Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Making Meaning in Literature Grades 6-8
Conversations in Literature — Workshop

About Making Meaning in Literature: A Workshop for Teachers, Grades 6-8

Individual Workshop Descriptions

1. Introducing our Literary Community
2. Encouraging Discussion
3. Going Further in Discussion
4. Diversity in Texts
5. Student Diversity
6. Literature, Art, and Other Disciplines
7. Assessment
8. Planning and Professional Development
9. Starting in September...




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About the Contributors

Click on the links below to learn more about the teachers, advisors, and content experts who contributed to this library.

Featured Teachers

Joe BernhartJoe Bernhart
Fondren Middle School
Houston, Texas

Joe Bernhart received his degree in secondary English (K-12) from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1994. Following a year of substitute teaching in Milwaukee public schools, he took a full-time language arts position at Fondren Middle School in Houston, Texas, where he has worked for the past six years. He currently teaches seventh grade magnet and pre-AP students.

Mr. Bernhart is a lead teacher in the Houston Independent School District. He is also active in the Greater Houston Area Writing Project. During 2000, he assisted as a convention planner for the annual middle school convention of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), and participated in the National Writing Project, a month-long professional development workshop.

Believing that literature helps people understand themselves and the world in which they live, Bernhart uses contemporary young adult literature to engage students in discussions on such critical topics as race, equality, and justice. He is committed to teaching in an urban district.

Dr. Janis Currence, Ed.D.Dr. Janis Currence, Ed.D.
Stephen Decatur Middle School
Berlin, Maryland

Dr. Janis Currence holds an undergraduate certification in special education and elementary education from the State University of New York at Geneseo, a master's degree in education from Salisbury State with a concentration in supervision and administration, and a doctorate in curriculum and instruction from the University of Maryland's School of Education at College Park.

Dr. Currence has over 30 years of teaching experience in a variety of settings, including primary and secondary special education, a program for socially and emotionally challenged secondary students, and regular English classes at the fourth, sixth, and eighth grade levels. She also has extensive experience working with teaching professionals. She has been a writing resource teacher for teachers of eighth and ninth grade English in Worcester County, Maryland, and has provided in-service programs for teachers in Worcester, Wicomico, and Dorchester Counties. In 1998, as an adjunct professor at Salisbury State University, she taught a course entitled "Reading and Writing in the Content Areas for Secondary Teachers." She has served as both professional education consultant and teacher/consultant for the Eastern Shore Writing Project, and co-directed two writing project Summer Institutes at Salisbury State University.

Dr. Currence presently teaches seventh grade Integrated language arts at Stephen Decatur Middle School in Berlin, Maryland. Teaching on the classroom level — or as she says, "in the trenches" — is her true professional calling.

Dorothy FranklinDorothy Franklin
DeWitt Clinton Elementary School
Chicago, Illinois

Dorothy Franklin began her teaching career 16 years ago as a coordinating teacher for four-year-olds at a suburban Chicago daycare center. After two years, she accepted a position as a teacher's aide in the reading center of the Evanston Township High School. During her ten years there, she received her elementary teaching certificate with an endorsement in language arts and embarked on a master's degree in reading. She also developed and implemented a pull-out program for students living below the poverty line who scored below the 35th percentile on standardized tests in reading and math.

For the past six years, she has taught sixth, seventh, and eighth grade English language arts at DeWitt Clinton Elementary School in Chicago, Illinois. Her hope is to inspire students who did not receive adequate literacy experience in the critical primary years. In the past, she sponsored a student newspaper that received critical acclaim from Mayor Richard Daly, and she now runs a drama club where she helps students write and produce several shows each school year. Franklin has also taken a leadership role in establishing a school-wide reading team at Clinton, coordinating quarterly meetings, sharing standards with school staff, and providing one-to-one support for new teachers.

In 1999, Ms. Franklin won the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching from the Golden Apple Foundation in Chicago, Illinois. She then joined the foundation's newly formed Reading Interest Group to draft a Reading Bill of Rights, which has since been ratified by the foundation and accepted by Mayor Daly. The committee, in concert with Chicago Public School administrators, is spearheading a campaign to assist all schools in identifying or hiring reading specialists.

In 2000, Ms. Franklin participated in the Chicago Area Writing Project Summer Institute and now acts as teacher/consultant, offering demonstrations for other educators. She has delivered presentations at Clinton and Northeastern Illinois University on literature-based instruction. She has published an article, "Thinking about Thinking: A New Look at Comprehension," in the Illinois Reading Council Journal, and most recently co-wrote a proposal to open a new charter school in Chicago.

Ana HernandezAna Hernandez
Howard Doolin Middle School
Miami, Florida

Ana Hernandez earned her bachelor's degree in English education from Florida International University in April 1997. While at the university, she substitute taught in the Dade County Public Schools and was a lead teacher for SummerLink '95 and '96, a six-week program for inner-city minority children. She has served as both vice president and president of the university's Future Educators of America and was selected to the Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society. She was also founder and student editor of EduTrends, a monthly newsletter for the Future Educators of America Organization.

In 1998, Ms. Hernandez was honored as the Sallie Mae Outstanding First-Year Teacher for her work in the Campbell Drive Middle School in Homestead, Florida. A member of the Phi Delta Kappa National Education Honor Society, she has also served as vice president and president of this organization.

Ms. Hernandez is currently working toward a Master of Science degree in education at the University of Miami, focusing on reading and learning disabilities. She teaches sixth and seventh grade language arts to gifted students at the Howard A. Doolin Middle School in Miami.

Barry HoonanBarry Hoonan
The Odyssey School
Bainbridge Island, Washington

Barry Hoonan, a two-time participant in the Fullbright Teacher Exchange to Great Britain, has 19 years of experience in public school classrooms. He currently teaches the 5/6 cluster at Odyssey, an alternative school for grades 1-8 on Bainbridge Island, Washington, which features multi-age classes and a high level of parent involvement. Although Hoonan teaches all subjects in his cluster, his true passions are literature and writing.

Mr. Hoonan has a master's degree in teaching from Lesley College in Massachusetts. Winner of the 1990 Christa MacAuliffe Award for teaching excellence in Washington State, he has recently seen his work published in Beyond Reading and Writing by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and Literature Circles and Response (Christopher-Gordon Publishers, 1995). He is also a member of NCTE's Reading Commission, and he serves as a consultant for school districts conducting workshops on integrating reading, writing, poetry, and the arts into instruction. Mr. Hoonan's teaching style has been influenced by such notables as Judith Langer, Linda Rief, Nancie Atwell, Donald Graves, and Jerome Harste.

Linda RiefLinda Rief
Oyster River Middle School
Durham, New Hampshire

Linda Rief is a full-time eighth grade language arts teacher at Oyster River Middle School in Durham, New Hampshire. She is also an instructor in the University of New Hampshire's Summer Reading and Writing Program and has taught graduate courses for Northeastern University and Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts. She is the author of Seeking Diversity: Language Arts with Adolescents (1992) and Vision and Voice: Extending the Literacy Spectrum (1999) — a book and companion CD — both published by Heinemann. Several book chapters and articles have appeared in Portfolio Portraits (ed. Donald Graves and Bonnie Sunstein), The Portfolio Standard, Language Arts, Learning, Educational Leadership, Instructor K-8, and other professional journals. She is co-editor with Maureen Barbieri of All That Matters: What Is It We Value in School and Beyond? (Heinemann, 1995) and Workshop 6: The Teacher as Writer (Heinemann, 1994). With Barbieri, she co-founded and co-edited, for five years, Voices from the Middle, a journal for middle school teachers, published by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). She has also designed and hosted two television series for the Massachusetts Corporation for Educational Telecommunications in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

In 2000, Ms. Rief was the recipient of NCTE's Edwin A. Hoey Award for excellence in English Language Arts teaching, a finalist for New Hampshire Teacher of the Year, and the recipient of the New Hampshire English/Language Arts Teacher of the Year. In 1999, she received the Richard W. Halle Award presented by the middle school assembly of NCTE, and in 1988, she was the recipient of one of two Kennedy Center Fellowships for Teachers of the Arts.

Although Ms. Rief continues to conduct numerous workshops throughout the U.S., sharing what her students know and are able to do as readers, writers, and learners, her full-time commitment remains with her students.

Tanya SchnablTanya Schnabl
Sherburne-Earlville Middle School
Sherburne, New York

Tanya Schnabl, a sixth grade language arts teacher at Sherburne-Earlville Middle School in Sherburne, New York, has made a career of helping students connect literature to their own lives. She began teaching 14 years ago at a high school in Guilderland, New York. Within a year, she moved to Farnsworth Middle School, also in Guilderland, and found her calling. Hired as a language arts and social studies teacher, she came to realize that integrated, thematic units helped students make connections across the curriculum. Schnabl worked closely with other teachers to plan these kinds of experiences.

In 1993, Ms. Schnabl wrote a chapter in the book Children Exploring Their World: Theme Teaching in Elementary Schools. Soon after, her classroom was highlighted in Instructor magazine for a theme on architecture. In 1995, she was chosen to be an assessor for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. While in Guilderland, she also created a summer "Boost" program for struggling readers.

Ms. Schnabl works with teachers throughout the area, with an emphasis on implementing alternative teaching methods to help students be more successful learners. She encourages teachers to communicate with each other and find ways to integrate subject areas in order to make learning more meaningful to students.

Flora TylerFlora Tyler
Picacho Middle School
Las Cruces, New Mexico

Flora Tyler graduated from New Mexico State University in 1980 with a degree in elementary education and an endorsement in K-12 special education. For 12 years, she worked as a special education classroom teacher of students in kindergarten through ninth grade, incorporating Nancie Atwell's vision of readers and writers workshops into her own special education setting. More recently, she has shifted to a regular classroom in the hope of reaching a larger population of students. She currently teaches sixth grade language arts at Picacho Middle School in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Beginning in the 2001-2002 school year, she will teach seventh grade language arts at Sierra Middle School.

In addition to challenging her students to take risks and stretch their expectations, Ms. Tyler has also worked as mentor to teachers who want to expand their own repertoire of classroom skills and strategies. In this capacity, she has reached beyond the walls of her own school to present at various conferences at the district level.

Ms. Tyler credits the work of Yetta Goodman, Donald Graves, Nancie Atwell, Lucy Calkins, Regie Routman, Linda Rief, David Lazear, Thomas Armstrong, and Howard Gardner as influential to her understanding of how people learn, as well as the approach she takes to assessment in the classroom.

Advisors and Content Experts

Judith A. Langer, Ph.D.Judith A. Langer, Ph.D.

Judith A. Langer is Professor of Education at the University at Albany, State University of New York. She specializes in studies of language, literacy, and learning. Her research focuses on how people become highly literate, on how they use reading and writing to learn, and on what this means for instruction.

Her major works examine the nature of literate thought-the knowledge students use when they "make sense" and the ways in which their learning is affected by activities and interactions in the classroom. She has studied reading and writing development, the ways in which understandings (envisionments) grow over time, how particular literacy contexts affect language and thought, and the contribution of literature to literate thought.

She is presently studying the professional and classroom features that accompany English programs where students are "beating the odds" in literacy. Her work on envisionment building has had a major impact on literature instruction and assessment. She serves on many advisory boards and national reform groups involved in reconceptualizing literacy education.

Dr. Langer has published in a wide variety of journals and collections. Her books include Reader Meets Author/Bridging the Gap; Understanding Reading and Writing Research; Children Reading and Writing: Structures and Strategies; Language, Literacy, and Culture: Issues of Society and Schooling; How Writing Shapes Thinking: Studies of Teaching and Learning; Literature Instruction: A Focus on Student Response; Literature Instruction: Practice and Policy; and Envisioning Literature: Literary Understanding and Literature Instruction. Effective English Instruction will soon be published.

Dr. Langer is Director of the National Research Center on English Learning & Achievement (CELA) funded by the United States Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement. She is also chair of the Department of Educational Theory and Practice.

Dr. Langer serves as the chief content advisor for all the projects in the Envisioning Literature workshops and libraries, including Conversations in Literature and Making Meaning: A Video Library, Grades 6-8.

Dale AllenderDale Allender

Dale Allender currently serves as the Associate Executive Director of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). A former teacher in the Iowa City Community School District, Mr. Allender has also lectured at Grinnell and Coe Colleges. He has also served the language arts community as an Editorial Board Member of The New Advocate, as representative-at-large for the Alliance for Curriculum Reform, and in his current position as the NCTE Liaison to the Iowa Council Teachers of English and Language Arts Executive Board.

A recipient of the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute for Native American Literature fellowship and numerous other awards, Mr. Allender has also served as a consultant and curriculum developer for a number of media projects, including Songmasters: The American Road, a music recording of traditional socially conscious songs performed by contemporary popular music artists; Tutu and Franklin: A Journey Towards Peace, a dialogue between Desmond Tutu and John Hope Franklin and 21 international, multicultural high school students; and Regret to Inform, an award-winning documentary on widows from the Vietnam War, featured on PBS.

Some of Mr. Allender’s recent publications include “Deep Reading: Building a Schematic Bridge Across World Mythology and Multicultural Literature” which appeared in Multicultural Review, “The Myth Ritual Theory and the Teaching of Multicultural Literature,” "Standing on the Border: Issues of Identity and Border Crossing in Young Adult Literature,” and “African and African American Voices and Experiences" which is included in Adventuring with Books.

Arthur N. Applebee, Ph.D.Arthur N. Applebee, Ph.D.

Arthur N. Applebee is Professor in the School of Education, University at Albany, State University of New York, and (with Judith Langer) is Director of the federally sponsored National Research Center on English Learning and Achievement. The Center has an active research and development agenda in elementary and secondary instruction, in effective uses of technology, and in teacher education.

During his varied career, Dr. Applebee has worked in institutional settings with children with severe learning problems, in public schools, as a staff member of the National Council of Teachers of English, and in research and professional education. He joined the faculty at the University at Albany from Stanford University in 1987, as part of a SUNY-wide Graduate Research Initiative designed to place the University at Albany at the forefront of literacy research in the United States.

With degrees from Yale, Harvard, and the University of London, Dr. Applebee's work focuses on how children and adults learn the many specialized forms of language required for success in school subjects, life, and work. His numerous books and articles focus in particular on issues in curriculum and instruction in reading, writing, and the English Language Arts. Since the early 1970s, he has also worked with the National Assessment of Educational Progress, helping to design, implement, interpret, and report a continuing series of evaluations of the educational attainment of U.S. students.

An internationally recognized expert, Applebee consults at the national, state, and district level on effective approaches to curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Dr. Applebee is a former editor of Research in the Teaching of English, a past president of the National Conference on Research in Language and Literacy, and a recipient of the David H. Russell Award for Distinguished Research in the Teaching of English, from the National Council of Teachers of English.

Ana Hernandez

See above

Frank Horstman, Ph.D.Frank Horstman, Ph.D.

As the K-12 Specialist in English Language Arts for the Maryland State Department of Education, Frank Horstman works with a variety of issues related to language development: curricular design, instructional implementation, assessment, and school improvement. Specific projects have ranged from kindergarten — MMSR training, to primary — managing the Reading Excellence Act Grant, to middle — range finding for MWT and MSPAP, through high school — collaborating on the development of the English High School Assessment. While he received his formal training in applying theories in cognitive psychology, linguistics, and classical rhetoric to improving writing instruction, Dr. Horstman credits the training he received from his English, journalism, and foreign language students with helping him develop a very practical perspective on English Language Arts. He also believes that serving as both a staff development facilitator and an administrator has helped him to see the learning process from still other perspectives. Dr. Horstman welcomes the opportunity to support educators across Maryland in their goal to improve student achievement in English language arts.

Mara Johnson

Mara Johnson, a native of the District of Columbia, holds a bachelor of science in elementary education from D.C. Teachers College with a minor in speech, a master's degree in reading from University of the District of Columbia, and certification in middle school foundations from National-Louis University.

Ms. Johnson has devoted her career to teaching in Washington's inner city schools, beginning at Meyer Elementary School where she taught grades three through six for 18 years. For the past 11 years, she has been a reading instructor at Garnett-Patterson Middle School (grades six through eight). At various points, she has served as building resource teacher, standards specialist, mentor teacher, the multicultural chairperson, member of the personnel selection and textbook selection committees, spelling bee coordinator, and sponsor of the ski club. She has also won two Teacher-to-Teacher Awards for her work on instructional materials designed to help children develop vocabulary, reading, writing, and speaking skills. During the summer of 2000, she worked as the assistant program manager for the Summer Arts and Smarts Program offered by the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation.

Elizabeth Penfield

Elizabeth Penfield is Professor Emerita of English at the University of New Orleans. She is the author of four books and numerous articles published in state, regional, and national journals, including Arizona English Bulletin, English Language Arts Bulletin, and the ADE Bulletin. Her book Short Takes, published by Harper Collins, is currently in its seventh printing. She is a contributor to the Longman Bibliography of Composition and Rhetoric, and her article "Freshman English/Advanced Writing: How Do We Distinguish the Two?" was published in On Teaching Advanced Writing. Together with Charles Moran of the University of Massachusetts, she edited the NCTE publication Conversations: Contemporary Theory and the Teaching of Literature. Penfield has also presented papers to many state, regional, and national groups, including the Conference on College Composition and Communication and the National Council of Teachers of English.

Ms. Penfield's principle areas of interest are composition and rhetoric, and contemporary literature. She has consulted on writing with schools throughout Louisiana and for the Wyoming Conference on Freshman and Sophomore English. She has also chaired the New Orleans Writing Project. At the University of New Orleans, she has directed the freshman program, chaired the English Department, and served as Associate Dean of Liberal Arts.

Linda Rief

See above

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