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For 2022 – 2023 the TCNJ School of Education and the Department of English are offering workshops for Middle and Secondary English Language Arts teachers. They are part of the Scholars Engagement Series, a summary is provided below. For complete details please visit: Scholars Engagement Seminars

Exploring and Writing the Contemporary Essay
December 2,2022

While secondary English classrooms are often spaces in which students engage in literary analysis by writing argumentative, thesis-driven essays, there are other ways in which they might write to learn about literature and other topics of personal relevance. One traditionally under-used, but valuable genre is the contemporary essay. This workshop will provide a rationale for teaching the contemporary essay, introduce participants to its form(s), offer multi-modal example essays for consideration, and develop teachers’ comfort writing in this genre. John Green’s The Anthropocene Reviewed is the book for this seminar.

Seminar Leader: Emily Meixner, Professor of English, Coordinator of English Secondary Education Program
Emily received her Ph.D. in Curriculum Theory & Multicultural Teacher Education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is the coordinator of the Secondary English Education Program and regularly teaches courses on secondary reading and writing pedagogy as well as courses on children’s and young adult literature. Her research interests include secondary literacy best practices, LGBTQIA young adult literature, and teacher professional development. Dr. Meixner also works regularly in local school districts providing professional development on such topics as reading/writing workshop, reading strategies and close reading, reading in the content areas, and young adult literature.

 

Poetry Mentor Texts in the Secondary ELA Classroom
February 10, 2023

Poetry, argues author Jason Reynolds, “is created to love young adults, and for them to love.” But to love poetry, students must have increased access to it. They must spend more time with it. They must stop being polite, and as poet Eve Mirriam instructs, “Bite in.” This interactive workshop seeks to help secondary ELA teachers and students do just this. Together we will explore three different strategies for incorporating poetry into secondary English classrooms. Participants will have the opportunity to read, discuss, write, and workshop poems that they can then incorporate into their instruction.

Seminar Leader: Emily Meixner, Professor of English, Coordinator of English Secondary Education Program
Emily received her Ph.D. in Curriculum Theory & Multicultural Teacher Education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is the coordinator of the Secondary English Education Program and regularly teaches courses on secondary reading and writing pedagogy as well as courses on children’s and young adult literature. Her research interests include secondary literacy best practices, LGBTQIA young adult literature, and teacher professional development. Dr. Meixner also works regularly in local school districts providing professional development on such topics as reading/writing workshop, reading strategies and close reading, reading in the content areas, and young adult literature.

Building Students’ Reading Skill and Engagement Using Critical Lenses
March 3, 2023

In this seminar, participants will explore the ways in which secondary students’ reading of fiction and non-fiction texts can be enhanced through the use of critical lenses that frame their encounters with texts. Participants will be introduced to a variety of lenses, apply critical lenses in a reading of a middle grade novel, and explore ways to enrich their own curriculum using a critical lens approach. Kacen Callender’s King and the Dragonflies is the book for this seminar.

Seminar Leader: Emily Meixner, Professor of English, Coordinator of English Secondary Education Program
Emily received her Ph.D. in Curriculum Theory & Multicultural Teacher Education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is the coordinator of the Secondary English Education Program and regularly teaches courses on secondary reading and writing pedagogy as well as courses on children’s and young adult literature. Her research interests include secondary literacy best practices, LGBTQIA young adult literature, and teacher professional development. Dr. Meixner also works regularly in local school districts providing professional development on such topics as reading/writing workshop, reading strategies and close reading, reading in the content areas, and young adult literature.

Beyond Question & Answer: Supporting Engaged Literature Discussions: grades 4-8
March 10, 2023

Asking students open-ended questions about what they read can be a wonderful way to initiate a literature discussion; but often, students may perceive teacher-initiated reading questions to be just another test in disguise. The I-R-E approach (teacher Initiates, student Responds, teacher Evaluates) may unintentionally create a high-stakes environment in which students hesitate to speak up, afraid to give the wrong answer.

This workshop will model activities and techniques to better support all students to engage in classroom discussion that moves beyond comprehension checks and toward more authentic dialogue. Attendees will be asked to participate in silent discussion circles, question sorts, small group structured discussions and other activities based on brief readings completed during the workshop. We will also explore several low-stakes, writing response activities such as poetry re-mix, and consider how to build discussion from students’ textual responses.

Sharing our response to literature is a huge part of the joy of reading and an essential component in encouraging life-long reading habits. The goal of this workshop is to offer some practical ideas to implement more joyful, accessible, and inviting classroom discussions for even the most reluctant students. Books to be used in this seminar are:

    • Marshmallow Clouds: Two Poets at Play Among Figure of Speech by Ted Kooser & Connie Wanek
    • Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems by Janeczko
    • Sweet Out of Wonder by Kwame Alexander

Anne is an assistant professor of Special Education, Language and Literacy. She taught high school English for 14 years in public schools in Philadelphia and New Jersey and continues to maintain collaborations with multiple districts across New Jersey, providing professional development support in literacy instruction. Her scholarship has been published in English Journal, Journal of Language and Literacy Education, and Literacy among others, and she has presented her research at numerous national and international conferences. She was awarded the Edward Fry Graduate Fellowship in Literacy from Rutgers University.

The following professional development will be offered in the future and are currently available for In District Professional Development:

Teaching LGBTQIA* Literature in Secondary Schools

New Jersey public schools are now legally responsible for providing a LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum and teaching middle and high school students about the political, economic, and social contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. As a result, New Jersey teachers have a unique opportunity to explore gender and sexuality not only in history classes, but across the curriculum.

We will examine how teachers might invest secondary English classrooms with LGBTQ literature as well as methods for teaching it. Using seminal concepts from gender and queer theory as close-reading lenses, participants will investigate how theory is experienced – as embodied, lived, and real – in the lives of the characters in these books. Participants will also explore how to make these concepts accessible to secondary students by examining models of curriculum with LGBTQ content currently in place in local schools. Approaches relevant to whole-class novel, book club, or reading/writing workshop models of instruction will be discussed.

The Power of Story

In Minds Made for Stories, author and educator Tom Newkirk argues that narrative is “the deep structure of all good writing” (19). Although many K-12 standards, including the NJ ELA standards and the CCSS, distinguish between narrative and informational text as well as narrative, informational, and argumentative writing, Newkirk troubles these categories, asserting they are not as clear cut as they might seem. We instinctively use story “to inform, to persuade, to entertain, to express” (6); we use story to make sense of the world and our own place in it. Narrative is “a property of mind, an innate and indispensable form of understanding” (34). We will explore the power of story in the texts we read, write, and teach.

Teaching Drama Without Fear

Drama is a genre particularly well-suited to classroom study and yet often neglected. Drama is a communal genre – written to come to life through a company of performers and artists and to be played before a crowd of patrons. Unlike the novel, which is written to be privately appreciated, drama lends itself to classroom study and exploration. This program is designed to increase teachers’ confidence and resources in reading, analyzing, teaching, and critiquing drama from the Western tradition.

Teaching Poetry Without Fear


Attendees will develop greater confidence teaching poetry; understand and appreciate poetic texts as literature; expand their own critical repertoire and be able to deploy that expanded critical toolkit in designing and delivering material to their students; participate in a community of teachers that promotes curiosity and inquiry and that offers mentorship from experts in poetry, the English language, and pedagogy.

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