EPISODE 39: Reading, Writing & English

On Thursday, February 25 at 4:00 pm US-EDT, we present a new episode of Reinventing School on Learning Revolution.

This time, the subject is "English"--more specifically, reading, writing, and related "language arts." Certainly, language is fundamental, so it's best if instruction in this area begins early. Is it helpful to teach, and learn, and discuss, and analyze written material for twelve of twelve years? Is it helpful to learn and improve writing skills year after year--and what happens after graduation from high school? What about languages other than English? Should every student learn Spanish or some other second language? As with curriculum subjects discussed in several recent issues, this is complicated, but it must be sorted out for 21st-century learning. Welcome our guests Laura Stewart, National Director of The Reading League; Ashley Walker, Vice President, VATE: Virginia Association of Teachers of English; Marynn Dause, President, VATE: Virginia Association of Teachers of English; Jessica Salfia teaches AP English, English 11, Mythology, and Creative Writing at Spring Mills High School in Martinsburg, WV; and Kavetta Anderson, 9th grade English teacher.

Join us on Thursdays for our live shows, or visit www.reinventing.school for the recorded versions.

More about this week's guests:

8590376892?profile=RESIZE_400xLaura Stewart is the National Director of The Reading League, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to advance the awareness, understanding, and use of evidence-aligned reading instruction.  Her career includes education and business leadership; she has served as a classroom teacher, building and district administrator, adjunct professor, and director of numerous professional development initiatives around the country.  She also served as the Vice President of Professional Development for the Rowland Reading Foundation and was the Chief Academic Officer for Professional Development at Highlights for Children.  Laura presents nationally and internationally and is a published author.  She is the host of the podcast “Teaching, Reading, and Learning: The TRL Podcast.”  Laura serves on several advisory boards and is a certified LETRS (Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling) trainer. Laura’s passion is empowering educators to positively impact ALL students and ultimately change the course of literacy achievement in this country.


8599569296?profile=RESIZE_400xAshley Walker, Vice President, VATE: Virginia Association of Teachers of English: Ashley Walker began her career in Education in 2009 teaching 9th grade English in Henrico, Virginia.  Henrico County Public Schools has offered a wealth of experiences and roles including teacher, content team leader, reading specialist, literacy coach, new teacher mentor coordinator, and school-based grant program coordinator.  She is a graduate of Longwood University where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with a concentration in Secondary Education.  She also holds a Master's degree in Reading from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Post Master's Certificate in Educational Leadership from Longwood University. Education is not only Ashley’s career – it is her calling and passion.  In everything that she does, the well-being of students is her top concern. Each day, parents entrust educators with their most precious cargo; she considers herself lucky to be a professional in a field where we are given such trust and opportunity. Ashley is on the executive board of the Virginia Association of Teachers of English and regularly presents at local, state, and national conferences. Outside of school, she enjoys spending time with her husband, Tyree, and three children:  Trenton, Tristan, and Aubrey, crafting, and providing literacy services to local nonprofit organizations.


8590378484?profile=RESIZE_400xMarynn Dause is a National Board Certified Teacher who seeks passion and purpose with all of her English Language Arts students. As a trauma survivor and adoptive mother of a teenaged son, Marynn deeply values the social-emotional aspects of education and champions trauma-informed care for all learners. Marynn's goal is to help her students live well by becoming "heroes in their own lives." Marynn graduated with her B.A. and M.A.Ed. from the College of William and Mary. Marynn serves as Past President of the Virginia Association of Teachers of English; prior to that she served five years on the advisory board for the Virginia Student Councils’ Association. Marynn has taught middle and high school students at all levels in Virginia for nine years. She has also worked as a professional developer, inspirational speaker, tutor, and performance artist. Marynn currently studies as a full-time doctoral student at the University of Virginia's School of Education and Human Development. Marynn has a cat named Emily Dickinson and a feisty Basenji named Slipper. She is married to the wonderful Mr. Dause. Their son came home to stay in 2016. Marynn enjoys getting lost in social media and can be reached on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook as @DauseClause.


8590386679?profile=RESIZE_400xJessica Salfia is teacher, writer, educational activist, and the co-director of the West Virginia Council of Teachers of English (WVCTE). Her writing has appeared in the Charleston-Gazette Mail, West Virginia Living Magazine’s Blog, the WVCTE Best Practices Blog, multiple volumes of the Anthology of Appalachian Writers, and the Washington Post. Her poem, “Rootbound” was selected for the 2018 Women of Appalachia Project, and she was the winner of 2016 and 2019 West Virginia Fiction Competitions. She is the co-editor of the book 55 Strong: Inside the West Virginia Teachers’ Strike out now from Belt Publishing, and most recently her poem “First Lines of Emails I Received While Quarantining” was featured in several publications and media outlets and anthologized in The Covid Arts Project. She was the 2018 Berkeley County Teacher of the Year and recipient of the 2018 Stephen L. Fisher Award for Excellence in Teaching from the Appalachian Studies Association. Jessica currently is a teacher at Spring Mills High School in Martinsburg, West Virginia where she teaches Advanced Placement Language and Composition, English 11 and Creative Writing and advises the Literary and Art magazine.


8599568697?profile=RESIZE_400xKavetta Anderson, 9th grade English teacher: Born and raised in Greenville, South Carolina, Kavetta's journey to becoming a teacher started at the University of South Carolina, where she attained her Bachelor's in English. While her initial route to licensure began there, she decided to pursue a Master's in Teaching at the University of Virginia. Shortly after graduation, she began her career teaching 7th grade Language Arts at Buford Middle School in Charlottesville, VA. Three years later, she would move on to teaching 9th grade English at Varina High School in Henrico, VA, where she currently serves as the English 9 Content Team Leader and one among three of the Equity Team Leaders. Among her professional interests, Kavetta has gained an eye for culturally responsive teaching practices through division-level curriculum development for Varina's newest course offering in African American Literature. Aside from the profession, Ms. Anderson enjoys mentoring young women through promoting a healthy balance of beauty and wellnes.


4995562699?profile=RESIZE_400xHoward Blumenthal created and produced the PBS television series, Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? He is currently a Senior Scholar at The University of Pennsylvania, studying learning and the lives of 21st-century children and teenagers. He travels the world, visiting K-12 schools, lecturing at universities, and interviewing young people for Kids on Earth, a global platform containing nearly 1,000 interview segments from Kentucky, Brazil, Sweden, India, and many other countries. Previously, he was a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist for The New York Times Syndicate, and United Features. He is the author of 24 books and several hundred articles about technology, learning, business, and human progress. As an executive, Howard was the CEO of a public television operation and several television production companies, and a state government official. Previously, he was a Senior Vice President for divisions of two large media companies, Hearst and Bertelsmann, and a consultant or project lead for Energizer, General Electric, American Express, CompuServe, Warner Communications, Merriam-Webster, Atari, and other companies.


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Before the virus, more than a billion children and teenagers relied upon school for learning. After the virus (or, after the current wave of our current virus), basic assumptions about school and education are no longer reliable. School buildings may become unsafe for large numbers of students. The tax base may no longer support our current approach to school. Without the interaction provided by a formal school structure, students may follow their own curiosity. Many students now possess the technology to learn on their own. And many do not.

Reinventing.school is a new weekly web television series that considers what happens next week, next month, next school year, and the next five years. Hosted by University of Pennsylvania Senior Scholar Howard Blumenthal, Reinventing.school features interviews with teachers, principals, school district leadership, state and Federal government officials, ed-tech innovators, students, leading education professors, authors, realists and futurists from the United States and all over the world.

Each episode features 2-4 distinguished guests in conversation about high priority topics including, for example, the teaching of public health, long-term home schooling, technology access and its alternatives, the role of parents, friendship and social interaction, learning outside the curriculum, the future of testing and evaluation, interruption as part of the academic calendar, job security for teachers and support staff, setting (and rethinking) curriculum priorities, special needs, student perspectives on the job of school, the importance of play, the psychology of group dynamics and social interaction, preparing for future rounds of a virus (or cyberattack or impact of climate change, etc.), college readiness, higher education transformed, the higher education promise in an economically challenged world, and more. Clearly, there is much to discuss; nearly all of it ranks high on the list of priorities for raising the world’s children.