Writing Help for Graduate Students

By readingintheborderlands

The UTPA Writing Center has been trying to reach out to graduate students.  In the past year they’ve hired tutors who are knowledgeable about graduate level writing. Now they’ve extended their hours so that graduate students–who often work during the day–can take advantage of what they offer.

I got this email from Sylvia Aldape, Director of the Graduate Office:

The Office of Graduate Studies understands just how busy you are juggling school, career and family. In an effort to assist you, the Graduate Resource Center (GRC) has partnered with the Writing Center to provide extended hours and services to meet your writing needs as a graduate student, but more importantly, to fit your schedule.

Starting Monday, Jan. 24th the Writing Center will be open from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m., Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. – 1p.m. on Fridays. The partnership between the GRC and the Writing Center has made possible extended hours and additional tutoring assistance with your research papers and/or assignments on one-to-one basis.

Tutor Assistance Includes:

  • Clarification of an assignment
  • Drafting from ideas, notes, and outlines
  • Revision and editing for effective sentence structure
  • Creating appropriate writer’s voice and tone
  • Identification of errors and methods for correction
  • Assistance with all documentation styles
  • Assistance with incorporating source material

Walk-ins are welcome during office hours or you can call the Writing Center at 956/665-2538 to schedule an appointment with a tutor. From Jan. 24th to Jan. 27th, light refreshments will be offered starting at 5 p.m.

If you worry about your writing assignments or just want to polish them up, please check out the Writing Center.

Facilitating Literacy in the 21st Century: Poll everywhere

 This is the sixth post in a series about 21st Century tools in the literacy classroom

 By readingintheborderlands

 Most educators fervently believe that cell phones have no place in the classroom. However, as cell phones and mobile devices become more integrated into our everyday lives, how realistic is it to relegate them to out-of-school use? While there are definitely challenges, how can schools take advantage of the educational uses of cell phones without encouraging off-task or inappropriate behavior?

 Poll Everywhere is a free site (make sure you click on the K-12 or Higher Ed link) that gives you instant student response through cell phones or other mobile devices. The teacher sets up a poll, which can be multiple choice or open ended. Polls can be created in under a minute. Students then text a response, and results instantly appear on the screen. Results can be shown in graph format. This is particularly effective for large classes or topics where students would prefer to remain anonymous.

 How can Poll Everywhere be used in a literacy classroom?

  • Before beginning a unit or a book study, ask the class a question that will help them make connections or build interest in what they’ll be learning. For example, before beginning to read Miracle’s Boys by Jacqueline Woodson the teacher could use Poll Everywhere to ask students “What does family mean to you?” As students text their responses, the class can immediately see what their classmates think.
  • During a whole class discussion the teacher can pose a question (or a series of questions) about an intensely debated issue. If, when reading Miracle’s Boys, several students disagree about whether or not Lafayette should reach out to NewCharlie, the teacher could get responses from the entire class through Poll Everywhere.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

By readingintheborderlands

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, here are two excellent picture books about his life.

My Brother Martin: A Sister Remembers Growing Up with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is written by Christine King Farris and illustrated by Chris Soentpiet. This engaging biography by King’s older sister focuses on their childhood and family. Children will be able to relate to warm family relationships and mischievious antics of the siblings. Farris also introduces aspects of racism and discrimination that existed during King’s childhood and that shaped his life.

Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is more focused on King’s actions during the Civil Rights movement.  It’s written by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Bryan Collier. This simple biography weaves together King’s words and Rappaport’s text to share King’s philosophy of nonviolence and equality. This book has won numerous awards, including being named as a Caldecott Honor book, a Coretta Scott King Honor book, and an ALA Notable Children’s book.

There are also excellent online resources for learning about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Check out the slide show of historical photographs at Scholastic Teacher, the resource list at the Center for Civic Education, and the National Civil Rights Museum e-Learning experience showing what life was like before the boycott.

90 Second Newbery Film Festival

By readingintheborderlands

Readers! Movie  makers! Movie making readers! It’s time to put your skills to the test. James Kennedy, author of the young adult fantasy The Order of the Odd-Fish, has partnered with the New York Public Library to run a video contest.

There’s a long list of Newbery awards winners and Honor books. Many are great works of literature. Some, not so much. But all of them could certainly be turned into a 90 second video. Check out the first entry (you need to join vimeo to watch it. It’s free!). As a huge Madeleine L’Engle fan, I laughed and laughed at the condensed plot.

Literacy teachers, this could be an awful lot of fun for you and your students. Check out the contest rules at http://jameskennedy.com/90-second-newbery/. The deadline to submit videos is Sept. 15, 2011.

Facilitating Literacy in the 21st Century: Voicethread

This is the fifth post in a series about 21st Century tools in the literacy classroom

By readingintheborderlands

Literacy learning is easier and more engaging when it is collaborative. One technological tool that lends itself to collaboration is Voicethread. Voicethread describes itself as “a collaborative, multimedia slide show that holds images, documents, and videos and allows people to navigate slides and leave comments in 5 ways – using voice (with a mic or telephone), text, audio file, or video (via a webcam).” Once a student or group of students creates a voicethread, other students can view it and add their own comments through written notes, audio files, or short videos. Voicethreads can also be made public so that parents, friends, and community members can view and comment on them.

 This example of a voicethread is from a group of middle school students who participated in an online literature discussion about the Jacqueline Woodson novel Hush.

How can Voicethread be used in a literacy classroom?

  • When reading a whole-class book, groups of students can use Voicethread to explore different questions about the book. Once these are published, the rest of the class can comment on the Voicethreads through text, images, audio or video.
  • When groups are reading different books on the same theme, each group can create a Voicethread about their book, then other groups can widen and extend the conversation by commenting on connections they see across Voicethreads.
  • The discussion can be moved beyond the classroom by allowing members of the school community, parents and other family, and the general public to comment on the Voicethreads.
  • Students can explore difficult vocabulary and share their understandings by creating a Voicethread about each vocabulary word. Text, audio, images, and video can work together to show complex definitions, multiple meanings, and connections between words.

Educators can use Voicethread at a basic level for free. You can purchase a Voicethread subscription fairly cheaply for more extensive features.

Beyond a Master’s Degree–Local Doctoral Program in Literacy

By readingintheborderlands

Literacy teachers in the Rio Grande Valley who want to get a doctoral degree in education don’t have too many options. The University of Texas-Pan American has an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership, but no other doctoral programs in education. The University of Texas-Brownsville has an Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction, but until now, that degree has focused on bilingual education.

That’s changing, at least at UTB. They are expanding the specializations available in their doctoral program to include literacy. UTB is currently recruiting students to begin this program in Fall 2011. For more information, contact Dr. Bobbette M. Morgan, the Director of the Office of Graduate Programs at the UTB College of Education.

Contact information:

Website for Doctoral Information:www.utb.edu/educationdoctoral
Phone: (956) 882-5769
Fax: (956) 882-7733
E-mail: bobbette.morgan@utb.edu

The Chill of Winter in the Borderlands

By readingintheborderlands

Winter in the Rio Grande Valley means cheap citrus, swarms of Winter Texans and most importantly, sunny, warm days. We’ve been having a very warm winter, but after a couple of days of temperatures in the mid-80s a cold front has moved in. It’s lovely.

Yes, ok, people in the north are in the midst of blizzards and ice and snow drifts, but for us a day in the 50s is severe enough. And we do have our own snow story to tell!  

On Christmas Eve 2004, South Texas experienced a once-in-a-lifetime snowfall. This event has been immortalized in More Snow: The True Story of the South Texas Christmas Miracle, written by Clark L. Childers. The unusual illustrations by William Wilhelmi are done in clay, with photographs taken by Valley residents inserted into each page.

In a few days it will probably be back into the 70s and 80s, but this picture book will help you stay cool!