January 2010

I have hardly done any sort of writing for myself since I have been in school. It seems that as a Group Social Studies major, all of the things that we write have something to do with an idea or a fact. It has to be accurate with the stereotypical thesis statement, and examples to back up an argument. That has been all my writing since I can remember. My voice was my ability to give examples and analyze my thesis. However this semester I have this class, which allows me to write a bit more creatively, and WRT 219 which is Creative Writing. This Creative Writing class has given me a chance to find my voice and play around with other aspects of writing that Kirby, Kirby, and Liner talk about. Here is an example of a poem I wrote earlier in the semester:

Black and White

Little slabs of grease,

wrinkled pieces of green,

costly doses of heavy sticky calories,

with no real source of good.

Ease is the issue,

convenience is the answer,

in the end this doesn’t even matter.

This is the promised time, the time to make

something of myself.

Everyday there are countless hours,

spent on slumber,

spent on study,

spent on community,

spent on sweat, toil, occupation,

but not vocation.

What is it worth?

The powers at be,

make it this way.

To be numb to have a skill,

for green paper but not to write on.

Use it for the scheme the method,

if not, then no mention of opportunity

or profession.

It isn’t serious,

and many a friend has been made.







been shared,

parties and agonizing slow green have been made.


the truth is black and white.

Numb and sweat,

perhaps craft.

With my first stanza I was trying to convey some imagery. It is all supposed to come together to create an overall picture. The “grease”, and  “sticky calories” is supposed to show that this is a sticky fast food sort of place. The “green” is supposed to represent money. The rest of the first stanza and the second stanza I was trying to convey a complacency with work and the soul searching college and high school students have to endure every single day they have to work at things, like a job, that does not really matter in the grand scheme of things. The third stanza is trying to again show that in order to get to one’s vocation they have to earn money in a place that doesn’t matter. It shows that the people on top want laborers and maybe not thinkers. The last stanza incorporates listing which shows images of the struggle of this reality.

The voice in this piece is complacent, unhappy, a feeling of being educated but doing things that don’t promote it among other feelings. It’s the dissatisfaction of having a day job. I also don’t flat out say this in my poem so it does require some thinking.

Shiloh from Herman Melville provides a good voice and image.

If I were to do a lesson on voice I would show them my writing like Kirby, Kirby, Liner have suggested and then show them Shiloh and determine the voice of this poem and what it means. After that I would have them write a poem using pieces of imagery to make something of their own.

Sentence Stalk:

Over the field with April rain

Solaced the parched ones stretched in pain

This certain line also deals with rhyme scheme. This could also be looked at in relation to the whole poem but his could be a good voice exercise as well.

Mentor Text: Shiloh by Herman Melville



On pages 61-73 of MI, Anderson shows how teachers can make an operator’s manual. This is designed by teachers for the teacher and provides background on an error or concept and information that a teacher may need when navigating these two things. First it defines what the error/concept is in plain English, then gives it other names, shows a student error, and then tries to look at it from the student’s point of view as to why they made the error. Then there is a section from a mentor text describing the correct way to use a concept, lessons, and then a visual scaffold to help enforce this concept.

An example is a fragment:

In plain English (from MI): A sentence must contain at least one subject and one verb, and it must form a complete thought.

AKA: Incomplete sentence, non-sentence, intentional fragment.

Student Error: When I was young. I liked frogs. Ready for more.

Behind the error: Student trying to add sophistication to sentences?

Mentor Text: John Steinbeck Of Mice and Men

They had walked in single file down the path, and even in the open one stayed behind the other. pg. 2

Lennie flapped his big hands helplessly. pg. 68

Lennie chuckled with pleasure. pg. 90

Lesson: Two-word sentence smack down

Everyone writes a sentence and tells why it is a sentence. Figure out who or what did or is something, and what did they do or what are they?

Visual Scaffold:

Have a sentence smack down where on a board or poster have students put in subjects and verbs to make a sentence.

This is a good way to find ways to identify errors and concepts and figure out easy ways to teach it.

Elizabeth Birr Moje, in her article, Re-Framing Adolescent Literacy Research for new Times: Studying Youth as a Resource, she explains the important reasons to study “adolescents” in their reading. She argues that there is a lot of studies for children and even adults, but adolescents are often overlooked. Research used to based around teaching and learning structures of the classroom but she argues there needs to be more research about how adolescents  literary practices reflect the intersection of multiple groups. Along with this she says that the contexts of secondary schooling needs to be looked at. The focus should be on the literacy demands made by different content areas. This is to help support students as they navigate the different discourse practices of everyday life, in school, and life beyond formal schooling.

Youth or adolescents have to be defined. There are many misconceptions about youth that contribute the understudy of this age group.One misconception and a common stereotype is that adolescents are raging with hormones.  Society and the media portray adolescents as “wild, troubled, sweaty, and lustful teen just looking for action, which promotes a fear of adolescents among parents, researchers, and teachers”. If this view changes to looking at them in a more sophisticated sense then some great findings could be had about their literacy and their strategies.

She points out that there are really many things that researchers can learn from these youth. The first is that researchers and teachers could, “obtain great access to complex thinking about literacy and text by working with youth”. Another major issue concerning the stereotype– and is continually overlooked or hasn’t been thought about–  is that “youth have more opportunities to construct new and different literacy practices and to read and write a wider range of texts than do children”.  A third, is that we “need to have a better understanding of youth in secondary schools so we can better know how to handle multiple situations and communities”. The final one is that youth “have access to so many different experiences and discourse communities can help literacy researchers understand the relationship between identity construction or representation and literacy practices with different texts”.

She concludes by saying that people will continue to “develop incomplete theories of literacy, learning, development, and practice, and we will overlook a group of people with much to offer educational theory and the world.” If people keep overlooking this age group then we won’t really know how to relate to them or teach them well.

Gee’s article, Identity as an Analytic Lens for Research in Education, explains the importance and the different stages of identity for people of different races and different ages. These are the different theories:

  1. Nature-identity:  a state developed from forces in nature.
  2. Institution-identity:  a position authorized by authorities within institutions.
  3. Discourse-identity:  an individual trait recognized in the discourse of/with “rational” dialogue individuals.
  4. Affinity-identity: experiences shared in the practice of ‘affinity group’s

Gee defines an affinity group as a group of people from anywhere that share a common interest. An example he gives for this are Trekkies. They can be people from all walks of life but all come together for a common goal of loving the Star Trek television shows and movies. There is an allegiance to the group.

Other groups have a combination of other groups and don’t always have to adhere to one of those four identities.

There are modern approaches to identity and post-modern identities. The modern identity shows that people must choose and form their identity as a “life” project rather than accept outside sources. They have to have some outside influence but this helps them for their own identity. Post-modern has diversity and a great deal of change. People can communicate with other like minded people from all around the world. The new capitalist model emphasizes this as well.

To help with more of this research people discourse identities have to be worked out and involves interaction across, and relationships among, different social groups, and not just intragroup relations. They also have to look at how diverse institutions align and disalignwith eah other to create positions and outcomes for people. This is part of the institution identity. In the nature identity there can be biological research on how people learn and how it helps determine their futures. There also needs to be study of networks and other forms of communications that emphasize affinity identity.

Gee concludes by saying that institutional identity constraints poor people and people of poverty from really getting a chance of their future. Future analysis of these identity phenomenons can really help people in the future and learn more about how to approach students in the classroom.

Sentence Stalking: “The other major issue that looms over the administration — and it’s also one inherited from the previous administration — is the increasingly unpopular war in Afghanistan and the president’s decision to increase the amount of U.S. troops in that lethal conflict.”


Anderson, in this chapter, talks about the important uses of wall charts and the effectiveness they have in a class. He argues that kids have to, “see mechanics in action” which helps find and absorb patterns and use them. These wall charts give the room a “combination of spontaneity and design.”  These charts act as a visual cue, a scaffold for complex information, helps with multiple models, guide in categorizing and organizing information, show which rules count, provide easy access to examples and rules, it helps to teach students if the instructor is helping others, it anchors in crucial content and serves as a living organism. He strongly suggests to not keep all the information on there but to have the students add to it periodically throughout the year.

In I.O. C. 3-5 these authors really emphasized creating a writing environment that is engaging for students. They believe the focal point of the classroom is to display student’s products, quotes, and other displays to give them the feeling that their work could be good enough to show. The room has to be comfortable for the teacher and for the class. The whole idea is to have a community where everyone feels safe to participate in the writing process and experience. Some activities to start the writing process is having a free write, learn names, do a sentence completion and other various activities. The point is to get the class to write and to let them find themselves and be able to express themselves through writing.  They also entertain the prospects of journal use, in which they serve as a private place a student and teacher can work on their writing. In the process they can write down things that interest and inspire them. Privacy, confidentiality, and finding a method to grade the journal is key.

Mentor text of a summary,


“The third episode in this section describes an imaginative tarot reading, in which some of the cards Eliot includes in the reading are not part of an actual tarot deck.”

It tells the basic points of the story, and does a little bit of analysis.

Growing up I liked my name. It seemed different, concise, and something easy to sound out if you had seen in on paper. Chances are, I was the only student in class that had this name. So I was unique to everybody else.

I liked to spell my name growing up because I liked how the letter “J” could be written. It could be written in several different ways. It has a loop, it could be written as just a loop, or you could place a line on top to give it a hat-like quality. I liked hats and wear them a lot, so the first letter really did appeal to me. Even the lowercase letter is a loop that goes below the writing line on a piece of paper, and as a bonus it gets a dot. How cool is that?

My dad told me I was named after a character in a book, which i can never remember the name of. He liked it because it was different, and I suspect he liked it because it was not a name of a book in the Bible. His name is Matthew and his brother, Mark. Sure my name has biblical meanings but that wasn’t any part of the discussion in choosing my name. There was something unique to my name, and it was never used in my family previously. The character in the book was also a good guy which influenced my parent’s decision. I assume he picked  his oldest child to be the responsible and good child like the character in the book. I need to ask him again what that book is called. I think once I asked and he forgot.

Having a somewhat unique name does have its consequences. Especially if somewhat famous celebrities and jewelry companies share the name. I wish they did not have my name, and when people reference that name to me and associate it with them it makes me annoyed. Unimportant celebrities like Jared Fogle and companies like Jared: The Galleria of Jewelry draw somewhat frequent associations. These people are not me however.

Jared is a little more popular now, and even this semester I have a class with another man of the same name. Sometimes I don’t even say my name right when I tell people and they think for a moment I am “Jerry” or sometimes “Jerold”. I don’t have any formal nicknames that a “Nicholas” or a “Michael” or a “Jennifer” have. This is what makes my name unique and my own identity. No one else in my family has my name and despite some fruity references to pop culture it is a name that signifies something good and something unique.

Mentor Text:  Cisneros, Sandra.  The House on Mango Street.  New York:  Vintage Books, 1984.

“I would’ve liked to have known her, a wild, horse of a woman…”

“I was named after a character in a book, which i can never remember the name of.”