Tuesday, July 5, 2011

ECN Summer Webstitute: Reading Classic and Young Adult Literature with Students

Over on the English Companion Ning, Gary Anderson and the other site administrators have been busy developing the third ECN webstitute, a free professional development opportunity for teachers. The webstitute is Monday and Tuesday, July 11-12, 2011. 

This summer's webstitute addresses the sometimes contentious question of whether to teach texts from the cannon or YA lit. Confession: I've never seen this as an either/or issue. I like to think there's room for lots of literary entrees on the book buffet. Here's a description of the webstitute: 

This Webstitute emerges from the passionate interest of English Language Arts folks in reading texts of all kinds. All too often, it seems the we see classic and YA lit as mutually exclusive, even going so far as to position one as being "better" than the other, educationally, culturally, and sometimes even morally. In this Webstitute, we are bringing together accomplished teachers, writers, and scholars to explore the best of each world, as well as areas where they blend to create a rich learning environment.

I'll be leading one of the sessions in the webstitute: "Twice Told Tales and Old Odd Ends: Common Ideas in Shakespeare and Young Adult Lit." Many YA texts allude to classic works. Having read the classics enriches students' reading on YA lit. Conversely, the YA lit that speaks so intimately to students about issues they face offers opportunities for introducing them to classic works from which many YA authors find inspiration. I'll also share teaching methods that bridge the classics and YA lit.

I also plan to focus on a Shakespeare play that has been particularly troubling to me and how I learned to love The Taming of the Shrew, which where I live offers unique insight into the local culture, family dynamics, and male/female relationships. Of course, expect lots of info from the Folger Shakespeare Library as well as a drawing for a copy of The Book of William: How Shakespeare's First Folio Conquered the World

Please join me and the other webstitute session coordinators for what promises to be a lively and informative two days of learning and sharing. I'm humbled and honored to be among the following impressive voices:

Teresa Bunner: Ideas for engaging students in texts teachers choose.

Jo Knowles, David Macinnis Gill, Kate Messner: These YA authors will be discussing their works and genres.

Tom Liam Lynch: Reading Bytes: "Rather than 'reading' texts, Dr. Lynch argues for re-reading and non-reading as essential practices for our students to master.  Though the session focuses on online and blended learning, the questions raised and techniques shared can be applied in all English classroom settings and adapted across grade levels."

Teri Lesesne: Professor Nana, author of Reading Ladders, brings her extensive knowledge of children's and YA lit to share. 

"Bring Your Best Stuff: Titles that Work" is the culmination session where everyone is invited to share their expertise and titles. 


  1. I love the ECN webstitutes! This one sounds particularly interesting, Glenda. As I said on twitter, I'm presently reading Schmidt's 'The Wednesday Wars,' a middle grade novel in which the protagonist reads, reflects and connects to the themes in Shakespeares plays. And it's funny. A perfect example of classic meets YA!

  2. Mardie, thanks so much for the book rec. I just ordered it. I recently read the poetry collection "Shakespeare Bats Cleanup," too.