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Seeking Balance

Page history last edited by PBworks 13 years, 8 months ago

Discussion of Chapter 9: Seeking Balance: Writing About Literature and Writing About Life

 


 

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Comments (7)

Anonymous said

at 1:14 pm on Jul 7, 2008

I read this section hoping for an answer to the question many of us have felt as we were reading -- how can we use this these great ideas in a non-writing course? It seemed to me that Penny Kittle has not yet figured this out fully herself, which made me feel better because obviously she knows A LOT. But the brevity of the chapter in contrast to all of her others was telling. I liked her idea of still making the writing connect to life's stories -- I talk with my students all the time about how their voices can still show through in literary analysis writing. This is really hard for them though -- maybe it is years of being told to remove themselves from their own reactions ("No I" which I am guilty of -- but I say it because I think their reactions can be clearly stated without the "I think" ... but that sometimes goes over their heads). I am wondering if doing a fully creative piece that is not at all tied to lit and then moving right into a heavy lit analysis would help them apply the techniques?

Anonymous said

at 11:05 pm on Jul 20, 2008

I too sit and think about how to incorporate more of these ideas into my American Literature classes; what can I cut out in order to allow more time for writing? There are analysis papers that have to be written to meet curriculum requirements, but I imagine those will be the only analysis papers that my students will be writing this coming school year. I really enjoyed the addition of Kittle's colleague (Jason Wood) and his introductions to the analysis of The Scarlet Letter...his students' enthusiasm for writing that paper gives me hope. I will definitely be approaching the tedious writing much differently.
As I (re)read the book I'm continually thinking about personal choices I am going to be making in regards to my teaching and the curriculum...there are going to be many more "just shut my door and teach" days!

Anonymous said

at 7:11 am on Jul 23, 2008

Actually, I feel like I have worked out an answer to this question of balance but it isn't one most people like. I believe we have sacrificed too much in English teaching at the altar of literature. Literature drives curriculum in most classrooms I'm in, and only particular literature. It just shuts out too many voices. Our curriculum should not be one novel to the next for the year with writing shoehorned into responding to the book they're studying. I think we're out of balance and need to think deeply about that. We need more parity between reading to analyze and reading for personal joy. Who on this blog has written literary analysis in response to a book read this summer? Why would you? Our writing teaching has to be about more. The brevity of this chapter was intentional. What I want to see is literary analysis as one genre, not the whole curriculum in high school. I have seen kids think deeply about what they're reading and write in lots of genres in response, demonstrating the collection of evidence, etc. Ask questions of your curriculum. Where is it out of balance? How can we inspire students to engage in the process of writing-- to put all their energy into improving what they've written? Tom Newkirk asked the Learning Through Teaching consultants at UNH this spring, "Why aren't teachers accountable for student engagement with reading and writing?" What if that were the measuring stick? Passion-- appetite-- willingness to engage entirely-- if teachers were evaluated on that, what would change in our teaching?

Lisa Huff said

at 10:33 pm on Jul 24, 2008

The altar of literature may be hard to abandon because we all--or most of us--worshipped in 20th Century temples, where literature was the core offering. My own high school and college classes revolved around literature. In my first few years of teaching, I mimiced the best of my own teachers. Perhaps, as we continue to hear more and more about 21st Century Skills, about the need to understand the new definition of literacy, our curriculum will evolve more into one more like you're describing. I think it wise to continue to introduce students to our literary heritage. At the same time, I think it malpractice not to immerse students in texts both old and new, both print and digital, both textual and visual. Surely, the same principle must hold true for writing, that we must immerse them in a variety of writing contexts both formal and informal, both analytical and personal. Balance is indeed the key. Making it work, in the reality of 22 class days for the first nine weeks, is the real challenge.

Anonymous said

at 4:51 pm on Jul 26, 2008

Well said.

Anonymous said

at 10:34 pm on Jul 26, 2008

Multi-genre is the answer...I have spent many hours this summer working to enhance some thematic units that I taught last year...and I am addicted. I can no longer read anything (blogs, articles, novels, cartoons...any genre) without determining which unit that I would place that text...I also believe in, what I call, a modified version of project-based learning and want to work to allow students to write and create (or is it create and write?) and make sure they are given opportunities in which to write in various genres. I'm not sure I have found the answer...but I do believe I am getting closer. I know I am much more excited about going back to school...more so than I have been in some time. I think it's also partially due to the all the "personal" professional development that I have encountered this summer...Penny's book has been great! Thanks, Dana, for initiating this online discussion!

Dana Huff said

at 8:50 am on Jul 27, 2008

No problem! I'm only sorry I haven't been more participatory! I'm working on it! This week has been hard.

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