Friday, July 22, 2016

A Summer Reading List for Teachers

We can't believe that Summer College for Teachers came and went so quickly! During our time collaborating with high school educators in June, we often talked about non-fiction texts that teachers can use to revise their prompts, in order to bridge the gap between high school and college writing. Here is a list of recommendations, complied by Brendon Votipka. Check out the selections below and use them to revised your prompts before the new school year begins!

Nonfiction Reading List

Compiled by Brendon Votipka, Rutgers Writing Program

Arlie Russell Hochschild, The Commercialization of Intimate Life: Notes from Home and Work
Andrew Solomon, Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity

Susan Faludi, The Terror Dream: Myth and Misogyny in an Insecure America
Chuck Klosterman, I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined)
Maggie Nelson, The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning
Kurt Spellmeyer, Buddha at the Apocalypse: Awakening from a Culture of Destruction

Atul Gawande, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End
Rebecca Skloot, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me
Michael Kimmel, Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men
Claudia Rankine, Citizen: An American Lyric
Kenji Yoshino, Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights

Daniel Gilbert, Stumbling on Happiness
Alison Gopnik, The Philosophical Baby: What Children’s Minds Tell Us about Truth, Love and the Meaning of Life
Andrew Solomon, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression
Martha Stout, The Sociopath Next Door

Social Interaction
Susan Blackmore, The Meme Machine
Janet A. Flammang, The Taste for Civilization: Food, Politics, and Civil Society
Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
Sebastian Junger, Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging

Technology & the Mind
Nicholas Carr, The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains
Cathy N. Davidson, Now You See It: How Technology and Brain Science Will Transform Schools and Business for the 21st Century
Sherry Turkle, Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other
Sherry Turkle, Simulation and Its Discontents

Writing, Thinking, and Communication
Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein, “They Say / I Say”: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing
bell hooks, Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom
Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow
David Rosenwasser and Jill Stephen, Writing Analytically
Deborah Tannen, The Argument Culture
Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations

College-Level Nonfiction Anthologies
Barclay Barios, Emerging: Contemporary Readings for Writers
Michelle J. Brazier, Points of Departure: A Collection of Contemporary Essays
Kurt Spellmeyer and Richard E. Miller, The New Humanities Reader

Friday, July 8, 2016

Teaching with Technology

Marc Cicchino discusses the many advantages of using Google in your classroom.

Marc Cicchino, the supervisor of English in Roxbury Public Schools and a faculty member at Rutgers University, spoke on June 29 at the Summer College for Teachers about teaching with technology.

Appropriately, Marc opened his presentation about technology by asking attending educators to pull out their cell phones, laptops, or tablets and jump right into a conversation. is a great resource for educators, Mark said, because teachers can easily send out a question to students to take a poll, ask for anonymous feedback, and allow students to engage when they otherwise might not be able. For example, a conversation on can allow student to engage with a video by making comments while it plays, allowing it to act as a backchannel. Additionally, allows teachers to easily send out a message to the class, such as a bit of trivia or an important announcement.

The next resource Marc shared with teachers was called TodaysMeet, which allows teachers to easily set up a chatroom. Marc says a helpful use of TodaysMeet is that it can allow students in the outside ring of a Socratic Circle to become active participants in the conversation happening in the inside circle.

A Socratic Circle that could be enhanced by allowing the outer circle to comment using TodaysMeet. (Photo: Sturgis Soundings Magazine)
Then, Marc turned to a discussion about Google Docs, showing everyone in the room that there are even more incredible features available for free from Google than we had imagined. For example, did you know that you can check the revision history of a Google Doc that your student is using to turn in an assignment? Using the revision history, you can see if a student is copying and pasting large amounts of their work from an outside source, see if the student is editing after the due date, or check who is doing what portion of the work on a collaborative project.

Google also offers a Research button in the Tools menu, which allows students to search for and insert citations in a sidebar within their Google Doc. This feature is a game-changer because it makes researching significantly easier for students, and it saves teachers from reserving research time in the school computer lab, leaving more time for work in the classroom.

Finally, Marc showed educators how to use Add-Ons, including EasyBib Bibliography Creator for Google Docs and Doctopus and Flubaroo for Google Sheets. The EasyBib Bibliography Creator allows students to easily create their bibliography and cite sources using a simple sidebar within Docs. Doctopus instantly creates an organized system of folders in Google Drive for an entire class, based on a roaster entered in Google Sheets. Flubaroo grades quizzes given on Google Forms for you.

Remember, technology is only an advantage in the classroom if its use simplifies or enhances an activity. Marc reminded educators not to get caught in the trap of trying to use technology too often and actually making activities more complicated than they need to be.

The SAMR model explains the four positive ways that technology can work in the classroom.
Marc's presentation can be accessed online here. Take a look and check out even more tools you can use in the classroom.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Inspiring Mindfulness in the Classroom

On June 28, the second day of Summer College for Teachers, guest speaker Tim Brennan addressed educators. Tim has worked in education for fifty years, and has spent twenty-eight of those years as a superintendent. Despite his move to administration, Tim has never let a year go by without teaching an English class. "Once an English teacher, always an English teacher," he says.

Tim values his position as a part-time lecturer at Rutgers University, but he commented that many students walk into his classroom overwhelmed. Students are addicted to their screens, including laptops, tablets, and phones, and this has negatively impacted their ability to focus. He says that the visual bombardment coming from our screens can be calmed with mindfulness meditation. Tim begins each one of his classes with two full minutes of silence, explaining to students that they have no obligation for those moments other than simply sitting and being aware that they are sitting.

Tim's students say that this mindfulness exercise helps students to get started in class with clear focus. This activity can also help students get started on a paper or assignment at home. For more information about mindfulness, check out the 60 Minutes video clip above, which Tim shared with educators at SCFT.