Blogs on English Language Arts

Blogs on English Language ArtsRSS
Brian SztabnikApril 17, 2014

Clarity. It is what we long for when we travel through a student's essay. Yet our struggling writers make us wander through a cluttered maze of thoughts, leading to dead ends.

We want an awareness of purpose. We want ideas to progress in logical order. We want sentences to be fluid and confident, not stuffed with words desperate to impress. We want so much because good writing is multidimensional. So how to encourage this? Rubrics are uninspiring and often contain too much information for students to digest. The question remains: how do we give students guidelines without glutting their minds with a 50-item checklist?

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Vincent A. MastroApril 17, 2014

Critical thinking is the means by which we objectively analyze the pros and cons of a situation in order to make informed decisions. It is a fundamental skill that is of such importance that many colleges and universities require their freshman students to complete an introductory course. The Common Core Standards also recognize the value of critical thinking, declaring it as one of the explicit skills children are to learn. This leaves teachers with the difficult task of teaching this complex skill to elementary school children.

How will children learn critical thinking? The answer is: "It depends."

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Brian SztabnikApril 4, 2014

The Madness of March is coming through! You can feel the frenzy of Cinderella stories and brackets busting. The Big Dance. The Road to the Final Four. Call it what you want, but for three weeks, the nation turns its eye to the NCAA tournament, falling in love with underdogs and holding its breath on each buzzer-beating shot. Hoops hysteria begins on Selection Sunday, the night when millions are glued to ESPN, waiting to see which 68 tickets will be punched to the Big Dance.

As teachers, we should create the same excitement, hope and drama in our classes.

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Beth HollandApril 2, 2014

What if Dead Poets Society were set in modern times? Would Mr. Keating (Robin Williams' character) tweet Walt Whitman?

I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world. #significantquote #carpediem

Would the students have created a Facebook group rather than sneak off to a cave? Or would Mr. Keating have told the students to turn off all devices and leave them in their bags, maintaining the traditional classroom setting? I think it would be more of the former.

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Marc AndersonApril 1, 2014

This morning I got lucky . . . I read poems. Not even the blistering wind's roar amidst the frigid temperatures of a lingering winter could keep me from imagining "spring hope."

Spring Hope
And now the weeping willow turns to green.
So brilliant red, the robin’s breast,
Just like the sun, now sinking in the West,
And down the lane more signs of spring are seen.
(M. Jones, Poetry Soup)
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Matthew FarberMarch 28, 2014

All games tell stories. Unlike other media (books, television, film), the interactivity puts the player in the role of protagonist. Writing games can be quite complex and involve more than characters and dialogue. To get a better understanding, read this article by Darby McDevitt, lead writer of Assassin's Creed. He explains the prewriting and production process. Students should be surprised (as was I!) at how sophisticated game writing is.

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Heather Wolpert-GawronMarch 28, 2014

I think when we talk about using music or art or theater in the Core classes, there is still this persistent suspicion that a teacher who plays music in the classroom must be too "soft" or "granola-y." Don't get angry; I'm just stating an observation of perception, not a fact of truth. I would push back, however, that using the arts in the core subject-area classes is far from fluffy.

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Troy HicksMarch 21, 2014

Anyone reading this post right now -- whether on your computer, tablet or smartphone -- knows that the interfaces for reading have indeed changed. Whereas just a decade ago, touchscreens were still a novelty, today they permeate our lives. And, according the Pew Internet Project, teens have a device ownership rate of 68 percent for smartphones and, overall, 91 percent for cell phones.

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Brett VogelsingerMarch 20, 2014

Ever since Billy Collins introduced the concept of Poetry 180: A Poem A Day for American High Schools over a decade ago, I've wanted to make a "poem a day" routine in my classroom a reality. This year, I took advantage of a change in grade levels to finally take the plunge. Poetry is short enough to afford us opportunities for close reading every day, varied enough to resonate with different groups and individuals throughout the year, and complex enough to propel them to comprehension of more complicated syntax.

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Chris Hare, PMP, CSMMarch 19, 2014

This question -- "Mom, what is project management?" -- was posed to me by one of my sons last year. It's a simple query, but crafting the answer to accommodate a child's lens of my career was a bit more challenging. So here was my response:

"It's the profession of planning, organizing and managing many things, including people and projects, for example."

A follow-up question by my other son within earshot was, naturally, "What's a project?"

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