Author Archives: ayuckenberg

Teaching Presentation: Marianne Moore “Poetry”

Sorry this has taken me a few days to get up. I have to say first off that I really enjoyed “teaching” everyone. It is nice to have a group of students who listen and actively participate—and don’t stair at you blankly when you are talking. I know everyone has said that but what a change of pace!
And again like everyone, I was nervous. It isn’t often that you get to teach other experts and I was very afraid I would say something that turned out not to be true. All in all I feel like the presentation went very smoothly and it was a lot of fun to hear the poems that were read. I wish everyone had shared. I guess in my own classroom I will get to read all of them!
One thing I thought was interesting was that I accidently self edited and skipped a portion of my lesson plan. I wanted students to compare a traditional poem, something along the lines of Shakespeare, to the Marianne Moore poem. I dropped it from my presentation though and I think it worked out really well without that portion. It may have been too repetitive for my students or confusing to compare the two poems and I think the lesson at least pacing wise worked well without that section. Perhaps it is something I could go back to or add in if it seemed like students were having difficulty grasping the lesson.
I guess that is one of the things I enjoy about teaching—it is always different. I think every lesson changes depending on the class, the knowledge level, or the weather outside! I like having to think on my feet.
I did enjoy doing this run through and I can’t wait to see what everyone else puts together.


After reading Nat Turner I really feel that there are a variety of ways to teach graphic novels in the classroom. I feel the graphic novel could be used to teach a variety of different literary terms and ideas—metaphor, flow of a story, narrative tradition, muli-genre forms, and so many other ideas.
I think in my classroom I would really like to teach a graphic novel in conjunction with a more traditional work. Not that I could teach Nat Turner, but if I could I think it would be good to teach it with other slave narratives. I really think could enhance the students’ learning process to be able to read a typical text and then to see a similar experience through a graphic novel.
I suppose as a media teacher it would seem likely that I would promote the use of different forms of media/literature for the classroom. I think the greater variety of materials we present to our students the better they can interpret anything we throw at them. I also think it forces students to look more deeply into all the things around them. I think teaching graphic novels could expand the way students look at books and other literary materials. I believe who is to say what is literature? If material has something someone can learn from it why can’t it be taught?
I think graphic novels would be an interesting way to teach different forms of writing to students. They could play Ivanhoe by rewriting portions of the graphic novel in the same style.
I am very excited about all the possibilities that graphic novels open up in the classroom and I look forward to finding more to read that may connect with lesson plans through out the year.

Graphic Novels= awesome experience

Until this class I had never read a graphic novel. I’ve never picked up a comic book, only read a few comics in the newspaper. I was fascinated with Nat Turner and have to admit that I have truly enjoyed reading the novel. I really did not think that I would, because of the subject and the idea of graphic novels. I have enjoyed studying this.
I say studying because I really feel like you do have to study the pages. There is so much to take in and peruse on each page and in each illustration. I find that it is very interesting everything a reader must bring to the novel. I would love to teach a graphic novel because I feel like they take a different skill set to read then a typical novel. To read Nat Turner a student would need to really know about slavery. It would be neat to teach this entire book with excerpts from the actually confessions. I think this novel really also teaches a reader to make certain predictions and to think about what is happening to draw all the pieces of the story together. I know when I read the section where the father runs away I had to flip back and forth between the pages. When I first looked at the pictures where he leaves the bed I thought maybe he ran away. When I turned the page I recognized that he had run away and so I then flipped back to look at the first set of pictures again.
I think the reader had to recognize and think about why the author made some of the visual choices he did. Why show the violence? Historically the depiction of violent acts was used to shock readers and make them feel sympathetic towards the slaves’ situation. For instance Uncle Tom’s Cabin used a similar technique but tailored for the readers of its time. The book also used words and not pictures to get the same message across. It would be interesting to compare the two. Another thought of visual choice was the use of sharks and the phases of the moon. The sharks seem to foreshadow the danger the slaves are being sent into and the phases of the moon showed the passage of time. The question would be why the moon? I also wondered about the images at the beginning of the African villages. Who were the people and what did their expressions mean? There are certainly many things to think about, perhaps even more so then regular novels.

I really enjoyed this and would love to “read” more graphic novels and can’t wait to find one to teach!)

Text Book

I enjoyed reading Text Book. I liked the eclectic combination of readings and enjoyed all the texts that were interspersed and used as examples. I also enjoyed the few questions or activities after the reading. I think some of these activities would be very useful in a classroom setting. The rewriting of Kate Chopin’s writing looked like a neat writing activity.
The setup of the book is very helpful. I found it was organized in a way that made sense to me, it was certainly different then most textbooks. I liked the short explanation that was then followed by a number of examples and then the questions or activities were given. I found that this really helped me to organize the material. I also liked that there were different voices offered.
I think what I really took away from the reading was the use of the anecdote. I had never really thought of using them to teach. What a great way to encapsulate an idea in a short activity. As a journalism person I also appreciate the ability to get an idea across in a short number of words. I think this would be a great way to teach students how to write. It is a way to teach story telling. The student would have to make a point with details a short word limit. I really enjoyed the idea. Students could read anecdotes that highlight an idea and then write their own that capture that same idea. I think these would be a lot of fun to do. I really like using activities in my classroom that are as hands on as possible for students.
This really was an enjoyable text to read. I enjoyed the mixture. It work with my short attention span  It was also easy to break the reading into chunks.

Writing to Learn and My Love of Blogging

I love blogging. I have my own personal blog where I keep stories about mostly my kids. I write my personal blog posts to remember what happened, and I do the same thing in my blog posts for class. I really write to remember what I read. I typically write about specific techniques that I liked and would want to use in my own classroom. By writing about the techniques I hope that I can remember the specifics about the lesson or idea so that I can repeat it.

I noticed in my posts that I do pull out specific pieces of information. I am not really a big picture type of person. I like to look at the details. This might be an issue but I think by looking at the piece I can pull together my own big picture. I really do write to learn. By writing these blog posts I can sift through the information and piece everything together the way I need to to process the information. When I write my posts I have my first opportunity to process all that I have read. Writing helps bring new ideas to the front and helps me draw new conclusions.

I do have some specific things that I have noticed. Most of these are reading strategies that I can use in my classroom. I like to pull from readings what is practical for me. I don’t think the nature of my posts has changed. They pretty much stay the same—noticing what I can pull to use in my class. I think it will be important for me to keep these blogs so I have a set of ideas right at my fingertips.
I also really enjoy blogging because through the blog we are not processing this information alone. We have the opportunity to read and see what others pull from the readings as important. I like being able to comment on other people and start a conversation. It has made the class very interactive and the learning continues outside of the classroom. I really enjoy the interaction.

More on Blau

I apologize for my late posting. The stomach flu has done nothing to help my procrastination.

I found that Blau reiterated much of what we have already read. The pointing, double column notetaking, rereading, the different types of knowledge/literacy and so on are all thing that we have already discussed. Blau does present a fuller picture though.

I enjoyed the section on Fostering Performative Literacy in the Classroom. It wasn’t a big section but Blau offered a variety of good techniques to really enhance students learning. I am a big advocate of writing to learn and I think Blau offered a few good suggestions on how to get students to really reflect on what they have read and learn from what they have read. I think double column note taking is a good idea. I also think writing to address unresolved problems could be very beneficial for students. I think the technique could help students who have trouble processing or dealing with open endings to resolve issues they have, or to at least confront issues with the text.

He also suggests looking at different reading of the text and having students write about them. I think this could help students look at the different sides of a text. It could also help improve their ability to research and write about that research. I also think this could help students formulate their own ideas and come to terms with the idea that there are many ways to read a text, as many students have trouble with this.

I also loved the section on “pants-down readings”. This idea seems very similar to think-alouds. It allows the teacher to show the process of evaluating a reading. It shows students that teachers also struggle and how they work through their difficulties with a hard reading.
All of these techniques are great ways to get students into analyzing texts and to evaluate what they are reading.


I have two differing opinions of Blau. I enjoyed the ideas presented but did not enjoy the style in which it was written. Reading about the experiements was interesting but tidious. I do have to admit that it may have been tidious because I was reading often with a sick infant in my arms which can make most tasks tidious!
I enjoyed chapter two and felt that a lot of the observations made were interesting and followed my thinking on rereading and interpretation. I must agree that there is a difficult balance in teaching students that there are many interpretations of texts that are acceptible but not all interpretations are. I know many adults that will say “English is ridiculous because you can say whatever you want.” I also thought that chapter 4 made a good point about background knowledge.
I had trouble reading each of the lesson/ workshop/ experiments but they were nice to have in the book. It seems like a teacher could take the different lessons from the text and plug them into different pieces of literature that are taught through out the year. After reading this a teacher could walk away with a variety of units to teach reading. I think that is an important aspect of “teaching” books. The lessons also seemed like they were a good balance of student participation, lecture, group work and the final product seemed valuable to student learning. I know that the focus of each lesson was realitiviely simple but each was a topic that can be difficult to translate to students- interpretation, rereading, incoportating background knowledge.
Reading the section in background knowledge about “A Modest Proposal” did make me laugh as I know that is how the reading was taught to me and I think I taught it that way my first year teaching. I do see Blau’s point and I think it is important to present to students other readings that support the reading they are doing. It is important to let our students into our thought process and not just give them knowledge but help them learn how to learn.

Learning by Doing

I really enjoyed reading Gee because I think he really believes in my teaching philosophy. I believe that students learn by doing. Which is part of the reason I so enjoy teaching journalism classes. Gee explains on pages 108 and 109 that he believes video games offer a intuitive or tacit knowledge. Players learn by playing the game.

Gee says, “…video games honor not just the explicit and verbal knowledge players have about how to play but also the intuitive or tacit knowledge—built into their movement, bodies, and unconscious ways of thinking—they have built up through repeated practice with a family or genre of games.” (108) My students gain similar knowledge by writing and researching articles. They learn how to write by actually writing and they learn how to interact with sources and design pages by actually doing these things. I begin my year teaching them the basics but we only spend perhaps two weeks learning in a traditional sense. I then throw them into their role as editor and reporter. They must learn by doing. I of course help them along the way but they must experience what it is like and gain knowledge. My students learn how to interact with adults and they learn which teacher will let students out of class. They learn how to take pictures through trial and error. They have to experience and gain intuitive knowledge about some things that I just can’t teach them in a traditional sense.

I really feel students gain the best knowledge by actually doing to learn. When they do a task related to learning the information that they learn will be retained. I think this intuitive knowledge is really what will benefit them in the real world. How to interact with people and how to write are so important to my students’ futures. I think Gee is right that this knowledge is often lacking in schools when it should be taught in all courses.

Linkon and Expertise

I’m not a very good student this week. I have to be honest that the readings didn’t interest me. Why? Because I hope to never have to teach reading. I know the class is all about teaching students how to read literature. As a teacher I have become very good at adapting most of what I learn to work in my classroom with what I teach, and that is what I have done so far in this course. I actually enjoy adapting lesson plans. Last week I took the 3 column note taking method and taught my students to take notes about photography using this strategy (don’t worry I learned other things too). This week though I had trouble getting myself excited about Linkon.
So as I dove into the reading I had to remind myself that my students do, or course, have to read for my class. Through out the reading there were places that Linkon identified a teacher doing something without the students’ knowledge of the process the teacher innately followed. For example Linkon discusses a teacher doing research to find multiple readings of a text or a teacher analyzing a text and then presenting his or her findings. Linkon expresses the importance of letting the students see our process. The article says, “The processes of thinking are often invisible to both the students and the teacher” (256). I find this so true in my own classroom. It can be hard for teachers to teach the process when for most of us the process comes very easily. I often have trouble translating my thinking process to my students when it comes to certain things. As Linkon suggests I think it is a wonderful idea to have the teacher teach students the process.
After reading this article I have begun thinking about demonstrating and modeling more to my students, and still including lots of hands on activities where they can apply their knowledge. Tomorrow my students will learn about interviewing and I plan on involving a new lesson where I conduct an interview in front of them and then I will let them practice interviewing me before I set them loose on their own.

Chunking Information

As an elective teacher I have a unique opportunity to see students learning outside of a typical classroom. It amazes me the difficulty so many students have transferring information from their English or social studies classroom to journalism. My students write during every class period and they seem unable to make the connection between using correct grammar, etc. in English and in journalism.
Part of my curriculum is discussing leads in a news article. My students look blankly at me when I say a lead is like a topic sentence. For them a topic sentence belongs only in English class. I have the opportunity to help them expand what they have learned in their normal classes and apply their knowledge to different situations.
I enjoyed reading “How People Learn” because it has helped me to understand that my middle school students have trouble making connections and thus transferring information between their courses. Students need a method in which they can organize information meaningfully so that they can store a recall the information for all necessary situations. I have always pictured our minds, or my students’ minds, as a filing cabinet in which students file away the information I give them so that they can recall it again for the test. I think this is because of an early Education class I had to take. I now try and picture the learning process as a system of spider webs. It is my job to weave all the little threads surrounding one topic so that they can connect everything and hold on to the information I give them. I can connect the little webs between information I give them and information already in their heads.
I like that as a journalism teacher I can be the person that gives English lessons an outside of class purpose. My class is about conditionalized knowledge and that it is about forcing students to apply lesson they have learned to create a newspaper.
From now on I will look at my students as little webs and not filing cabinets. I hope that I can help them to make connections and apply their knowledge so that they expand their knowledge and become better students and learners.