February 2012: Changing the Canon
In her “Young Adult Readers’ Bill of Rights,” long-time young adult literature advocate Teri Lesesne exhorts that readers have the right to demand changes to the literary canon for the 21st century. Indeed, the defi nitions of “text,” “genre,” and “reading” are rapidly changing, as e-readers, digital books, and the proliferation of genrebusting books on the market make clear. Yet, as Applebee found in the 1990s and Joyce Stallworth found more recently, English teachers continue to teach the same classic, canonical works they’ve taught for decades—works like The Scarlet Letter, The Great Gatsby, Shakespeare’s tragedies, Beowulf. NCTE President Carol Jago might say such works are “good” literature because they require careful literary study, guided by a teacher. Other reading researchers and young adult literature advocates might say such works contribute to students’ resistance and reluctance to read, and that even when students willingly read such works, they don’t enjoy the experience. Still others say such texts don’t prepare today’s teens for 21st century literacies. What do you think? What texts, if any, should be centered at the heart of the English curriculum? What classic works do you think every high school student should read? Why? How do you engage students with such works? What non-classic works or young adult novels do you teach? Why? How? What about multicultural literature? Deadline: October 15, 2011.
August 2011: New Technologies and the English Classroom
Does your idea of literacy include reading Facebook status updates, tweets, or text messages? Do you use classroom blogs or wikis? Do your students write fanfiction or participate in online fan chat boards? If so, we want to hear how these 21st century technologies are impacting your instruction and student learning. Recent research reports tell us 73% of teens use social networking sites like Facebook, and 54% of teens text daily. Books are also going digital—teens can read e-books (e.g., Kindle), text novels (cell-phone novels), and digital hybrid “vooks” (like Patrick Carman’s Skeleton Creek, which combines traditional print-based reading with online viewing components). What do you make of these technological changes in literacy? How are they impacting how we read and write? Tell us what you think, and/or share stories of practice about how you’re bringing new technologies into the English classroom. Deadline: April 15, 2011.
October 2011: Common Core English/Language Arts Standards
The Common Core Standards in English/Language Arts were designed to “define the knowledge and skills students should have to succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing, academic college courses and in workforce training programs.” What do you think such knowledge and skills should look like? What conversations about the national standards are you having in your English departments? Are you aligning state and national standards, and if so, what does this work look like? What worries/concerns do you have about the movement to national English standards? About the Common Core English standards themselves? Do you think this move is a good one? Deadline: June 20, 2011.