Sunday, 25 November 2012


We have now come to the end of our journey together. Now it is our obligation to implement and practice our newly acquired discoveries. Literature has proven that it does have a major part to play in the English classroom. It enriches the lessons and provides depth to student learning.

I have had a wonderful experience with you, driving through the differing paths of the multiple ways of integrating Literature in the English classroom. I hope you have become wiser in the teaching and learning of English Language, and pledge that your students will be one of the many to have a splendid experience with the different Language arts.

The multidimensionality of Literature and English is clearly evident throughout my differing posts, and this has truly enlightened me with the many ways of approaching or teaching ideas of concepts in the Language classroom.


JI do hope that you enjoyed your Ride with Literature as much as I did. J


Saturday, 24 November 2012


The connection between reading and writing is not a new concept to me. However, every moment it is addressed, something intriguing and interesting is addressed in the literature. The bridge between the two becomes shorter and shorter every time it is discussed.
Writing is intended to be read, thus, students must understanding the importance of reading and writing to become better readers and writers. The most interesting issue addressed is the different means of the reinforcement of writing through talking, listening and reading. Growing up, when writing my essays, I would read my story aloud for an imaginative audience. At that age, I thought that my colleagues would find it strange that I used this method, however, literature now shows the effectiveness of this method.  

Overall, I specifically enjoyed the method of having peers read to you what you have written. With this, you can hear your own writing and detect the gaps as well as the errors evident. 
When one writes, he or she has to think of the readers and vice versa. This philosophy reminds me of the ‘reader response theory’ by Louise Rosenblatt (1938); which state that every encounter with literature is different for every person, the meaning, background, and responses to the text are all drawn from individual experiences. Thus, the writer must create an image where readers of different communities can make inferences or draw conclusions based on their understanding.

Nonetheless, how plausible is it to implement all the highlighted strategies in classroom instruction?  Time is a major obstacle which I believe will deter the use of these strategies. Though effective, engaging and child friendly, sufficient amount of time is needed for all these objectives to be accomplished. Teacher knowledge and confidence is also important when teaching these ideas. Teachers should be competent in these areas to confidently transfer accurate information to these students.

All teachers should expose themselves to such literature which enlightens us on effective pedagogical skills in the teaching on the differing language arts. Students must experience reading and writing as a refreshing and therapeutic method of s the sharing their thoughts and feelings. I look forward to applying my newly acquired knowledge in bridging reading and writing as much as possible. 


The workshop from was truly an eye opener. The workshop focused on the necessary steps undertaken to prepare and plan students for writing. It informs teachers of their role in effectively implementing these strategies to make it as authentic, productive and enjoyable for students as much as possible. The introduction was very engaging and effective, as it specifically focuses on what motivates students to learn, and their preferable format or structure of writing their ideas. This shows the diversity of writing and the effectiveness of using the differing formats or structures of writing. The students demonstrate that they are both extrinsically and intrinsically motivated to write.  On teacher shows how student enthusiasm, passion and interest keep students engaged in their writing.

What also stood out the most is the use of diversity in the culture, race and settings where writing is taught. I believe that the producer used this approach to engage audience on the universality of preparing students for writing. Students around the world, despite their varying cultures, learn writing in the similar ways. The only difference is the language used to communicate to these students, but the approaches used are similar. The main aim of these approaches is to HELP STUDENTS WRITE CLEARLY AND EFFECTIVELY.

The teachers in the video continuously mention that students should be given the liberty to choose topics of interest to write about. What sense does it make to have students write about something which does not interest them? They will just write for writing sake.  Teachers always use the excuse of an ‘exam driven curriculum’ which offers little opportunity to spend time allowing students to write about what interests them. Students must learn that writing contributes to personal enrichment.
I can recall a time when I had problems with choosing appropriate topics which I can have my form one students write about. Then a thought hit me: “WHO BETTER TO ASK THIS QUESTION THAN THE STUDENTS THEM SELF? ” I did not see the relevance of choosing a topic which interests me or a topic I believe students must write about in order for them to succeed.  Upon asking them that question, one asked me whether they had the liberty of choosing topics which interests them. Surprisingly, they were puzzled at this approach but later became more comfortable with sharing their ideas. As the discussion progressed, one could have seen and heard the excitement and interest of the students from miles away.

One of the teacher presenters highlight the importance of communicating to students that “people write when they have a reason or purpose to write.” Students must understand that there is an underlying value and catalyst which contributes to every piece of writing. Words and sentences are not collages which writers put together for aesthetic purposes. These words and sentences combine to create a situation whether fictional or not that is worth writing and reading about. It can be used to inform, educate, enlighten or persuade the intended audience.
Whether the writing is for academic purposes, students must be well informed as to the other major purposes of writing. Christopher Myers states that “to be a good writer, you must write every day.”  This does not necessarily mean that students will write about a specified issue every day, but can write up a blog entry in their journals or diaries of something which interests them. The students could also post these entries on a personalized blogs on the internet.  This method is an effective use of technology in the English language classroom. This also serves as a motivator and a convenient method of assessing students in this time and era.

Addressing student individual needs is also of major importance in the language classroom. The presenters specifically focus on this aspect of instruction as students acquire and transfer knowledge differently. Despite what students produce, teachers must show their care a respect to what students write. Every day, students learn from teachers, and vice versa. By having students write a piece from their own perspective, enlightens to teacher on plenty about the student. Students’ thinking, processing and descriptive skills come into play. Using this information, the teacher can modify classroom instruction to cater to these students.

Prewriting strategies are heavily focused on in this video. Author Maxine Hong Kinston of ‘The Woman Warrior’ highlights that twelve drafts were made before fully publishing the award winning novel. She states that she explains to her students that “writing is like a tower, and every draft written takes you higher up that tower.” This is similar to the NCTE (2004) beliefs of writing, that ‘writing is a process.’ Students must overcome specific tasks in the writing process to be reflective learners and develop meta-cognitive awareness.   She highlights that “I could have seen the woman warrior herself at this point.” These are important lessons students should learn.  Even professional writers draft their work multiple times until their work truly captures the effect he/she wants to create. In Kingston’s case, after writing twelve drafts of her novel she got a vivid image of her main character which she wants her audience to see and experience her like she did.

Writing is a medium that every man, woman and child should be exposed to.  Producing or writing a piece does not necessarily have to be for an academic purpose, but also for aesthetic appeal. We teachers should not be reluctant in giving students the leeway in the decision making process of opting for a topic that they should write about. Students should experience writing as a fun filled, exciting, rewarding and life changing experience. Students must get the opportunity the drive that vehicle in the English language classroom, where the paths they take can be fostered and enhanced in getting at the right destination. 

Friday, 23 November 2012


Graphic organizers are a helpful way to organize information. Graphic organizers:
1.      Help one understand how things go together.
2.      Help one generate ideas
3.       Help one remember information better
4.       Make it easier to write a final draft.
5.       Help organize any type of writing.
I have had a wonderful experience with graphic organizers and used it as much as possible in my learning. Due to the strategic and thought provoking nature of graphic organizers, I have created many opportunities to use this approach.  Students can also have a great experience using this approach.  As highlighted above, graphic organizers help students see the relationship between ideas and concepts, generate ideas, aid in retention and forces coherency in writing. Graphic organizers are so multidimensional, that its structure and format can cater for the different modes of writing.  There are a lot of different kinds of graphic organizers for different kinds of writing projects.

Cluster Diagrams – good for descriptive writing, especially when you have a lot of different ideas.
Charts – good for writing directions of how to do something, or for keeping a lot of different ideas in categories.
Venn Diagrams – good for comparing things that are the same and different.
Story Maps – good for retelling books, plays or stories.
Cause and Effect Diagrams – good for explaining how something happened.
Outlines – good for big topics with lots of main ideas and details. Outlines are also good for persuasive writing.
Timelines - good for telling the order of how things happen in time.

Due to the multiple merits of using graphic organizers, students can craft or create a specific purpose of their graphic organizers, based on the genre of writing. Researchers have highlighted the benefits of using this strategy as a prewriting strategy, but students can also use it as a means to summarize ideas, to see the connection between certain ideas, to make inferences and so much more.

After reading the recommended articles for this activity, I took the opportunity to contemplate on the multiple ways and means of using concept webs in my classroom.  Graphic organizers scaffold students into a safe zone. It provides an ongoing support to the learner, thus permitting them to concentrate upon and complete only those elements that are within his/her range of concern. I view graphic organizers as a vehicle in which the driver, which is the student, can direct at a point where the connection of the ideas generated can achieve its set goal.

 I see the value of all the graphic organizers, as they cater to all forms or modes of writing. My aim now, is to implement or use appropriate graphic organizers in my teaching based on the text provided. Students should then experience the universality of graphic organizers and how it can be applicable to areas across the curriculum (thus creating independent learners). 


When one brainstorms, it looks like this (picture to the right). I know it looks complicated, but it is possible to formulate ideas. Brainstorming involves the generation of ideas either through questioning or inquiry on a topic. It is defined as an informal and relaxed approach towards solving a problem or in organizing ideas. In brainstorming, individuals generate thoughts and ideas that cross their minds without any limitations. In a classroom setting, brainstorming may be initiated by the teacher giving students a keyword from a text and asking them to write down or call out words that they associate with the key word given. Brainstorming is a strategy which has many merits.

Marie W. Sloane (1998) presents guidelines when using brainstorming strategies in the classroom. She highlights that the teachers must:

Ø  Be enthusiastic
Ø  Choose topics well.
Ø  Encourage divergent thinking.
Ø  Reread ideas often
Ø  Count the ideas.
Ø  Categorize big lists.

The human brain is a pattern recognition machine. We learn to interact with our environment in patterned ways and this is no different from the way students approach a piece of writing. Brainstorming techniques are designed to expand the cognitive toolkit students have at their disposal when facing a writing task. By thinking about a question from different perspectives, as well as exploring the perspectives of their classmates, students can develop the skills to help them access and develop a broader range of ideas in a writing situation (Rao, 2007).
Brainstorming should usefully become an integral part of the teaching of writing skills. NCTE (2004), highlights that ‘writing is a tool for thinking.” This clearly relates to the brainstorming techniques as they enable students to generate the necessary ideas to achieve their set goals.
Brainstorming is a strategy that all students should be exposed to at a young age. This strategy literally prepares them for the world of work. students must understand that even professionals need to brainstorm before initiating a plan of action
also believe that this approach fosters authenticity in the language classrooms and should be a continued practice in all subject areas.

Rao Z. (2007) Training in Brainstorming and Developing Writing Skills, in ELT Journal
2007 61(2) Oxford University Press.  

The Value of Prewriting Strategies

Webster’s Dictionary defines pre-writing as, "The formulation and organization of ideas preparatory to writing." Free writing, blind writing, brainstorming, graphic organizers and questioning are few of the prewriting strategies advocated by researchers.
Free writing is a form of brainstorming that can help students to find a focus in writing their essays. Students should not focus on spelling, grammar, or punctuation, but rather on creating a central premise for their piece.
 Blind writing is another form of free writing that is particularly efficient on a computer. This idea is great because it allows the student to ignore what they just wrote. This strategy allows the process of developing words and thoughts while contributing to the flow of the writing process
Brainstorming involves the generation of ideas either through questioning or inquiry on a topic.
Graphic organizers allow students to generate lots of ideas with a logical structure. They help the student to organize their thoughts into illustrations. They are visual diagrams of written ideas.
 Questioning is designed to help students to generate and focus on specific ideas while writing. In answering the questions it will help the students to discover information and teachers should focus the students’ thinking on their topic. The questions are broken down into, "what," "where and when," "who," "how," and a basic evaluation of their thoughts.

Prewriting is the first and primary stage in the writing process. At this stage, the writer needs to consider three main factors: topic, audience and purpose. As a result, it is mandatory to employ strategies or approaches which will aid in the teaching and learning of writing.

Before one gets a license, he/she has to master certain prerequisite skills in order to smoothly drive or move through specific paths to arrive at the right destination.  In order for students to obtain their writing license, they must master the skills in the writing process to arrive at the ‘publishing’ stage.   This journey begins with the prewriting strategies which serve as the stimulus for students to generate or formulate novel or original ideas which are worth writing about. Students must understand the value and worth of this stage, and the supporting system it provides for them if they experience any ‘writer’s block.’
Students must be aware of the value and purpose of prewriting in the writing process. Many students do not see the value or purpose of prewriting so they assume it is a waste of time. 
How can such attitude be avoided? Students should be exposed to good writing patterns at an early stage in their schooling. They should be both intrinsically and extrinsically motivated to engage in such a practice. The methods and approaches in teaching this sensitive stage in writing are out there. Teachers just need to find the time, effective resources and generate strategic plans that show students how to write using their talents in a way that they can understand. Creating good writers is not solely the teacher's job, the students do have a major role to play in it, but giving or exposing them to the resources at a young age is a huge step towards right direction. Students need to know that to become an exemplary writer does not take endless hours to learn.

Given the right opportunity and exposure to the aforementioned strategies, I believe that it should be implemented in all language classrooms. I am a strong advocate to these strategies and will ensure that my students experience these thought provoking methods for generating their ideas. 

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Strategies used by the writers to communicate with his/her audience

Descriptive essay: Lou’s Place

Ø  Description
Ø  Flashback
Ø  Dialogue
Ø  Rhetorical questions
Ø  Literary devices
Ø  Imagery/ visual images
Ø  Humor
Ø  Cause and Effect
Ø  Colloquial language
Ø  Anecdotes
Ø  Analogies
Ø  Examples
Ø  Facts
Ø  Powerful images
Ø  Emotional language
Ø  Repetition
Ø  Sensory details

Argumentative essay:  The Faceless Teacher’ by Dennis Gardner (1999)

Ø  Description
Ø  Flashback
Ø  Frame story: Story within a story
Ø  Rhetorical questions
Ø  Literary devices
Ø  Imagery/ visual images
Ø  Compare and Contrast
Ø  Cause and Effect
Ø  Analogies
Ø  Facts
Ø  Powerful images
Ø  Statistics
Ø  Repetition
Ø  Stereotypes
Ø  Posing of problem and solution
Ø  Sensory details
Ø   Call for action

Narrative essay:  Alina

Ø  Description
Ø  Flashback
Ø  Dialogue
Ø  Rhetorical questions
Ø  Literary devices
Ø  Imagery/ visual images
Ø  Humor
Ø  Colloquial language
Ø  Anecdotes
Ø  Powerful images
Ø  Emotional language
Ø  Sensory details

The writer's purpose and how it is accomplished in ‘The Faceless Teacher’ by Dennis Gardner (1999)

In ‘the faceless teacher,’ Gardner wishes to enlighten readers on the depth and breadth of this pressing situation which exists in our present society. Gardner clearly highlights his concern for the society in which we live and the speed at which it is moving.  He compares human interaction with human and cyber world interaction. He stresses on the importance of human interaction and how it contributes to individual’s social and cognitive growth. Human interaction is presented as a medium which forces one to be an active learner, where as the cyber world is presented as one which fosters passive learning.

Despite all the highlighted views, Gardner deliberately presents the positive and negative impacts “the faceless teacher” (computer screen) has on student development. The audience however, gets an idea of the writer’s stance on this issue by his methods of elaborating on the different points. Via the use of examples, analogies, powerful images, historical features and logical reasoning, the writer clearly justifies he’s stance on the issues presented. Gardner ensures that he convinces the reader to accept and understand his particular point of view by means of appeals to reason and emotion. The reader gets the opportunity to think about ideas or issues in new or different ways, which stimulates new thoughts and feelings.

Rubric used to assess an Argumentative piece


Define the Problem
Thesis Statement
Well developed introductory paragraph contains detailed background information, a clear explanation or definition of the problem, and a thesis statement.
Introductory paragraph contains some background information and states the problem, but does not explain using details. States the thesis of the paper.
Introduction states the thesis but does not adequately explain the background of the problem.  The problem is stated, but lacks detail.
Thesis and/or problem is vague or unclear.
Background details are a seemingly random collection of information, unclear, or not related to the topic.

Conclusion summarizes the main topics without repeating previous sentences; writer's opinions and suggestions for change are logical and well thought out.
Conclusion summarizes main topics.  Some suggestions for change are evident.
Conclusion summarizes main topics, but is repetitive. No suggestions for change and/or opinions are included.
Conclusion does not adequately summarize the main points. No suggestions for change or opinions are included.
Body Paragraphs
Three or more main points are well developed with supporting details. Refutation paragraph acknowledges the opposing view, and summarizes their main points.
Three or more main points are present but may lack detail and development in one or two. Refutation paragraph acknowledges the opposing view, but doesn't summarize points.
Three or more main points, but all lack development. Refutation paragraph missing and/or vague.
Less than three main points, with poor development of ideas.  Refutation missing or vague.
All source material is used and smoothly integrated into the text. All sources are accurately documented and in the desired format on the Works Cited page.
All sources are relevant and reliable.
All source material is used. All sources are accurately documented, but a few are not in the desired format on the Works Cited page.
Most sources are relevant and reliable.
All sources are accurately documented, but many are not in the desired format on the Works Cited page. Some sources are relevant and reliable.
Lacks sources and/or sources are not accurately documented. Incorrect format is used.
Sources are not relevant nor reliable.
Sentence Clarity

The writer treats the subject seriously using formal language. All sentences are complete, accurate, and clear; the writer controls the point of view appropriately.
The writer uses some informal language and slang. Most sentences are complete, accurate and clear; there is an occasional use of "you" in the essay, indicating a lack of revision or control.
Some unclear or confused sentences; the writer shifts person throughout the essay or uses "you" and "I" frequently.
Many unclear or incomplete sentences.
Punctuation & Capitalization
Punctuation and capitalization are correct.
Sentence structure is generally correct. Some awkward sentences do appear. There are one or two errors in punctuation and/or capitalization.
Work contains structural weaknesses and grammatical errors. There are three or four errors in punctuation and/or capitalization.
Work contains multiple incorrect sentence structures. There are four or more errors in punctuation and/or capitalization.