Childrens Literature Annotated Bibliography Assignment Example

Works on Pedagogy 

This main section of the bibliography contains works on pedagogy,
mostly scholarly books and articles.

Agathocleous, Tanya and Ann C. Dean. Teaching Literature: A Companion. Palgrave-Macmillan: New York, 2003.

This eclectic text identifies topics that are currently hot in literature, suggesting ways to link trends in scholarship to classroom instruction. Also, as a whole, the text invests in interdisciplinary approaches to teaching literature. Some of the topics explored in the part one of the text include: queering Chaucer, notions of authorship and publishing culture among Grub Street writers of the 18th century, transforming student knowledge of the canon or "desegregating the syllabus," and teaching poetry in a prose culture. Highlights of part two of Teaching Literatureinclude chapter 8, which suggests alternatives to traditional writing assignments, and chapter 12, which addresses the benefits and obstacles of teaching literature online. In sum, this text is a useful tool for new professors of literature and professors of literature who teach survey courses and are interested in current approaches to an array of literary periods. [NS]

Alderman. M. Kay. Motivation for Achievement: Possibilities for Teaching and Learning. Chap 8. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc., 2004

Chapter 8 focused on enhancing student motivation using a variety of techniques including "high engagement", promoting ownership and higher levels of thinking. It helped reinforce my own learning preferences, but challenged me to more fully consider how such purposeful student behavior can be evaluated, while ensuring that they also thoroughly understood how the instructor would intimately evaluate their essays. [RG 06]

Arens, Katherine. "When Comparative Literature Becomes Cultural Studies: Teaching Cultures through Genre." The Comparatist 29 (2005): 123-147. Print.

In this article, Arens sets out to find a "rapprochement in the classroom between the traditional elements of comparative literary study and the political and methodological imperatives posed by the turn to cultural studies" (123). She argues that emphasis on postcolonial studies in comparative literature has put it at the forefront of a shift in scholarly writing from the formalism dominant in the first half of the twentieth century to cultural studies, but that classroom practices have not followed suit. She perceives a disconnect between the emphasis on formalism in the undergraduate classroom and the poststructuralist concerns of graduate programs with no discernible bridge.

She proposes a conception of genre as standards of communication within user groups, and a three stage process that charts levels of competence as students learn to read and evaluate texts as conforming to or working against genre forms. Arens effectively makes genre a representation of a particular material context. She describes the initial stage as one in which the instructor introduces the "principal organizing elements within a genre" (134). This involves the student learning the basic vocabulary to identify elements within and differences between different genres of literature, and applying it when reading longer texts by organizing literary features into distinct groups (142). The second stage involves students evaluating texts according to the standards of their particular genre, and observing how a work translates (literally between languages, but also between audiences) when taken out of its native historical or cultural context (143). Finally, Ahrens suggests that students enter the third stage when they become familiar with the metadiscourse: "the cultural stereotypes about how cultural forms are used, what they reveal about the status of their users, what cultural purpose they serve" (ibid).

In her conclusion, Arens states that her intention is to distinguish the field of comparative literature from cultural studies or "national literary studies" (145). [JF 09]

Aristodemou, Maria. Law and Literature: Journeys from Her to Eternity. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2000.

This is not an anthology because it is all by one author but it has the effect of one in that it demonstrates how it is possible to teach a variety of different texts from the legal angle. It is incredible that this one woman has covered so many texts and legal concepts. The articles are arranged in sections by legal concepts and then chapter by chapter by texts. Each article also contains what I would call an aspect of critical theory as well. There are no actual literary texts in this work, but an overwhelming number of analyses of them will guide anyone who wants to tackle such a project. It is not a "how to" as much as it is an explication of the legal aspects of the texts. The instructor would have to decide how to use this material on her/his own. Interdisciplinary Work: [LZ]

Bauer, Dale M. "Another F Word: Failure in the Classroom." Pedagogy 7.2 (Spring 2007): 158-170.

Bauer’s commentary examines the idea of failure in the classroom and "what that failure reveals about our hopes for our teaching lives" (159). She begins by detailing her experiences with feminist pedagogy in the classroom and how these failures led her to the idea of failure as pedagogy. Bauer includes several examples of instructors that design their courses to allow students to embrace ideas beyond them rather than dismiss them as impossible. One of the more beneficial examples she cites is taken from Mariolina Rizzi Salvatori and Patricia Donahue’s The Elements (and Pleasures) of Difficulty (2005) in which they advocate an assignment that requires students to write about what "confuses, surprises and mystifies them then exploring those things they know and do not know" (162). Bauer uses these examples to develop her argument for utilizing potential failure as a pedagogical tool. She also highlights her own efforts to combat plagiarism in the classroom through specifically designed assignments. While Bauer’s commentary at times suffers from too much emphasis on insignificant events, her arguments are thought provoking. She particularly strikes a chord when she discusses the topic of student gratitude in the classroom. Overall, Bauer’s acceptance of the inevitability of failure provides for instructors the option to adopt these failures as pedagogical strategy in order to incorporate "the individual will" (170) into the classroom community. [SB 07]

Berman, Jeffrey. "Syllabuses of Risk." Chronicle of Higher Education. 48.23 (2002): B7-B9.

In his article "Syllabuses of Risk," Jeffrey Berman argues that teachers of literature must be cognizant of their students’ emotional and mental states when teaching novels dealing with suicide, rape, murder, and other disturbing subjects. Berman delineates testimonials from three of his former female students who suffer from adverse physical, emotional, and psychological reactions to novels about suicide and the other aforementioned topics. He encourages the girls to write reader responses regarding the effects of the novels, and then (with proper permission) uses excerpts from the essays to emphasize the severity of teaching at-risk students. For example, Berman discusses one depressed female who attempts suicide a year prior to taking his course. The student recovers from her suicide attempt, but then feels her depression return after reading The Bell Jar in Berman’s class. Additionally, Berman cites statistics and other factual information given by medical professionals who claim that suicide amongst young people has increased significantly over the years.

Berman’s advice for teachers of "risky" syllabi seems plausible and practical. He contends that teachers must not only be aware that novels can negatively affect students who are emotionally vulnerable, but must also alert students to these possibilities before assigning the texts. Furthermore, teachers should listen to their students’ concerns over problematic or emotionally offensive novels and possibly allow these students to complete an alternative assignment, such as writing an essay that describes their reactions. Berman also posits that teachers can discuss and assign memoirs by authors who suffered from mental illnesses but ultimately recovered; this activity may provide a balance when assigning works of those authors who committed suicide. Overall, the article is convincing and Berman gives sound advice for teaching potentially damaging subjects; however, he might have also discussed the proper procedures or suggested methods for talking with at-risk students, such as referring students to counseling centers on campus, the steps to take after identifying a depressed student, etc. [LS 09]

Berube, Michael. "Teaching to the Six." Pedagogy2.1 (Winter 2001): 3-15.

Berube discusses the current state of affairs at large public universities and explains how certain conditions, including limited funding and heavy teaching responsibilities for humanities departments, inform his classroom pedagogy. Because students from all disciplines are required to take humanities courses, Berube claims that he has many non-English degree seeking students in his classes who are disengaged from the material and classroom discussion. Berube introduces his remedy of "teaching to the six," a concept that suggests accepting that many students do not need the skills of literary study in their future careers. When times are tough in the classroom, Berube finds comfort in teaching to the handful of students that are interested in pursuing literary study. Although this idea provides the main thrust of "Teaching to the Six," Berube comments on a number of related topics. Among other observations, Berube notes the importance of engaging student work through comments, as well as the positive effect that revising and editing one's own work has on engaging student writing. [PM 08]

Blackmore, Tim. "Play Your Cards Right: A Narrative of First-Year Students’ Reader-Responses." The Journal of General Education 51.1 (2002): 43-67.

Blackmore’s article details his practice of collecting discussion questions from his students, written on index cards. These questions offer more than just discussion fodder on a Friday. Blackmore notes, "If the students generate their own topics based on texts of their choosing, if I can give the topics a few moments of time, if the students write out their thoughts about those topics in a limited (ideally focused) way, if I can assess those thoughts in a few hours each week, and if I can then discuss some of the cards with the class as a whole, then I am at least making some start at offering assessment" (46). The use of the cards also allows Blackmore to interact easily with students in a 150 - 300 student classroom. Having students write their questions also enables them to discover their authentic voice as opposed to an informal, academic tone. [CRJ 06]

Bousquet, Marc. "The Figure of Writing and the Future of English Studies." Pedagogy 10.1 (Winter 2010):117-129.

Bousquet argues that one of the major tensions in university Departments of English is the distinction made between teaching literature and teaching writing. Noting the trend towards practical uses of English, Bousquet explains that literature is experiencing a decline in tenure track positions, while rhetoric and composition has experienced an increase in faculty. He states that while rhet-comp faculty tend to outnumber literature faculty, literature faculty often hold more positions with administrative control, creating an imbalance in English departments. He also notes, ironically, that rhet-comp faculty tend to be in charge of "on-the-job training to holders of literature degrees who have been trained to have contempt for rhetoric and composition" (120). Bousquet suggests that English departments need to "invest heavily in the figure of writing" beyond the typical first-year composition courses, especially as hypermedia creates more possibilities for the creation and distribution of written texts. He expresses that "Everybody in my department, whether they are on research-intensive or teaching-intensive appointment, is interested in writers and writing" (122). Ultimately, Bousquet argues that equalizing the fields of literature and rhet-comp, expanding the definition of literature, allowing literature faculty to partner with other disciplines, and embracing all forms of writing (including journalism, technical and creative writing) will allow English departments to make themselves indispensable parts of today’s university community. [JS 10]

Cahalan, James M. "Teaching Hometown Literature: A Pedagogy of Place." College English 70.3 (Jan 2008): 249-274.

The author of this article makes a strong case for regionalism, bioregionalism, ecocriticism, and place studies in the teaching of literature. Cahalan describes his own classroom pedagogy; he sees the teaching of hometown literature as far more than simply learning the background of authors. Cahalan focuses the entire course on making "hometowns the focus of understanding authors' writings," and the final class objective is a project on authors from the students' hometowns(250). He believes that this approach aids students in the understanding of the connection between social context and "production of literature"(250). The author expands what has traditionally been included in regional study to include international home towns. Home town literature, he states, "should go global, or 'glocal,' reminding us that every place on the globe is also local"(251). He recognizes that the concept of home town may be complicated for a number of reasons: some students may not have had a place to call home, while others have been oppressed in personal/systematic ways which creates a negative image of home. He also recognizes that a sense of home doesn't necessarily reflect where the student was born. The author claims that there is no dearth of famous authors to be found in remote places and small towns, supporting this with examples, and he also has discovered that notions of hometown are very strong in other countries. Cahalan devotes a subsection of his article to the definition of terms, definitions that might be more helpful by being more thorough and by being introduced earlier in the work. The abundance of footnotes,and the titles of more basic texts in the works cited is useful to the reader who finds this piece interesting but needs more information on these four inter-connected but abstract terms. [ADT 08]

Cardozo, Karen M. "At the Museum of Natural Theory: The Experiential Syllabus (or, What Happens When Students Act Like Professors)." Pedagogy 6.3 (2006): 405-33.

Building from the work of Gerald Graff, Cardozo argues that professors of literature should engage students as active participants of the subject instead of as mere spectators. She concurs that "the curriculum (and not only within English) provides little integrative space where students can make intellectual connections" (406). In her article, Cardozo explains how she sketched out an integrative space in her classroom by assigning her students to work in groups and compose syllabi for the course, Introduction to Literature. The objective of her syllabus project was to invite students to explore firsthand what professors do, which will demystify the profession for her students and allow her to re-envision her own practices. In theorizing the discipline together, Cardozo and her students moved away from seeing the syllabus as a "transparent window onto the discipline" (415). Cardozo cites Toni Morrison as saying, "It is as if I had been looking at [the fish]…and suddenly I saw the bowl" (415). Cardozo’s experiment allowed her students to see the bowl. The article is valuable for new professors and experienced professors of literature who are interesting in rethinking and (re)articulating what those in literature departments actually do and how the "syllabus itself constructs the discipline" (415). The article raises questions about teaching theory, the "canon wars," and the "hidden curriculum." [CG 07]

Cavanaugh, Sheila T. "Bringing Our Brains to the Humanities: Increasing the Value of Our Classes While Supporting Our Futures." Pedagogy 10.1 (2010): 131-142.

Sheila T. Cavanaugh adresses Problem Based Learning (PBL) and its applicability to teaching the Humanities, a venue in which PBL is seldom used, identifying this scarcity in terms of a teacher-generated resistance to change. Asserting that a new approach to what students learn in humanities classes, especially in today’s economic environment, is necessary not only for students’ later success but for our own survival as teachers, she stresses the importance of implementing PBL in college and university humanities classrooms. Cavanaugh makes the point that even the MLA advises current tenure rules to be reconsidered, with a stronger emphasis placed on collaborative models and teachers’ implementations of technology in the classroom; she maintains that we can embrace these strategies without abandoning our desire for students to really "engage with literature" (134)—we can, she affirms, have the best of both worlds by incorporating PBL strategies in our classrooms. Cavanaugh’s article includes an example of PBL in action in a literature classroom, as well as suggestions for other active learning models, including service learning and technology-based strategies. Ultimately, however, she concludes that the reforms she advocates are unlikely to occur without further research illustrating the necessity for change. [DD 12]

Christensen, C. Roland. The Art of Discussion Leading: A Class with Chris Christensen. Derek Bok Center Series on College Teaching, 4. Cambridge, MA: Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, Harvard University, 2007. Jossey-Bass. DVD.

The video gives thirty minutes inside a discussion class led by Chris Christensen, a famous teacher at Harvard. With some narration, the video shows clips of the classroom interspersed with interviews with some of the students from the class, with a former student, and with Christensen himself. Overall, the production feels like a teaser because of its "sound-byte" quality. A trailer which serves well as a sample it can be seen online at: Some of the "principles" that can be gleaned about this approach to discussion leading are as follows. Chris Christensen: (1) prepares in advance; (2) is welcoming to everyone; (3) keeps in mind the many things happening at the same time during a discussion, particularly paying attention to cues and clues from students; (4) uses body language that is open, anticipant, and active; (5) asks different kinds of questions in an intentional progression (information, analysis, operational); (6) makes connections between the different things different people say; (7) pushes people along, sometimes by simply asking them go further with their comment; (8) mixes discussion of subject with meta-reflection on the discussion; (9) waits in silence sometimes; (10) reframes students comments as needed in order to connect them to something said previously or to push the conversation along; (11) wraps up the discussion with a mini-lecture of his own; and (12) has an overall attitude and philosophy of teaching and life that says that teaching has to do with connecting the momentary with the eternal and with making something happen in students. [PTC 09]

Cooks, Bridget R. "Confronting Terrorism: Teaching the History of Lynching through Photography." Pedagogy 8.1 (2007): 135-45.

Bridget Cooks explains how she uses lynching photography as part of her pedagogy in teaching about race relations in America. She first provides the students with a narrative about her first encountering the photographs in an exhibit entitled "Without Sanctuary." She then shows students just two photographs, usually unexpected images such as a well dressed woman hanging from a bridge, instead of photographs students may have already seen, such as a man hanging from a tree. She then asks students to write in silence for ten minutes, encouraging them to articulate any questions or reactions they might have. Most importantly, she re-contextualizes the photographs in four categories: crowd, crowd with lynching victim(s), lynching victim(s), and souvenirs. This way, she can approach the emotionally volatile artifacts analytically instead of emotionally. [JB 08]

Daly, Brenda. "Taking Whiteness Personally: Learning to Teach Testimonial Reading and Writing in the College Literature Classroom." Pedagogy 5.2 (2005): 213-246. 

Daly argues it is important for white teachers to confront their own racial privilege in order to teach multicultural literature (in her case, African American literature) effectively. She contends "empathy" is not enough and students must be taught to assume responsibility for social change by going beyond feeling guilty. Daly suggests, in order to achieve such a politically and socially motivated reading, students must be taught to read texts testimonially, a process in which white students don’t passively consume the emotional experience of what African American characters suffer, as expressed in the literature, but that they identify with victimized characters and assume responsibility for their ancestors’ actions in order to re-evaluate the privilege they have implicitly inherited. The first step begins with her own learning to read and write testimonially in order to re-examine her white privilege as an established academician. However, this article addresses only white teachers and white students. She does not address how effective testimonial reading and writing can be, if at all, for African American or Native American teachers and students. [MR 08]

Damrosch, David. "The Mirror and the Window: Reflections on Anthology Construction." Pedagogy 1.1 (Winter 2001): 207-214. 

David Damrosch addresses the methods used to create literary anthologies for undergraduate English classes, and he argues that editors create anthologies based on a variety of criteria, such as student desires, classroom schedules, and ideological perspectives. Damrosch begins by disabusing his readers of any misconceptions they might have about the creation of anthologies. Anthologies are not assembled to scrupulously match the current research of professors or the current conception of the literary canon; to even attempt to correlate the two would be almost impossible because the canon’s evolution is so contested. Instead, Damrosch poses questions and introduces observations that show the futility of easily creating an anthology. For instance, he writes that "British, American, and world literature anthologies have crept up from around four thousand pages to their present heft of six thousand" (207). However, what is even more striking is "the extraordinary uniformity of the page boundary across all these fields" (207). He argues that editors must negotiate between the practical concerns of teachers, publishers, and students, while keeping in mind the overall objective of the editors. The article reinforces the point with such summations as, "Such institutional constraints mean that an anthology can never be a pure representation of its editors’ canonical (or anti-canonical) beliefs" (208) but then shifts to describe the historical evolution of the Longman and Norton anthologies. Generally, both anthologies are presented as slowly becoming more multi-cultural, non-linear, and democratic in their organization. The Longman’s changes are seen as much more dramatic and favorable. It should be noted that Damrosch, himself, is a co-editor of the Longman Anthology. Finally, the author theorizes on how editors and professors might work together to create coherent yet non-canonical literary collections that allow both for individual customization and professional collaboration. This text would be generally helpful to any instructor of an undergraduate literature class, but it would be especially beneficial to someone who needed to order books for an entire literary program. For instance, a departmental administrator at a junior college might benefit especially from this article’s discussion of anthologies. [QV 07]

Duffelmeyer, Barbara B. "Critical Work in First-Year Composition: Computers, Pedagogy, and Research." Pedagogy2.3 (2002): 357-374.

This article deals with the role of technology in First Year Composition programs. Duffelmeyer argues that proper use of technology, not just as a tool, but as a cultural artifact, can lead to critical literacy in composition students. "Thus, while we adopt more nuanced and complicated stances toward technology as scholars and practitioners, we must as teachers help our students achieve this balanced perspective as well" (357-358). Duffelmeyer suggests a pedagogy that requires students to look critically at the roles technology plays in their lives, society as a whole and the classroom setting. She also asks them to explore "ways that they might develop some agency within the parameters of that relationship" (358). Students in Duffelmeyer’s courses are asked to question all assumptions about technology in order to think critically about what weight those assumptions hold. The student’s position in relation to technology is also scrutinized in the writing assignments.

Duffelmeyer goes on to explain her entire course plan in detail. She argues for a research component in every essay by writing, "students . . .stand to gain considerably increased agency from the results of their inquiry" (360). She also sought to focus the students on "looking at rather than unproblematically through technology" (363, emphasis Duffelmeyer’s). She then has the students look critically at how their own ideas have grown and changed over the semester. In doing this, Duffelmeyer, in essence, provides her students with "proof" that they have advanced intellectually. More importantly, that "proof" comes from the students themselves. [JN 06]

Eggers, Walter. "Teaching Drama: A Manifesto." Pedagogy 7.2 (Spring 2007): 271-274.

Eggers begins his article by commenting on the current state of drama studies in the university system. He argues that drama is often underprivileged and understudied in literature courses and even when dramatic texts are taught, it is usually in chronological order. Eggers also contends for qa broader definition of drama to include more popular forms of media, like movies and television. Thus, he offers several precepts for change, such as including a variety of texts, teaching plays thematically rather than chronologically, viewing performance as interpretation, and stressing the popular nature of drama. Based on these premises, Eggers predicts a shift in the current trends of drama studies, one whose changes will increase the popularity of teaching drama. [CHL 08]

Ellery, Karen. "Undergraduate Plagiarism: A Pedagogical Perspective." Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education. 33.5 (2008): 507-516. Web.

Ellery discusses her study she conducted in University ofKwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The purpose of her study is to investigate why students plagiarize, to identify whether there is a link between the incidence of plagiarism and belonging to different gender, language or ethnic groups, and to educate students about plagiarism.

Based on the interviews with the students who plagiarize, Ellery finds that most students plagiarize unintentionally because the students do not realize that they plagiarize. They do not know how to paraphrase. Therefore, Ellery considers that the intervention in academic writing is important to help students develop the skill of paraphrasing. Most students think that if they write the source text in their own words, they will change the meaning. According to Ellery, this is the sign of lack of self confidence and inability to express ideas in their own words. However, Ellery sees thisstruggle to paraphrase as part of the students’ learning process. Students whose first language is not English tend to plagiarize more because of the inadequacy of expressing ideas in English. Besides language, Ellery finds that male students tend to plagiarize more than female students since female students tend to be more obedient than the male students.

Another significant finding is time constraints as a major factor that contributes to the plagiarized assignments. This phenomenon shows that students consider writing as a final product rather than a process. What Ellery wants to achieve through her study here is to make students understand that writing is an ongoing process. Most students do not realize the idea of writing as an ongoing process because as soon as they pass the writing class they forget about what they have learned from the class and do not use the skills they practiced in the writing class to write assigned papers for other classes. [ZR 10]

Estrem, Heidi. "The Portfolio’s Shifting Self: Possibilities for Assessing Student Learning." Pedadogy4.1 (2004) 125-7.

Estrem acknowledges the widespread acceptance of the portfolio as an effective tool for both "learning and assessment in many U.S. colleges" (125). She goes further, however, by urging students to see the effective use of portfolios as a technique to encourage students to "portray their writing selves" (127), urging them to carry on the higher-level self-evaluation to other classes that are more consciously objective. This article helped to convince me of the importance of transparent evaluation that is most successful when student and teacher know each other sufficiently well enough to make the specific evaluation criteria more apparent. [RG 06]

Farber, Jerry. "Teaching and Presence." Pedagogy 8.2 (2008): 215-225.

In his accessible 2008 article, "Teaching and Presence," Jerry Farber argues that teachers who indulge in the present moment while with their real and very-much living students prove more effective than those who simply go through the motions during face-to-face sessions in the classroom. He compares the latter to tour-guides whose routines are analogous to the mere playing of a video-taped recording. The author's lifetime of expert experiences in education, both as professor in his own classes and as an observer of others', divides instructors into two obvious modes of performers: teachers aware of their surroundings who incorporate an absolute presence into their actions, and those who conduct class without the immediacy and interaction which, as Farber posits, students so desperately need in the facilitation of their learning. Pupils must participate in their lessons and become more than passive spectators. Instructors, Farber concedes, cannot ensure presence will always grace their meetings; however, they can certainly guarantee it will not, namely by adhering to ancient and un-updated lecture notes, re-teaching identical syllabi again and again, or subscribing to predetermined lesson plans without ever welcoming spontaneity or allowing tangential discussions. Farber admits that "to be present is to be vulnerable," but encourages faculty to embrace the discomfort of uncertainty as a sacred tenet of the learning process, insisting that "the act of teaching is nothing we can lock up, nothing we can hold on to, nothing we can simply pull off the shelf and run. The very next time I walk into class, I will be, once again, somewhere I've never been" (223). By resisting the opportunity to engage students with a fully-present presenter, teachers inhibit their capacity for fostering learning in the unique venue with which we are blessed. [CA 08]

Felman, Jyl Lynn. Never a Dull Moment: Teaching and the Art of Performance. New York: Routledge, 2001.

Felman discusses performance teaching, specifically in the feminist classroom. Her guiding pedagogical philosophy is "teaching is performing and performing is teaching" (xvi). Performance teaching, similar to good theatre, engages students’ emotions and intellect. With this said, Felman’s classes are "up close and personal" (6-7). Her pedagogical approach differs significantly from traditional lecture-based approaches. In this text, Felman explores the reactions to her teaching style by both male and female students; included in each chapter are student comments regarding her teaching methods. The chapters focus on a wide range of issues such as professional dress and appearance, voice and projection, academic politics and the visiting professor, female eating disorders, as well as the isolation and marginalization of Women’s Studies departments across academia. [PMS 07]

Fletcher, Anne C., and Stephen T. Russell. "Incorporating Issues of Sexual Orientation in the Classroom: Challenges and Solutions." Family Relations 50.1 (2002): 34-30.

This useful article provides practical solutions to instructors unsure of how to incorporate lgbt materials and teach lgbt issues in the classroom. The authors contend that instructors generally have limited exposure (both in a personal and academic sense) to the lgbt community. Similarly, many students’ understanding of lgbt identity is confined to family discussions and distorted media representations. In addition to the problem posed by lack of exposure, the article delineates six challenges faced by instructors who seek to include lgbt resources in their curriculum. The article offers helpful suggestions on how instructors can respond constructively to student homophobia. Furthermore, the authors discuss the vital necessity of making lgbt concerns relevant to non-lgbt students; the authors recommend role-playing exercises for this purpose. By stepping outside of their comfort zones and role-playing scenarios involving lgbt people, students gain a broader understanding of the difficulties faced by sexual minorities in a society that privileges heterosexuality. In sum, this article offers concrete solutions to the challenges posed by the incorporation of lgbt issues into a classroom environment. The authors effectively contribute to the ongoing struggle to make academia truly inclusive. [JG 08]

Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. 30th Anniversary Edition. Trnsl. Myra B. Ramos. New York: Continuum, 2006. $17.95

Keywords: pedagogy, oppressed, banking concept, problem-posing concept, dialogics, generative themes, (de)humanization, conscientizacao, revolution, necrophily, praxis

Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed is a hand book for people who are interested in linking education with social change. Complete with revolutionary theory and personal narratives, Freire defines the roles of the oppressor and the oppressed in an attempt to humanize the world. According to Freire, in order for the oppressed to receive absolute freedom, they must design their own pedagogy whereby they present their social experiences as themes for critical analysis. Freire asserts that the current banking concept of education wherein information is deposited into students does nothing to help them think for themselves; instead, the banking concept forces oppressed students to adopt the oppressors’ ideals, and therefore, the problem-posing concept of education should be incorporated into the classroom as an instrument for liberation. Freire also claims that dialogics is the essence of education as the practice of freedom. "Without dialogue," says Freire, "there is no communication, and without communication there can be no true education" (92-93). [KB 08]

Foertsch, Jacqueline. "Books as Broccoli? Images as Ice Cream? Providing a Healthy Menu in the College English Classroom." Pedagogy 6.2 (Spring 2006): 209-30.

Foertsch's article is a polemic against contemporary pedagogical stances that welcome visual media - movies and internet resources, in particular - into the literary classroom as instructional aids or texts to be read and analyzed. It argues that technology and film are forcing printed text from the literary education, and gives a litany of reasons why this usurpation is occurring. From the idea that the internet reinforces poor writing skills to the claim that teachers simply cave to the whims of their visually-obsessed students, Foertsch attempts to describe a discipline in decline. She concludes that film and internet resources should be relegated to a place of "dessert," a reward for reading print text, or, barring the ability of a teacher to utilize such resources as an "unhealthy" treat, dismissed from the literature classroom entirely. There is no position of compromise within the article: in teaching undergraduates, the internet and film can never be used as more than a meaningless "snack"; no allowances for any possible positive utilization are granted.

While the majority of the argument tends to be myopic, unsubstantiated, and poorly supported, it does raise questions about the value of technology and film in a profession that has, traditionally, been centered upon print material. Are English teachers at the collegiate level too obsessed with utilizing new technologies in the classroom? Are literature teachers using the internet and film in ways which will benefit the project of producing critical readers? Why can contemporary undergraduate students connect so easily with visual media, and what does that mean? These are all pertinent, engaging questions whichFoertsch could have explored but did not. Her article is, therefore, not particularly useful as a pedagogical prescription, but as a springboard into more reasonable, more focused, and more pressing educational concerns. [Kurt F. 09]

Fox, Catherine. "The Race to Truth: Disarticulating Critical Thinking from Whiteliness." Pedagogy 2.2 (2002): 197-212.

Fox argues that the attempt to teach critical thinking often functions as a form of revolution rather than transformation where one dominant ideology is replaced with another. "Critical thinking," Fox writes is "too often conflated with feminist, and critical ideologies; seductively entrenched in whitely judgementalism, righteousness, and Truth; and therefore is complicitious with systems of power, privilege, and knowledge" (198). The tendency to champion critical thinking as "undoubtedly good" without questioning HOW critical thinking enables educators to enact transformation allows us to lose sight of our primary goal (198). To further articulate her concerns, Fox looks to the metaphor of whiteliness as described by Minnie Bruce Pratt and Marilynn Frye. Pratt explains that her white identity taught her to judge in accordance to her ethical system, to be a martyr by taking all responsibility for change, to be a peacemaker by negotiating between opposing sides, and to be a preacher by pointing out what others ought to do (qtd in Fox 200). Frye expands on these characteristics to discuss her own lessons from whiteliness and concludes that it is "based on integrity, dignity, and respectability, which whitely women use as levers to raise themselves to the levers of whitely men" (203). Looking to the thoughts of Frye and Pratt, Fox reasons that when we teach students how to analyze, "we often assume that we are being principled, ethical, and morally appropriate because we are following the rules of reason as they have been established during the long history of Western intellectualism" (203). Because educators tend to define critical thinking as reaching a particular point of arrival, Fox worries that we are ultimately urging students to race to the truths that we have discovered; and, in doing so, "we manifest and reproduce whitely ways of being in the world" (203). Therefore, Fox urges educators to consider critical thinking as a pragmatic exercise rather than presupposing that critical thinking simply means for reaching the "right answer." This pragmatic approach depends upon an examination of the consequences of our choices or beliefs. Fox explains that "if we could question the consequences of our actions … we might see new ways of being that move past revolution, past replacing old truths with feminist or critical ideological truths, and into moments of transformation" (205). This examination of consequence requires the inclusion of many perspectives, which is crucial to the kind of critical thinking that Fox advocates. [JM 08]

Gallagher, Susan Van Zanten. "Contingencies and Intersections: The Formations of Pedagogical Canons. Pedagogy 1.1 (2001) 53-67.

Susan Van Zanten Gallagher argues that the focus of the academic debate should not be the imaginary canon (works "scholars and critics have argued are ‘great’), but should be the pedagogical canon (the list of works of the syllabus – those read and taught in the class) (53). Therefore, as the pedagogical canon changes so too does the imaginary canon, which is an ongoing construction.

How then are pedagogical canons formed? There is no one precise way a text makes its way into the pedagogical canon. It is a matter of who publishes the manuscript, when it is published, and how that text is brought to the instructor’s attention. Then, if that text is teachable because of its "ideology and aesthetics or thematic usefulness," it is implemented into the curriculum (56). After its adoption by numerous instructors, that work may find itself included into the imaginary canon.

Gallagher then illustrates a work’s inclusion through the case study of Zimbabwean Tsitsi Dangarembga’s novel Nervous Conditions. This African novel was not published through regular channels, the Heinemann African Writer’s series: rather, it was published by a feminist publishing house in London, the Women’s Press. Additionally Dangarembga dropped into the publishing company’s office to see if they had read the manuscript. That visit along with the fact that the director was looking for works by African women writers brought about its publication. Seal Press then acquired the American rights to the novel. The novel was recommended to instructors through word-of-mouth, conferences, journal articles, book exhibits, and lectures. Its publication coincided with the rise of multicultural studies. Its "universal themes" and "aesthetic excellence" also contributed to its "rise in the pedagogical canon (62). [KB 06]

Gellis, Mark. "Grading with an Attitude". Pedadogy 2.3 (2002) 416-9.

A short but relatively thoughtful article focused on the anxiety of grading student papers. Based on his research, Gellis concludes that student get more value from one-on-one conferences versus detailed instructor notes. Rather than hoping that students show up to personal conferences, Gellis requires them to sign up and attend the sessions. He also encourages "just in time grading" (418), scoring papers as close to the student conference as possible, thereby enhancing his ability to recall the details of the paper in order to provide effective feedback. Gellis claims that he has saved a great deal of time "responding to papers, identifying their major strengths and weaknesses, and determining the letter grades" in favor of "productive discussions with my students in conferences" (419). This article was helpful in that it reinforced my own preference for mandatory student conferences, but provided little help in determining how to best ensure that students were sufficiently aware of how they would be evaluated. [RB 06]

Graff, Gerald. "Hidden Meaning or Disliking Books."  Beyond the Culture Wars: How teaching the Conflicts Can Revitalize American Education. NewYork: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1992. 64-85. Print.

In his book, Beyond the Culture Wars: How teaching the Conflicts Can Revitalize American Education, Graff believes that the educational institution is the perfect place to explore a battleground of conflicting ideas. The problem, according to Graff, is that the students are not getting all they should from these discussions. He contributes this disconnect to  "communicative disorders [within] a society that is becoming so shell-shocked by cultural conflict and disagreement that it would rather escape from the battle than confront it and try to work things out" (viii).

My  focus was on the chapter "Hidden Meaning or Disliking Books." In it, Graff reflects upon the intellectual divide between the English professor and the English student. He blames part of this disparity on the emphasis that teachers place on criticism without allowing for the differences in students’ literary knowledge. He claims that teachers "have been seduced by professionalism, drawn away from a healthy absorption in literature to the sickly fascination with analysis and theory and to the selfish advancement of their careers" But for Graff the inclusion of criticism was crucial to his literary experience. He claims, "Getting into immediate contact with the text was…a curiously triangular business; I could not do it directly but needed a conversation of other readers to give me the issues and terms that made it possible to respond’ (70). The most important moral he got from this revelation was the importance of discussion. Talking about the work is as important as reading it. He adds, however, that students need help and guidance and endorses Rorty’s contention that teachers as interpreters are necessary. The emphasis needs to be on the right mix of theory and textual analysis. He states, "Today’s battle lines are drawn not only between competing kinds of texts but between the crucial vocabularies in which the texts are taught" (78). He points out that the point of the debate is to invite rather than alienate. He thinks that the use of "ideologically loaded jargon" serves as an academic barrier to newer readers and may result in them turning away from the study. He gives a good example when he states, "As much as traditional humanists and theorists may dislike each other, to a person who is not sure what the words "humanist and "theorist" mean, these antagonists will look like two peas in a pod" (79. He ends by pointing out that we need to be aware of the intellectual nature of our audiences and claims "much of the inaccessibility for which current literary theorists are blamed is really a general feature of intellectual discourse. His solution to this is to engage and help students to find these meanings. It is in a teacher’s best interest to take this approach and points out that once the student is able to work a text on the message hunting level, for Graff, criticism is the obvious next level in intellectual development. [KL 09]

Graff, Gerald. "Why Assessment?" Pedagogy 10.1 (2010): 153-165.

In this article, Graff argues that outcomes assessment can combat the problem of "courseocentrism" in higher education (157). Graff defines courseocentrism as the "ignorance of what goes on outside our own classrooms" (157), and he claims it reinforces the notion that teaching is a private activity instead of one that takes place within a community. Though this line of thought is prevalent in higher education, Graff argues it has a negative effect on students, who often receive competing information and advice within each privatized classroom, but are without the resources to "make coherent sense of our diverse perspectives" (158). Students compartmentalize their experiences in each course and learn to give each teacher "whatever he or she seems to want" (158), which ultimately results in students failing to "become socialized into our intellectual community" (158). While Graff admits some "high achievers" do "see through the curricular mixed messages to the underlying common practices of reading, analysis, and argument," they are the minority (159). Graff claims outcomes assessment can help college teachers discover what their students are actually learning, determine what those students really need to learn, and then create a curriculum that addresses those needs (160-161). Graff concedes that bad assessment practices, such as No Child Left Behind, do exist, and admits that no assessment is better than bad assessment (161). However, he also encourages teachers not to reject assessment merely because bad models exist, and recommends ways to improve assessment practices, such as limiting the number of assessment criteria and making them less discipline specific (163). 

Graff makes a valid point about the importance of creating community and connection in higher education, but both his exploration of the problem of "courseocentrism" and his subsequent argument that outcomes assessment is the answer rely largely on anecdotal evidence. He only briefly mentions a few research studies on student apathy and student failure to apply learned material (160), which may fail to convince a skeptical audience to embrace outcomes assessment. While Graff acknowledges that the critiques of bad assessment practices are valid, he also dismisses them too easily and does not engage in answering any specific concerns about outcomes assessment. [JC 10]

Graff, Gerald and James Phelan. "Why Study Critical Controversies?" Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain: A Case Study in Critical Controversy. 2nd ed. By Graff and Phelan. Boston: Bedford/St Martin's, 2004. 1-15.

Gerald Graff and James Phelan address students directly in "Why Study Critical Controversies?" pointing out the frequent discomfort many experience when called upon to discuss literary texts without prior familiarity with the "language" that other students, critics and professors seem to know inherently (1-2). Although professors may be concerned with the potential for overwhelming students with conflicting viewpoints, Graff and Phelan believe that "teaching through controversy" can in fact help students to read and think critically as they "gain control over initially mysterious conventions (2; 12-13). Moreover, when students encounter a variety of possible interpretations, they realize they are not alone in their struggle to grasp "the meaning of the novel," and by responding to what others have written, learn to engage with the text in ways that reading the story for pleasure or by itself cannot offer (6-9; 11). While some scholars have argued that critics can "problematize" discussion of Huckleberry Finn by deviating from what the text actually suggests--what Huck himself would call "‘stretchers,’" Graff and Phelan argue that even "far-fetched" interpretations are valuable, for learning through controversy is "not the opposite of reaching resolution but a precondition of doing so" (qtd. in Graff and Phelan 4-5; 12). I strongly recommend "Why Study Critical Controversies?" not only as a valuable springboard for discussion, but as an inviting entry point to the careful selection of diverse critical responses that follow in Graff and Phelan’s Case Study. Not only do the authors provide essential historical and social realities about the reception, and subsequent banning, of an important literary work, but also an inviting opportunity for students to actively participate in an ongoing critical debate. [AS 08]

Green, Andrew. "A Desk and a Pile of Books: Considering Independent Study." Pedagogy 7.3 (2007): 427-52.

Green’s article discusses the importance of teaching college students how to study on their own outside of the classroom. Although his information is modeled on the school system in the United Kingdom, it is easily applied to American high school students attending college for the first time. Green emphasizes that new university-level students have a number of fears and concerns regarding the amount of learning they are required to accomplish on their own. Teachers need to assuage those concerns by demonstrating the process and benefits of independent study. It is not enough to expect students to learn for themselves how to maximize their independent study time; teachers must actively model study techniques in the classroom. Classroom activities such as study questions, online discussion groups, short written responses to texts—techniques Green refers to as DARTS (Directed Activities Related to Texts)—provide students with useful examples of how they can construct their independent study time. Green advocates helping students set up study schedules that not only block off periods of time for study, but that also specifically state what will be covered during that time. He encourages the use of existing or instructor created module handbooks; he is also a big proponent of teaching students how to reflect on the content of lectures and how to make the most of their class notes. Green also favors the use of paired and group study, techniques that can be developed in the classroom. This article—once you get past the UK terminology and the discussion of pedagogical theory—is very useful for teaching students how to make the most of their time outside of class, which in turn should result in their being more successful in the course. [PQ 08]

Gregory, Marshall. "Curriculum, Pedagogy, and Teacherly Ethos." Pedagogy 1.1 (2001): 69-89.

Gregory’s article aims to address the discrepancy between curriculum and instruction in university classrooms. He is insightful in his argument that many professors spend hours developing curriculum yet teach like "barnstormers, flying by the seat of their pants." He argues that many professors rely on "method" and rules of pedagogical technique and forget the importance of passing on their passion for the subject; this passion, Gregory claims, is what truly educates students. He focuses on developing classroom persona and creating relationships with students, both of which are intended to facilitate the transmission of passion for the subject matter and instigate students’ engagement with the material. While this is inspiring and helpful for considering (or reconsidering) one’s overall goals for a particular course, what it lacks is practical advice on how to integrate these concepts into the classroom itself. [AC 06]

hooks, bell. "Eros, Eroticism, and the Pedagogical Process." Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom. New York: Routledge, 1994. 191-201.

hooks begins with a contemplative approach and acknowledges that there is not a split between the mind and body. hooks says, when we erase the body and give ourselves over to the mind our classrooms lack passion. Teaching passionately requires that we give fully of ourselves and go beyond the mere transmission of information in lectures. There is a description of the ways in which eros and the erotic can be used to bring passion into the classroom and improve or enhance the relationships we have with our students. hooks says that the erotic "enables both professors and students to use such energy . . . [to] invigorate discussion and excite the critical imagination" which are essential components in the learning process. She acknowledges that there is a sexual component to eros and the erotic and she even gives examples to illustrate this idea, but the majority of the article focuses on recognizing and cultivating the non-sexual erotic relationships we have with our students. She shows how this type of pedagogy helps students to reach self-actualization. In sum, this article is useful because it illustrates the importance of passionate classrooms, shows how we can build passionate classroom environments, and demonstrates how these environments have a positive influence on instructors and students. [TS 12]

Hunter, J. Paul. "The Future of the Past: Teaching Older Texts in a Postmodern World." South Atlantic Review 59.2 (1994): 1-10.

In this article, J. Paul Hunter engages in a conversation about "the future" and particularly what the future means for teachers and scholars of "older literature" (Hunter uses this generic term to apply to a whole host of periods ranging from ancient and medieval to 18th century literature, his own area of expertise). Hunter explores the "presentist" tendencies of our postmodern age, broadly, and the same tendencies in young students, specifically. Noting the relevance of "the past" for contemporary students, Hunter asserts that the past affords an opportunity to engage in a critical and probing gaze, not merely blind admiration for older periods and outmoded social and political paradigms. All who love knowledge, according to Hunter, will eventually look to older literature, and that analysis will be more profitable if we might understand the relevance of older texts for the twentieth and twentieth-first century. Once we have enticed students to study the past (a difficult prospect in its own right), we as teachers need to express both the similarity and the difference of past traditions. Hunter argues, quite persuasively, that scholars of older literature can borrow the critical methodologies of those engaged in contemporary cultural studies. Students can thus approach the "strangeness" of older literature and the past in the same way that they might engage with contemporary works written by "others" from different racial, ethnic, national, sexual or religious backgrounds. The key, in both instances, is interesting students in the lives of individuals whose experiences may be vastly different from their own. Practically speaking, Hunter argues that we can use the familiar aspects of older texts (while carefully avoiding convenient essentialism) to move backwards to the more unfamiliar features of the periods and texts. [RE 08]

Jones, Ed. "The Rules of the Game in an Introductory Literature Class." Teaching English in the Two Year College (35:3) [Mar 2008], p.282-291.

In this article Jones confronts the age-old problem sparse classroom interaction. His solution: get the students to play. Jones offers what he calls "the interpretation game" where students work as a team to score points as a class through discussion. The rules of the game are as follows: 1. One Point for Each Question Asked 2. One Point for Each Reference to Specific Words in the Text 3. One Point for Building on What Someone Else Said 4. Five Points for Each of the Responses Made by the Person Who Spoke Least Frequently 5. Two Points for Challenging an Interpretation and Providing Evidence or Reasoning for the Challenge 6. Two Points for Explaining One's Thinking by Referring to an Element of Poetry, Fiction, or Drama (Like Persona, Narrator, Climax, Minor Character) 7. Ten Points for a Satisfying Interpretation (Judged by the instructor) Jones claims that by encouraging the students to see participation as a game, the anxiety disappears. Another important aspect of this game is that it almost entirely removes the teacher from the discussion changing the dynamic from traditional initial response evaluation, where the teacher affirms or rejects the students’ contributions, to a more egalitarian discussion based model. Jones goal in this activity seems to be creating an environment where everyone is encouraged to participate and where students use evidentiary reasoning to develop arguments for discussion. Jones’ game, however, is not without problems. One might wonder if this activity merely replaces one dominating classroom force with another i.e. another way of asserting authority in the classroom. Also, the article seems to assume that we, the teacher and students, "need to use highly structured ‘rules’ to generate relatively unstructured student conversation" (Neal). Lastly, Jones himself admits that he becomes bogged down in the accountant work of the game that requires constant scoring. This presents a problem in listening. If the teacher is too busy scoring to listen and participate in the discussion, what is the point of being there? Ultimately, Jones’ game offers a way into active learning and a way to introduce fun and delight back into the classroom and should, therefore, not be discarded out of hand. Some strategies one might take away from his article are: 

  • Position classroom discussion as a game – make it fun 
  • Encourage Collaboration: Get students to interact with each other and their peers’ comments 
  • Ask students to look to their classmates as sources of information 
  • Shake things up – shift the power dynamic in the class sometimes [JT09]

Jones, Virginia Pompei. "Teaching Elements of Literature through Art: Romanticism, Realism, and Culture." Pedagogy 7.2 (Spring 2007): 264-70.

Addressing instructors of literature at the university level, Jones advocates a pedagogical approach that uses paintings to illustrate elements of a genre common to both the visual and written art forms. She argues that incorporating visual art speaks to the "the importance of diversification and multiple intelligences in arousing students’ interest and in enhancing the learning process" (270). The article focuses on realism and includes examples of realistic paintings and fiction. While her basic idea is a good one and the article might be considered a starting place, she could develop her ideas further. Teachers could show students how one form of art influenced another and, in addition to painting, incorporate music, architecture, or film into their literature courses as well. [DM 08]

Joseph, Nancy. "Metacognition in the Classroom: Examining Theory and Practice." Pedadogy 3.1 (2003) 109-13.

Joseph presents an effective argument for metacognition, "the mental process of analyzing our own thinking, to advance intellectually and personally" (109). Her experience has caused her to conclude that many students do not use metacognitive knowledge, illustrated by assignments infused with "shortsighted thinking and an inability to move beyond literal comprehension to the more challenging elements of interpretation and application" (110). She also provides specific suggestions to promote more critical thinking by encouraging students to allow sufficient time to reflect on their work, and displays her personal rewriting and editing decisions. She also promotes prewriting as essential towards promoting essays that demonstrated more critical thinking and reflection. [RG 06]

Kazan, Tina S. "Dancing Bodies in the Classroom: Moving toward an Embodied Pedagogy." Pedagogy 5.3 (2005): 379-408.

Kazan’s essay focuses on the recognizing the physical bodies of teachers and students and their role within the classroom. Relying on Bahktin’s notion of genres, Kazan notes that teacher and student are both genres which are "read" and "interpreted." Kazan illustrates this point using two anecdotes, one where she does not announce herself as a teacher during her first year as an instructor and one where she and a female friend confuse a ballroom dance instructor who struggles to read their relationship. The role of power is essential to understand. She notes, "If students misread the teacher or the situation, they may sacrifice individual attention from the teacher, opportunities for learning, or even their academic standing" (381). On a depressing note, Kazan argues that the "body"/"genre" of the teacher is traditionally male, and female instructors represent a "disruption of the genre" (382). This unconscious sexism places an additional burden on instructors to not only correctly read students, but to be conscious that students may be reading teachers incorrectly as well. [CRJ 06]

King, Mark. "Voluntary Conscription: Enlisting the Children of Lake Wobegone in the Battle Against Grade Inflation." College Literature 32.1 (2005): 127-45.

Mark King examines numerous sources discussing grade inflation, focusing on the language about grade inflation. King establishes an historical context, exploring the manner in which blame gets passed on, reducing the argument to economics, and states sources' tactic of employing combative language. King does an excellent job of historicizing the problem and points out how the conversation keeps displacing the blame without offering solutions. The second half of King’s essay discusses his method of teaching students self-evaluation by using their own taste as a model; a process outlined in detail at the end of the article. This piece might be useful in teaching students how to evaluate and in getting them to realize the rigors of college grading by forcing them to examine and compare each other’s work, which can lead to more honest grading and the beginning of more honest grading without the fear of low teacher evaluations. [JA 12]

Kochar-Lindgren, Gray. "Beginner’s Mind: Opening the Open in the Classroom." Pedagogy 1.2 (2001): 410-416. Project Muse. Web. 18 Sep. 2009.

Kochar-Lindgren’s "opening of the opening" – a fuzzy phrase that eventually becomes identified with the opening of students’ minds towards the fostering of learning – adopts a frame of nothingness to explain itself. This nothingness problematically informs every aspect of the Kochar-Lindgren’s pursuit of a "pedagogical poetics" (415), and ultimately leaving the reader unsure, unbalanced, and tantalizingly frustrated – a frustration which I would argue is purposeful. After invoking a plethora of possible philosophical, theoretical, and theological frames for nothingness, Kochar-Lindgren directs the reader away from those frames, proclaiming "these other paths will be reserved for another time, with the recognition that they are always just off the stage" (410). This idea of a glut of confusing ideologies lying in wait, stage right or stage left, contradictorily informs Kochar-Lindgren’s pursuit of the beginner’s mind, as complex competing concepts (from Freud’s uncanny to a never acknowledged Zen Buddhist influence) are introduced only through allusion and then left, all in pursuit of "nothing." Tracing the evolvement of nothingness in teaching – or non-teaching – from Socrates, on to Heidegger, and culminating in Derrida, who is described as "that trickster, that most assiduous of readers" (411), Kochar-Lindgren argues that only by fostering an environment in the classroom that supports nothingness, only by doing this can the teacher clear space within our binary seeking minds for learning and the creation of new knowledge to occur. Most relevantly, Kochar-Lindgren posits that our function as teachers lies not in giving knowledge to our students, but instead in "provid[ing] a space for learning to occur" and then allowing each student individually to "take the ultimate step" (412). With beautiful, flowing prose, an earnestness that inspires, and a willful simultaneous deployment and dismissal of a postmodern cacophony of competing schools of thought, Kochar-Lindgren strives to discuss the un-discussable nature of what it means to teach our students the ability to learn. Purposefully short on direct and adoptable methodologies, Kochar-Lindgren instead offers us a way to start thinking about "nothing." [AP 09]

Kohn, Alfie. "Speaking My Mind: The Trouble with Rubrics." The English Journal 95.4 (2006): 12-15.

In this article, Alfie Kohn bemoans the use of the rubric. He claims that rubrics, like all forms of grading, cause students to "think less deeply, avoid taking risks, and lose interest in the learning itself" (12)—quite a condemnation. Kohn goes on to explain that rubrics promote a kind of standardization in individual classrooms (rather than state-wide) by reducing the "messy process" of writing an essay to four or five measurable categories. He notes that proponents of rubrics praise their objectivity, their consistent accuracy, but Kohn challenges this notion on two levels: One, the application of a rubric is actually the application of someone else’s narrow ideas (what about if a professor writes her own?) and two, even if this application is consistent, it is an objectionable "attempt to deny the subjectivity of human judgment" (13). Here, Kohn makes a point that resonates with me—there is no sure-fire way to make all essay grading one-hundred percent consistent. Ultimately, Kohn asserts that rubrics shift students’ attention away from what they are learning to how they are performing. He supports this view by referring to interviews where students profess to have a rubric’s language constantly in mind when completing a written task, to a few other studies whose conclusions support his, and to the like-minded the comments of colleagues. 

This essay prompted me to think about the potential misuse of rubrics; it put forth some good food for thought, but it did not change my mind about an intentional, occasional and meaningful use of rubrics. Alfie doesn’t concede that rubrics can sometimes be helpful. He sees them always as tools to label and categorize students or to ease a teacher’s grading load. I do not think Alfie figures the teacher into his equation---how a rubric is introduced, worded, and applied surely make a big difference in how the students benefit from its use. [AD 10]

Levine, George. "The Two Nations." Pedagogy 1.1 (2001): 7-19.

In "The Two Nations" George Levine examines the great divide in university English departments across the country between teaching, the job that faculty are hired to do, and literary scholarship, the work that is the primary focus of faculty attention and professional incentives. A result of the basic devaluation of teaching at the university level, this divide only succeeds in perpetuating the problem since English faculty often become unaccustomed to (and often even averse to) teaching lower-level courses. The unfortunate results of this divide, for Levine, are an ever-increasing graduate population competing for ever- decreasing job opportunities to teach upper-level literature courses. Though Levine’s hope for any substantive change in the current system is limited to reveling in "utopian" dreams, his very acknowledgment of the division between literary study and pedagogy and his explanation of its origins does perhaps offer a direction for change and a possible path to compromise and integration. [ST 07]

Linkin, Harriet Kramer. "Performing Discussion: The Dream of a Common Language in the Literature Classroom." Pedagogy 10:1 (2009): 167-174.

In her opinion piece written for Pedagogy, Harriet Kramer Linkin reflects upon her thirty year quest to create a common language in the English literature classroom. This desire to "build a discursive community of shared meanings" is perceived by Linkin to be more difficult as she ages and worries that she does not possess the same social assumptions with her electronically savvy young scholars who routinely register their approval or disapproval on social networking sites simply by selecting icons (168). Linkin illustrates her challenges by describing two anecdotes involving class interpretations of poems. Her post-operative reflection of her handling of these tense teaching moments is readily understood by readers who lead discussions about literature, and Linkin’s angst is apparent when she reads reviews of her courses where some students ask for more and not less authority from her. As Linkin acknowledges, teachers balance between students’ enthusiastic poetic interpretation which may be void of evidentiary support and professorial, authoritarian, "expert" interpretation which may turn active learners into passive listeners. Linkin’s solution is on target as she opts for encouraging lively discussion while insisting that students support their claims. In her search for the common language in the literature classroom, Linkin cautions that the level of sophistication of readers is a consideration, for more experienced students, with a pen in hand, may be inculcated to extract meaning from text (in this case poetry) without pausing to engage in metacognition or thinking about their encounter with the text. It appears that the less sophisticated reader is more likely to approach the text with less of the teacher’s expectations, but then may deviate from meaning to pursue pathways of interpretation that are derived from background knowledge. This intriguing difference is worthy of further discussion, but at this point in her piece, Linkin is content to open the dialogue and then to become a listener, as she encourages others to think about communicating ideas about literature to a generation of students who have created their own technologically based language. [LS 10]

Linkon, Sherry. "The Reader’s Apprentice: Making Critical Cultural Reading Visible." Pedagogy 5.2 (2005): 247-273. 

In this article, Linkon argues that "if we want our students to develop the ability to read, research, and analyze cultural texts, we need to employ more strategic, deliberate methods of teaching" (248). She describes the theory, methodology, and practice of a course designed to accomplish this goal. Linkon utilizes the cultural studies approach to reading theory which Kathleen McCormick calls "critical cultural reading" to interrogate the source of student difficulties in attaining a higher level of critical engagement with texts, as well as to develop pedagogical practices that she believes might alleviate these difficulties and facilitate learning. Her focus is on recursive reading, reading and developing inquiry slowly and over a long period, modeling and coaching, and opportunities for students to practice. She emphasizes the need that these activities need to be built into the curriculum in an active and interactive manner, rather than merely discussed. [KW 07]

McGann, Jerome. "Reading Fiction/ Teaching Fiction: A Pedagogical Experiment." Pedagogy 1.1 (2001): 143-65.

In his article "Reading Fiction/Teaching Fiction: A Pedagogical Experiment," Jerome McGann describes an experiment in teaching fiction conducted at the University of Virginia in 1997. In the experiment, graduate students and faculty members designed an undergraduate course meant to eradicate the simplistic manner of interpreting fiction used by many students. In general, according to McGann, undergraduates ignore the essence of the crafting of fiction, oversimplifying the art and thus, underestimating its worth. McGann explains that "‘Reading Fiction/Teaching Fiction’ was undertaken to address those kinds of questions. It was to be an experiment in pedagogy as much for the benefit of the undergraduates who took the class as for the graduate students (and myself) who undertook it" (145). While assisting undergraduates in their understanding of fiction, the course attempted to provide teaching experience for graduate students at the same time. While both courses exhibited their successes and failures,McGann states that the doors of perception opened with regard to the learning process. Despite the failures of the project, McGann observes that departments need to incorporate the "Learner" mentality more frequently when designing and implementing courses for undergraduates. He poses the question "Have our departments stopped learning about learning?" (165). In other words, the emphasis on the teacher perspective seemingly produces students that cannot properly interpret literature because they are, in a sense, isolated. Through the model McGann describes in his experiment, students and teachers may enhance their learning skills through specific pedagogical technique and responsibility. [SL 07]

McMahon, Robert. Thinking About Literature: New Ideas for High School Teachers. Portsmouth: Heinemann, 2002.

Although Thinking About Literature primarily focuses on teaching high school students, the basic concept of this text is applicable to first and second-year college students as well. The author states, "Literary works, especially stories and plays, are a laboratory for understanding the thoughts and feelings, characters, and acts of human beings"(1). As a result, the author’s ideas are also useful at the college level. McMahon’s approach to teaching literature centers on stimulating students by using evaluative questioning and imaginative exercises that foster motivation and promote creativity. His methods allow students to explore language, characters, and plot. By using their knowledge and experience, students are able to form opinions and create judgments. In short, McMahon’s methods are designed to get students to think. The organization of the text begins with a Summary of Basic Questions designed to explore motives for human behavior. McMahon suggests analyzing motive by dividing a human act into five components, as follows: "In a given context (Situation), a person (Agent) does or says something (Act) in a certain manner (Attitude) in order to achieve some end (Purpose) (1). These related components generate powerful questions that allow the reader to reflect on the work, providing a view of character behavior. McMahon states that skilled readers automatically question and answer while reading, proving to be very useful for "teaching less experienced readers how to read more intelligently"(3). Also included in the Summary are questions that may be applied to any work for the purpose of Association, Conflict, Sequence, or Transformation. This section ends with a group of evaluative questions designed to identify moral character, and consider the agent’s intentions and consequences of an act. The book’s five chapters are comprised of 18 different Provocations, or imaginative exercises, designed to help students connect with the relationships in a story, heighten imagination, and understand the style of the writer. Some example assignments given by the author include having students transpose setting to a different time period, or transpose point of view from one character to another. In Chapter 4, McMahon demonstrates methods for teaching character and motives within a novel, using The Great Gatsby as an example of how Summary questions are applied to the work. McMahon feels that both English teachers and college professors alike do not fully assist students with understanding plot structure (112). One solution the author provides requires noting specific events, for the purpose of identifying progression and sequence, making it easier for students to reflect, analyze, and discuss the text (112-113).

Thinking About Literature may be viewed as a valuable practical resource for educators to consult, especially used in combination with other sources specifically designed for the college instructor. The interpretive assignments and questions in the text are easily adapted for individual preference, and aim at creating a deeper, more meaningful understanding of literature, by providing the foundation for engaging students and teaching them to understand, reflect, and apply literature to their own lives. [RP 06]

Mills, Dan. "Mind the Gap: Teaching Othello through Creative Responses." Pedagogy 8 (2008): 154-159.

Playing off of the directions in the London underground to "mind the gap" (between the train and the platform), Mills challenges students to read critically and to identify the gaps in literature. Mills notes that in Othello character relationships have formed before the starting action of the play. Accordingly, he asks students to write and present in class specific scenes of missing "back story." Students use the "hints" given in the play to formulate their ideas on past relationships (Othello and Desdemona’s courtship, the Cassio - Desdemona link, Iago’s motivations and hatreds, etc.) and on the basis of the play’s jealousy, infidelity, racism and misogyny. Mills also asks for speculative scenes with reversed racial roles. This approach forces students to be active and creative and thus facilitates discussion rather than lecture. Mill’s asks students to write in the style of Shakespeare which in itself is an provocative task. By indirectly making a game out of hunting for clues in the text, Mill’s approach encourages close reading and hopefully puts students in a position to decide what is important instead of depending on their instructor. [GS 08]

Moreno, Jonathan D. "Teaching without Borders." University of Pennsylvania Almanac 55.18 (2009): 8.

In "Teaching without Borders," part of the University of Pennsylvania’s series of essays entitled Talk about Teaching, Jonathan Moreno offers fellow educators of any discipline an advisement to teach across many disciplines. In this short essay, he notes the advantages of being completely subject-focused and driven as "it tends to be grounded in a history and embodied in a literature…[and] at least gives us a sense of what we are supposed to know…" (Par. 4), but the disadvantages begin to play a significant role when a student asks a "smart question" related to the subject at hand but far outside the professor’s realm of acquired knowledge. Dr. Moreno’s antidote for such an occurrence is to fortify one’s self via "interdisciplinary teaching," a mode of preparedness for any reasonable left-field question that may be thrown a professor’s way in the classroom. [LH 09]

Orr, John C. "Instant Assessment: Using One-Minute Papers in Lower-Level Classes." Pedagogy 5.1 (Winter 2005): 108-111.

Orr writes about a semester long experiment with "one minute papers," which he learned about in Richard Light's 2001 book Making the Most of College: Students Speak Their Minds. A one minute paper consists of two questions that the students answer anonymously during the last few minutes of class. The two questions are: 1) What is the big point, the main idea that you learned in class today? and 2) What is the main unanswered question you leave class with today? What is the muddiest point? The goal of this assessment tool was to "gain a better sense of what [his] students were taking from [his] classes" (108). Orr employed the assessment tool in two of his courses: an upper-level American literature class and a lower level Intro to Lit class. One minute papers failed to deliver any insight into Orr's upper level class as the answers merely reiterated class discussion. In the Intro to Lit class, however, Orr discovered that the one minute papers provided a safe place for reticent students to voice their confusion. A large proportion of the students' confusion stemmed from discussion of new material, such as literary terms or concepts. Orr discovered that he needed to slow down when presenting new material. This slowing down to clarify new material resulted in greater gains in learning for the students, but negatively impacted Orr's ability to stay on schedule. One of the larger lessons for Orr was that his syllabus contained too much material to adequately cover in the course of the semester. [MON 12]

Palmer, Parker J. The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher's Life. 10th anniversary ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2007. Print.

An important, even seminal, text in the contemplative pedagogy movement, Palmer’s Courage to Teach responds to the pervasive disconnect and alienation in education with questions of integrating the work of teaching with the self of the teacher. "Good teachers," Palmer says, "join self and subject and student in the fabric of life." Throughout the book, Palmer offers practical classroom models, structures, and questions—but only by way of example. Steering far clear of offering techniques to be applied universally, Palmer aims to ask deep questions (questions which are sometimes "touchy feely" and even "spiritual") to encourage readers to find humane ways of teaching, ways that honor the complexity of everyone and everything in the classroom. Readers will not "take away" much from this book unless they are willing to work at actualizing the concepts through self-reflection and through dialogue with others who are also interested in integrated teaching. Chapter 1 asks teachers to work towards recovering their own identity and integrity through remembering the mentors, subjects, and aspects of themselves that drew them to teaching. Chapter 2 offers an analysis of and alternatives to the deep rooted fears that plague education. Chapter 3 lays out a series of paradoxes integral to integrated teaching. Chapter 4 offers an epistemological model of "reality [as] a web of communal relationships, and we can know reality only by being in community with it." Chapter 5 suggests that the objects of study should be put at the center of such a web in classroom (in order to avoid the objectivism of the teacher-centered classroom and the subjectivism of the student-centered classroom). Chapter 6 urges teachers to engage in serious dialogue with their colleagues and offers guidelines for doing so. And Chapter 7 outlines a model for a social movement for education reform, suggesting that such a movement is possible and, indeed, is already underway. The 10th Anniversary Edition includes a new forward and afterward which contextual the book within the movement and includes a CD with an interview with Parker Palmer. [PTC 09]

Potash, Brett. "We Live in a Wikiworld: Should our Students?" Independent School 69.3 (Spring 2010): 98-105.

This article is a very concise and summary discussion of the role Wikipedia should/not play as an academic source.  I read it early in my search and concluded that it was too short and informal. Further, it is published in a professional magazine rather than a scholarly journal. More importantly, it opposed the claim that I hoped to support (that Wikipedia should not be used as an academic source). Consequently, I read numerous other options.  All agreed with the findings of this piece, only they did so with far more words and numbers.  This process changed my stance on the issue and convinced me to return to this summary article as a viable option.  And so what were initially weaknesses (informality and brevity), became strengths. Whilethe audience is the readers of Independent Schools, this article is suitable for academic and popular consumption. The purpose it serves is to consider the question of the creation of knowledge, to help resistant teachers and students accept the role of Wikipedia in academia, and to address potential opportunities to teach students the im/proper uses of Wikipedia and how critical thinking can aid in deciphering. I would rate it
7/10. [AT 10]

Ritter, Kelly. "Professional Writers/Writing Professionals: Revamping Teacher Training in Creative Writing Ph. D. Programs." College English 64.2 (2001): 205-227.

Step One: Read your assignment!

Make sure you have a clear idea of how many sources you need, how many annotations you need, and what types of sources you are looking for. 


Step Two: Make sure you have a clear and concise topic to research.

Start with a topic that interests you and falls within the requirements of your assignment. Leave room for flexibility. You may not be able to find enough sources for the topic you want, so be willing to change your topic slightly, if necessary. Look up some synonyms (words that have the same meanings) for your topic.

Step Three: Find books, articles, or websites.

Do the research! Compile a list of sources that pertain to your topic.

Make sure you are looking for full text when searching for journal articles in a database. 


Step Four: Read your sources critically and carefully!

Examine and review the items to make sure you can find the information you need. Take notes so you can use them in your summary. Choose the number of sources your assignment requires. 

   Don't just read the abstract. (For more information on abstracts, see the second box on the left side of this page).

Step Five: Create your annotated bibliography. This can be done right in Noodletools (for more information on Noodletools see the box on the top left side of this page).

  1. Cite the source (book, article, etc.) using the style your instructor requested (MLA, APA, etc.).
  2. Write a brief summary or description of your article in your own words, in paragraph form.
  3. Evaluate your source . Make sure to check for guidelines given to you by your instructor. If there are none, try the CRAAP method:
  • Currency: Is this source current? When was it written? Check your assignment for guidelines on dates.
  • Relevance: Write one or more brief sentences that draw conclusions about how this source relates directly to your research. Why did you choose this source for your particular topic. How does it make your paper more accurate, credible, and informative?
  • Authority and Accuracy: Write one or more sentences that talk about the credibility of the source. This can include information about the background of the author and/or information about the research methods used, and the intended audience of the research.  Who wrote the article or book? Why did they write this? Who is the content written for? Is the information supported by evidence?  Does the information provided conflict with what you already know about the topic?
  • Purpose: Write one or more sentences that draw conclusions about the information in this souce. What did you learn from it? Compare this source to other sources. Why is this source important compared to other sources? Why does this information exist?

Remember you are aiming for around 150 words. So be as concise as possible.

For more information on the CRAAP Method, see the "More Information" box on the bottom left of this page.

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