Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Introduction Fall 2013

Greetings! I am happy to start another semester with a new set of disciplinary majors. What is my discipline to me? My discipline is unique...it's "content area literacy instruction." I define my discipline as being like salt. Your primary discipline (family finance, physical education, algebra) is the main course, but literacy instruction is like the salt (or sugar, or other ingredient of your choice) that makes it better. Er...maybe this is a limited metaphor, but hopefully you get the picture. The point is that I see content area literacy as something that enhances and enriches teaching.

I was initially drawn to this discipline because, as a teacher of history, I knew that my students struggled with content area texts such as difficult primary source documents, but I didn't know how I could support them in really understanding and engaging deeply in those texts. Consequently, I pursued a Masters and Doctoral degree in content area literacy so I could find out how I could help students understand those texts.

I started my doctoral program in 2006 at the University of Georgia. (Go bulldogs! I bleed Georgia red. Insert other UGA cheers here.) My, how time flies. I feel like I chose the right field because just as I was finishing my degree, the national Common Core State Standards were published, which require content area teachers, and not just English/language arts teachers, to incorporate literacy instruction into their regular teaching. If and when national standards come out, they will test students on their ability to interpret and produce a variety of complex disciplinary texts.

What are some interesting facts about me? I was just married last week. I'm old for marriage by national and state standards, but better late than never, I guess. :) My 13-year-old Afrikaans sister flew in from South Africa to be the Maid of Honor at the wedding. She read during the ceremony and has the greatest accent ever. (Picture Matt Damon in "Invictus." Yep, that's what her accent sounds like.) As I shared in class, my brother is the world's tallest bagpipe player. He wrote to the Guiness Book of World Records to be included, but they said that category was not valid. He just had a darling son, my nephew and a light in my life, who is also in the 99% percentile of height.

Every semester in this course is a very different experience for me because of how the majors shift. This semester I have 17 FACS majors, for instance, whereas last semester I only had one. These changes keep teaching fresh and interesting for me. I look forward to our conversations this semester!