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ReadWriteThink Connections English Journal

ReadWriteThink, created by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and the International Literacy Association (ILA), provides free instructional practices and digital resources that support effective reading and language arts instruction for all learners. Most articles in English Journal include connections to ReadWriteThink lesson plans and other resources.

Theme: Visible Teaching: Open Doors as Resistance

Moving English Classrooms toward Critical Possibilities

Young adult literature has long been criticized for being too dark. It’s true that many YA authors choose to write about difficult topics. Violence, abuse, and trauma are never easy to stomach—in literature or in life. And yet if you talk to adults who actually work with teens, you soon learn that there are plenty of young people living the situations we see depicted in YA lit. These teens deserve stories that tell the truth about their experience. So do teens whose lives are more sheltered. Literature can show us how ordinary people cope in the face of struggle and pain. In this podcast episode from ReadWriteThink.org, you’ll hear about teens who are dealing with a range of obstacles and hardships. Odd as it may sound, some of the books are funny. Others are suspenseful page-turners. What they all have in common is a main character who finds himself or herself in a terrible situation, but finds a way to respond with strength and hope.

Radical Hope in English Education: Hewing Open Doors in Stone

In this lesson from ReadWriteThink.org, students create a persuasive case calling for the adoption of a particular young adult literature title into their school’s language arts curriculum. They then present their argument in the form of a letter or speech addressing school decision-makers such as the English department chair or the language arts curriculum coordinator. The lesson includes research on a chosen title, development of a well-reasoned argument supported by evidence, and interaction with a real-world audience.

Respectfully Rethinking Resistance

This article highlighted student choice in reading and kinds of texts. By high school, some teens no longer read for enjoyment. The demands of required school reading may color their opinion and lead them to choose other free-time activities instead. But fresh interest can spring from an exploration of a teen’s reading life. Through this examination, teens will uncover what was most enjoyable about reading. For instance, did the teen always favor funny books as a child? If so, perhaps there are more “grown-up” humorous books that would be appropriate. The end goal is to identify positive aspects of reading so the teen might once again find enjoyment while settled into a comfy chair with a good book.

Opening the Door for Cross-Disciplinary Literacy: Doing History and Writing in a High School to University Collaboration

Huck Finn’s moral journey parallels Mark Twain’s questions about slavery. Like the photographers of the 19th century, Twain, a Realist, struggled with how best to portray fictionalized characters, while still expressing truth and creating social commentary. In this ReadWriteThink.org lesson, students use a graphic organizer to compare and contrast Mark Twain’s novel and excerpts from Frederick Douglass’s narrative to original photographs of slaves from the late 19th century. Then they write an essay to compare the different portrayals, arguing to what extent art can reliably reflect truth. In addition, they will discuss art as social commentary.

Collaborative Professional Development through a Critique Protocol

Many teachers have difficulty getting students to respond effectively to one another’s writing in peer review groups. The PQP technique—Praise–Question–Polish—requires group members to take a turn reading their drafts aloud as the other students follow along with copies. This oral reading helps the writer to hear the piece in another voice and to identify possible changes independently. Responders then react to the piece by writing specific comments guided by questions on the PQP form.

Huck and Kim: Would Teachers Feel the Same if the Language Were Misogynist?

For more than a year, conversations on social media have drawn new attention to the lack of diversity in children’s and young adult literature. Statistics can help us see the problem, but they don’t capture its effects on readers’ lives and dreams. Even if they are few in number, diverse books do exist. Tune in to this ReadWriteThink.org podcast episode to hear about recently published YA titles that celebrate diversity in a range of genres. There’s something for every reader here: comic book superheroes, civil rights history, love stories, humorous essays, poetry, artwork, and stories of suspense.

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NCTE - The National Council of Teachers Of English

A Professional Association of Educators in English Studies, Literacy, and Language Arts