Thursday, March 31, 2011

Curriculum as Complicated Conversation

Curriculum is often couched as a deliverable. Like me, you may have heard phrases like:
"Teachers need to differentiate in order to deliver the curriculum."
"The specialist researches teaching methods and develops ways for teachers to successfully deliver the curriculum to meet these goals..."
Or this from an ASCD post: "The taught curriculum is the one that teachers actually deliver." 
Go ahead and query "deliver the curriculum" and see what pops.  I got more than 250,000 hits.

It's interesting to consider what rests beneath the metaphor of curriculum as a product that can be delivered, especially as it has become such an accepted (and I want to suggest not examined) means of expression. "Delivering" suggests a thing that can be transported from point A to point B. It is something that is contained and whole and at the destination point, handed over.

Now think of something you learned that was complex. Was it simply a means of someone handing "it" to you?  Could the learning you are recalling even be contained in a single expression?  Were you simply the receiver of this learning or did you need to play with the concept--idea and in doing so perhaps the initial "it" was changed or (in)formed by new understanding?

Situating curriculum as a thing is a mistake, let alone as that which can be moved from point A to point B.  Instead, think of curriculum as that which is made between and among people.  Yes, curriculum may be informed by products that can be moved (curriculum document, state standards, etc.), but curriculum happens in the lived moment.  As such, learners, be it teacher or student, maintain agency.

William Pinar tells us that curriculum is a “complicated conversation.” He suggests curriculum is  situated in space and time where teacher, student, and text meet to co-produce self, other, and culture. The curriculum documents that are produced in schools and standards that are produced by states and nations offer possible curricula, but not the lived one. To mistake one for the other often leads to reenactment or miming and divorces "school curriculum from public life and school curriculum from students' self-formation" (Pinar, p. 186).  Pinar writes:
Instead of employing school knowledge to complicate our understanding of ourselves and the society in which we live, teachers are forced to "instruct" students to mime others' (i.e., textbook authors') conversations, ensuring that countless classrooms are filled with forms of ventriloquism rather than intellectual exploration, wonder, and awe (p. 186).
Intellectual exploration, wonder, and awe cannot occur if learners are thought of as receivers of curriculum, be it the teacher who is handed the curriculum to deliver or the student who receives "the content".  Intellectual exploration, wonder, and awe require an organicism that is not relevant, nor possible, when the task at hand is mere mimicry or translation.

So it seems prudent to ask, What is the purpose of curriculum?  If curriculum is understood to be a document, it often is reduced to thing that gets checked. I once worked in a school district where teachers were made to write all of the objectives (citing state standards) for a "lesson" on classroom blackboards.  I thought it absurd, especially when I entered a kindergarten classroom and saw that the large amount of print taking up the blackboard served only to visually confuse children who were trying to acquire the alphabetic principle.  But beyond the primary school issues,  one might wonder, why were teachers directed to do this?  I suspect that somewhere in the hierarchy, a person or two thought that this accounting would translate into learning.  I hazard to guess that at some educational conference or in a fashionable education journal, this type of action may have been touted as a form of accountability. It is only a form of accountability if you believe that curriculum is a product that can be delivered and that writing it on the board makes it so.

So if the purpose of curriculum is not to make sure that x gets "done", then what is it?

Pinar writes:
The educational point of the public school curriculum is understanding, understanding the relations among academic knowledge, the state of society, the process of self-formation, and the character of the historical moment in which we live, in which other have lived, and in which our descendants will someday live (p. 187).
Understanding requires the acknowledgment of a self who is historically situated and at the same time always becoming. Learning requires interaction with academic knowledge, understanding that this too is socially situated. These relationships are not unidirectional and are influenced in ways those close to the moment may be able to predict, but never with any certainty.  Meaning is composed in such moment, not handed out like a boxed curriculum or a nation's standards.

This is why curriculum is a complicated conversation, not a rote recitation of someone else's words. Curriculum gets made, not transported. To occasion such excellence requires expertise and planning.  The plans learners make  need to be thoughtful expressions of intention, not actuality.   Consider Murray Krantzman, a middle school teacher,  who explains (Reilly, 2009):
I plan instruction more as notes to myself. I have a sense of where the work might head, but it is not necessarily the procedural aspects that I am thinking most about. For example, in the poetry engagements I wanted kids to tune into hearing language: the assonance, consonance, and onomatopoeia that is present in everyday talk. I want them to hear and record this. I want them to begin to name principles that rest beneath the surface of these everyday things. To do this, they will need to wonder (p.379).

It is what happens in the engagements between and among Mr. Krantzman and the students that "curriculum" happens. This is where we need to dwell: those places of intersection where curriculum can be seen "as a lived event in itself" (Pinar, p. 187).

Work Cited
Pinar, William F. 2008. What is curriculum theory? Taylor & Francis e-Library.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Physical Science Books for K-2 Children

Adler, David A. 1999. How Tall, How Short, How Faraway? Illustrated by Nancy Tobin. NY: Holiday House.

Berger, Melvin, 1990. Switch On, Switch Off. Illustrated by Carolyn Croll. NY: Collins.

Bradley, Kimberly Brubaker. 2005. Forces Make Things Happen. NY: Collins.

Branley, Franklyn M. 2007. Gravity is a Mystery. Illustrated by Edward Miller. NY: Collins.

-------------------------. 1998. Day Light, Night Light: Where Light Comes From. Illustrated by Stacey Schuett.  NY: HarperCollins.

-------------------------. 1996. What Makes a Magnet? NY: HarperCollins.

Brubaker, Kimberly. 2001. Pop! A Book about Bubbles. Photographs by Margaret Miller. NY: HarperCollins.

Bulla, Clyde Robert. 1994. What Makes a Shadow? Illustrated by June Otani. NY: HarperCollins.

Cassino, Mark. 2009. The Story of Snow: the Science of Winter’s Wonder. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books.

Cobb, Vicki. 2004. I Fall Down. Illustrated by Julia Gorton. NY: HarperCollins.

--------------. 2003. I Face the Wind. Illustrated by Julia Gorton. NY: HarperCollins.

--------------. 2002. I See Myself. Illustrated by Julia Gorton. NY: HarperCollins.

--------------. 2002. I Get Wet. Illustrated by Julia Gorton. NY: HarperCollins.

Glass, Andrew. 2003. The Wondrous Whirligig: The Wright Brothers First Flying Machine. NY: Holiday House.

Graham, Joan Bransfield. 1999. Flicker Flash. Illustrated by  Nancy Davis. Houghton Mifflin.
Gullain, Charlotte. 2009. What is Sound? Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann-Raintree,

Mason, Adrienne. 2006. Build It: Structures, Systems and You. Illustrated by Claudia Davila. Tonawanda, NY: Kids Can Press. 

---------. 2006. Change It!  Solids, Liquids, Gases and You. Illustrated by Claudia Davila. Tonawanda, NY: Kids Can Press. 

---------. 2006. Touch It! Illustrated by Claudia Davila. Tonawanda, NY: Kids Can Press.

Mayer, Lynne. 2010. Newton and Me. Illustrated by Sherry Rogers. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Sylvan Dell Publishing.

Pipe, Jim. 2002. What Does a Wheel Do? Illustrated by Jo Moore. Minneapolis. MN:

Cooper Beech Books/Millbrook.

Ross, Michael Elsohn. 2007. What’s the Matter in Mr. Whisker’s Room? Illustrated by Paul Meisel. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick.

Slavin, Bill. 2005. How Everyday Things Are Made. Tonawanda, NY: Kids Can Press.

Wells, Robert. 2010. Why Do Elephants Need the Sun? Morton Grove, IL: Albert Whitman & Company.

-----------------. 1996. How Do You Lift a Lion? Morton Grove, IL: Albert Whitman & Company.

Zoehfeld, Kathleen Weidner. 1998. What is the World Made Of? All About Solids, Liquids and Gases. Illustrated by Paul Meisel.  NY: Collins


Monday, March 28, 2011

Earth and Space Science Books for K-2 Children

Bang, Molly. 2009. Living Sunlight: How Plants Bring the Earth to Life. Illustrated by Penny Chisholm. NY: Blue Sky Press.
Bial, Raymond, 2000. A Handful of Dirt. NY: Walker.
Brenner, Barbara. 2004. One Small Place in a Tree. Illustrated by Tom Leonard. NY: HarperCollins.
Cherry, Lynne. 2004. The Sea, The Storm, and the Mangrove Tangle. NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
-----------------. 2002. A River Ran Wild: An Environmental History. NY: Sandpiper.
-----------------. 2000. The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest. NY: Sandpiper.
Cherry, Lynne and Marl J. Plotkin. 1998. The Shaman’s Apprentice: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest. Gulliver Green/Harcourt Brace.
Christian, Peggy. 2008. If You Find a Rock. Illustrated by Barbara Hirsch Lember. NY: Sandpiper.
Cole, Henry. 2003. On the Way to the Beach. NY: Greenwillow.
Drummand, Allan. 20011. Energy Island: How One Community Harnessed the Wind and Changed their World. NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Earle, Sylvia. 2009. Jump Into Science: Coral Reefs. Illustrated by Bonnie Matthews. Washington D.C.: National Geographic.
French, Vivian. 2004. T. Rex. Illustrated by Alison Bartlett. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press.
from Down, Down, Down
Gibbons, Gail. 1998. Planet Earth: Inside Out. NY: HarperCollins.
Glaser, Linda. 2010. Garbage Helps Our Garden Grow. Minneapolis, MN: Millbrook Press.
Guiberson, Brenda Z. 2010. Earth: Feeling the Heat. Illustrated by Chad Wallace. NY: Henry Holt.
------------------------. 1993. Cactus Hotel. Illustrated by Megan Lloyd.  NY: Henry Holt.
Hirschi, Ron. 2007. Ocean Seasons. Illustrated by Kirsten Carlson. Mt. Pleasant, SC: Sylvan Dell.
Hopper, Meredith. 1996. The Pebble in My Pocket: A History of Our Earth. Illustrated by Christopher Coady. NY: Viking Juvenile.
Horowitz, Ruth. 2000. Crab Moon. Illustrated by Kate Kiesler. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press.
Jenkins, Steve, 2009. Down, Down, Down: A Journey to the Bottom of the Sea. NY: Harcourt. 
Kooser, Ted. 2010. Bag in the Wind. Illustrated by Barry Root. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick. (Fiction)
Kurtz, Kevin. 2007. A Day in the Salt Marsh. Illustrated by Consie Powell. Mt. Pleasant, SC: Sylvan Dell.
Locker, Thomas. 2003. Cloud Dance. NY: Sandpiper.
--------------------. 2002. Water Dance. NY: Sandpiper.
--------------------. 2001. Mountain Dance. NY: Sandpiper.
Malone, Peter. 2007. Close to the Wind: The Beaufort Scale. NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons.
McNulty, Faith. 1990. How to Dig a Hole to the Other Side of the World. Illustrated by Marc Simont. NY: HarperCollins.
Miller, Debbie. S. 2003. Arctic Lights, Arctic Nights. Illustrated by Jon Van Zyle. NY: Walker and Company.
---------------------. 2000. River of Life. Illustrated by Jon Van Zyle. NY: Clarin Books.
Morrison, Gordon 2006. A Drop of Water. NY: Houghton Mifflin.
Moss, Miriam. 2000. This is the Tree. Illustrated by Adrienne Kennaway. La Jolla, CA: Kane/Miller.
Pirotta, Saviour. 1997. Turtle Bay. Illustrated by Nilesh Mistry. NY: Farrar.
Reed-Jones, Carol. 1995. Tree in Ancient Forest. Illustrated by Chrisopher Canyon Nevada City, CA: Dawn Publications.
Schaefer, Lola M. 2006. An  Island Grows. NY: Greenwillow.
Schnur, Steve. 2000. Spring Thaw. Illustrated by Stacey Schuett. NY: Viking.
Shetterly, Susan Hand. 1999. Shelterwood. Illustrated by Rebecaa Haley McCall. Maine: Tilbury House.
Siddals, Mary McKenna. 2010. Compost Stew. Illustrated by Ashley Wolff. San Francisco, CA: Tricycle Press.
Tomecek, Steve. 2010. Rocks and Minerals: Jump Into Science. Illustrated by Kyle Poling. Washington D.C. : National Geographic
-------------------. 2002. Dirt: Jump Into Science. Illustrated by Nancy Woodman. Washington D.C. : National Geographic.
Waldman, Neil. 2003. The Snowflake: A Water Cycle Story. Minneapolis. MN: Millbrook.
Wells, Robert. 2008. Polar Bear, Why is Your World Melting? Morton Grove, IL: Albert Whitman & Company.
-----------------.2006. Did a Dinosaur Drink this Water? Morton Grove, IL: Albert Whitman & Company.
Wright-Frierson, Virginia. 1998. An Island Scrapbook: Dawn to Dusk on a Barrier Island. NY: Simon & Schuster.
Tezerski, Thomas. 2011. Meadowlands: A Wetlands Survival Story. NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Yolen, Jane. 1998. Welcome to the Ice House. Illustrated by Laura Regan. NY: Putnam.
From Meadowlands: A Wetlands SurvivalStory
Aldrin, Buzz. 2009. Look to the Stars. Paintings by Wendell Minor. NY: Putnam.
Bendick, Jeanne. 1991. The Universe is Big. Minneapolis, MN: Millbrook Press.
Bennett, Jeffrey. 2009. Max Goes to Jupitar. Illustrated by Alan Okamoto. Big Kid Science.
-------------------. 2006. Max Goes to Mars. Illustrated by Alan Okamoto. Big Kid Science.
-------------------. 2003. Max Goes to the Moon. Illustrated by Alan Okamoto. Big Kid Science.
Berkes, Marianne. 2008. Going Around the Sun: Some Planetary Fun. Illustrated by Janeen Mason. Nevada City, CA: Dawn Publications.
Branley, Franklyn M. 2002. The Sun: Our Nearest Star. Illustrated by Edward Miller.
NY: Harper Collins.
-------------------------. 2000. The International Space Station. Illustrated by True Kelley. NY: Harper Collins.
Cole, Joanna. 1996. The Magic School Bus Out of this World: A Book about Space Rocks.  Illustrated by Bruce Degan. NY Scholastic.
---------------. 1992. The Magic School Bus Lost in the Solar System.  Illustrated by Bruce Degan. NY Scholastic.
Floca, Brian. 2009. Moonshot: the Flight of Apollo 11. NY: Atheneum.
Gibbons, Gail. 1999. Stargazers. NY: Holiday House.
Halpern, Paul. 2004. Faraway Worlds: Planets Beyond Our Solar System. Illustrated by Lynette Cook. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge.
McNulty, Faith. 2005. If You Decide to Go the Moon. Illustrated by Steven Kellogg. NY: Scholastic Press.
O’Brien, Patrick. 2009. You are the First Kid on Mars. NY: Putnam.
Sayre, April Pulley. 2005. Stars Beneath Your Bed: The Surprising Story of Dust. Illustrated by Ann Jonas. NY: Greenwillow.
Simon, Seymour. 2007. Our Solar System (Revised Edition). NY: Collins.
Tomecek, Steve. 2006. Stars: Jump Into Science. Illustrated by Sachiko Yoshikawa. Washington D.C. : National Geographic
-------------------. 2005. Moon: Jump Into Science. Illustrated by Lisa Chauncy Guida. Washington D.C.: National Geographic
-------------------. 2001. Sun: Jump Into Science. Illustrated by Carla Golembe. Washington D.C. : National Geographic

Sunday, March 27, 2011

97 Page Book of Primary Grade Comprehension Lessons With an Emphasis on Multicultural Books

This collection of reading lessons focuses on grades 1 and 2 and privileges the explicit teaching of reading comprehension strategies through a reading workshop format, using primarily multicultutral texts. Graduate students I taught in 2006 and 2007 at Manhattanville College authored these lessons. The lessons were informed by Debbie Miller's (2002, Stenhouse) Reading With Meaning. The lesson plan format was prescribed by the college.

The comprehension strategies listed below are privileged:

Reading Comprehension Strategies
  1. Schema/Making connections— between texts, the world, and students' lives (sometimes called text-to-text, text-to-world, and text-to-self connections). Readers bring their background knowledge and experiences of life to a text.
  2. Creating mental images. These "mind pictures" help readers enter the text visually in their mind's eye.
  3. Asking questions. Readers who use this strategy actively ask questions of the text as they read.
  4. Determining importance. This strategy describes a reader's conscious and ongoing determination of what is important in a text. 
  5. Inferring. When readers infer, they create new meaning on the basis of their life experiences and clues from the book.
  6. Synthesizing. Although this strategy is sometimes considered a retell, synthesizing is a way of spiraling deeper into the book. Readers might explore the text through the perspective of different characters to come to new understandings about the character's life and world.

Table of Contents
I. Activating Schema 

Emily Traychef: A Shelter in Our Car ...........................4
Dawn Meldrum: An Angel for Solomon Singer .................7
Gail Dobosh: The Royal Bee. ....................................11
Nikyda Scott: Cornrows ..........................................13
Joanna Lewczuk: The Araboolies Of Liberty Street ..........16

II. Creating Mental/Aural Images 
Jennifer DeLaney: What Charlie Heard .......................21
Nancy Woolf: Sky Sisters..........................................23
Ashley Blondin: Night in the Country...........................26
oanna Becker: Peach and Blue .................................29
Roni Blaustein: The First Music .................................33
Stacey Cleary: Georgia’s Bones .................................38
Mary Carroll: Ellington Was Not a Street .....................44
Meghan Zandoli: Lily Brown’s Paintings ..................... 47
Heather DeBlasio: Mud ...........................................50
Meghan Winslow: Salt Hands .................................54

III. Asking Questions
Corinne Berthiaume: The Librarian from Basra:A True Story from Iraq ....................................59 Cynthia Carpentieri: If You Listen..................................62

IV. Determining Importance: Non-Fiction 
Nancy Alderman: Spiders .........................................65
Lindsey Keller: Creepy Crawlies .................................70
Amanda Jenkins: Bugs Bugs Bugs.............................. 72
Sheila Chaglasian: Dirt............................................74

V. Inferring
Lindsay Guerra: Creatures of Earth, Sea, and Sky and Where Are You Going Manyoni? ............77

VI. Synthesis 
Lindsay Babcock: The Dot and Museum Trip .................................81
Karen Thornton: The Pot That Juan Built..................... 84
Lauren Mintzer: The Rag Coat ................................. 87
Miriam Stein: The Story of Jumping Mouse and A Color of His Own ...............................91

You  can access the full work here: Comprehension Lessons

Life Science Books for K-2 Children


Aliki. 1990. Fossils Tell of Long Ago. NY: Collins.

Arnonsky, Jim. 2010. Slow Down for Manatees. NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

-----------------. 2009. Crocodile Safari. NY: Scholastic Press.

Aruego, Jose. 2002. Weird Friends: Unlikely Allies in the Animal Kingdom. Illustrated by Ariane Dewey. San Diego, CA: Harcourt.

From A Seed is Sleepy

Ashton, Diana Hutts. 2007. A Seed is Sleepy. Illustrated by Sylvia Long. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books.

Bardhan-Quallen. Sudipta. 2009. Flying Eagle. Illustrated by Deborah Kogan Ray. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge Publishing.

Bernard, Robin, 2001. Insects. Washington D.C.: National Geographic Society.

Bonners, Susan. 1998. Why Does the Cat Do That? NY: Henry Holt.

Brenner, Barbara. 2004. One Small Place by the Sea. Illustrated by Tom Leonard. NY: Harper Collins.

--------------------. 1997. Thinking About Ants. Illustrated by Carol Schwartz. NY: Mondo.

Buchmann, Stephen and Diana Cohn. 2007. The Bee Tree. Illlustrated by Paul Mirocha. El Paso, TX: Cinco Puntos Proess.

Davies, Nicola. 2009. What’s Eating You? Parasites—The Inside Story. Illustrated by Neal Layton. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick.

-----------------. 2005. One Tiny Turtle. illustrated by Jane Chapman. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Books.

------------------. 2005. Ice Bear: In the Steps of the Polar Bear. Illustrated by Gary Blythe. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Books.

------------------. 2004. Bat Loves the Night. Illustrated by Sarah Fox-Davies. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Books.

Dowson, Nick. 2007. Tracks of a Panda. Illustrated by Yu Rong. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Books.

Dunphy, Madeline. 2010. At Home with the Gopher Tortoise: The Story of the Keystone Species. Illustrated by Michael Rothman. Web of Life Children’s Books.

Earle, Sylvia A. 1999. Hello. Fish! Visiting the Coral Reef.  Photographs by Wolcott Henry. Washington D.C. National Geographic.

Fredericks, Anthony D. 2002. In One Tidepool: Crabs, Snails, and Salty Tails. Nevada City, CA: Dawn Publication.

In One Tidepool: Crabs, Snails, and Salty Tails.

French, Vivian. 2010. Yucky Worms. Illustrated by Jessica Ahlberg. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick.

Frost, Helen. 2008. Monarch and Milkweed. Illustrated by Leonid Gore. NY: Atheneum Books. 

George, Lindsay B. 1999. Around the World: Who’s Been Here? NY: Greenwillow/HarperCollins

Gerber, Carole. 2008. Winter Trees. Illustrated by Leslie Evans. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge Publishing.

Guiberson, Brenda Z. 2000.  Into the Sea. Illustrated by Alix Berenzy. NY: Henry Holt.

Hunter, Anne. 2000. What's in the Tide Pool? NY: Sandpiper.

Jenkins, Martin. 1999. The Emperor’s Egg. Illustrated by Jane Chapman. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick.

Jenkins, Steve. 1997. What Do You Do When Something Wants to Eats You? Orlando, FL: Houghton Mifflin.

Jenkins, Steve and Robin Page.  2005. I See a Kookaburra! Illustrated by Steve Jenkins. Orlando, FL: Houghton Mifflin. 

Kelly, Irene. 2009. Even an Ostrich Needs a Nest: Where Birds Begin. NY: Holiday House.

Kurtz, Jane and Christopher Kurtz. 2002. Water Hole Waiting. Illustrated by Lee Christiansen. NY: Greenwillow.

Levenson, George. 1999. Pumpkin Circle: the Story of a Garden. Illustrated by Shmuel Thaer. San Francisco: Tricycle.

Lewin, Ted and Betsy Lewin. 1999. Gorilla Walk. NY: Lothrop/Harper.

London, Jonathan. 1999. Baby Whale’s Journey. Illustrated by Jon Van Zyle. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle.

Markle, Sandra. 2010. Hip-Pocket Papa. Illustrated by Alan Marks. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge Publishing.

Mastro, Jim and Norbert Wu. 2003. Antarctic Ice. Photographs by Norbert Wu. NY: Henry Holt.

McElroy, Jane. 2010. It’s Harvest Time! Illustrated by Tilde. NY: Simon & Schuster.

Micucci, Charles. 1997. The Life and Times of Honeybees. NY: Sandpiper.

--------------------. 1992. The Life and Times of the Apple. NY: Orchard.

Mortensen, Lori. 2009. In the Trees, Honey Bees! Illustrated by Cris Arbo. Nevada City, CA: Dawn Publications.

Nutt, Robert. 2010. Amy's Light. Nevada City, CA: Dawn Publications. Amy's Light Video Trailer.

Pfeffer, Wendy 1997. A Log’s Life. Illustrated by Robin Brickman. NY: Simon & Schuster.

Posada, Mia. 2007. Guess What Is Growing Inside this Egg? Minneapolis. MN: Millbrook.

---------------. 2002. Ladybugs: Red, Fiery, and Bright.  Carolrhoda. 

-------------------. 2000. Dandelions: Stars in the Garden. Carolrhoda. 

Richards, Jean. 2002. A Fruit Is a Suitcase for Seeds. Illustrated by Anca Hariton. Minneaoplis, MN: Millbrook Press.

Sanders, Russell Scott. 1999. Crawdad Creek. Illustrated by Robert Hynes. Washington D.C.: National Geographic.

Sayre, April Pulley. 2010. Turtle, Turtle, Watch Out! Illustrated by Annie Paterson. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge Publishing.

----------------------. 2001. Dig, Wait, Listen: A Desert Toad’s Tale. Illustrated by Barbara Bash. NY: Greenwillow Books.

----------------------. 1998. Home at Last: A Story of Migration. Illustrated by Alix Berenzy. NY: Henry Holt. 

Schaefer, Lola M. 2010. Just One Bite. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books.

Sidman, Joyce, 2006. Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow. Illustrated by Beth Krommes. Orlando, FL: Houghton Mifflin.

Stewart, Melissa. 2009. Under the Snow. Illustrated by Constance R. Bergum. Atlanta, GA: Peachtree Publishers.

--------------------. 2009. What Animals Are Blue? Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publisher.

Stockdale, Susan. 2008. Fabulous Fishes. Atlanta, GA: Peachtree Publishers.

--------------------. 1999. Nature’s Paintbrush: The Patterns and Colors Around You. NY: Simon and Schuster.

Voake, Steve. 2010. Insect Detective. Illustrated by Charlotte Voake. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick.

Winer, Yvonne. 2002. Birds Build Nests. Illustrated by Tony Oliver. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge.



Saturday, March 26, 2011

Colonizing Classrooms: ASCD

I was angry and disappointed by the time I finished reading Susan Ohanian's recent blog post about ASCD receiving and accepting a $3 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help "districts and states realize the capacity of the new standards to fundamentally change the learning experience of students."  

Ok, let's take a minute to dissect that intention.  Think agency and ask yourself, Where is the teacher's and students' agency in ASCD's intention?  

There is no agency by teachers or the students. 

ASCD is the actual agent.  Everyone else is a receiver (district, states, and students). Teachers are missing. I would surely agree that ASCD and its agents who carry out this task may well learn.  But know this: There is no positive learning without agency, be it by the teacher, administrator, or student. As Maxine Greene (1988) so wisely reminds us "A teacher in search of his/her own freedom may be the only kind of teacher who can arouse young persons to go in search of their own" (p.14).  It is the educator acting and the student acting that leads to meaningful learning.

Transactional theory (Rosenblatt, 1978) allows us to know that the standards are nothing more than marks on a page.  They, like any other marks on a page, have no meaning, until they are acted upon by a reader.  That transaction is where meaning happens and such transactions cannot result in the same meaning being composed by x # of individuals. Meaning, contrary to what ASCD says it is planning, cannot be packaged and sent ahead, like some manifest destiny run amok.  

ASCD says that it is "committed to translating high-quality research about how students learn into practical professional development for teachers".  Hmm. Translating.  Does ASCD believe that translation and meaning making are the same thing?  Meaning is made at points of utterance (Bakhtin, 1984). It is dialogic. “Language,” Mikhail Bakhtin writes, “is not a neutral medium that passes freely and easily into the private property of the speaker's intentions; it is populated—overpopulated—with the intentions of others” (1981, p. 294). 

It is simply foolish to believe that an utterance will mean the same thing for everyone, and more importantly that marks on a page have a set meaning that remain static. What these core content standards mean is ALWAYS dependent upon the speaker's intentions.  If we eliminate the speaker, or in this case the teacher, and ship the standards ahead, we have nothing left but an empty law that district administrators will be expected to ensure happens through imposed practices and policies. These attempts will only create more division among educators. Consider William Carlos Williams who in The Desert Music told us:
The law?  The law gives up nothing
but a corpse, wrapped in a dirty mantle.
The law is based on murder and confinement,
long delayed...(p.109)

These understandings of meaning are fundamental.  As such, this is not a semantic argument, but rather a philosophical and theoretical one.  If we believe that the marks on the page someone has named as standards are that which will "fundamentally change the learning experience of students"--we have situated learning and learners as epic. An epic is a place where everything has been predetermined. It is a time not of the present where one singer sings of that time and no one including the singer can alter the events of that past.  They are sealed from the present moment where meaning always exists.  Epics cannot be a metaphor for learning, classrooms, or schools.

 Mikhail Bakhtin (1986) suggests that meaning: 

only reveals its depths once it has encountered and come into contact with another, foreign meaning: they engage in a kind of dialogue...Such a dialogic encounter of two cultures does not result in merging or mixing. Each retains its own unity and open totality, but they are mutually enriched (p. 7, emphasis in original).
We want schools where administrators, teachers, and students retain their "own unity and open totality, but they are mutually enriched."  We do not want what ASCD states it will do: "translate the standards into multiple instructional techniques to ensure teacher understanding of the underlying concepts targeted in the common core standards". We know that meaning is made in classrooms between and among learners, that there are no "best practices" that exist outside of the context of teachers, students, school and community--no matter the intentions of ASCD who earns its money selling such promises through membership, books, DVDs, and packaged professional development.  Meaning cannot be sent ahead via the implementation of standards, no mater how one attempts to define that reality. 

Let us not be fooled into dressing up ASCD's attempt to colonize United States classrooms as professional learning. Learning requires agency, not translation. 

Works Cited
Bakhtin, Mikhail M. 1981. The dialogic imagination. (Michael Holquist, Ed., & Caryl Emerson, Trans.). Austin: University of Texas Press.
------------------------. 1986. Speech genres & other late essays. (Vern W. McGee, Trans.). Austin: University of Texas Press.
Greene, Maxine. 1988. The dialogic imagination. New york: Teachers College Press. 
Rosenblatt, Louise. 1978. The reader, the text, the poem: The transactional theory of the literary work. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press.
Williams, William Carlos. 1962. Pictures from Brueghel and other poems. NY: New Directions Books.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Global, Multicultural Poetry Texts (Print and NonPrint) for Grades 7 - 12

,Fire in the Soul: 100 Poems for Human Rights. Cornwall, UK: New Internationalist.

Nye, Naomi Shihab. 1998. The Tree is Older than You Are:A Bilingual Gathering of Poems & Stories from Mexico with Paintings by Mexican Artists. New York: Aladdin.

Mora, Pat. 2000. My Own True Name: New and Selected Poems for Young Adults. Illustrated by Anthony Accardo. Minneapolis, MN: Perfection Learning.
Myers, Water Dean. 2008. Here in Harlem: Poems in Many Voices. New York: Holiday House.

Tropical Secrets: Holocaust Refugees in Cuba. New York: Henry Holt. (Holocaust)
Frost, Helen. 2006. The Braid. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. (1850s, Highland Clearances)
Hesse, Karen. 2003. Witness. New York: Scholastic. (1924, Ku Klux Klan)
----------------. 1999. Out of the Dust. New York: Scholastic (1930s, Dust Bowl)
Janeczko, Paul B. 2007. Worlds Afire. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick. (1944, circus fire in Hartford, CT)

Engle, Margarita. 2011. The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano. Illustrated by Sean Qualls. New York: SquareFish.
--------------------. 2010. The Firefly Letters: A Suffragette's Journey to Cuba. New York: Henry Holt.
--------------------. 2010. The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba's Struggle for Freedom. New York: Square Fish. 
Weatherford, Carole. 2008. Becoming Billie Holiday. Illustrated by Floyd Cooper. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong.

5. Novel Told in Verse (Middle School 5 - 8)
Burg, Ann E. 2009. All the Broken Pieces. New York: Scholastic.
Frost, Helen. 2004. Spinning through the Universe. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Glenn, Mel. 1999. Who Killed Mr. Chippendale: A Mystery in Poems. New York: Puffin.
-------------. 1997. Jump Ball: A Basketball Season in Poems. New York: Dutton Juvenile.
Grimes, Nikki. 2003. Bronx MasqueradeNew York: Speak.
Hemphill. Stephanie. 2001. Stop Pretending What Happened When My Big Sister Went Crazy. New York: HarperTeen.
Johnson, Angela. 1998. The Other Side: Shorter PoemsNew York: Orchard.
Testa, Maria. 2005. Something About America. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick.
--------------. 2003. Almost Forever. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick.
Woodson, Jacqueline. 2010. Locomotion. New York: Speak.
Yu,  Chun. 2005. Growing Up During the Chinese Cultural Revolution. New York: Simon & Schuster.

6. Novels Told in Verse (High School)
Bryant, Jen. 2007. Pieces of Georgia. New York: Yearling.
Frost, Helen. 2009. Crossing StonesNew YorkY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
---------------. 2007. Keesha's House. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Glenn, Mel.1997. The Taking of Room 114: A Hostage Drama in Poems. New York: Dutton Juvenile. 
Grimes, Nikki. 2010. A Girl Named Mister. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
-----------------. 2007. Dark Sons. New York: Hyperion.
Hemphill, Stephanie. 2005. Things Left Unsaid: A Novel in Poems. New York: Hyperion.
Herrick, Steven. 2009. Cold Skin. Asheville, NC: Front Street Press.
-------------------. 2006. By the River. Asheville, NC: Front Street Press.
-------------------. 2004. Love, Ghosts, & Facial Hair. New York: Simon Pulse.

Levithan, David. 2006. The Realm of Possibility. New York: Knopf Books.
Myers, Water Dean. 2007. Street Love. New York: Amistad.
Smith, Kirsten. 2007. The Geography of GirlhoodNew York: Little, Brown.
Sones, Sonia. 2003. What My Mother Doesn't Know. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Turner, Ann. 2006. Hard Hit. New York: Scholastic.
Wild, Margaret. 2006. One Night. New York: Laurel Leaf.
------------------. 2004. Jinx. New York: Simon Pulse.
Williams, Julie. 2004. Escaping Tornado Season: A Story in Poems. New York: HarperTeen.
Wolff, Virginia Euwer. 2009. Full House. New York: HarperTeen.
---------------------------. 2006. Make Lemonade. New York: SquareFish.
---------------------------. 2003. True Believer. New York: Simon Pulse.
Yeomans, Ellen. 2007. Rubber HousesNew York: Little, Brown.

Skipping Stones Volume 15, No. 47. Online Poetry Magazines For and/or  By Teens

azTeen Magazine
The Claremont Review 
Frodo's Notebook
Hanging Loose
Merlyn's Pen
New Moon 
Polyphony H.S. 
Skipping Stones: An International Multicultural Magazine

Sparrow Tree Square

Speak Up Press
Stone Soup

Teen Ink 
Teen Smudge Magazine
Teen Voices 
Teens Now Talk
What If?
Writer's Slate

8. Poetry Slam Links
12th Annual NYC Teen Poetry Slam (2010)
13th Annual NYC Teen Poetry Slam (2011) 
Brave New Voices 
Kankakee Public Library Teen Poetry Slam

Poetry Slam @Web English Teacher 
Poetry Slam from 
Urban World Poetry World
Young Chicago Authors 

9. Single Performances 

Ay, Ay, Ay de la Grifa Negra by Julia De Burgos read by Glaisma
A Letter of the Law - Conmon 
Brown Dreams - Paul Flores
Digging - Seamus Heaney
Facing It by Yusef Komunyakaa read by Michael Lythgoe
The Floral Apron -  Marilyn Chin 
The History of Red and "Other Sister Twin" - Linda Hogan
I Am Offering this Poem - Jimmy Santiago Baca
I Go Back to May 1937 by Sharon Olds read by Suzanne Landingham, of Buncombe County Early College
If I Should Have  a Daughter - Sarah Kay (Ted Talk)
Let America Be America Again - Langston Hughes read by Nikki Giovanni
The Mad Poet - Open Your Eyes 
Mao -  Kelly Tsai 
Marriage - Gregory Corso
New American Theater by Sekou Sundiata 
One Boy Told Me - Naomi Shihab Nye
The Party - Paul Laurence Dunbar read by Karen Wilson (Favorite Poem Project) 
Poem for Magic - Quincy Troupe
Politics by William Butler Yeats read by Stephen Conteag├╝ero
Pretty  - Katie Makkai
Somewhere there is  Poem - Gina Loring 
Song to Mothers  - Pat Mora 
St. Kevin and the Blackbird - Seamus Heaney
This Room and Everything in It - Li-Young Lee 
Tomorrow Short film  by Niloufar  Talebi based on a poem by Abbas Saffari
Way of the Water Hyacinth by Zawgee read by Lyn Aye
We Real Cool - Gwendolyn Brooks read by John Ulrich (Favorite Poem Project)
William Carlos Williams Reads Three (The Red Wheelbarrow, Elsie, Queen-Anne's-Lace)

10a. Visual Poems

A Chance of Sunshine (Jimmy Liao)
And Day Brought Back My Night (Geoffrey Brock)
The Country (Billy Collins)
Flashcards (Rita Dove)
Forgetfulness (Billy Collins)
Her Morning Elegance (Oren Lavie)
Mankind is No Island
Mulberry Field (Lucille Clifton)
Some Words Inside Words (Richard Wilbur)
Those Winter Sundays (Robert Hayden)

Information about Visual Poetry (Rutgers)