NCTE 96 Conference Reflections
Session Wrap-Up Reports
Do It Write - Technically Write!
Using Computers to Enhance
This session, conducted by Phyllis Ayers, Principal
Specialist for Secondary
English for the Virginia Department of Education, and Jamelle
Lead Teacher Specialist for Hanover County Public Schools,
programs currently available that make use of the computer in
the classroom to
held teach writing. The first program she showed was WriterUs
by William Wresch, and sold by Prentice Hall. WriterUs Helper
is a collection
of activities designed to help students write and revise their
essays and are
appropriate for a wide variety of writing assignements. This
program has some
really exciting features:
It also has a section that will analyze student writing--telling them how long
each of their sentences is and how many subordinate clauses they
have and identifying their transitional expressions and giving additional
unfortunate part is that when I and other people asked about it
at the Prentice
Hall booth, no one seemed to know what we were talking about!
- 20 story leads
- 20 quotes for student response
- idea wheel
- associations for student response
Her second program was the Holt, Rinehart and Winston
Writer's Workshop. This
program includes descriptions and help in writing different
types of essays:
This session was informative and enjoyable. The speakers
understood the work of
- autobiograpical incident
- cause and effect
- controversial issue
- informative report
- observational writing
- reflective essay
Where Have all the Heroes Gone? The Deconstruction and
Evolution of Heroes
This session was actually 3 different mini sessions grouped
together under the description: "How teachers can help teens
understand the role the media plays in hero selection and in
defining their personal life values, and a
discussion/presentation of the classroom potential for research
and writing about TV drama. Roberta Jones, a reading
specialist and English teacher from North Harford High School
in Pylesville, Maryland, started by defining the six traits of
a hero (and I use the masculine pronoun because in her
research, she discovered that 9 out of 10 heroes in literature
She used a variety of movie clips and music selections to help
students recognize the difference between a hero, a celebrity,
a role model, and an upstart, including:
- courage and strength - He is willing to stand and fight for his
- honesty - He behaves with integrity.
- kind, loving, and generous - He is capable of compassion.
- intelligence, expertise, skilled - He succeeds because of his
"smarts," not his dumb luck!
- risk taking - He is willing to put lives on the line.
- object of affection - He must win over hearts as well as our
She pointed out to her students that each culture has its own
heroes and that these heroes are based on the values of that
culture. And she created a chart of the differences between
yesterday's heroes and today's heroes:
- David Bowie's song, "Heroes" - has words like "we can be
heroes, you and I for a day"
- Mel Gibson's movie Brave Heart - especially the clip where he
talks about the difference between him and common people and
what it means to be noble.
- Forest Gump - the clip where he protects his girlfriend from
- Lone Ranger - the 1930's version with Tonto.
Neal Andersen, who is with the Association for Media Literacy
in Toronto, Canada, continued
the discussion basing his remarks on heroes seen in the media.
The modern heroes of today's teens are found on their t-shirts: Michael Jordan, Bob Marley, Marilyn Manson.
He used the full length animated feature film "Batman: Mask of
the Phantasm" to discuss heroism and gender representation in
the classroom. The point he made is that there are female
heroes but these heroines tend to display different qualities
than the male. In Batman, one of the ideas Bruce Wayne learns
is that he has to have a costume to scare people in order to
feel he is a hero. And isn't that what our football team and
cheerleaders do at a pep rally to ignite our students? He used
a diagram to help students make connections between classical,
literary characters and pop media characters. This diagram is
based on Joseph Campbell's book, Archetypal Heroes.
The third presenter used George, from the Jerry Seinfeld show,
as a representative of the antihero. She used clips from the
show to point out his characteristics.
- achieve fame slowly
- represent ideals/concepts
- surrogate for all men
- inspires other men to excel
- desires to improve the world
- performs feats solo
- achieve fame quickly
- presents an image/personality
- idealized by a small group
- inspires fashions/fads
- desires to accumulate wealth
- performs feats ensemble
Comments to Sharon Hurwitz