Monthly Archives: February 2013

[Re]Imagining Content-Area Literacy

Reimagining_MaggieDillon  (Word Document)

Reimagining_MaggieDillon (PDF File)


This is my graphic organizer for the first two chapters of our text. (Activity 1A from Unit 2.)



Maggie & NCTE

Content Area: English, Secondary Education

Organization: National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)


Published Journal: NCTE publishes 12 different journals, three of which are geared towards the secondary level.

  •  English Journal- This is a journal for English teachers that includes ideas, how people are implementing technology in their classrooms, ideas and research about how to effectively teach literature and writing. This would be helpful when planning lessons or writing rationales for lessons I’ve made.
  • English Leadership Quarterly– This journal is for people in leadership positions, such as department chairs or supervisors, and includes articles on English education that might be helpful to those people.
  • Classroom Notes Plus- (Published from 1983-2011, but all are still available to members of the organization) This journal was a collection of ideas and lesson plans for middle through high school students. This could be really helpful if I get stuck on lesson plans or need some activities to fit into a unit.

This site has nearly everything a teacher could dream of; lesson plans, resources, journals, seminars, other organizations, online courses and sooo much more than that. There are tons of lesson plans designed to align with the Common Core and even lessons for Banned Books. I love that it also includes places where teachers can apply for grants for money that is always hard to find.

One year of NCTE membership will set you back $50 but the membership also gives you really big discounts on their journals. (Regular price of the English Journal is $75, but the member price is only $25!) Student memberships are $25.




CATAPULT on Common Core & Essential Standards


C – I think Bloom’s taxonomy aligns very nicely with the CCSS and ES. His hierarchy follows the way that the CCSS/ES scaffold what students should learn at each level – each piece is built upon from the level below it, so you must master each piece before moving to the next target.

A – As a teacher, my job is to teach students both the written and the hidden curriculum. I’ve read articles about the “hidden curriculum” that discuss how school is a vehicle for students to be socialized in a way that they know when to speak up and when not to, when to agree and when not to, and the like. However, in my opinion, the hidden curriculum that we teach students is how they can be literate and successful adults with the knowledge they get in school. I will attempt to support student learning by making a teachable moment out of nearly anything. From this approach I hope that students will realize that most things have many sides and usually aren’t as simple as black and white.

T – CCSS/ES are a much more specific guide as to what teachers should be focusing on in class. Bloom’s taxonomy simply outlines they way that thinking and thinking skills actually work. Bloom’s taxonomy can survive without the CCSS/ES, but the opposite isn’t quite true because of the way that the standards are scaffolded, they rely heavily on the taxonomy.

A – I think the best way to engage students is to allow them to drive their own learning in some ways. I think allowing students choice of what to read or write is important – and that tells them that you actually care what they have to say about a variety of things rather than just what will be on the end of semester tests. This also encourages them to do more of their own learning outside of the classroom. If they know what questions to ask and where to look for information they’re interested in outside of school, they are much more likely to seek out that knowledge.

P – I think a definition of literacy isn’t as complex as we tend to make it out to be. Simply put, I think literacy means being able to understand what is put in front of you in a multitude of ways, literal, figuratively, symbolically, and any other way. This definition also leaves room for things like art, music, and film to fit into this meaning of literacy.

U – I don’t think there’s much to be done in the way of meshing these two ideas because they are already so intertwined in my area. There is no literacy without text (text meaning writing, movies, advertisements, music, or any number of other things) and what’s the point of texts without someone to be literate in them? As far as I am concerned, they are nearly useless without the other.

L – I think visuals are incredibly important to the learning process. From Venn diagrams to illustrations done by students while they’re reading, they’re simply another way to help students solidify the content which you are teaching. For example, when teaching a unit on Southern Literature, I could show student’s a map of the journey that Huck Finn and Jim take down the river in order to show them just how extensive their trek was.

T – I don’t think I have a “new” idea of what literacy means to me but have just expanded the one I already has. Literacy is cross-discipline as well as applicable in nearly every area of life – not just in the classroom or, more specifically, the English classroom. 

English I – Maggie Dillon (Common Core/Essential Standards Review)

How do the Common Core Literacy Standards apply to your content discipline? I think it would be easier to explain how they aren’t related, seeing as I am an English major. The literacy standards focus on students working with different genres and levels of texts to achieve mastery. Many of the goals in the literacy standards are just basic goals for any high school English class and they include things like evaluating arguments, using textual evidence to support opinions, and making inferences.

How do the two sets of standards interact and what does this mean for you, the teacher? Basically, the CCSS are standards of what students need to learn while the ES are how they should learn them. They are very intertwined and have many of the same goals/objectives that are essential to an English classroom. For teachers this can be both good and bad because while the two are in sync, having both in place can be very restrictive. I feel that teachers know the way to teach something to their students better than someone in Raleigh who has never spent a moment with any of the children in the class who the teacher would know personally.

Which terms in the Literacy Standards are surprising to you?
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.8 Delineate and evaluate the reasoning in seminal U.S. texts, including the application of constitutional principles and use of legal reasoning (e.g., in U.S. Supreme Court majority opinions and dissents) and the premises, purposes, and arguments in works of public advocacy (e.g., The Federalist, presidential addresses).
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.9 Analyze seventeenth-, eighteenth-, and nineteenth-century foundational U.S. documents of historical and literary significance (including The Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address) for their themes, purposes, and rhetorical features.

I was really surprised at these two goals because they seem way above a 9th grade level. I understand that they are important historical documents that students should be familiar with in order to be an informed citizen. However, I don’t think it is necessary for a 14 year-old to have to analyze the archaic language in the Constitution or legal jargon in Supreme Court cases. I also believe that this standard is a lot closer to the history discipline than the English classroom.

Web Link Tools – Maggie

I chose to review the webtool Diigo for this assignment. Diigo is basically the same thing as Zotero but I wanted to see if there were any big differences. This is a tool that allows you to bookmark, tag, and share the things you find online for later use or for others to see. Basically, you save a webpage to Diigo and can come back to it later. You can add sticky notes to a page or highlight and save only certain paragraphs or graphics. You can then add tags to help you (or others) find what you were looking for quickly, sortof like how you can tag someone in a picture on Facebook and have it show up on their profile. These tags could be quite helpful if you’re doing research and searching for items; you could come to this site and find that someone else was working on something similar and use some of their sources or articles. I liked that Diigo wasn’t just a website, but an actual tool that you can add on to your browser so, you can use it without having to switch between other tabs or windows. I think probably the best aspect of this tool is the group function. You can allow people access to your files and notes which would be great for a group of people working on a project together. You can even change the settings to send you email alerts when someone adds something new or makes comments.

As a future educator, I think this could be a really great tool with students, if you have the ample time to explain to them how the tool works. It is quite intuitive, but I could see it being a bit of trouble for students to get the hang of just because there are so many options and features. I could really see this coming in handy for students who are working on research projects or team projects. I could easily hold a conference with students and ask them to bring up their Diigo bookmarks to look through what they’ve done so far and try to lead them in a specific direction.

Review of Teachers’ Blogs

For this review, I read through three blogs and skimmed a few others. The two main blogs I worked with were –  and .

One is a class blog for a high school English class and the other is for a group of first graders. The high school English class was a little more relevant to me seeing as this is what I will be teaching but I also enjoyed the one for younger students, though they were quite different.

The high school blog was more of a post for assignments and things from class. Mrs. Rivers posted documents, assignments, instructions, links to other English related blogs, vocabulary lists and other things on her blog. There was a section for parents that I felt was both polite and necessary – it opened up the classroom to the parents so they could see what their kids were doing all day instead of relying on their child to relay what happened (we’ve all given the “nothing” answer to our parents when they ask what we did today!). I really liked the whole tab that was dedicated to research writing. It included steps and other resources to help students along when doing research writing, which can be very difficult! I also thought it was a nice idea to add suggested books to her blog because, after all, it is an English class! This was also the section where her class members posted their topics for the research project they were starting in class.

The first grade blog was also really interesting. This blog was more about the daily happenings of their class and what kind of things they were working on. It looks like every kid in the class has an iPad to use through the school, so it makes sense that they would use them to do work! I love the way she incorperates technology with such young kids. We live in a technological world so I believe it is very important for students to be literate in every sense of the word, not just with books and writing! Also, each of her students has their own blog where they post text and pictures of the things they are learning in class. They even posed a challenge to other classrooms – How fast could they put on all their snow gear and be ready to walk outside? I thought this was a really good way to connect with classrooms all over the world, and they have! Each of the response videos was uploaded for their page and I’m sure the kids enjoyed watching people from all over the place interact with them.

Over all, I definitely think that class blogs are a helpful tool. I constantly check asuLearn on my smartphone or tablet to see when things are due or what I need to finish up that day, and blogs work in the same way. I certainly plan on having a class blog for my students, much like the one Mrs. Rivers has, that is a place where they can find things they need from class and even post work instead of wasting paper!

This was really touching to me and I thought you all might like it as well. Just some things to think about as we begin our internships and soon our careers as educators – what kind of teacher will YOU be?

Teaching for Understanding

What does it mean to be literate in your discipline?