Tag Archives: professional development

Why Read?

…What is reading for? We read in order to understand thoughts: either someone else’s thought, or our own thoughts from the past. That characterization of the function of reading highlights that another mental act had to precede it: the mental act of writing. So perhaps we should begin by thinking about the function of writing. I think I need milk, I write that thought on a note to myself, and later I read what I’ve written and I recover the thought again: I need milk. Writing is an extension of memory.”

Excerpted from: Willingham, Daniel T. The Reading Mind: A Cognitive Approach to Understanding How the Mind Reads. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2017.

Term of Art: Grammar of Schooling

“The assumption that schools have certain invariable features, such as classrooms, teachers, subjects, textbooks, tests, report cards, rewards and sanctions, a certain architecture, and a certain layout of the classroom. Education historians David Tyack and William Tobin are credited with the phrase and the observation that the grammar of schooling is remarkably resistant to change.”

Excerpted from: Ravitch, Diane. EdSpeak: A Glossary of Education Terms, Phrases, Buzzwords, and Jargon. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2007.

Alliteration (n)

“Alliteration: (Latin ‘repeating and playing upon the same letter’) A figure of speech in which consonants, especially at the beginning of words, or stressed syllables, are repeated. It is a very old device indeed in English verse (older than rhyme) and is very common in verse generally. It is used occasionally in prose. In Old English poetry alliteration was a continual and essential part of the metrical scheme and until the late Middle Ages was of was often used thus. However, alliterative verse becomes increasingly rare after the end of the 15th century and alliteration—like assonance, consonance and onomatopoeia—tends to more to be reserved for the achievement of special effect.

There are many classic examples, like Coleridge’s famous description of the sacred river Alph in Kubla Khan:

Five miles meandering with a mazy motion

Any others less well known, like this from the beginning of Norman MacCaig’s poem Mutual Life:

A wild cat, fur-fire in a bracken brush,

Twitches his club-tail,  rounds his amber eyes

At rockabye rabbits humped on the world. The air

Crackles about him. His world is a rabbit’s size.

And this, from the first stanza of R.S. Thomas’s The Welsh Hill Country:

Too far for you to see

The fluke and the foot-rot and the fat maggot

Gnawing the skin from the small bones,

The sheep are grazing at Bwlch-y-Fedwen,

Arranged romantically in the usual manner

On a bleak background of bald stone.

Alliteration is common in nonsense verse:

Be lenient with lobsters, and ever kind to crabs,

And be not disrespectful to cuttle-fish or dabs;

Chase not the Cochin-China, chaff not the ox obese,

And babble not of feather-beds in company with geese

in tongue-twisters:

Betty Botter bought some butter,

But, she said, the butter’s bitter;

If I put it in my batter

It will make my batter bitter,

But a bit of better butter,

That would make my batter better.

in jingles:

Dingle digle doosey,

The cat’s in the well,

The dog’s away to Bellingen

To buy the bairn a bell.

and in patter beloved of drill sergeants and the like:

Now then, you horrible shower of heathens, have I your complete hattention?

Hotherwise I shall have to heave the whole hairy lot of you into the salt box

where you will live on hopeful hallucinations for as long as hit pleases God and

the commanding hofficer”

Excerpted from: Cuddon, J.A. The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. New York: Penguin, 1992.

What Is Awe and How Is It Evoked?

“In a classroom setting, many students can feel stressed about exams or class projects because they feel as though they may not have enough time. Perhaps by inducing a sense of awe in these students, the successful teacher can allay some of the perceptions of time ‘crunch.’ Though this particular connection is admittedly one without further empirical support, it is intriguing to consider. Furthermore, because awe is a positive emotion, even if it doesn’t help assuage undue test anxiety, it will at least brighten a student’s day for a moment,

How does one evoke awe? Images of natural splendor or beauty, moving musical passages, or brief anecdotes about the successful exploits of famous individuals may all achieve this goal.

Effort actually influences our sense of how soon or far off something feels. Tasks and events that are believed to require effort and be taxing actually feel as though they are temporally closer than easier tasks. This only holds true if there is an actual deadline for completion. With a deadline or due date/time in place, it feels as though there is more time to complete the easy task and less time to complete the challenging one (Jiga-Boy, Clark, & Semin, 2010). Without a deadline, more effortful tasks seem farther away in time than they actually are.

These findings suggest that ambiguous or vague deadlines may actually result in greater levels of procrastination because to the student it feels as though there is more time to complete the project than perhaps is actually warranted. Thus it is recommended that firm deadlines be implemented and adhered to whenever possible.

Finally, time does indeed appear to fly when people are having fun (Gable & Poole, 2012). This fact provides yet another reason (as though any were needed) to introduce as much fun and frivolity as possible into classroom sessions because if hard-to-reach students feel as though the day is speeding by, there is less of a chance of them associated associating the school with tedium and toil. After all, a happy student is likely and engaged one.”

Excerpted from: Rekart, Jerome L. The Cognitive Classroom: Using Brain and Cognitive Science to Optimize Student Success. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Education, 2013.

Term of Art: Readability

“A measure of how easy it is to comprehend a text depending on a number of variables. These include vocabulary, sentence complexity, format, writing style, and topic, plus the reading comprehension level, interest, background information, and decoding skills of the reader.

Some methods of predicting the readability of a text are used to gauge whether an individual can successfully read and comprehend a passage. One such method is to read a section of a passage and count the number of words that are unfamiliar to the reader. If, for example, the reader encounters more than three unfamiliar words, the readability may be too difficult.

In educational settings, a text’s readability is often measured in grade level. For example, a history textbook with a readability of 9.3 means an average ninth grade, third month student should be able to read and comprehend it.”

Excerpted from: Turkington, Carol, and Joseph R. Harris, PhD. The Encyclopedia of Learning Disabilities. New York: Facts on File, 2006.

A Learning Support on the Parts of Speech

OK, here is a short glossary of the parts of speech adapted from The Elements of Style.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Term of Art: Learning

“Process of acquiring modifications in existing knowledge, habits, or tendencies through experience, practice, or exercise. Learning includes associative processes, discrimination of sense-data, psychomotor and perceptual learning, imitation, concept formation, problem solving, and insight learning. Animal learning has been studied by ethologists and comparative psychologists, the latter often drawing explicit parallels to human learning. The first experiments concerning associative learning were conducted by Ivan Pavlov in Russia and Edward Thorndike in the U.S. Critics of the early stimulus-response (S-R) theories, such as Edward C. Tolman claimed they were overly reductive and ignored a subject’s inner activities. Gestalt-psychology researchers drew attention to the importance of pattern and form in perception and learning, while structural linguists argued that language learning was grounded in genetically inherited ‘grammar.’ Developmental psychologists, such as Jean Piaget, highlighted stages of growth in learning. More recently, cognitive psychologists have explored learning as a form of information processing, while some brain researchers, such as Gerald Edelman, have proposed that thinking and learning involve an ongoing process of cerebral pathway building. Related topics of research include attention, comprehension, motivation, and transfer of training.”

 Excerpted from: Stevens, Mark A., Ed. Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, 2000.