Tuesday, February 28, 2012

SCED 4200 Blog Post 5: Research Abstracts

Ruble, Julie, and Kim Lysne. "The Animated Classroom: Using Japanese Anime to Engage and Motivate Students." English Journal 100.1 (2010): 37-46.

Teachers introduce Japanese culture through several media, most notably Hayao Miyazaki’s anime films like Spirited Away and Ponyo. Through these texts, students learn not only about the culture and history of Japan but also about environmental concerns. Students also learn about the animation process, developing a project where they make their own films. Focusing on the skills and techniques they’ve learned, students become directors and screenwriters themselves, collaborating to communicate their own environmental messages through film. Students are then assessed based on the originality and creativity of the script, as well as their ability to collaborate.

"What Activity Has Been Most Effective in Assisting High School Students to Read Successfully?" English Journal 93.5 (2004): 20-23.

Several teachers share their experiences and insights about how to help students become successful readers. From introspective activities encouraging students to discover their own feelings about reading to social interactions that help students feel comfortable with being readers. Students have many gateways into successful reading, such as through graphic novels or through reading texts based on personal interest.

Vasudevan, Lalitha M. "Looking for Angels: Knowing Adolescents by Engaging with Their Multimodal Literacy Practices." Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy 50.4 (2007).

An eight-month vignette of the life of one young reader. Labeled a “low literate,” the student nevertheless exhibits creativity and intelligence in contrast to arbitrary standards imposed by the school system. This perceived discrepancy is exemplary of how schools are blind to young people’s voluntary engagement as both producers and consumers of a variety of texts.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

SCED 4200 Post 3: Affective Dimensions of Reading

I've never thought of myself as anything but a good reader, but I wouldn't be surprised if teachers I had growing up might disagree. I love to absorb information on topics I enjoy, but the opposite is true with subjects or material that don't interest me as much.

I mostly gravitate toward science fiction in my reading preferences, and most other texts I read point back to that genre one way or another. I've been an avid comic book reader since I was young, and have practically devoured novels based in the Star Wars universe. I've read a lot of biological texts over the last few years, especially those that provided insight into my xenobiology project.

I've never really disliked reading in general, and have always been encouraged by friends and family to explore stories in multiple media. Over the years, I've come to appreciate what I've read in other genres, be it fiction and non-fiction. There may occasionally be a text that I just can't get into, but such events have never soured me on the enjoyment of a good book.

I hope to convey this love of reading to my students in the future, and help them see that even if we're covering something in the class there are things they do enjoy reading about and that they should cultivate the skill for use in all aspects of their lives.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

SCED 4200 Post 2: Literacy Autobiography

I don’t remember learning to read, but I do remember helping my brothers learn to read, which I suppose was good practice at that age. We started with small and simple books, the ones that have more pictures than words, but the novelty of that soon wore off; reading another story was less interesting than making up our own stories in the back yard. Reading was always a part of our lives growing up, but more important was a sense of understanding: of ourselves, of each other, and of the world around us. We were raised to be very observant, and when I think of the word “literacy” this sense of awareness and understanding comes to mind.

I never made that connection while growing up. In school I learned that literacy was the ability to read and write; I learned about spelling and handwriting and how important it is to be able to read and write well. All of that is important, and I took to it all quite well in my youth, but such tasks never engaged me as much as my extracurricular experiences with reading. An avid comic book reader from a young age, my mind was engaged both by the fantastic stories and by the colorful artwork on every pulpy page. I was enamored with the whole industry, dreaming of becoming a comic book artist and putting the pictures in my head on paper. I didn’t wait for acceptance in that profession to write and illustrate my own stories, stapling together my own little books and placing them on the shelf with professional works. I always saw my words standing side by side with the publications of artists and storytellers I admired. I wanted to learn how to make my works as good as theirs, so when I saw books about drawing I would read them, and I looked at stories written by others to see if I could make my stories just as fun and interesting.

Meanwhile, teachers introduced me to “literature,” stories that are recognized by many as noteworthy and representative of the breadth of human experience. I didn’t see any value in reading these works, of course, maintaining that nonfiction was never as interesting as the fantastic worlds of speculation. Things that actually had happened somewhere in space and time never seemed as potent to me as things that could have happened, or that may yet do so; many teachers were frustrated by the lack of interest I expressed in what they offered, especially when I would avidly read the works of Asimov, Card, and many others, and when I would write my own stories rather than complete essays or writing for their classes. It wasn’t until one teacher, Mrs. Riggs, presented a different face of literature that I had my first breakthrough.

My interest had turned to role playing games by that point, both for the sense of camaraderie developed among participants and for the shared storytelling that had thrilled me since I played in the backyard in my youth. I was constantly on the lookout for story ideas that I could appropriate into enjoyable tabletop adventures, and, as I entered Mrs. Rigg’s classroom, I was looking outside of my comfort zone for ideas and understanding.

Mrs. Riggs provided the other end of the bridge I traveled into more traditional areas of literature, most notably by reading one of the earliest works of science fiction: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. We studied the novel just as we would any other, and it was the first time I had seen anyone apply that much scrutiny and analysis to science fiction, pulling from it the same quality of insight and values that I saw done with the “canon.” It was the first time that I could consciously take hold of the tools I had been given in school and use them to unwrap something I loved and show it to others in the world, and in ways that could be understood by others.

It’s that sense of awakening I want to bring as a teacher. I know not everyone has the love I have for speculative fiction, but everyone has a love for something that I believe literature can unlock. For those who wish their voices to be heard, I want to show how others have stood out and loaned their voices to the world. For those who want to learn more about themselves, I want to help them see their reflections in the faces of characters. For those who claim that literacy plays a small role in their lives, I want to help them see that learning, and growing, and understanding anything around us is literacy, and they can use that desire to know to do great things.