NJCTE Board Member Susan Chenelle Receives NCTE 2018 High School Teacher of Excellence Award

NJCTE is thrilled to announce that the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) has awarded the 2018 High School Teacher of Excellence Award to Susan Chenelle from University Academy Charter High School in Jersey City, New Jersey. Chenelle is one of 14 high school teachers nationwide honored by NCTE this year.

Established in 2001 by the NCTE Secondary Section, this award recognizes and celebrates high school classroom teachers who demonstrate excellent practices and contributions in the classroom. Chenelle will be recognized as a recipient of the NCTE High School Teacher of Excellence Award at the Secondary Section Luncheon on Saturday, November 17, during the 2018 NCTE Annual Convention in Houston, Texas. For more information about the NCTE High School Teacher of Excellence Award, including past winners, see http://www2.ncte.org/high-school-teacher-of-excellence-affiliate-award.

Chenelle is currently Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction at University Academy Charter High School in Jersey City, New Jersey, where she taught English and journalism for several years. She is the co-author of the Using Informational Text to Teach Literature series from Rowman & Littlefield with Audrey Fisch, with whom she has presented about informational text and cross-disciplinary collaboration at schools around New Jersey and conferences across the country. She earned her master’s degree in urban education from New Jersey City University, and she is now pursuing a doctoral degree at Montclair State University in Teacher Education and Teacher Development. Chenelle was the recipient of NJCTE’s 2017 Educator of the Year Award and currently serves on the NJCTE board.

For more information about NJCTE’s Educator of the Year Award, please see https://www.njcte.com/teacher-awards/. We highly encourage English educators in New Jersey to nominate their colleagues for this award and to consider nominating early career and pre-service teachers for the M. Jerry Weiss Early Career Teacher Award and the Marcia Holtzman Pre-Service Teacher Award. Help us honor the excellent work of our colleagues in the field!

New Jersey Council of Teachers of English, the New Jersey state affiliate of NCTE, the National Council of Teachers of English

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NJCTE Board Member Susan Chenelle Receives NCTE 2018 High School Teacher of Excellence Award

Award-Winning Author Jason Reynolds To Be Honored at Montclair State University; Dale Russakoff and John Freeman also highlighted

 

Jason Reynolds, author of All American Boys, Ghost, Patina, Long Way Down, The Boy in the Black Suit Miles Morales: Spider Man and more will visit Montclair State University Saturday, March 24, to receive the Muriel Becker Literary Award presented by the New Jersey Council of Teachers of English. Famed writer and literary critic John Freeman will offer the opening keynote speech, and Dale Russakoff, author of the compelling, The Prize, will be a highlighted speaker.Reynolds

Registration for the event is made at www.njcte.com/conferences/ with discounts for retirees and students. Tickets may be purchased at the door, as space allows. The conference is open to the public and convenes at 8:30 in the Student Center Ballrooms on the north end of the campus.

The New Jersey Council of Teachers of English is the New Jersey state affiliate of NCTE, the National Council of Teachers of English. We are a non-profit 501(c)(3) professional organization dedicated to educational and beneficial purposes. NJCTE fosters excellence in English Language Arts by developing academic and professional expertise at all levels. Membership is from April 1 to March 31.

For more information, visit NJCTE.com. Go to the NJCTE website conference page and scroll to the bottom of the page to register.

Written by Laura Nicosia, NJCTE board member

Posted by Audrey Fisch, blog editor for NJCTE

New Jersey Council of Teachers of English, the New Jersey state affiliate of NCTE, the National Council of Teachers of English

Award-Winning Author Jason Reynolds To Be Honored at Montclair State University; Dale Russakoff and John Freeman also highlighted

WHY ENTER THE NJCTE MIDDLE SCHOOL PILOT WRITING CONTEST?

Here in Central New Jersey, many read the Asbury Park Press.  Every third Tuesday of the month, the press features young writers whose offerings have responded to a prompt.  Both high school and middle school students respond to the same prompt.  Repeatedly, I amazed by the writing of the middle school students. Young writers in grade seven can and should entertain some of the same issues that are offered to students in grade 12.  We at NJCTE concur with this approach.

Our prompt for the NJCTE Writing Contests invites challenging speculation that may lead to an awakening.  Students are offered a range of subject matter as they are directed to write about a personal experience involving race, ethnicity, class, religion, or gender enlightenment.  Needless to say, there is no right or wrong answer.  Honest engagement with the prompt and careful thought will emerge for both reader and writer as a winning essay.

Write a personal essay or narrative about an experience of race, ethnicity, class, religion or gender enlightenment that was significant for you.

 We would like you to steer away from general to more personal experiences and observations.  For example, you may choose to write about particular toys that were or were not given to you because of your gender, the expectations of important individuals in your life, decisions about where to sit in the cafeteria or what classes to take, conflicts over what information to share or not share in school, decisions about where to go and if you should go to college; the possibilities are wide ranging.

This prompt may bring to your attention a preconception previously unnamed, but it may also enable you to speak about your strengths and joys, about what unites us instead of what divides us.

The prompt challenges thought and engages students in social awareness which can lead to enlightened, responsible citizens.  And, after all, isn’t that really what an education should do?  Participating in a writing contest gives students an opportunity to communicate their ideas and shape their prose for a much wider audience. They are writing authentic reading for others.

The deadline is February 20. Please see the NJCTE website for details on how your students can submit their work.

As a classroom teacher, you have been given the agency to encourage your students to respond to the prompt in a meaningful way that does, indeed, result in an “Awakening.”  Every teacher who submits entries will be recognized.  We at NJCTE have found that this recognition generates enthusiasm for writing and community support in other areas also.

We hope you find the prompt lends itself to mini-lessons on form, development, paragraphing, word choice, synthesis, analysis, voice… The list is endless.  Incorporating the prompt into the daily lesson plan is easy and beneficial in many ways.

I hope that my reasons will convince you to engage your middle school students in this most worthy enterprise.

Written by Susan Reese, NJCTE President, former Chair of the NCTE Achievement Awards in Writing Advisory Committee

Posted by Audrey Fisch, blog editor for NJCTE

New Jersey Council of Teachers of English, the New Jersey state affiliate of NCTE, the National Council of Teachers of English

WHY ENTER THE NJCTE MIDDLE SCHOOL PILOT WRITING CONTEST?

An Invitation to Write Banned Word Poetry

Greetings, NJCTE Blog Readers! This is your friendly and vigilant citizen activist English language arts educator, Pat Schall, returning with yet another suggestion for making your voices heard in a challenging political climate.

This time my suggestion for activism encourages more creativity and less correspondence and calls. Sound interesting? Hey, the holiday break should give you a little more time to charge those creative batteries.

Banned WordsHave you heard about the seven words/phrases the Trump administration put on a usage “hit list” for the CDC (Center for Disease Control)? The Washington Post reports that the CDC employees may not use these word/phrases in their writing: “vulnerable, entitlement, diversity, transgender, fetus, evidence-based, and science-based.”  How about entering a banned word poetry/poetic language contest with several options for creative expression using these forbidden words?

Recently, I was checking some social media postings and found an entry from Sara Freligh’s blog. Sarah is an author and a recipient of an NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) fellowship in poetry. She and Amy Lemmon are hosting a poetry writing contest using the CDC banned words. You will find specific guidelines for writing and submission in the blog post.

Freligh and Lemmon are flexible about the format and encourage “prose poems/microfiction, or even short plays. Forms that use repetition and/or use the required words in inventive ways are especially encouraged. Work may include visual or multimedia elements within the range of literary work.  Video or audio submissions should be accompanied by text transcript.” There are so many possibilities and formats, traditional and non-traditional. They advise writers that “poems will be accepted on a rolling basis for publication on the blog. One new poem by a different writer will be published each week day, Monday through Friday starting January 1, 2018.”

The idea of a “rolling basis for publication” appeals to me and may provide just the kind of incentive and flexible deadline a busy teacher/writer needs to participate and to take a stand against censorship that matches NCTE’s mission to preserve intellectual freedom.

NJCTE will host our Annual Conference on Saturday, March 24, 2018, at Montclair State University. This would be a good forum for sharing some of the poems our members submit to this contest, whether or not they are chosen to appear on the blog. Why not get your creative juices flowing and participate? Here is another chance to be a creative citizen activist and stand up for freedom of speech.

Enjoy the holidays, the break, and this opportunity to let your voice be heard!

Written by Pat Schall, NJCTE Board Member

Posted by Audrey Fisch, blog editor for NJCTE

New Jersey Council of Teachers of English, the New Jersey state affiliate of NCTE, the National Council of Teachers of English

An Invitation to Write Banned Word Poetry

Ready to Throw in the Towel?

Do you ever wake up and just want to throw in the towel? I had a day like that yesterday. I couldn’t bring myself to read the first section of the New York Times.  I fled for safety in the Science section (a favorite of mine);  and while I gained some strength from reading that “Cataract Surgery May Prolong Your Life,” I ran screaming from articles about how “Air Pollution May Harm Babies Even Before they are Born” and “The Scallop Sees with Space-Age Eyes.” I guess I didn’t want to think about eating shellfish that could see their human predators.  Let’s not even talk consider the story about ice melting in Greenland.  The day was off to a bad start even before I finished my coffee.man throwing in towel

So, how do we cope with the barrage of bad news that can assault us daily? How do we process stories about dubious tax reform, sexual harassment, nuclear threats, concealed weapons, massacres of innocent people in public places, discrimination, the loss of public lands, the assault on immigrants, and the ongoing devaluation of public education? Hey, our members of congress have even proposed to eliminate the small deduction educators can take for classroom supplies purchased out of their own pockets! And I could go on, but I will spare you since I am sure you have had days like mine.

I recognize that I am now a retired educator, and I have more time to obsess about these issues.  I would be compelled to put them in some better perspective if I still had to address all my classroom and administrative responsibilities.  Working educators do not have my advantages.  So, since I have the time, I have started to think more about how to stay sane in this world of daily offenses. Here are some of the strategies I use, and perhaps they could help you cope too.  I resolve to:

  • Control the impact of troubling news by establishing a pattern for reading newspapers. I often start reading a section I find appealing—arts, science, food—and then work my way into the harder news by hitting the editorial section next. I read my favorite columnists, the editorial statements, and features that catch my attention. Once I am inoculated with some good writing by trusted authors, I move to the first section and tackle the headlines. I admit that I might reverse the process if some critical event has occurred.
  • Visit my favorite social media platforms to see what is cooking on Facebook, Twitter, and my favorite blogs. Because I signed on to these feeds that interest me, I often find they are places to connect with people and issues I find compelling.
  • Sign off social media before getting ready for bed. Hey, do we really need all that chatter echoing in our heads when we try to go to sleep? I find myself waking up in the middle of the night with the troubling news interfering with a night’s sleep. Twitter before bed doesn’t help.
  • Avoid trolls on line. I enjoy reading Twitter and Facebook postings by people I respect, including political leaders, but I do not interact with the trolls on their feeds. I think there are better uses of my time than confronting haters on line who use the cover of distance and anonymity to spew venom. I try to remember that some of these trolls could be fakes, bots created to disrupt. I am not going to change a troll’s mind. I believe there is a time and place to call out the haters and to try to reason with those who can reason, but social media may not be the best venue.
  • Do something concrete each day to address troubling issues. Again, I recognize that this is much easier for a retired person to accomplish. Still, even a busy working person with family responsibilities might find that it doesn’t take long to Tweet, post a comment on Facebook, send an email, make one phone call, or use Resistbot to send a fax to a legislator. Even taking action only once or twice a week can make us feel more in control.
  • Remain professionally active. I like to stay connected with other educators. Professional organizations like NCTE, NJCTE, NJEA, and CEL can give us the means to interact with colleagues who care about their work. Remember to write. Keeping a journal helps us reflect. Write for publication. Contribute to professional journals, newsletters, and blogs (WRITE FOR THE NJCTE BLOG!). Draw strength from your caring network of like-minded professionals.
  • Exercise to beat the stress. I know, it is easier said than done when you are working full time and have family responsibilities. But it truly helps to reduce stress if you do something you enjoy—walking, yoga, jogging, exercise classes, dancing, whatever appeals to you and fits your schedule.
  • Continue to have fun. I think we all benefit from taking little family excursions, meeting friends , watching a favorite TV program, carving out time for pleasure reading, pursuing hobbies, meditating, whatever works.

So the next time you are ready to throw in the towel, take a little time to think about some options to keep you focused and happy. Don’t give up!throw in towel

Written by Pat Schall, NJCTE Board Member

Posted by Audrey Fisch, blog editor for NJCTE

New Jersey Council of Teachers of English, the New Jersey state affiliate of NCTE, the National Council of Teachers of English

Ready to Throw in the Towel?

Notes from the 2017 NCTE Affiliate Breakfast

Yesterday, I wrote about attending the NCTE 2017 Annual Business Meeting. I also had the honor to represent the New Jersey Council of Teachers of English at the NCTE Affiliate Roundtable Breakfast.

Affiliate BreakfastNJCTE was among the many affiliates to be honored in a number of categories: Affiliate Membership Recruitment Award (for affiliates whose membership grew by 5% or more in 2016-2017); Affiliate Newsletter of Excellence Award (for NJCTE e-Focus, edited by Patricia Schall  and Susan Reese), Affiliate Journal of Excellence Award (for New Jersey English Journal, edited by Liz deBeer), and NCTE Affiliate Excellence Awards (for NCTE affiliates that meet high standards of performance).

Journal of Excellence Award
NJCTE Board Member Audrey Fisch accepts the 2017 NCTE Journal of Excellence Award on Behalf of New Jersey English Journal

We won the latter award for the 6th year!

We have done some good work together. But there is more work to be done!

NJCTE is beginning an examination of our website, which may need an update. Are you interesting in participating in this task? If yes, please reach out to NJCTE Board Member Sarah Gross (@thereadingzone), who is spearheading this initiative. We are also planning to submit an application to the NCTE Fund Teachers for the Dream Award, which is a grant intended to support initiatives aimed at recruiting English language arts teachers of color. Reach out to NJCTE Board Member Audrey Fisch (@audreyfisch) about helping with this initiative.

Finally, I want to add that the most inspiring and impressive element of the Affiliate Breakfast was hearing from the winners of the NCTE Student Affiliate of Excellence award winners. These are the amazing teachers and NCTE leaders of our future, and they were a phenomenal group of young people. NJCTE needs to develop a student affiliate (or more than one). Do we have a teacher educator who might help with this initiative? Reach out to NJCTE President Susan Reese (@mrsreese) if you are interested. Or reach out to us through the comments section of this blog or the NJCTE website. We welcome your interest!

Meanwhile, congratulations to all who have worked to make NJCTE a success. Let’s continue to build on that success!

Written by Audrey Fisch, Board Member, NJCTE, Professor of English, New Jersey City University, Jersey City, NJ

Posted by Audrey Fisch, blog editor for NJCTE

New Jersey Council of Teachers of English, the New Jersey state affiliate of NCTE, the National Council of Teachers of English

Notes from the 2017 NCTE Affiliate Breakfast