Educational Resources


Over a month ago, blog friend Clix stopped by to point out a great resource for English teachers. I said I would look into it, having heard about it a little, but I admit that I was remiss in doing my duty to pass on this resource to my own readers (some of whom are English professionals).

The resource is the English Companion Ning, which (if you’re not familiar with Nings) is a social network that is dedicated to questions of English pedagogy. There are a great deal of very capable English professionals on the site, and there are groups and forums devoted to virtually any broad genres or disciplines within English language arts where you can start discussions and find resources for teaching – from teaching writing to teaching texts to teaching research papers, as well as discussions on The Crucible and transcendentalism (you can bet I’ll be referring back there soon) and To Kill a Mockingbird and teaching writing to lower level and unmotivated students (I’ll be revisiting that one soon – I have plenty of both!) and even MLA research papers. There’s honestly too many discussions to link.

And it’s a huge network – over 10,000 members as of this posting – that has even won this year’s Edublog Award for Best Educational Use of a Social Network Service.

If you are an English educator and haven’t checked out this site, don’t wait a month like I did – do it now. I promise, you won’t regret it.

My recent post on autism has apparently sparked some interest (hello Trinity students!), which I’m not altogether surprised at: autism is a hot topic these days, and for good reason. It’s especially a matter of concern for teachers, who are now faced with a greater likelihood of having a student on the spectrum mainstreamed into one of their classes.

Well, besides all of the nice comments that the last article sparked (despite the fact that it was mostly about my own personal dealings with autism as the parent of an autistic child and not really about education in general), I happened to get a message through facebook from a former classmate of mine who student taught and graduated at the same time as I did back in the spring. This message, however, was not about teaching and ASD but instead about teaching with ASD.

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I often say that I don’t have regrets – what’s done is done, and I am who I am because of what’s happening, for better or worse. I try to learn from my mistakes, but I make it a habit not to dwell too long on them, perhaps only long enough to make that learning possible.

Now I’m realizing a mistake that I do regret making: that I didn’t read more of the text I had for my advanced methods class last semester.

The text is Teaching English by Design: How to Create and Carry Out Instructional Units by Peter Smagorinsky (see publisher notes here). The main reason I’m kicking myself for not having read this is that the information in it would have been absolutely invaluable for my unit design and planning for student teaching. It gives some very interesting ideas for activities and strategies – some of which I used, sometimes in slightly different forms or ways – that could have made things a little easier on me when I was desperately trying to come up with creative and engaging ways of presenting the material.

But I am rectifying that currently: I have read a great deal of the book now, and I intend to finish reading it shortly. It would be nice to have in mind as I think about what I might say on (hopefully) upcoming interviews – that is, interviews I hope to have soon.

Ah well, another lesson learned.

I was privileged to have this blog included recently in a list created by Joel of So You Want to Teach? entitled 20 Blogs I Wish Were Around When I Started Teaching. As I told Joel, the company I share in that list is humbling (and intimidating!) in the amount of useful information that is contained in those blogs. Any of you who are looking for good information about what it’s like to be a teacher or resources that you can use in your own classrooms, I highly recommend adding many of these blogs to your RSS readers and/or daily blog reading, and there are a variety of different perspectives (grades and content areas) that these blogs represent as well.