Annotated Bibliography of Resources for Educational Reform, Coherent Teaching Practice, and Improved Student Learning

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  • Applebee, A. N. (1997). Rethinking curriculum in the English language arts. English Journal, 86 (5), 25-31.

Applebee reveals some of the concerns and potential effects of school reform and curriculum standards on classroom practice that have arisen from his case study research involving expert teachers. He begins by acknowledging that teachers must recognize the impact of tradition on classroom practice since tradition is the lens that defines a teacher's perception. It is by reconciling opposing views of curriculum, of traditions, that educators are able to bring about positive change. He views curriculum development to be "a matter of constructing domains for conversations," domains that can be explored through reading, writing and discussion. These domains apply to teachers as well as students. As teachers begin their investigations, they focus on such problems as the canonÑwhat literary selections should be part of the curriculum. He provides the following general principles for designing classroom curriculum: an effective curriculum must be built around language episodes of high quality (quality); an effective curriculum requires an appropriate breadth of materials to sustain conversation (quantity); the parts of an effective curriculum are interrelated (relatedness); and for a curriculum to be effective instruction must be geared to helping students enter into the curricular conversation (manner). He concludes his article with possible next steps: moving the conversation across grade levels, defining the canon, relating the curriculum to the larger world, and demonstrating an effect on student learning.

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