One of the resources I will be making a lot of use of in 2009 is the English Companion Ning set up by Jim Burke. It is a very lively community for English/Language Arts teachers; subtitled "Where English teachers meet to help each other". I was immediately attracted to it. There are many groups including Teaching Writing, Literature Circles and New Teachers. Jim is a careful and gentle nurturer of the various communities and I am learning heaps by being here. A great discussion has been started by Tracie Weisz on "Thinking about how we understand narrative." She refers to another blog post by Ira Socol who says about this topic that we need to teach the "understand(ing) that everyone who tells a story is telling that story from a point of view and for a reason." I think that Tracie is really asking the question: what is the truth to be found in fiction and how do we teach students that there is truth in fiction and that non fiction also needs to be read critically. This made me think about how I will approach my new students to find out what they already know, and how to teach them about this subtlety and critical facility with text.
Another post that got me thinking about my job as English and Literacy Coordinator in my new school is this one by Bud Hunt about writing in the age of connected media and who asks us to: "join (him) in some time spent writing, thinking, and talking about how writing remains so essential to learning and how technology, specifically the read/write web, assists us in fulfilling the promises and opportunities of strong writing communities and might be altering our societal reading, writing, and thinking paradigms." Read it and see what you think.
I have also been delighted to find the English teachers group on Diigo "a group to share sites that will help teachers TRANSFORM their (English) teaching so that students will have creative and engaging learning opportunities", and where there are also lots of ideas and resources to inspire our teaching of English for 2009. Of course having the website or resource to help us is only part of the picture but it is a start. I am looking forward to working with students again after such a long break.