Category Archives: Writing

Why authentic literacy matters when it comes to student achievement

In preparing for active research project between a couple of my graduate classes, I was fortunate enough to be directed to an article that appeared in a July 2008 copy of English Journal. In the article, “Research Matters: Authentic Literacy and Student Achievement (NCTE membership required for viewing),” Rick VanDeWeghe describes how important it is for English teachers to push students to achieve authentic literacy. Using the research of Mike Schmoker, he defines authentic literacy as “the ability to read, write, and think effectively.” This is accomplished when “students engage in deep reading based on provocative questions posed before reading and then have opportunity to ‘argue and support an interpretation from one or more texts’ in writing.” I would also add that it’s possible for students to have that opportunity to argue and support interpretations through class discussion, as well. Continue reading


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Filed under Class Discussion, Discussion, Education, English, Lesson, Lesson planning, Literacy, Literacy community, Reading, Student achievement, Student success, Student Teaching, Students, Writing

Making connections with students

If you think teaching is hard, try being a student-teacher – or as Pitt likes to call us MATS, interns. You’re the one who is hovering around the classroom, not saying much and trying your hardest to both fit in and earn respect as teacher. I’m pretty sure that’s the definition of impossible. It’s also pretty nerve-wracking and frustrating. There’s so much you want to do or say to get involved and have the students love you from day 1, but that just doesn’t happen.

And that was me for a couple weeks. I just stood and paced around the room during class and got to observe a few other classes. But for the most part, I was just that guy, who dressed up, and didn’t do much during class. I was even having trouble with names (and to be honest, I’m still only at about 50% right now).

I feel like most beginning teachers, especially those who are maybe new to a school district or haven’t been around long enough to earn a reputation among students, have a hard time connecting with students. But they’re luckier than us lowly student-teachers. They get to talk from day 1. It’s their classroom. They’re the teacher. And the students are the students. They are no longer that sideshow student-teacher.

That, then, was my biggest hurdle in these first few weeks. I needed to get over the fact that I was an intern and still learning about how schools work, let alone how to be a teacher. I had to make connections with students, but it was tough.

That all changed, however, yesterday. Continue reading

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Filed under Education, English, Lesson, Lesson planning, Personal, Teaching, Writing

Beliefs in teaching English (a followup)

A quick update to my response on what I feel about teaching high school English. There’s roughly 20 in my Introduction to Inquiry class and we all talked about our beliefs for a minute or so. We were asked to jot down a key point or two from what each person said. Continue reading

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Filed under Class assignment, Classroom management, Communication, Education, English, Teaching, Writing

What do you believe about the teaching of English?

This is from one of my first assignments in my M.A.T. program. I figure my blog could also be used as place to share my thoughts as I work toward my degree – and then even further.

This is a unique question for somebody like me because I’m in the pre-teaching stage. I just started my program and haven’t even had the opportunity to observe teachers – both in English and other subjects – interact with and pass on knowledge to their students. But it’s still a valid question because, after all, even as a prospective teacher, I still hold beliefs about a high school English classroom.

For me, the teaching of English is highlighted best whenever the teacher has given the student an opportunity to express their ideas. I feel that a central goal for a teacher is to create an open forum in the classroom for students to discuss good and bad ideas alike. The key, however, is not to have a free-for-all in terms of structure in the classroom. Rather, the teacher can conduct a lesson that best encourages discussion.
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Filed under Class assignment, Classroom management, Education, English, Journalism, Personal, Teaching, Writing

A new approach to sports journalism

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a big problem facing sports journalism. I wanted to expand on that thought because I think it coincides with another issue with the industry. The situation, as many know, is that budget cuts and layoffs are sweeping across the newspaper industry. That doesn’t bode well for those of us who need to travel, whether by car or by plane, to different cities for coverage of our local sports teams. Making it to different stadiums, spending time in hotels, covering dining costs and everything else involved with a trip is getting costly.

Is it really worth sending one or two reporters hundreds of miles away for usually two days and one night — on the paper’s dime, mind you — just to write a recap for a game that is over and done with in usually two and a half hours?

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Filed under Communication, Journalism, Media, Newspapers, Personal, Publishing, Social Media, Sports, Twitter, Writing

Sunday reads

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Filed under Blogging, Journalism, Magazines, Media, Newspapers, Publishing, Social Media, Writing

What’s going to happen to sports journalism?

This post was originally written for and published on Journalism 2.0. The blog is run by Mark Briggs, who is the CEO of Serra Media, the company I’m interning with this semester. Throughout the semester, I’ll be writing blog posts about the future of journalism on J20 and my internship on Serra Media’s blog.

As both a journalism student and the sports editor at my university’s student newspaper, I take the future of journalism very seriously. After all, my life after graduation depends on it.

This is why I found a column about the future of newspapers, specifically the sports section, so interesting. In a Poynter column, Jason Fry, a freelance reporter and journalism consultant in New York, suggested that like newspapers, traveling to games and game recaps are a dying breed in the sports section.

And he’s right. In a world driven by user content, what the user — or reader — wants, the user gets. It’s not always necessary for a game recap to show up in the paper the morning or day after a game. Readers can get that information instantly from a box score or, perhaps more importantly, from watching highlights and press conferences online immediately after the game.

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Filed under Blogging, Communication, Journalism, Media, Newspapers, Personal, Publishing, Social Media, Sports, Writing