Thursday, March 08, 2007


Grammar is an essential skill that all students need to learn in order to successful academically. However, how much pressure should we put on it? Do we really want to subject our students to "countless hours on unsatisfying grammar exercises?" (Dean 87. 2001) I think that there has to be a better way. I believe that sometimes the terms use in grammar are confounding, and often turn students away. However, in Dean's article she uses a different way to approach the topic of grammar. She asked the students to tell her what was wrong in the sentence, and they seemed more apt to participate. When they told her what was wrong with the sentence she explained how the grammar worked in language that accessible for her students. it is obvious that grammarand standard English are an essential tool to achieve academic success. however teachers need to find exciting ways to present the topic, so that students will not shut out the information but embrace it.

Useful website:

At this site a teacher can make grammar fun. On this site a grammar games and vocabulary for all ages. I remember relishing the opportunity to get to play games like where in the world is carmen san diego and oregon trail. However, why let the social studies class have all of the fun? Bring the fin back to grammar and English and watch your students improve.

useful website

At this website viewers can see numerous projects/lessons that were created by our cohort utilizing various media sources. So, if you want to jazz up your lesson plan and encourage engagement or reduce the "participation gap" then maybe try one of these lessons.

A & P for South West

media literacy

It is essential that students gain media literacy in all of their high school classes. It seems that many students are more engaged with activities that allow them to use different forms of media. In the reading by Beach, the teacher was having a difficult time engaging the students in ELA classroom. The teacher wanted the students to share their ideas, interpretations and reactions to literature that was assigned for class. The teacher was aware that wikis, blogs and podcasts could be the answer to her dilemma. As teachers, it is essential that multimodel ways of teaching are implemented. The teacher decided to have her students go into the computer lab one day a week for blogging. She had her students write a blog about something that the students found interesting in the weeks readings. Blogs are a liberating space where students don't have to worry about form or any sort of structure (like the five paragraph essay). In the blog, students were able to share their ideas more freely and the teacher got a lot more from her students. the students also shared their work with others and responded to at tleast three other student blogs. Students had found a place "in the blog" to react and interact with others. As Beach says, "students can share their writing in a broader way then in the days when the printed word processed documents and exchanged them in class" is not the era that we are now in. Students need to have the opportunity to share their work in a variety of ways. So, teachers... get hip to the blog and other forms of media literacy! You will have more engagement and more involvement from your students.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Useful website: writing

On this website, which is sponsored by NCTE teachers can find lessons that incorporate all aspects of effective writing. It also gives various methods of assessment and evaluation that might be useful for up and coming teachers.

Assessment an Evaluation in writing

Timed writing for tests is very stressful, and I don't believe that this form of assessment really gages how well a student can write. The writing process needs time for pre-writing (brainstorming), organization, writing and revision. I believe that with the stress of time, students are not able to organize and fully express their thoughts. I recognize that students will never be free of state mandated timed tests. However, teachers are able to adjust their evaluations and assessments to allow time for students to be successful in class writing assignments. Local schools that I have been a part of are beginning to have students turn in their pre-writing and drafts, which give the teacher a better idea of how a student's writing has improved. I believe that this is a positive step toward improving students writing skills. However, there is also the problem of how teachers grade and assess student papers.
I find it amazing that there is such a disparity in the assessment and evaluation of student writing. I believe a person who has their BA in English and M.ed in ELA have more authority over what is or is not a good piece of writing from a student. For heavens sake! That is what these degrees are all about. How can the science teacher or family science person claim to have as much authority over writing as an English major/M.ed (ELA)? I firmly believe that the standards for effective writing should not be the same accross all subjects. I think that sometimes students are not assessed properly accross subjects. How can a student get a low grade on a paper in one class and an A in another? Part of it probabally has to do with a student's motivation. I know I would rather write a creative piece than a research paper for science. However, students need to gain the knowledge of how to write about a variety of topics. The real world does not always give options for what you are going to write. Rubrics are a good idea, but my experience tells me that even the best rubrics often have grey areas. In order for students to be academically successful, it is essential that we give them time to grow as writers. If this means that they need more time, than so be it. I also think that students need the opportunity to have some control over their work by helping to create their own rubrics for papers. By doing this students will feel a sense of ownership and control over their individual academic success in writing.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Useful Website

English Works!

On this site students will find help with a variety of essays, grammar, and general editing skills. It is a very helpful site for both native speakers of English and ELL students. It would also be helpful for students who are struggling readers and writers. What needs to be revised in a paper is different depending on the student. This site would be helpful in tackling some of those writing revision problems!


Many students hate the idea of revision, but it an essential component in the writing process. When I was in school, there was not a lot of time for letting the process of writing unfold. However, I am happy to report from my latest volunteer experiences and student teaching, that many teachers are allowing more time for students to revise. In fact, teachers seem to be encouraging students to make the time to revise their papers. Peer editing is a valuable tool to use in the English classroom. I think that more teachers need to implement the idea of workshopping with research papers and creative writing pieces. Learning is a socio-cultural experience, and students would benefit from recieving constructive criticism from their peers. However, for this to work students need to understand the components of the workshop. Students need to understand that they will not aid each others learning by simply putting good at the top of their peers' essays. I think that students need to understand that the revision process is not about the pain, it is about clarifying your message to your audience. Students need to understand that revision will always be an essential component during the writing process, and that this skill will always be expected from them.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Writing Process

My writing experience in middle school and high school involved the notorious five paragraph essay. I believe that learning about the five paragraph essay helps students understand how to organize their thoughts and ideas in a very simple and structured way. However, I also think that there is much more to writing than just the five paragraph essay, which is often neglected in schools. I think that the five paragraph structure is a good one to use with struggling readers and writers. It is an easy way for these students to understand how to expand on an idea or thesis. However, after knowing the capabilities of your students it is also vital that more ways of organizing an expanding an essay are implemented in the classroom. I would argue that writing an informational or technical piece of writing is easier in some respects, because the writer is simply trying prove a point. Often vital questions such as Why should I care? or Why is this topic interesting to the writer? are neglected. Students need to understand that there are a multitude of reasons to write. Often the school envronment promotes writing skills for passng basc sklls tests. However, in the world outside of the school sphere students will be asked to write for a multitude of reasons. It is essential that we teach students how to write and expand ther ideas in more ways than the restrictive five paragraph essay. This will aid students in achieving their lifelong learning goals and better prepare them for the future.
Teachers can find informaton about how to enhance the skills of developing writers. On this site there are videos and ideas for meaningful writing assignments.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

I believe that the process of writing is often neglected in high school classrooms. I can't remember one thing that I wrote for my high school English class that was meaningful to me as a person. Don't get me wrong, I wrote essays and papers about various works of literature, but none of the assignments had any meaning for me and did not give me a passion for writing. Looking back, I wish that I would have had a teacher or assignment that offered me the opportunity to look at writing as a process, and not just a finished product/paper. I think that writing well, has been one of the few joys that I have had in this life. It is also an essential skill that all students should obtain while in high school. Do we as teachers not have enough time? I think that is a sorry excuse when we know the value of writing well....
One site that I thought was it gives videos and ideas for making writing meaningful for students.

Monday, January 22, 2007

photographic philosophy

"Creative thinking may mean simply the realization that there's no particular virtue in doing things the way they have always been done" (Rudolph Flesch).

I believe that students need to realize that English language arts are highly valued in the community. It is important for students to become exposed to the rich literary community that surrounds them. While teaching intercession at Crosswinds, my colleague and I brought in a professional storyteller for our students. We felt that our students should have the opportunity to learn about the oral tradition as part of our designed English curriculum.

photographic philosophy

"The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires" (William Arthur Ward).

My own learning of English language arts involved a lot of lecturing by the teacher. I feel that this is not the best way for students to learn. Learning is a socio-cultural experience, and students learn best by having the opportunity to express their views and opinions with their peers. The teacher should be a facilitator rather than an all-knowing source of information. A teacher should be a person who inspires students to think critically, and offers the opportunity for students to express how they think and feel about what they read.

photographic philosophy

"My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way" (Ernest Hemingway)

Writing is an essential skill that will be used throughout the life of any individual. Students need to learn how to communicate their thoughts and feelings in a variety of ways. Students will be more motivated to write if given the opportunity to write about what is important to them.

My photographic philosophy

"We shouldn't teach great books; we should teach a love of reading" (B.F. Skinner).

Reading is an essential skill that will be used throughout life. A good reader learns to read and think critically about what they read. Teachers have the opportunity to model good reading habits everyday. It is necessary that students become efferent and aesthetic readers. Gaining these essential reading skills will foster lifelong learning goals for individual students.

My Photographic Philosophy

"We read to know that we are not alone" ( C.S. Lewis)

Relationships are of vital importance in the English classroom. It is essential that teachers are able to initiate, maintain and develop relationships within the classroom, school and community. Building and maintaining these relationships creates a network that is essential for a positive learning environment. Students need to know that the teacher is a resource that is friendly and approachable. Students need to feel comfortable in the classroom for learning to occur, and it is vital that the teacher create an environment conducive to learning.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Integrating film into the English classroom

It is vital that film and media are implemented in the classroom. “Regardless of the text, film adaptations of literature can engage students in critical interpretations of both literature and the media” (Beach 104). I think that it is important for students to understand the difference between print and media representations. Media has the power to influence people and it is up to the schools to teach students how to interpret these representations. I plan on creating units that give students the opportunity to read, view and create assignments. I think it is a shame that media is often neglected in the English classroom. “Film/media is often marginalized in the language arts curriculum peripheral to teaching “basic skills” of reading and writing” (Beach 101). I think that students are not being taught how to analyze and interpret alternative sources of information. It is essential that the teacher employ multimodel ways of teaching because all students learn in different ways. I would use film adaptations in many of my literature units so that student’s could see a variety of interpretations of texts.
I really enjoyed the book Lord of the Flies when I was in High School. I remember vividly having the opportunity to watch the film in class. It almost felt like a prize for having finished the text. We watched the newer version of the film, and later I encountered the version made in the 1960’s. I believe that my reading and comprehension was enhanced through the opportunity of watching the film in class. I could easily distinguish the differences between the movie and print version of the text. I think that it would be a fun activity to have the students read and watch the film. I think that students would benefit from analyzing the difference between the film and book version. I would have the students write about which interpretation they enjoyed and why they enjoyed it. I would also ask students to interpret how the experience of the text is different in book and film form. I hope to help students understand the text in both forms, and how the experience with a text is different depending on the form. I would also employ Shakespeare film adaptations.
Getting students to read and enjoy Shakespeare is getting more and more difficult. Part of it has to do with the difficult language and the idea that it was meant for stage or film. A student could miss a lot of what is going on in the plays if they didn’t read the stage directions. One film that I would show is A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1999). I would have the students choose their favorite character both in the book and film. I would have the student write a diary of what happened to that character both when reading the book and watching the movie. This diary would be on the blogger website and would be a great way to get students to understand the motive of individual characters in the play. I think that this film is different from the text, but the characters and scenes in the film are excellent. After the students have both read and viewed the film I would have them look at the difference of their character both in the book and film. I hope to foster a discussion on why certain parts were cut from the movie and why other parts were added. I would hope that my students would understand that interpretations can very greatly depending on the mode of a text.

Who owns it?

I would have to say that I watch TNT and channel 5 the most for television. The radio station that I usually listen to is KS95. After taking this class, I began to wonder who owns it? It is important to know this information because the owner of the station or network may have his own agenda. The station you listen to may have bias in their reporting or hidden agendas, which are trying to manipulate the consumer. It is also important to realize what is said and what isn't said when looking at who owns a station. Obviously an owner is not going to report negative information about any its other companies. This is a negative situation for the viewer because they are getting manipulated by a particular bias. There are many monopolies in the media, which restricts the inoformation that is gained by the consumer. For example, clear channel owns many local stations in Minnesota. Do you only want one view or perspective in the media? I know I don't! That is why i have decided to check my viewing habits and see who owns the stations that I tune into.
The company that owns Minnesota channel 5 is an ABC affiliate, which is owned by Disney. Well, I guess i know why they always have the Disney movies on around the holidays. I found out that Time Warner owns TNT, which is a basic cable station. I was surprised to find out that Clear Channel doesn't own my radio station, because they own a majority of radio stations in the Twin Cities. Hubbard Broadcasting owns 94.5 KS95. I think that they are able to have a little more freedom than the other stations that I tune ino, because they are not as huge as owners like Disney. I imagine they have less restrictions on what they can say on their station.
By having these monopolies often the information that we recieved is slanted. I can imagine that many people might only listen to media from one owner. If you were to look at one company and what it advertises, you might find that it sponsors other stations that it owns. This is dangerous, because viewers would not be exposed to varying perspectives. I think that their should be more independant media stations so this can happen. I think that the other big bussinesses have to give up trying to control the minds of their viewers. People need to recognize who owns it so that they can keep a critical eye and ear on what is being said on their favorite stations.

Music and Ani Difranco

I would have to say that my favorite shows to attend are alternative rock. I enjoy the liberal attitudes that are demonstrated in the music and with the people who attend these shows. Many of the artists that I listen to are female including Ani Di Franco, Indigo Girls, Tori Amos, Bjork and many others. As you can imagine, I always attended Lilith fair, which celebrates these artists! I think that these artists portray what it means to be a woman in today’s society. I enjoy their powerful lyrics, which illustrate the raw emotions that women go through on a daily basis.
One of my favorite songs is called “Both Hands” by Ani Difranco, which illustrates how a woman feels after a break-up. The lyrics of the song illustrate her sadness of the break-up, but also gives her power to go on with her life. It talks about how communication is key in every relationship and that sometimes you can’t be heard in a relationship. It is a song that doesn’t blame either partner for the break-up situation. The instrument is a lone guitar and female singer. It feels like everyone is on their own in this life and that true power comes from loving yourself.
This reminds me of many break-ups that I have had in my life. It is tough to move on from a relationship that means a lot. I enjoy her music because it gives me strength to move forward in this life. I think that everybody should listen to her music. I find myself listening to her music when I am going through tough times in my life and I need a little extra strength.


I would like to film a documentary about the bar and restaurant industry and how they hire immigrants. I think that it would be interesting to see how businesses profit off these individuals by paying them less than white Americans. You can go to any city in the United States and in the kitchen is where you will find most of these workers. I would be interested to see how businesses can hire these individuals who are working without a permit or are illegal aliens. However, this issue is never talked about in our society because big business has a lot of power. My documentary would have bias because I have worked in the service industry and feel that these people are not paid what they are worth.
My documentary would include a lot of interviews with immigrant workers in the service industry. I would also plant a hidden camera in the kitchen so that the audience could see what a workday was like for these employees. I would probably have to do a lot of editing to get my perspective across to the viewers. The kitchen is a place where anything can happen, but often there are long periods of time when nothing happens. I think that the audience would benefit from seeing the realities of the service industry. The issue of these workers rights is a very important message to deliver. I think that often people don’t notice that these new immigrants are sometimes working two jobs with over 60 hours a week just to survive in our country and mail money home.
My intended message in my documentary would be that all workers deserve the right of equal pay. I want my audience to understand that big business is profiting off the cheap labor that these immigrants provide. The point of this documentary is to have society be more aware of the injustices that happen in their local area. This documentary would make people think twice before dining at these establishments who don’t treat their workers fair and equal. I would include many interviews during my documentary.
I would like to interview restaurant workers who work more than 60 hours a week and follow them through their normal workday. I would also go home with these workers to demonstrate the struggle of these new immigrant families in America. I think that often people put these new immigrants into very negative categories. Often we hear comments from the public saying “they are taking our jobs!” or “these people come here and use our system for money.” I think that these are heard more because people don’t want to face that these families are working harder than most Americans and trying to support their families.
I would also ask these workers many questions about how they got hired in America. I am sure that most of these immigrants would know how to get hired whether they are legally or illegally in this country. I would also ask the general managers and kitchen managers how they cold hire these individuals. It would also be important to ask these managers what they think of the work ethic of these immigrant workers. I am sure that some of these mangers would be reluctant to talk about their hiring practices.
It would be difficult to get accurate information about this issue from managers, because they might be at risk of losing their job. I think that more accurate information would come from a manager who had left the industry because of the unjust treatment of immigrant workers. However, this might also be inaccurate because maybe this person would have a personal vendetta against the service industry because of losing his/her job. I also think that it would be difficult to get accurate information from the immigrant workers because they would not want to lose their job. However, I would hope that by protecting the identity of these individuals I could obtain accurate information from these people. The language barrier might pose a problem, because many of these new immigrants speak little or no English. A translator would have to tell the story coming from these interviews. Some American people might think that since these individuals speak little or no English than they shouldn’t be successful. However, people don’t want to admit that English is not the only language in the world. People don’t want to hear that many people are manipulated because of their lack of understanding of how jobs in the United States are supposed to function.
I hope that my documentary would open they eyes of people so that they would fight for these workers rights. I think that if people step forward with accurate information we could stop this modern day slavery. I believe that all people deserve the right to be in this country and work for equal pay. This should be the land of opportunity not injustice.