Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Pulling Together: Integrating Inquiry, Assessment, and Instruction in Today's English Classroom

Schnellert, L., Datoo, M., Ediger, K., & Panas, J. (2009). Pulling Together: Integrating Inquiry, Assessment, and Instruction in Today's English Classroom. Markham, Ontario, Canada: Pembroke Publishers.

Ch. 1-3: The first 3 chapters of this book are spent discussing ways to rethink the way English Language Arts is thought about and taught. In the authors’ perspectives, ELA is the perfect place to help broaden student’s understanding of “themselves, others, life, and the world.” By reading and writing a variety of texts, students are able to examine and reflect upon the world we live in. They emphasize the thought processes that students must engage in to be able to do just that, and offer strategies for teachers to use to achieve these aims. They lay out the framework for thematic unit planning with helpful graphic organizers for teachers, samples of a unit plan, and conversations about the role of modeling for these units. Chapter 3 goes on to discuss performance-based assessments, both formative and summative, with an emphasis on focusing on the student’s strengths and needs, goals, and planning notes. Again, there are sample rubrics and graphic organizers. They touch on the idea of using student surveys of interest to guide planning, providing choice within units of study, and the process of inquiry and reflection in student learning.

Evaluation/ Reflection:
In my never-ending search for resources for language arts, I was looking for specific guidance in the principals of project-based learning in the language arts classroom. The first 3 chapters touched on a few principals that I can revisit to improve my teaching, and I am hoping to glean even more from the following chapters. There are definitely key terms that catch my eye as I look ahead: inquiry, new literacies, critical literacies, to name a few. I like that the authors offer strategies with sample lessons and graphic organizers.

Atwell, N. (2007) The reading zone: How to help kids become skilled, passionate, habitual, critical readers. New York, NY: Scholastic

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) The Age of Persuasion. Episode, “The YouTube Revolution,” http://www.cbc.ca.ageofpersuasion/2008/09/the_youtube_revolution.html

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