Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What Not to Wear to School: A Visual Reminder

The teacher in me loves the allusion to TLC's reality show "What Not to Wear."

My female voice that prefers modest and professional attire appreciates the specificity of these images.

Every classroom, every office, every common area, every nook and cranny in my school will sport the "What NOT to Wear to School" poster.

I love this idea, the brainchild of my principal.

However, the irony of telling students they can't wear the types of clothing shown and described in the poster doesn't escape me, and it didn't get past one astute ninth grader today either. I do, however, prefer the poster to the larger than life displays sitting in student desks. I also know the other problem with the poster.

As a recent Harper's Bazaar article notes, it's possible to present oneself in an attractive manner regardless of one's income. Stacey London and Clinton Kelly make this argument regularly on "What Not to Wear."

Call me an old fashioned prude, but even I, a woman, am uncomfortable talking to a teenage girl whose "girls" are hanging out, and I don't like looking for a young man's face hiding in a hoodie.

We feed kids breakfast and lunch. We nourish their minds with wonderful stories. Don't we owe them a helping of realism that states, "How you present yourself to the world matters."

Even that old busy-body Polonius wisely advised Laertes: "Clothes oft make the man." It's true for teens, too.

*Coming next: "What to Wear to School," a post with images of the fabulously fashionable students I teach.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Image Annotation: A Close Reading Strategy with a Twist

Among the various ways we teach close reading to students, annotating and text coding are my favorite. Whether I'm teaching ninth graders in speech or seniors in communication and English, annotating and text coding is one of the first lessons and a recurring one.

Teachers had the opportunity to hear speakers share annotating lessons at NCTE 2012 in Las Vegas. I sat in on one such roundtable session during High School Matters.

With implementation of CCSS in 2014, annotating is experiencing somewhat of a revival as a preferred close reading methodology.

For all the ideas from professionals, including Tom Newkirk's superb discussion of annotating in The Art of Slow Reading, which I reviewed in an earlier post, it's one of my student's method of annotating a recent assignment that inspired this post.

The assignment, which is part of a longer unit: text-code and annotate the poem you selected from the Poetry Out Loud website.

Here's a picture of Treyton's annotation, which he has graciously permitted me to use:


The poem "Dreamers" by Siegfried Sassoon that Treyton chose to annotate is in the center of the page. I like that Treyton added both commentary and images to his annotation. The speech bubble connected to the image of a soldier with a gun seems particularly relevant to the line "Some flaming, fatal climax with their lives." Treyton offers a comment on the line and its relationship to the imagery.

I asked Treyton how he decided to use pictures in his annotation. His response: "You told us to look for images." Isn't it interesting to consider the ways students interpret directions? When I gave the assignment, I also included my usual instructions about annotating and text coding:

  • Ask questions in the margin.
  • Make connections to other texts, etc.
  • Summarize and paraphrase and rewrite lines in your own words.
  • Use text coding as a form of shorthand:
    • Box or circle new words.
    • ! for ideas that excite you or that are new to you.
    • * for ideas you find interesting or important.
    • ? when you have a question about something.
    • ??? when you are confused. 
    • X when you disagree with something. 
In fact, it's easy to find similar ideas about text coding in many places on the internet and in professional literature. 

Still, given the opportunity, students will often respond to tried and true teaching methods in surprisingly new ways. I often tell students, "God made books to be written in, so I'll look the other way if you use a pencil to gloss a few annotations into the book." Looks as though I'll need to view the occasional pictures that crop up a bit more closely, too.