The Launch

The Launch

Sheila Gilhooly Mistaken IdentityThe launch is a big day in the life of any book. It is the day when the art made out of life goes out into the world to see what its reception will be.

Mistaken Identity started as a small project to print Sheila’s stories for a small group of friends. barbara had 60 copies printed. (The list had grown from the original 20 we had planned for.) Continue reading

The Grammar Hatchet

The Grammar Hatchet

Actually me, in front, 70s.

Actually me, in front, demonstration, with Nancy Rosenberg
Ottawa Citizen, Apr. 7 1980

I had a taste, once, of someone using grammar to do a hatchet job on something that was full of meaning for me. Continue reading

Survival Strategies Come First

Survival Strategies Come First

Jenny HorsmanThe assignment was to make a graphic representation of the plot development in a novel we were reading together in class. To this end, I had assembled some supplies on a table in front of the room: various kinds of large sheets of paper, felt pens, pencil crayons, glue sticks, stickers and labels of the kind scrapbookers use, some collage materials, etc.

We talked about various possibilities, such as diagrams, time lines, and flow charts, Continue reading

If They Come, They Care

If They Come, They Care

www.katenonesuch.comI expected it to be an interesting activity. I was sure people would take part, and hoped they would enjoy it. But they didn’t seem to care.

I gathered some objects on a table in the classroom–modelling clay, bread dough, a crumpled plastic bag, rubber bands, pebbles, a plastic mug and a ceramic mug, Continue reading

A Restless Student Settles

A Restless Student Settles

Ken was restless. His legs and feet moved under the table so much that the whole table shook. Other students complained about the noise and the shaking. Ken was an extreme case, but ABE/Adult literacy classes are full of students who cannot easily sit still, and whose restlessness interferes with the learning of others. Continue reading

Resistance Live

Resistance Live

Attending to Resistance: An Ethnographic Study of Resistance and Attendance in an Adult Basic Education Classroom. Every teacher who tries to change things in the classroom meets with resistance from students, from administration, and from his or her own internal voice. Unless dealt with, this resistance can sabotage the implementation of any new teaching strategy or curriculum.

I watched a group of 30 or 40 ABE and adult literacy instructors bring the full force of their resistance to a presentation Continue reading

Re: Where is the Teacher?

Re: Where is the Teacher?

I got an e-mail from Dave, who attended my workshop last week on “Putting Learners in the Driver’s Seat.” He asked, “If the learner is in the driver’s seat, where is the teacher?” I’m going to answer by telling the story of Lucie’s success at speaking in public.

Lucie won the class lottery! She got to come with me to Edmonton to present the Never Fail Writing Method that we used in our basic literacy program. A plane trip, three nights in a hotel, and a glimpse of the big city, Continue reading

A Teacher Hits the Target

A Teacher Hits the Target

I learned a lot about how to give learning a physical component from the late Christina Patterson. I had always been good at using manipulatives, getting people moving and so on, but Christina pushed physicality to a new level for me.

One year, near the beginning of term, she took a whole class to the local archery club for a morning of lessons from the club pro, followed by lunch.

When they all got back to the classroom, Christina got the discussion started with “What did you learn about hitting a target?” and made a list as students talked. Continue reading

Getting the Most out of Your Teacher

As August slips by, I’m reminded of activities that start the new year, which I put under the heading of “How to manage your teacher,” an essential skill for every student, at whatever level.

One year I asked my department head, the inimitable Vicki Noonan, to help me with an experiment. I said I couldn’t give her any details, but would she come in and give a presentation to my adult literacy class Continue reading

Why Is Writing So Hard? Reason #756

It was Mary Ann’s turn to read her story to the group. She stood up, took a deep breath and started. “The bottle was my friend for a long time.”

She looked up and took in the group of about 10 students and me, all listening intently, and following along on our copies of her story.

“I’ve been in AA for 12 years, but before that…” her voice broke, and she stopped reading. Continue reading