Posts Tagged 'literature'

A Selection of Blogs for Reading, Literature, and Writing Teachers

During my first classes of the semester with my preservice teachers, I was upfront: they would not leave my class knowing everything there was to know about literacy education. After their astonishment wore off, I explained that, in my mind, a big part of being a teacher is being an ongoing and insatiable learner. So, I told my students that one of my goals for this semester was to help them develop ways to continue their learning that would last far beyond the semester’s end.

With that in mind, this week I took the plunge and started talking about RSS. All semester I’ve been sharing and using resources that came to me through blogs and twitter, but this week students started developing new spaces and pathways for connecting on their own.

About an hour into my classes, I showed the RSS in Plain English video from Common Craft, then talked through some blogs to start with. Many students were surprised that, as google account holders, they had not known about google reader before. There was some excitement as well as some skepticism, which is to be expected.

The big question for me was, which blogs should I choose?  I follow many literacy-related blogs, but wanted them to start with just a handful. I asked my twitter network for their suggestions a couple of weeks ago, and many in my PLN responded with great ideas. I was also asked to share my lists once they were complete. So, my starter blogs for Language Arts, Kindergarten through 8th grade, are listed below.

Note: This list doesn’t even begin to cover all the great blogs out there.  I chose some blogs that seemed to best reflect the principles of literacy education we’ve discussed this semester. I also included some technology-focused blogs, and blogs by classroom teachers. In class, I talked about how important it is to read blogs that are provocative and even opposed to your own perspective, just to keep you thinking. I need to keep working on this last point.

Writing Workshop by David Stoner

Two Writing Teachers

The Book Whisperer

The English Teacher’s Companion

In For Good

Free Technology for Teachers


Larry Ferlazzo

Grammar Girl

Teri Lesesne – ProfessorNana

The tempered radical

The Reading Zone

A Geekymomma’s Blog

Welcome to NCS-Tech

30 poets 30 days at Gottabook

Raising readers and writers



Miss Rumphius Effect

A year of Reading

We will talk in the next couple of weeks about what learning this way is like, and how it might (or might not) be useful. I’ll share their thoughts soon after.

In the mean time, do you have any other favorites that I missed?


Multigenre Research Projects: Sources and Notetaking

This is the third in a series of posts on multigenre research projects.  The introductory post is here.

After my students chose their topics, it was time to get started with research. One of my priorities was to provide the students with guidance for thinking broadly about resources for research and learning. One of the key principles of multigenre work is that we can convey knowledge in many different forms, from poetry and narratives to diary entries and brochures. Conversely, as I see it, we can also learn from a number of different texts when we read and interact with them.

Here’s a related example: in my Children’s Literature class (which many of my current students took with me last semester), one of the final projects is creating a text set. Basically, students have to pick a topic from the curriculum, and gather texts that address that topic from as many genres and perspectives as possible. (They also consider reading levels, cultural diversity, etc.)  The example I always give is mundane: trees. When we first think about studying trees, we might think of encyclopedias, informational texts, and perhaps websites as key texts for research. If we stretch, we might also include a less common source like a field guide. But, going beyond these traditional informational sources, there are many other ways to learn about trees. We learn different things from a poem about a tree, or a pourquoi tale about a tree, or an image of a tree, than we learn from a traditional informational resource.  We need all of these genres (and more) to get a fuller knowledge of the tree.

By the same token, I encouraged my students to look outside traditional “academic research” resources for their learning. I sent each of them a list of suggested resources, including titles from children’s literature (fiction, YA, and so on), newspaper articles, and so on. One literature resource that was both new to me and valuable for this project was the Schneider Family Book Awards, but there were many other useful resources for finding literature as well.

I also suggested they each look at youtube and blogs for additional sources in their research. Ever since I read an article about youtube as a reference tool, I’ve wanted to explore this further. I also had a hunch that, in many cases, blogs and other resources would provide additional voices not heard in traditional scholarly sources. For instance, from reading Laurie Halse Anderson’s excellent book Wintergirls, which has a central character who struggles with anorexia, I knew that there were communities on the internet where anorexics connected in order to encourage each other to eat less and get thinner. (Yes, you read that right).  So, several people studying anorexia for this project read Wintergirls. They also sought out these online communities and did research by learning from the texts produced by anorexics and posted online. Of course, not every topic had such a robust set of online texts to learn from, but I think most students found several videos, vlogs, and blogs that were useful for getting the perspective of insiders or family members. Each student’s resources were customized based on their topic. The cookie cutter “5 print resources including an encyclopedia” requirement was out the window.

We talked a bit in class about taking notes. I showed the students diigo, delicious, talked about evaluation of information, and so on. But, this was a whirlwind. My librarian self felt like I didn’t treat any of these adequately. I easily could have taken a week’s worth of mini-lessons to go through much of it. But, it would have to do for the moment. In the future, I need to think about podcasts or screencasts for reference. Even though I encourage my students to email me at any time, I think I can support them more effectively in this area.

The students spent at least a week just doing background reading, gathering resources, and thinking about their topics.  Finally, in the next post, I’ll talk a bit more about what multigenre research is, as well as explain why I held off until week 3 to tell the students about it.

We are a few posts away from examples of student projects! Thanks for following along.

Nearly time for the Caldecott!

Here is our vote!

(My daughter Anne decided to “Lion herself” – thanks to 100 Scope Notes for this great idea!)

I have favorites for several of the awards, but I am especially hoping to see Jerry Pinkney win for The Lion And The Mouse. It is a spectacular vision of a traditional tale. The artwork is exquisite.

Some of you may know that I have an interest in race and how race plays a role in library collections. There has been a lot of discussion about this topic over the years. Maybe some would say the race of the winner shouldn’t matter, but I’m with Nikki Grimes in her frustration that this medal has overlooked African American illustrators thus far. I’ll paraphrase her when I say, give Jerry Pinkney the medal already. He is more than deserving, several times over!

I’ll be listening in on Monday morning to hear all the winners!

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