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Fresh Takes on Teaching Literary Elements: Lessons and Activities to Deepen Comprehension Connecting Life to Literature And Literature Back to Life Jeffrey.

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Presentation on theme: "Fresh Takes on Teaching Literary Elements: Lessons and Activities to Deepen Comprehension Connecting Life to Literature And Literature Back to Life Jeffrey."— Presentation transcript:

1 Fresh Takes on Teaching Literary Elements: Lessons and Activities to Deepen Comprehension Connecting Life to Literature And Literature Back to Life Jeffrey D. Wilhelm Boise State University

2 What are some things all teachers teach... That can be taught more powerfully? That can be taught more powerfully? That can be taught procedurally instead of as information? That can be taught procedurally instead of as information? That can make use of generative knowledge from other subjects like social psychology and cognitive science? That can make use of generative knowledge from other subjects like social psychology and cognitive science? So, how do people construe of character in real life? How do settings encourage or constrain action? How do we get the gist of discursive conversations? And how can we apply this to literature? So, how do people construe of character in real life? How do settings encourage or constrain action? How do we get the gist of discursive conversations? And how can we apply this to literature?

3 “I just like being good at it” The centrality of developing competence to engagement and learning The centrality of developing competence to engagement and learning Focus on the HOW (the procedural) vs. the WHAT (the declarative) – getting at the What, the why, when, and where through the HOW (See the new Common Core State Standards) Focus on the HOW (the procedural) vs. the WHAT (the declarative) – getting at the What, the why, when, and where through the HOW (See the new Common Core State Standards) Build from pre-existing interests and capacities to the development of new ones Build from pre-existing interests and capacities to the development of new ones Foreground student competence and the development of competence and control Foreground student competence and the development of competence and control

4 Buda on drawing Drawing is boring because I have pretty much no talent in drawing. Drawing is boring because I have pretty much no talent in drawing.

5 Bob on a variety of subjects It [math] is challenging problems and something I am extremely good at. On the [state’s test] I have gotten like in the top forty kids in [the state]. It [math] is challenging problems and something I am extremely good at. On the [state’s test] I have gotten like in the top forty kids in [the state]. I hate writing and I hate dealing with punctuation and stuff like that. I am extremely bad at spelling. I have never written a good report in my life. I hate writing and I hate dealing with punctuation and stuff like that. I am extremely bad at spelling. I have never written a good report in my life. I like just texture [in hypermedia], little stuff, like extra little movies, and extra little details and extra buttons that do things that most kids don’t know how to do. I like just texture [in hypermedia], little stuff, like extra little movies, and extra little details and extra buttons that do things that most kids don’t know how to do.

6 Larry on reading and teaching as assistance Um, I haven't started reading until this year pretty much.... I have been starting novels this year because of Mrs. XXXX kinda like assigns the homework and this is the only time it's really been due so I've been reading pretty good novels now and I like John Steinbeck and stuff. A lot of novels like that get to me and Mrs. XXXX's been kinda showing me the road and the path. I kinda thought reading was dumb, but now I'm kinda getting more into it. Um, I haven't started reading until this year pretty much.... I have been starting novels this year because of Mrs. XXXX kinda like assigns the homework and this is the only time it's really been due so I've been reading pretty good novels now and I like John Steinbeck and stuff. A lot of novels like that get to me and Mrs. XXXX's been kinda showing me the road and the path. I kinda thought reading was dumb, but now I'm kinda getting more into it.

7 Wolf on Two Kinds of Teachers I mean you are a teacher I assume that you teach, I am going to assume... obviously you have some amount of homework that, there is going to be some amount of homework involved in teaching no matter what happens. That is a given, but my teachers will just give out thousands and thousands of pages of homework and expect that to teach you. They don't teach. It is just like do chapters, questions And then they are going to assume that you know it because you do the questions and even if you talk with somebody, you aren't going to know it. But if you actually get up there and teach it to people and ask questions they are going to know it. But nobody ever teaches. That is why America is stupid.

8 General Processes of Reading Decode Decode Ask Questions Ask Questions Make Connections Make Connections Make Inferences Make Inferences Determine Importance/Summarize Determine Importance/Summarize Synthesize Synthesize Plan/Predict and Monitor Plan/Predict and Monitor Visualize Visualize

9 But there are also... Text specific strategies: for reading narrative, argument, exposition, classification, ironic monologues, etc. Text specific strategies: for reading narrative, argument, exposition, classification, ironic monologues, etc. Task specific strategies: interpreting irony, judging unreliable narrators,, interpreting character, setting, point of view, theme Task specific strategies: interpreting irony, judging unreliable narrators,, interpreting character, setting, point of view, theme Community specific strategies: for reading scientific arguments like a scientist, etc. Community specific strategies: for reading scientific arguments like a scientist, etc.

10 Challenges Understanding how the strategies are employed in different kinds of reading (become task- or text-specific strategies) Understanding how the strategies are employed in different kinds of reading (become task- or text-specific strategies) Teach specific applications of the strategies without minimizing their complexity Teach specific applications of the strategies without minimizing their complexity Teach to transfer: Teach to transfer: From life to text From text to text From text to life From text to life Develop and demonstrate competence through multiple modalities over time

11 We count on transfer but it typically does not occur “Despite the importance of transfer to all learning, research findings over the past nine decades clearly show that as individuals, and as educational institutions, we have failed to achieve transfer of learning on any significant level (Haskell, p. xiii).” “Despite the importance of transfer to all learning, research findings over the past nine decades clearly show that as individuals, and as educational institutions, we have failed to achieve transfer of learning on any significant level (Haskell, p. xiii).”

12 Conditions for Transfer (Haskell, 2000, Salomon and Perkins) If students have command of the knowledge that is to be transferred If students have command of the knowledge that is to be transferred If students have a theoretical understanding of the principles to be transferred If students have a theoretical understanding of the principles to be transferred If a classroom culture cultivates a spirit of transfer, and If a classroom culture cultivates a spirit of transfer, and If students get plenty of practice If students get plenty of practice If students engage in constructivist discussions of the “how” and can articulate principles (a heuristic) for “high road transfer” If students engage in constructivist discussions of the “how” and can articulate principles (a heuristic) for “high road transfer”

13 So What To Do? Think deeply about how experienced readers and writers go about their business Think deeply about how experienced readers and writers go about their business Think about how strategies (e.g. construing character) play out in real life Think about how strategies (e.g. construing character) play out in real life Create a meaningful context of inquiry in which developing expert strategies will be supported and rewarded by helping students to meet real purposes and do real work Create a meaningful context of inquiry in which developing expert strategies will be supported and rewarded by helping students to meet real purposes and do real work Give students plenty of practice doing what expert readers and writers do Give students plenty of practice doing what expert readers and writers do Capitalize on the power of sequencing, and foreground Ss’ developing competence Capitalize on the power of sequencing, and foreground Ss’ developing competence

14 “Moves We Can Use” In Teaching Reading for Transfer Use inquiry contexts Use visual and popular cultural texts Practice with simulated texts (concentrated samples) Think-alouds: model, mentor, monitor strategic reading Sensible sequencing: short to long, visually supported to non-visual, close to home to further from home, concrete to abstract, etc. Create, name and use heuristics

15 Teaching character The moral and functional force of literature resides in the fact that it provides, in Santayana’s words “imaginative rehearsals for living” - connection, i.e. to how we project and construe character in real life, and how we use how we think about literary characters in terms of our lives. How have and do literary characters inform your thinking, believing, problem-solving, etc.? The importance of learning about others to foster personal growth and interpersonal understanding

16 Work Before (and during) Reading to Develop and Name Competence Think of a time that you didn’t understand a joke... Think of a time that you didn’t understand a joke... If our students don’t have a good experience with a text as they are reading it, it’s impossible to rehabilitate it, no matter how good our post- reading instruction. If our students don’t have a good experience with a text as they are reading it, it’s impossible to rehabilitate it, no matter how good our post- reading instruction.

17 Inquiry Contexts that Make Understanding Character Matter What makes a good parent (or teacher, or friend)? What makes a hero? What is bravery (or loyalty or any other governing trait)? How might you reframe a unit you already teach to make it an inquiry into character or character traits?

18 Understanding Character: How Do We Come to General Impressions of people in real life? Interpreting individual traits What’s your impression of a person who displays these traits? intelligent—industrious—impulsive—critical— stubborn--envious

19 First Impressions; coherent interpretations The person is intelligent and fortunately he puts his intelligence to work. That he is stubborn and impulsive may be due to the fact that he knows what he is saying and what he means and will not therefore give in easily to someone else's idea which he disagrees with The person is intelligent and fortunately he puts his intelligence to work. That he is stubborn and impulsive may be due to the fact that he knows what he is saying and what he means and will not therefore give in easily to someone else's idea which he disagrees with BUT students typically respond to literary characters with a list of traits (“She’s blonde”) or states (“He’s happy”) and are rewarded for doing so BUT students typically respond to literary characters with a list of traits (“She’s blonde”) or states (“He’s happy”) and are rewarded for doing so

20 How about these? envious --stubborn – critical – industrious - intelligent envious --stubborn – critical – industrious - intelligent

21 Reversing the order of first impressions (in reverse order) This person's good qualities such as industry and intelligence are bound to be restricted by jealousy and stubbornness. The person is emotional. He is unsuccessful because he is weak and allows his bad points to cover up his good ones. (in reverse order) This person's good qualities such as industry and intelligence are bound to be restricted by jealousy and stubbornness. The person is emotional. He is unsuccessful because he is weak and allows his bad points to cover up his good ones.

22 Relative value of different traits Overall impression of person being interviewed for a position in your school? To be a flatmate? Overall impression of person being interviewed for a position in your school? To be a flatmate? intelligent, skillful, industrious, warm, determined, practical, cautious intelligent, skillful, industrious, warm, determined, practical, cautious

23 Intelligent, skillful, industrious, cold, determined, practical, cautious Intelligent, skillful, industrious, cold, determined, practical, cautious

24 So, a character “gut check” We get an overall impression, not a list of characteristics We get an overall impression, not a list of characteristics Our overall impression supersedes and goes beyond offered information (we are always inferring – or “figuring forth”) Our overall impression supersedes and goes beyond offered information (we are always inferring – or “figuring forth”) The most accurate interpreters continually modify interpretations, keeping original judgments “categorically tentative” and fluid The most accurate interpreters continually modify interpretations, keeping original judgments “categorically tentative” and fluid Some Personality Traits are superordinate and color all other traits: Warm and cold – so we must figure out how traits interrelate, and which ones are most important in particular situations Some Personality Traits are superordinate and color all other traits: Warm and cold – so we must figure out how traits interrelate, and which ones are most important in particular situations

25 Group Membership vs. individual Gender as super-ordinate category of identity (West and Zimmerman) Gender as super-ordinate category of identity (West and Zimmerman) “A” list of cultural markers: gender, race, nationality, ethnicity, religion and gender— Fishman (1995). “A” list of cultural markers: gender, race, nationality, ethnicity, religion and gender— Fishman (1995). “B” list: age, geography, education, occupation, family status, economic status and sexual orientation “B” list: age, geography, education, occupation, family status, economic status and sexual orientation Top-down (group) integrates with bottom up (individual info (Kunda and Thagard ). Good interpreters are always “connecting the dots” Top-down (group) integrates with bottom up (individual info (Kunda and Thagard ). Good interpreters are always “connecting the dots”

26 Developing a heuristic To understand characters, we recognize not only a character’s particular traits but also how those traits interact to form an overall conception of the character. In developing that impression, some traits matter more than others. To understand characters, we recognize not only a character’s particular traits but also how those traits interact to form an overall conception of the character. In developing that impression, some traits matter more than others. First impressions are powerful, but we have to test them against additional information we gain (cf. schema theory research about difficulty of modifying) First impressions are powerful, but we have to test them against additional information we gain (cf. schema theory research about difficulty of modifying) Generalization about group membership inform our understanding of people. We have to test our generalizations against the individuating information that we develop. Generalization about group membership inform our understanding of people. We have to test our generalizations against the individuating information that we develop. Character is revealed through physical data, what the character and others say, through comparison, actions, language, setting Character is revealed through physical data, what the character and others say, through comparison, actions, language, setting

27 If students are to experience the greatest possible benefit from reading, then they need to try on, at least provisionally, the various perspectives of the characters about whom they are reading, especially those who are different from them. If students are to experience the greatest possible benefit from reading, then they need to try on, at least provisionally, the various perspectives of the characters about whom they are reading, especially those who are different from them. Students need general heuristic strategies that help them notice and interpret vs. questions that are only applicable to a particular story – who is doing the work? How is our work helping students do the work? To overcome typical shortcomings? Students need general heuristic strategies that help them notice and interpret vs. questions that are only applicable to a particular story – who is doing the work? How is our work helping students do the work? To overcome typical shortcomings?

28 Worries about traditional instruction It emphasizes declarative rather than procedural knowledge. It emphasizes declarative rather than procedural knowledge. It doesn’t lend itself to transfer, neither functionally as a reader nor to a personal growth agenda. It doesn’t lend itself to transfer, neither functionally as a reader nor to a personal growth agenda. It doesn’t reflect the way we understand people in our lives. It doesn’t reflect the way we understand people in our lives.

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30 Personality tests/ checklists – what do we most want to know about other people? If they are a friend? Romantic partner? Teammate? Hero? Personality tests/ checklists – what do we most want to know about other people? If they are a friend? Romantic partner? Teammate? Hero? How do I/would a character respond to personality test? (Myers-Briggs) How do I/would a character respond to personality test? (Myers-Briggs) Develop a personality test for a flatmate, colleague, et al – which characteristics are most important and why? Could be part of culminating project Develop a personality test for a flatmate, colleague, et al – which characteristics are most important and why? Could be part of culminating project Ads/iconic images – Family of Man Ads/iconic images – Family of Man Rankings: Who is the best parent? Rankings: Who is the best parent?

31 First impressions? Group membership? Challenging individuating information? Explain and justify your inferences. Practice, practice, practice

32 Reading and writing activities Roommate activity, etc. Roommate activity, etc.

33 Understanding characters enriches our lives Wayne Booth notes that stories typically center on the characters’ efforts to face moral choices and argues that "In tracing those efforts, we readers stretch our own capacities for thinking about how life should be lived." Wayne Booth notes that stories typically center on the characters’ efforts to face moral choices and argues that "In tracing those efforts, we readers stretch our own capacities for thinking about how life should be lived." When I have some big moral issue, some question to tackle, I think of [characters in books I've read]. Those folks, they're people for me... they really speak to me—there’s a lot of me in them, or vice versa. I don't know how to put it, but they're voices, and they help me make choices. I hope when I decide "the big ones" they'll be in there pitching. (Coles, p. 203) When I have some big moral issue, some question to tackle, I think of [characters in books I've read]. Those folks, they're people for me... they really speak to me—there’s a lot of me in them, or vice versa. I don't know how to put it, but they're voices, and they help me make choices. I hope when I decide "the big ones" they'll be in there pitching. (Coles, p. 203)


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