Keeping It Real: Teaching Nonfiction
Deadline: July 15, 2009
Publication Date: March 2010
Biographies, autobiographies, memoirs, essays, scientific studies, government reports, travel books, culinary guides, cultural studies, philosophical treatises, how-to manuals, consumer guides, creative nonfiction, documentary films, op-ed essays, political blogs, product websites. The list of nonfiction genres is long, and the possibilities for teaching them are endless.
This issue of English Journal focuses on nonfiction texts and innovative ways of teaching them. What nonfiction texts have you taught and why and how have you taught them? Are there rarely covered genres that more English teachers should teach? How have you creatively engaged students in nonfiction texts? Have you built productive bridges between nonfiction and fiction texts or between different nonfiction texts? How have you used nonfiction texts to teach forms of critical thinking that fiction texts don’t easily lend themselves to? What nonfiction texts motivate students to write and conduct research? How have you used nonfiction texts to engage students in school or community service? Anyarticles focusing on nonfiction texts in middle and secondary English classes are welcome.
Collaboration and Social Interaction
Postmark Deadline: September 15, 2009
Publication Date: May 2010
Working productively with others is essential in the workplace and in daily life. Those who develop effective people skills can be more successful in their careers and in building meaningful human relationships that enhance their social lives. English class is an important place to develop many skills of social interaction, for example, those that come from group work, collaborative writing, debates, small- and large-group discussions, etc.
What is the place of English classes in the development of social skills? What writing and reading activities have you found successful in helping students develop collaborative skills? How have you assessed students’ collaborative abilities? What challenges have you found in collaborative assignments and how have you learned to deal with them? How have you helped students to work with difficult people and to curtail their own less-than-collaborative behaviors?
Any aspect of student collaboration related to English teaching is welcome for this issue. We also encourage articles on teacher collaboration: for example, co-teaching among teachers of different disciplines or levels of instruction; collaborations among English teachers and school administrators, community or business organizations, parents, or other members of the public. Be sure also to see the “Teacher to Teacher” and “Student Voices" questions for this issue.
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?
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:
- What nonfiction text that English teachers might not think of would you like to read in English class? (Deadline: July 15, 2009)
- What positive lessons have you learned from English class about working with other people? (Deadline: September 15, 2009)
- How has logical thinking helped you out of a difficult situation? (Deadline: November 15, 2009)
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:
- What nonfiction text or genre should all students read before they graduate? (Deadline: July 15, 2009)
- Given all the time and money you needed, what kinds of collaboration would you engage in for the benefit of your students? (Deadline: September 15, 2009)
- How can we motivate students to value logic and logical thinking? (Deadline: November 15, 2009)
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.