English 341: It’s Like This

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Course calendar can be found above and HERE.

In class prompts

In class prompts

You can find our in-class prompts and quotes here. You may find this helpful to guide your reading.

Wednesday, Sept 19

QW: What are the take-aways from reading Miller? Do you see yourself in any of the readers she describes? Is there anything that surprised you in her first chapter or ran counter to the way you experienced reading in school?

As a group, share quick writes. Then, point us to a place in the text to consider as a whole group. What does it say and why does it matter?

You can follow Donalyn Miller on Twitter @donalynbooks. Other people and accounts that are great for finding books:

You can also find most of the authors we are reading this semester on Twitter. Here are a couple to get started: Peter Reynolds, Tom Angleberger 

Monday, Sept 17

Series Book Teams

  • What do you know about your series so far?
  • What roles are played by adults (parents, teachers…)?
  • What’s the tone (the feel/mood) of the series?
  • What identities are offered to kids in your series?
  • What does this series seem to want its readers to talk about?
  • What are the underlying theme(s) of the series?
  • What connections did you make when reading this series (connections to your own life and experiences, connections to other texts like books, films, etc., connections to your knowledge of the world). How did making those connections help you better understand the book?


Monday, Sept 10

To Read: “Cinderella” (Tatar pp. 101-137)

To Do during class:

  1. Investigate these stories for ideas about gender roles and relationships—write out your ideas about the ways each kind of story reveals social attitudes towards women, men, and their relationships.  Use at least two stories from the “Cinderella” cycle as evidence for your ideas.
  2. Compose your own revision of Cinderella by writing a poem from her perspective. Or, imagine your version taking on the perspective of the prince, the step-sisters, step mother, mice, fairy godmother, etc… Or change the setting or tell us what happens after the wedding.

In Search of Cinderella

From dusk to dawn,

From town to town,

Without a single clue,

I seek the tender, slender foot

To fit this crystal shoe.

From dusk to dawn,

I try it on

Each damsel that I meet.

And I still love her so, but oh,

I’ve started hating feet.

      Shel Silverstein

…And Then the Prince Knelt Down and Tried to Put the Glass Slipper on Cinderella’s Foot

I really didn’t notice that he had a funny nose.

And he certainly looked better all dressed up in fancy clothes.

He’s not nearly as attractive as he seemed the other night.

So I think I’ll just pretend that this glass slipper feels too tight.

     –Judith Viorst

Wednesday, Sept 5

  • Consider the following quotes:

“The whole point of stories is not ‘solutions’ or ‘resolutions’ but a broadening and even heightening of our struggles.”

“Often stories embody the moral contradictions and inconsistencies in our personal lives, and thus give context and meaning to the social and political narratives of society at large.”

      –Robert Coles, child psychiatrist, author The Call of Stories

If Coles is right that “the whole point of stories is not ‘solutions’ or ‘resolutions’ but a broadening and even heightening of our struggles,” what might stories in the “Little Red Riding Hood” cycle be about?  What kinds of human struggles, both real and metaphoric, do these stories address and explore? Refer to specific details from at least two of the stories in the cycle in your response.

  • In the introduction to the book, Tatar lays out the debate around the cultural role of fairy tales. She explains, “Some advocate for the recuperation and critique of the classic cannon; others have called for the revival of ‘heretical’ texts (stories repressed and suppressed from cultural memory) and the formation of a new canon; still others champion rewriting the old tales or inventing new ones” (xiii). She goes on to quote Dworkin who sees fairy tales as imprinting cultural absolutes; Dworkin argues that we take the roles offered in fairy tales as “real identity.”

Unpack this debate given your reading of the Little Red Riding Hood Cycle; what is afforded by these various “tellings” of this story? What are the implications of these tales in terms of identity construction? What roles are offered in the tales for children to imagine? How is this helpful/problematic? Point to specific tales as we think through these ideas.

  • In your opinion, is Red Riding Hood better off following Bugs Bunny home in “What Bugs Bunny Said to Red Riding Hood”?  Why or why not? Explain your thinking.

Wednesday, Aug 29

QW: What kind of reading do you do outside school? Do you read differently outside of school? Does your out of school reading connect with the reading you do for school? How so? Or why not?

Then in teams:

  • In the Williams’s article, the author questions the way we construct “readers”:

“…what does it mean to identify our students (or ourselves) as readers? What characteristics do we as teachers assume someone possesses when he or she is (or is not) a reader? And how does that affect what we expect from students when we assign them a text to read?” (686). Try to answer those questions with your peers: what are the characteristics of a reader? How do his ideas compare with your experiences with reading in and outside of school?

  • Find another passage in your group to talk through with us: tell us–what does the passage say, what does that mean in your own words, why does it matter?

Our expectations of reading in our class. What do we mean by reading? Reading with a teacherly eye…

Monday, Aug 27

As you read Love That Dog, look for clues about Miss Stretchberry’s pedagogy. Please discuss with your group:

  • What is she doing with her students?  How do you imagine her classroom being arranged?  What activities do you think go on in connection with the poetry unit?  Why is her work with students effective?

Beginning teams for fairy tales and first couple of weeks:

  • Beali, Vanessa, Stephanie, Annabelle, Sarah, Sabrina
  • Lexi, Lindsey, Paz, Bent, Katie
  • Rachel L., Amreena, Makayla, Sydney
  • Mario, Lucy, Liz, Cyrill
  • Zia, Rachel M, Cassandra, Natalie
  • Destinee, David, Lauren, Erik