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Post- FOKI

My Professional Self

Today I am still teaching in Durham.  I am teaching fifth grade, and enjoy teaching reading and math the most.  I am continuing to work on my master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction.  I am uncertain of what I would like to do next– but I am considering a start to my doctorate or possibly finding a position as a reading specialist.

 

My Literate Self

I have enjoyed all the reading that we have done this semester.  Selections such as “Drowned Cities” and “The List” have really made me feel excited about teaching young adult lit.  In the future, I would like to expand my knowledge of YA lit.  I have learned a lot, but I know that there is so much more for me to learn and discover.

My Virtual Self

I am getting accustomed to the technologies introduced to me in this course.  I like WordPress immensely, and I adore Storybird.  What has really stood out for me in my experiences has been the opportunity to see my classmates’ different perspectives about the literature, and how they have chosen to express their relation to the literature.

My Goals For This Class

Professional Self

I hope to fold the “unfolded pages” this year, which means that I want to discover young adult literature.  I want to see how all our technology in this class will aid in literature instruction.  Hopefully, we will have ample non-fiction to match the fiction in this course, as non-fiction comprehension is so critical in our society.

have definitely found a lot of great young adult literature that I like, and enjoy using the different technology.  Throughout the course, I am seeing how I can use the technology in the classroom.  The non-fiction that we’ve read so far has been eye-opening and catchy, giving a different perspective on the events and topics.

My Literate Self

In regards to my personal goals, I want to read literature that will be enjoyable and revealing to what young adults are living.  Sometimes we all forget what our students might be living through, and it is through literature that we can discover perspective and understanding.

I’m finding Young Adult Literature that is relevant and enjoyable to read.  I am in awe of the different perspectives and realizations that occur within and because of the novels.  My favorite thus far is “Drowned Cities,” which normally wouldn’t be my cup of tea– but I am enjoying it.

My Virtual Self

As I said before, I’m completely new to some of the technology in this course.  I hope that this course will bring me more knowledge about those tools, and that I will become comfortable using each of them.

The course technologies are amazing, and I’m developing a comfort with several of them.  I hope that by the end of the course I will feel “at home” with the technology.  I think I’ve become more comfortable about blogging, as well as meeting virtually.  

Reflection

Action Learning Plan

bookhenge

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This week, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the difference between fiction and non-fiction, especially in how it pertains to real life.  In my job, in my education, and in my day-to-day life I use non-fiction texts on a regular basis.  Fiction texts are what I have set aside for vacation time or for those days I just need to escape from my reality.  While the fiction is a personal necessity, the non-fiction is definitely a more prevalent part of my life.  In the classroom, I want to help my students be prepared for the future (careers, university, or whatever may arise).  For that reason, I think that non-fiction should definitely be more exposed in our classrooms.

 

Throughout the week, I have witnessed many ideas arising about non-fiction.  One that I particularly enjoyed was Caroline’s suggestion that content area teachers should incorporate non-fiction text into their classrooms.  As somebody who has taught all subjects, I completely agree and try to do just that.  Another point that I enjoyed was Abbey’s comment that we need to have more non-fiction literature in the classroom for boys—but I had to ask how we can try to encourage girls to read more non-fiction, as boys do tend to enjoy it more.  Doug offered a question about non-fiction structures to me: what are the non-fiction text structures and should he be teaching them?  To this, my answer is that we should be aware of the different structures, but our teaching should extend to teaching our students how to read the non-fiction rather than having them learn each individual structure.

 

This week, my diamond is that I enjoyed reading everybody’s viewpoint about non-fiction in the classroom.  I also really felt the impact of using the blogs this week (it wasn’t such a pain after all!) after being “over” these things for a while.

 

My rock was very personal this week, and it really brought me down.  There’s a lot going on professionally as well as personally, and it made it very difficult to even try to focus on being on-task.  In addition to that, my entire ALP group has been unable to complete their tasks (yes, another hair-ripping moment but I’m trying to recompose it all—silly high school students are so busy).  So having said this, I believe that I’m going to move on and try to focus on finishing this semester as excited as I was in August.  Sometimes the curves in the tunnel make you lose sight of the end, but one can always keep looking ahead to find it.

Aronson refers to nonfiction text as the “neglected stepchild,” noting that it is usually referred to only for school reports and for educational purposes.    He promotes his point by adding that most would not consider non-fiction to be great “literature.”  While I agree that non-fiction tends to be ignored, and that people do not consider non-fiction texts to be literature, I do not think it is ignored anymore.  The implementation of the Common Core State Standards doesn’t allow for neglect of the non-fiction genres.  However, many teachers seem to clench their teeth when they have the opportunity to teach a non-fiction text.  I think that this might be because it is a different text structure—not simplistic “story pyramid” reading with a setting, problem, turning point, and resolution—but a structure that requires more concentration on the text features and format.  In the Common Core, our students need to learn to identify and comprehend the non-fiction structures.

 

In my classroom, the boys are more willing to read about non-fiction than the girls.  This might be because boys read to make sense of the world around them, and they relate easier to the non-fiction topics.  Girls in my classroom are not as interested in reading about animals in the jungle, or about skateboarding—at least not as interested as boys.  Usually, it is much easier for me to find the right book for my male students by listening to their interests; my female students tend to try to stick to fiction, even when presented with non-fiction texts about their interests.

 

As middle and high school teachers, even as elementary teachers, we would greatly benefit from offering instruction to our students regarding the different non-fiction text structures.  I enjoy offering non-fiction text to my reading students about the different historical figures and scientific concepts that they learn about in the content area courses.  I think providing inter-content opportunities can only strengthen a student’s non-fiction experience.  We also need to find more student-friendly texts of the informational and expository nature.  Until we do this, our students will believe non-fiction to be only something used for reports, not as genuine literature.

This week we discussed the rights and responsibilities of educators in regards to literature and media censorship.  My feeling in regards to literature and media are very different in regards to censoring– with literature there are more definite lines that teachers should not cross (which vary throughout age groups and grade levels), while with media I feel that students should have a variety of Web 2.0 tools to access with minimal “blocks.”  In the past, I have had instances where parents tried to dictate what novels my students were allowed to read, but I have never had a parent complain about any technology that I have used.  I suppose this might be because so many parents do not know about the multiple technologies, or that they feel overwhelmed by the differences.  My question of the week that I posed to the group was a request for information to help lessen the “parent censorship” of novels in the classroom.

My rock for this week was more of a personal nature rather than educational– time.  It seems like there is just so much going on!  I am looking forward to a small (or short) break from this hectic stuff!  In contrast, my diamond is our group discussion in the Bookhenge on Thursday.  I thoroughly enjoyed my collaborative group and had fun applying our knowledge of “Drowned Cities” to the book rationale format.

 

This week our Bookhenge group discussed the different literary awards that are given based upon ethnicity.  One question that seemed to spearhead the discussion was the validity of the awards, which strictly award authors and illustrators of that particular ethnic group.  While some of my classmates tended to feel that this was acceptable, I think it would be favorable (and possibly even more profitable) to allow authors/illustrators of any race to submit their work.  My belief is that good writing is good writing, regardless of a person’s background.  However, I do recognize the goal of these awards, which seek to preserve their cultural identity and ideals.

I do wish to apologize to my Bookhenge groupmates, as I was unable to attend our live session on Thursday.  I had professional obligations that denied me the access to a computer that evening.  In watching the recording, I found the class session to be rather group discussion-based, yet full of intriguing ideas in regards to multi-cultural literature.  Personally, I don’t feel as much closure with this topic as I typically do at the end of our sessions.  Perhaps I need to delve a little deeper into the multi-cultural realm of YA Lit.

Thinking about awards like the Coretta Scott King Award and the Pura Belpre Award makes me think about multi-cultural literature.  In the past, when pressed to find quality literature of a multi-cultural context I would search for books that had been recognized by either award committee.  Honestly, I had not considered how those books had been chosen, or what qualities were inspected when nominated.  After my experiences this semester, book selection for awards has been increasingly pressing on my mind.  Questions regarding the merits of a book and qualities of a book have been brought into consideration when I find “award-winning” books.  Before reading Aronson and Pinkney’s essays, I knew that this was something that I would have to try to find out regarding the King Award and the Belpre Award.

 

Aronson’s assertion that awards should be based upon the content, rather than the author or illustrator, of the text seems sound.  I think that opening the award eligibility to anyone who has knowledge about the topic is a sound practice.  After all, if the award is being given to the best author, it shouldn’t matter what ethnicity or background he or she might have.  While I understand Pinkney’s view that our children should see the awards given to people of those cultures, I agree with Aronson that literary quality should be the utmost consideration when presenting awards.  To exclude a person because they don’t have the right background does not truly honor literary quality.  Aronson stated that he believed that opening that criterion to everybody who could write (or illustrate) about a culture knowledgably (regardless of ethnicity) is following along with Martin Luther King’s dream.  I concur, believing that if somebody is willing to learn about another culture or way of living they are truly embracing the spirit of multiculturalism.

 

Currently, the ALA site for Multicultural Literature does not contain any Best Books for Teens.  I think that this is a sad mistake that should be rectified.  Our young adults need to see current, involved examples of multicultural literature.  Having a list of “best books” for this may encourage teenagers to read this literature and to learn more about other cultures.  In a vastly growing global society, our students need to have literature that spans all cultures and experiences.  Having recognition for this literature will increase awareness of those ideas and encourage students to find out more about other ways of life. 

 

Digital Immigrant   (please click to view Animoto video)

This week my group was able to represent our graphic novel, The Arrival by Shaun Tan, through an Animoto video.  This was a great experience.  My group was awesome– Alden and Sonya were encouraging and enthusiastic to work together.  In thinking about graphic novels, I have liked using them in my classroom but I would really like to see a wider variety available.  My students compete to get to those books first!  In earlier discussions about the classics, some of my classmates really expressed that they think those should be phased out of the classroom, but I believe that through the medium (graphic novels), classic stories would be revitalized and more applicable to modern readers.   Good literature is good literature, regardless of when it was written.  However, the different modes might be what reveals that to our young adult readers.

I am happy to admit that there are really no rocks this week; there are diamonds.  I loved working with my collaborative team, and enjoyed being the Animoto “expert” for a day.  I also found Shaun Tan’s novel appealing, regardless of age or reading ability.  Therefore I am happy to feel like one of my big questions in this course is closer to being answered.  I wonder how the graphic novels might be perceived by parents– would they be accepting of the newest format of reading, or might they say that it isn’t “real reading”?  I suppose a teacher could easily include or inform parents  so that they understand how meaningful  graphic novels are in the classroom.