2012 Inquiry Conference Abstracts: Secondary English

What Does Classroom Community Look Like, and Why Does it Matter?
Emily Cloetingh, Intern
High School South, 9th grade English
This session focuses on the characteristics of community.  After an investigation of what classroom community looks like, I will evaluate why specific characteristics of community matter, and how they affect the dynamic of the classroom.

Reel Recognition
Michael Gordon, Intern
High School North, Film and Media Studies
How can we connect with a generation that seems to be distancing itself from the page and gravitating towards the screen? By incorporating more imagery and film in the classroom, we can enhance and promote stronger understanding in the “Media-Entertainment-Text triangle.”

Clearing the Low-Interest Hurdle
Andrea Hlebica, Intern
High School North, CP English 11
English class can be an unwanted hurdle many students must jump over every day. As teachers, we try to make class as engaging as possible, but what happens when the students have no investment and simply are just not interested? By incorporating three key strategies in my assignments, I have found that even the least interested student can find meaning and kick the hurdle to the curb.   

More Choices for More Voices—Using Online Forums to Hear from “Quiet” Students
Emily Reeder
EmiRee14@gmail.com, Intern 
High School North, 11th grade English
Most classes have a few students who are reluctant to share their voices in a class discussion, but what if they could share their voices without making a sound? They can! This presentation examines how an online forum can provide a valid means for students who are quiet in class to not only add their voices to discussions, but to be heard.

Talking in Class: Strategies to Increase Meaningful Participation
Melissa Kaye, Intern
High School South, English 10 and Advanced English 10
It’s tough being met with blank looks and silence when you’re up in front of the class. How can teachers pump up the volume—in valuable ways? This session provides examples of strategies that teachers can use to spark organic discussions in which students share ideas, ask questions and make connections to real life.

He’s Only Human!: How Students Connect to Classic Literature through the Human Experience
Lauren Chavey, Intern
High School South, English 10 and Honors Advanced English 9
Some students find the age and language of “classic” reads to be off-putting.  How can students connect their lives to William Shakespeare’s Macbeth and other high school staples?

Memoirs of Positive Communication with a Hesitant Reader, Writer, & Do-er
Heather Ochman, Intern
Mount Nittany Middle School, 8th grade English
We’ll explore how a teacher-student relationship develops throughout the school year and discover how positive communication impacts the “This is so boring!” student...and the teacher.
Avoiding the Ferris Bueller Effect: How to Facilitate Effective Full-Class Discussions
Laura Cunningham, Intern
High School South, Advanced English 9 and English 10
What are teachers to do in a full-class discussion when a question receives nothing but blank stares from students? This session identifies several strategies to create an effective full-class discussion.

Teaching Untracked
Kelly Thomas, Intern
High School South, English 9
Tracking students by grades and ability raises questions about effectiveness and equity. When ninth graders work with honors tenth graders, the learning possibilities derail traditional grouping.

To Rubric or Not To Rubric? Using Student-Centered Methods for Providing Authentic Feedback
Zak Roman, Intern
High School North, Advanced English 11
Students have grown accustomed to rubrics in an era of high-stakes testing and helicopter parents. This session examines the reactions and experiences students have to written feedback and describes feedback models that students find most useful.

Encouraging Students to Value Collaboration During Group Assignments
Chelsea French, Intern
High School South, 10th grade
How can teachers overcome problems such as the chatty, distracted group and the student who resents having to work with others on group assignments? This session will share strategies to help teachers design engaging, creative, fun group assignments full of opportunities for students to learn collaborative skills.

The Power of Freeding
Amanda Shaheen, Intern
High School North, College Preparatory English 12 and English 11
Reading is an essential element of an English classroom, but how does free choice reading fit? This presentation explores what free reading could look like in the classroom as well as its benefits and limitations.

Examining Cultural Response Through Poetry
Nicholas Rys, Intern
High School North Building, 12th Grade A.P. English
This inquiry compares how students from America and Sweden respond to the same texts and choose to represent their cultural identity.

Strategies to Encourage Active Participation with Reluctant Learners
Evangeline Worsley, Intern
High School North, 12th grade English
What do we do when our students are unwilling to participate? This inquiry examines the factors encouraging and discouraging participation in class and shares a variety of collaborative strategies to transform students into confident and frequent participants.

Fostering Critical Thinking Through Writing
Rebecca Healey, Intern
High School South, 10th grade English
This session will focus on successful writing activities using online SCoodle forums and free-write activities to foster critical thinking.

What’s the Deal with 1st Period?
Edward MacMurchy, Intern
High School South Building, 10th Grade English
My first period class is slow-moving, unhappy, and unmotivated. They just “don’t like English.” When faced with an apathetic class, it is important to identify the source of such problems and implement strategies to foster a culture of engagement so kids can wonder, laugh, and learn.

Free Your Mind, and the Learning Will Follow
Virgil K. Griffin, Intern
High School North Building, 12th and 10th Grade English 
Many students regurgitate what they have been taught or told, rather than take ownership of their own beliefs.  This presentation will provide strategies for implementing and encouraging what I call "open thinking."