the message. The clearer the writing the more opportunity for complex ideas.

The big question is… how to best teach writing in the elementary classroom? I remember teaching writing in the Junior grades (4th, 5th, 6th grades) with the audience, purpose and genre in mind… Now however all 3 elements (audience, purpose and genre) have grown to include several (more) possibilities.

Fostering Home Literacy

A while ago, my (Cathy’s) niece asked me why I only gave her (and her brother) books and crafts as gifts.  I had suspected that she was sometimes disappointed her gift wasn’t a toy. I thought carefully before I answered.  “Well honey”, I said, ” I want you and your brother to grow up knowing you are smart and creative.  And I think books and arts and crafts help you to know that about yourself”     She pondered that for  few seconds and then said, “Ok, thanks”.  We have never looked back.

Lately, my niece has taken to the magnetic poetry on my fridge (words on little magnets that you can move around to create meaningful messages).  When she first noticed it, we only used it to find a word she knew.  Then she moved on to constructing a sentence.  When she came last weekend, she wanted to create a story.  It was challenging, because she could only words she could find on the refrigerator.  I was amazed at how long she stayed with the task.  I was also intrigued by the fact she knew two words were synonyms.  She didn’t call them that, she just knew they were the right word but spelled the wrong way.  I was delighted how long we spent together looking for the right words to move our story forward.  It ended up being a ‘scary’ story because the there was  storm and the puppy screamed, “which can only happen in a not real, scary story” I was told.   My niece was so thrilled with the results she invited several  people at the family party to come and read it.

When we felt our little project was complete, I said  to her “Brook, you are so creative and so smart” and she said, “I know”. That was my reward.  She did know it.  I also know what her next gift will be… a box of magnetic poetry for her own refridgerator at home.  I don’t know if her parents will appreciate it, but she will.  And that’s all that matters.

brookstory

 

 

                                                           http://magneticpoetry.com

The Sitting Disease

As a doctoral student I find myself sitting for hours in front of the computer without stretching or sometimes even moving. I suppose I have always known that sitting for hours on end couldn’t be good for our health, but the scientific community is now claiming our sitting habits are leading to “the sitting disease.” Below is an info-graphic with some alarming facts and statistics on our sedentary lives.

We’ve become so sedentary that 30 minutes a day at the gym may not counteract the detrimental effects of 8, 9 or 10 hours of sitting.” ~ Genevieve Healy, PhD

JustStandInfoGraphicV3

As I sit here writing this blog post, I realize I haven’t had a stretch or a walk in a while. So, I’m going to take a short break, bundle up (it’s freezing here in Toronto!) and take a walk around the block. Learn more about how sitting is harming our health at: http://www.juststand.org

Txtng is killing language. JK!!!

I (Clare) am sure you have heard the moanings and groanings that texting is ruining English? Well think again. I watched this amazing Ted Talk by Iphone John McWhorter who argues that texting is another form of communication. Here are some excerpts from his talk.

We always hear that texting is a scourge. The idea is that texting spells the decline and fall of any kind of serious literacy, or at least writing ability, among young people in the United States and now the whole world today. The fact of the matter is that it just isn’t true, and it’s easy to think that it is true, but in order to see it in another way, in order to see that actually texting is a miraculous thing, not just energetic, but a miraculous thing, a kind of emergent complexity that we’re seeing happening right now, we have to pull the camera back for a bit and look at what language really is, in which case, one thing that we see is that texting is not writing at all. What do I mean by that?

What texting is, despite the fact that it involves the brute mechanics of something that we call writing, is fingered speech. That’s what texting is.

But the fact of the matter is that what is going on is a kind of emergent complexity. That’s what we’re seeing in this fingered speech. And in order to understand it, what we want to see is the way, in this new kind of language, there is new structure coming up.

So we have a whole battery of new constructions that are developing, and yet it’s easy to think, well, something is still wrong. There’s a lack of structure of some sort. It’s not as sophisticated as the language of The Wall Street Journal.
And so, the way I’m thinking of texting these days is that what we’re seeing is a whole new way of writing that young people are developing, which they’re using alongside their ordinary writing skills, and that means that they’re able to do two things … If somebody from 1973 looked at what was on a dormitory message board in 1993, the slang would have changed a little bit since the era of “Love Story,” but they would understand what was on that message board. Take that person from 1993 — not that long ago, this is “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” — those people. Take those people and they read a very typical text written by a 20-year-old today. Often they would have no idea what half of it meant because a whole new language has developed among our young people doing something as mundane as what it looks like to us when they’re batting around on their little devices.
…  if I could go into the future, if I could go into 2033, the first thing I would ask is whether David Simon had done a sequel to “The Wire.” I would want to know. And — I really would ask that — and then I’d want to know actually what was going on on “Downton Abbey.” That’d be the second thing. And then the third thing would be, please show me a sheaf of texts written by 16-year-old girls, because I would want to know where this language had developed since our times, and ideally I would then send them back to you and me now so we could examine this linguistic miracle happening right under our noses. Thank you very much.

If you want to hear the whole talk, click on: http://www.ted.com/talks/john_mcwhorter_txtng_is_killing_language_jk
It is only 13 minutes long and worth every second.