Logic and Critical Reasoning in the 21st Century
Deadline: November 15, 2009
Publication Date: July 2010
Logic is one of the oldest fields of study in the Western tradition, and it has not lost any of its importance, despite centuries of evolving literacies. Our contemporary democracy requires critical citizens to make sound, reasoned decisions about their leaders, about their workplace and home-life needs, and regarding the causes and pastimes they support. Along with the information explosion that has developed from the 24-hour news cycle and countless magazines, journals, blogs, and homepages available on the Internet has come an increased need for sophisticated skills required to critically assess these sources for accuracy, bias, and credibility.
What knowledge is important for students to develop logical and critical reasoning skills? What logical fallacies should students be made aware of, and how can we motivate them to evelop this knowledge? What should students learn about valid forms of evidence and about the place of emotion in effective argumentation? What age-old techniques of logical analysis and reasoning should we advocate, and what innovations should we employ to address new literacies and technologies? How have you used film, other visuals, nonfiction, fiction, or workplace or community documents in ways that have helped students to develop their skills of logic? How have you encouraged students to use logical argument in their writing and for their own purposes?
Deadline: January 15, 2010
Publication Date: September 2010
Students’ curiosity and enthusiasm can take them a long way. Good teachers know that creating a curriculum that interests and energizes students is far more likely to get students to learn and retain what they learn. And motivated students keep teachers fresh and enthusiastic in return.
This issue focuses on the importance of and methods for motivating students—and the joys of teaching them. What innovative and effective ways have you found to engage students in ELA content? What skills and ideas do students seem to be most naturally motivated to learn and how have you harnessed that positive energy? How have you used current global, national or local events, popular culture, artistic trends, or social debates to engage students? What critical problems have you faced in motivating students, and what have you used to address them? How have you created variety in activities to keep students focused and intellectually curious about the world around them? How have you used surveys or other tools to learn more about what students might enjoy learning about? What competitive or collaborative assignments have you designed that peak students’ interest in ELA? How have students’ motivations changed over the years, and what new information should teachers take into account as they design curriculum for 21st century students? What do you do to motivate students to develop empathy or to develop skills they might not consider desirable or important: reconsidering their own certainties, creating and advocating new ideas, resisting social pressure, developing courage, creativity? How have your students motivated you?
Deadline: March 15, 2010
Publication Date: November 2010
Some students with physical or learning disabilities encounter false and stigmatizing assumptions about their abilities. How can we reenvision the disabilities of students in our classrooms as opportunities to teach in more challenging, imaginative, and inclusive ways? How can we tap into the unique talents and abilities of all students? How have you redesigned your teaching, assignments, or assessments to accommodate students with physical or learning isabilities? How have those changes improved learning for everyone? What can secondary teachers and students learn from the ways in which people with disabilities are depicted in classic or contemporary literature, in young adult literature, in films, or in other media? To what extent have those depictions changed over the years? A familiar plot is one in which the person with the disability overcomes all obstacles. Whose interests are served by such narratives? Who gets to tell the stories of people with disabilities? What is “normal,” and who gets to define it? What can we learn from successful differentiation, challenging inclusion classes, or well-designed individualized education plans (IEPs)? How can the architectural concept of universal design, with its physical features such as ramps, wide doorways, and curb cuts, function as a metaphor to help us make English language arts more accessible for all students? What is it like to be a teacher with a visible or invisible disability? What have you learned by working with parents of students with disabilities? If your child has a disability, how has your experience advocating for him or her affected your own classroom practices? What do teachers need to know about new technologies that can help all students learn better? What role do expectations play in the performance of all students?
Deadline: May 15, 2010
Publication Date: January 2011
Humans’ relationship with nature has long been a major theme in literature. Since the recent dawn of the Green Movement, global environmental concerns have taken on renewed importance, and we are fed a constant stream of information—often conflicting—regarding the right way to protect, conserve, and sustain natural resources. What should English language arts students learn about humans’ role in nature and conservation? What does it mean to be environmentally literate in the 21st century? How have you helped students better understand, appreciate, and protect the natural nvironment, while acknowledging the effect of human actions on natural surroundings? What scholarly, pedagogical, or informational resources have you found useful for these goals? What new and classic literary works about nature and conservation do you teach? What writing and research projects have you designed to encourage students to become more knowledgeable about and sensitive to the environment? How have you brought issues of global warming or climate change into your classroom as a topic of inquiry or as an area for debate or as a topic for the study of rhetoric? How have you helped students to investigate and read government and private agency reports on the environment? What service-learning projects have you developed to engage students in local environmental work? How have students explored local and national environmental organizations in the context of English class, and what effect has this had on their development of civic responsibility? What projects or assignments have you designed so that students educate others, including their peers, about the environment? How have you collaborated with teachers in the natural and social sciences to raise students’ awareness about people’s effect on the environment and their critical-thinking skills regarding the abundance of information we’re given about the need for and real value of “green technologies”? For this issue we welcome creative, critical, and well-informed articles about any aspect of nature that relates to English language arts.
General Interest (May submit any time)
We publish articles of general interest as space is available. You may submit manuscripts on any topic that will appeal to EJ readers. Remember that EJ articles foreground classroom practice and contextualize it in sound research and theory. As you know, EJ readers appreciate articles that show real students and teachers in real classrooms engaged in authentic teaching and learning. Regular manuscript guidelines regarding length and style apply.
Speaking My Mind: We invite you to speak out on an issue that concerns you about English language arts teaching and learning. If your essay is published, it will appear with your photo in a future issue of English Journal. We welcome essays of 1,000 to 1,500 words, as well as inquiries regarding possible subjects.
Student Voices: This is a forum for students to share their experiences and recommendations in short pieces of 300 words. Teachers are encouraged to submit the best responses from their classes, not whole class sets, please. Individual students are welcome to submit as well. Topics are as follows:
- How has logical thinking helped you out of a difficult situation? (Deadline: November 15, 2009)
- What makes you want to go to English class? (Deadline: January 15, 2010)
- What can students currently without disabilities learn from students with disabilities? (Deadline: March 15, 2010)
- How has or could English class help you better understand, appreciate, and protect nature? (Deadline: May 15, 2010)
Teacher to Teacher: This is a forum for teachers to share ideas, materials, and activities in short pieces of 300 words. Topics are as follows:
- How can we motivate students to value logic and logical thinking? (Deadline: November 15, 2009)
- How do you get to know your students well enough to understand what motivates them? (Deadline: January 15, 2010)
- How has a lesson, assignment, or assessment designed as an accommodation for a student with a disability given you ideas about how all students might learn better? (Deadline: March 15, 2010)
- What literature that relates to the environment and nature do you enjoy teaching? (Deadline: May 15, 2010)
Teacher photographs of classroom scenes and individual students are welcome. Photographs may be sent as 8" × 10" black-and-white glossies or as an electronic file in a standard image format at 300 dpi. Photos should be accompanied by complete identification: teacher/photographer’s name, location of scene, and date photograph was taken. If faces are clearly visible, names of those photographed should be included, along with their statement of permission for the photograph to be reproduced in EJ.
Cartoons should depict scenes or ideas potentially amusing to English language arts teachers. Line drawings in black ink should be submitted on 8 1/2" × 11" unlined paper and be signed by the artist.
For EJ Submission Guidelines, click here.
For more information, contact English_Journal@notes.cc.sunysb.edu.