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    • Spring 2008 Volume 1, Issue 4 The Right to Have and Make ‘Choices’ In graduate school, I learned about Inside this issue: Nancie Atwell's ideas for teaching reading. Whether you are reading her Letter from Sharon 2 book In the Middle or The Reading Give students time to read and New in the bookstore 2 Zone, Atwell's ideas are pretty simplis- for 2008 tic--- JUST READ! Try not to worry so set up your classrooms to much about having your students pre- What’s on my bookshelf 3 enable them to make good dict, connect, visualize, question, sum- On TV & the Web 4 marize, or re-tell during their reading choices. time. Just simply give them time to On the Internet 4 read, the tools to select the best books for themselves, and the right to make On Cable 5 choices. and my excitement about each book, they then weigh their options. Does the That being said, as educators, we al- book have enough action? Will it be On the Internet 5 ways think we know what is best for “easy” to read? How many pages does it Why I join organizations 8 our students. Believe me, I am guilty of have? Will I relate to the characters? this too. After all, I read books for entertainment, for knowledge, and While it is probably not shocking to basically I read books for a living. anyone, each semester I require my That's right; I actually consider reading students to read at least one book with to be part of my job description. How a Deaf Character. Similarly, the stu- am I supposed to convince young peo- dents are given three or four book ple to read the best new books if I am presentations during the sixteen-week not reading the best new books? semester. They select their own books based on various requirements. This Yet, no matter how many great books I semester, one of their independent have read, my students always prefer reading book presentations included a to select their own books for inde- Deaf Character novel. The criteria was pendent reading. They like recom- simple– select a fictional novel with at mendations but ultimately the choice is least one deaf character. For part of quot;Young Girl Reading, 1908quot; by Mary Cassatt theirs. I am usually asked to quot;sellquot; two their presentations, the students had to or three books at a time. After they (Continued on page 6) have listened to each book description
    • Page 2 Letter from Sharon Dear Readers, The winter is always difficult for me. I loathe the cold and the lack of sun. Even with the approaching Spring, the month of April was extremely difficult both personally and professionally. I was overwhelmed and even worse, I felt like I did not have any choices. Just the idea of choice leads to a sense of freedom. Yet, our students do not always have such luxury. They are told what classes to take, when to do homework, when to eat, etc. The least we can do as educators is enable them to have choice when reading. Nancie Atwell would argue that this „choice‟ makes our students stronger readers and more motivated to read. I happen to agree with her. Since we‟re talking about choices (read my featured article on The Right to Have and Make Choices), I think we should also have the right to change our minds every now and then. Although I have received numerous requests in the past to broaden my blog to children‟s literature, I have been insistent (and perhaps a little stubborn) that my blog is a place for adolescent literature. At the International Reading Association convention, I met Myron Uhlberg who discussed his picture books, and stories about his parents which have absolutely stolen my heart. He argues that picture books are not only for children but for adults as well. Professional Organizations, like the IRA, are places where educators should go to renew their teaching souls and to learn. (Read page 8 to find out my reasons for attending and why I believe you should too.) Point taken...this summer I will be expanding my blog to include both picture books and children‟s literature. At the time of this letter, I have 181 contemporary books listed including some upcoming publications on the quot;100+ Books and Countingquot; list on my Deaf Characters in Adolescent Literature Blog (http://pajka.blogspot.com/). As always, I love hear- ing from you about the books you are reading! Feel free to contact me at yadeafcharacters@gmail.com Happy Reading, Sharon Pajka-West, Ph.D. New in the bookstore for 2008 My Most Excellent The Golly-Whopper Silent Magic The Sign for Drowning: T4 by Year Games by Simon Carmel A Novel Ann Clare LeZotte by Steve Kluger by Jody Feldman (2008) by Rachel Stolzman (March 2008) (March 2008) (June 2008) (September 2008)
    • Page 3 What’s on my bookshelf Mask of the Jackal by Christine Harris The Sign for Drowning: A Novel by (2008) Rachel Stolzman Reading level: Ages 9-12 Reading Level: Ages 15– Adult Hardcover: 198 pages Hardcover: 192 pages Vendor: Christine Harris/ Launch Press Publisher: Trumpeter (June 10, 2008) ISBN: 978-0-646-48531-7 Language: English Morgan Steele is fascinated by Ancient ISBN-10: 1590305876 Egypt and mummies...until he is alone in a museum base- The story is of Anna who witnesses the death of her sister by ment and strange things begin to happen. What starts as a drowning and later develops the belief that she can communi- school assignment ends with Morgan and his best friend cate with her through sign language. As an adult, Anna Jordy, a Deaf Character who uses sign language to commu- adopts a deaf foster child named Adrea. The story includes nicate, involved in the disappearance of a mummy, kid- the struggles of parenting, adoption, and how best to educate napping, madness, a terrifying attempt to escape danger a deaf child. Anna, Adrea and numerous other characters in and a search for immortality. the book use American Sign Language to communicate. New Avengers #39 (March 26, 2008) Stolzman debut novel is about healing and growing. I loved Reading level: Ages 13– Adult this book! This is the perfect read for teachers of the Deaf, Comic Book Publisher: Marvel especially for hearing teachers who often question whether or The Secret Invasion is here! Award-winning not they belong in the field. artist David Mack brings his amazing talent to NEW AVENGERS to illustrate a major story in the life of Deaf Character Maya Lopez (aka Echo!) In Mar- Dad, Jackie, and Me; The Printer; and, vel's preview, they ask: Have the Skrulls (Skrulls are a race Flying Over Brooklyn by Myron Uhlberg of shape-shifters and warriors in the Marvel Universe) infil- Reading Ages: Children– Adult trated the Avengers?; Is Maya Lopez the only one with Picture Books Publisher: Peachtree proof?; Will she live to tell the tale?; All this and a major In Dad, Jackie, and Me, Myron explains Avengers hook up! that he began to understand the connec- tion between Jackie Robinson who endured numerous racial Echo debuted in Daredevil (v2) #9(1999) as a love interest taunts and his own Deaf father who experi- for Matt Murdock. She now appears in the arc of the most enced a similar type of prejudice through- recent issues of The New Avengers. As a teaser, Marvel Uni- out his life. Inspired by his father being a verse includes a picture of Daredevil in the issue… WAIT, is hero, the author shares the story of a deaf Daredevil in the issue? You‟ll have to read it yourself to find printer who saves his co-workers with the out. help of sign language during an emergency at the newspaper plant in The Printer. Ellie's Ears by Elizabeth Boschini & Rachel The author‟s mother appears in Flying over Brooklyn, about Chaikof (illustrator) (May 2008) the snow fall in 1947. The snow is a meta- Reading level: picture book phor for silence. “All sound was muf- Ellie‟s Ears is a story of a deaf girl who uses a fled.” The main character who flies over cochlear implant. Brooklyn can not hear a thing and must Okay, I don‟t have this one on my bookshelf just rely on his other senses. yet but it is on its way.
    • Page 4 On Television and On the Web by Emmy Award-winning Joseph Sargent and stars Academy Award winner Marlee Matlin and Golden Globe winner Jeff Daniels. In the play, Laura (Matlin), who is deaf, and Dan (Daniels), who is hearing, are a young couple who have been happily married for nine years. Their son Adam was born hearing, but by age six he has lost his hearing. When Dan decides to pursue the possibility of a cochlear implant for his son, a divisive wedge is driven between husband and Sweet Nothing In My Ear , a play by Playwright wife that threatens to Stephen Sachs which was adapted for a Hallmark Hall shatter their marriage. of Fame television movie, aired in April on CBS . Now it is available for purchase at local Hallmark stores and on-line at www.hallmark.com. The Hallmark Hall of Fame website now features Sweet Nothing in My Ear (the play) premiered in 1997 behind the scenes footage and four interviews with at The Fountain Theatre, where Sachs was the co- Jeff Daniels, Marlee Matlin, Joseph Sargent, and artistic director. The television version was directed Stephen Sachs. All interviews are captioned. In Production Matt Hamill (aka The Hammer) is the subject of an upcoming movie entitled quot;Hamillquot; about the early life and wrestling career of the Ultimate Fighter. He was a three-time NCAA Division III Na- tional Champion in wrestling while attending the Rochester Insti- tute of Technology (RIT) in New York. Matt has a silver medal in Greco-Roman wrestling and a gold medal in freestyle wrestling from the 2001 Sum- mer Deaflympics. The movie, which stars Eben Kostbar, has been criticized by some members of the Deaf Community because it features a hearing actor. However, Hamill supported the casting of Eben due to his wrestling experience and the fact that Eben is fluent in American Sign Language. quot;Hamillquot; is set for a 2009 release and is being filmed this fall in Los Angeles and Rochester, N.Y. The movie is produced by K'Dee Miller and will be directed by Joseph McKelheer.
    • Page 5 On Cable A memoir by Emmy winner Irene Taylor Brodsky, HEAR AND NOW, winner of an Audi- ence Award at last year's Sundance Film Festi- val, chronicles her deaf parents' decision to un- dergo cochlear implant surgery and follows their journey from a comfortable marriage of silence into a new, complex and challenging world of sound. Paul and Sally Taylor, both age 65 and deaf since birth, led rich lives filled with jobs, hob- bies, passions and the support of a devoted fam- ily. Considered pioneers in the Deaf Commu- nity, Sally worked as a teacher, a college secre- tary and even lent her “expert” lip-reading skills to law enforcement investigations. Similarly, Paul, an engineer and retired professor, helped develop the TTY. Just before retirement , the Taylors announced that they planned to get cochlear implants. Their decision was met with mixed feelings by their hearing daughter. quot;After this sur- gery, who will they be?quot; she asks. quot;Will they still be deaf people, or hearing people, or will they be something in between? What if the implant doesn't work? What if one of them can hear and the other one can't?quot; HEAR AND NOW is a love story about two people who find each another and grow together strengthened by the challenges they face as Deaf individuals. They cannot possibly foresee the impact the surgery will have on their relationship, or the emotional and neurological challenges of adapting to a world of sound. Will they be able to overcome these challenges when one of them appears to have more success with the operation than the other? For show schedules, visit http://www.hbo.com/docs/programs/hearandnow/ On the Internet Bug, of the blog site Fookem and Bug:‘Hear all, See all, Know all, and Share all’, wrote an article about the “Little Rascals” character Darla who was played by child actress Mollie Mae Gottschalck Barron for a short time before becom- ing ill with the chicken pox and losing her hearing. After that, her acting ca- reer ended . On April 2, 2008, the actress died at the age of 87. To read the story, visit: http://fookembug.wordpress.com/2008/05/12/former -little-rascals-star-was-deaf/
    • Page 6 (cont.) (Continued from page 1) includes books that are hot off the presses with some copies of books that are not yet published. Neverthe- explain the Deaf Character‟s communication methods, less, we made our way to the university library and any stereotypes or misconceptions about deafness that once there my students selected numerous books at a were included by the author, whether the plot focused time and quizzed me, “have you read this one… and on the “issue” of deafness or whether the character(s) this one?”. If I answered “Yes” that I had indeed read just happened to be deaf, if (or how) the Deaf Charac- the book, I noticed that those books either made their ter reflected diversity, and if the author appeared to way back to the shelves or were placed in a „reject‟ describe a “realistic” deaf person. Much of the work pile. What was going on here? When one of my stu- was based upon their own definitions of diversity, what dents was clearly frustrated and complained that I must a realistic deaf person was, etc. As long as they could have read nearly all the books in the library (or at least defend their analysis, it was acceptable. all of the Deaf Character books in the section where we were standing), I then explained (what I assumed that To begin the search for Deaf Characters in literature, I they already knew) that I had read most of the books in gave them several websites and lists with book titles, the section because that was my research interest. and places where they could find such books. I tried What the student explained surprised me. He and his not to notice how quickly and easily my Blog (http:// peers wanted to discover a book that I had not read. pajka.blogspot.com/) was discounted and how unwill- Not only did my students want some autonomy to make ing my students appeared in borrowing any of my Deaf their own choices, they wanted book anonymity too. Character books from my office. After all, my office Just because I have read the same novels that my stu- dents planned to read certainly does not mean that I have had the same experiences that they will have. The reader and the text are not isolated from one another. The reader and the text are not isolated from The „transactional theory of reading‟ establishes the one another… Transactional theory asserts reciprocal nature of the reader. Rosenblatt (1978) introduced the term transaction to describe the lived- that readers approach a text with their own through experience of reading a text. The terminology replaces interaction which implies that the reader and history of personal, cultural and linguistic the text are separate from one another. Transactional experiences. Once the reader and text theory asserts that readers approach a text with their own history of personal, cultural and linguistic experi- transact, the reader constructs meaning ences. Once the reader and text transact, the reader from the text. Prior to that, the text is constructs meaning from the text. Prior to that, the text is considered nothing but a series of symbols considered nothing but (Rosenblatt, 1982). Because of this, my students could a series of symbols. (Continued on page 7)
    • Page 7 (cont.) (Continued from page 6) quot;...to see the reading act as an event involving read the exact same novels that I have read and come a particular individual and a particular text, away with vastly different experiences than I had... and in most cases, that is exactly what happened. happening at a particular time, under My students had been concerned because they thought particular circumstances, in a particular social that if I had read the books that they wanted to read, I and cultural setting, and as part of the ongoing would know all the answers. Perhaps they interpreted the book differently from the way I interpreted it. My life of the individual and the interpretation had to be the correct one, right? Wrong! groupquot; (Rosenblatt, 1985). Like my students, when I was in high school I believed that my teachers knew everything there was to know about literature and English. On my very first day of when reading Paul Fleischman‟s quot;The Binnacle Boyquot; in teaching, I had an epiphany. I needed a teacher and Graven Images. Sarah, the sister of main deaf character, realized that I was the teacher. Suddenly there was this Tekoa, falls from a cliff. As a class, my students argued feeling of not knowing all the answers and realizing that whether or not Sarah decided to fall to her death in an neither had my high school teachers. act of suicide or whether while she was being chased she had not paid attention and accidently fell. My stu- Shared Inquiry, a method of learning in which partici- dents pulled quotes from the text and cited numerous pants search for answers to fundamental questions reasons to defend their interpretations. In the end, raised by a text, enables students to read in a way that their academic arguments grew so heated that they has them take what the author has given and try to had to agree to disagree although for the remainder of grasp its full meaning, to interpret and to reach an un- the semester I watched as they muttered with smiles, derstanding of the text in light of their own experi- “she fell” and “she jumped” to their peers. Regardless ences and reasoning. The teacher‟s role is not to im- of the character falling accidentally or by choice, my part information or give her opinion, but to guide stu- students realized that they had choices. Their close dents in reaching their own interpretations of a text. reading of the text and their transactions with the text assisted them in understanding the story better than if I During the Spring 2007 semester, students in another had told them all the answers (which I don‟t have). They one of my courses used a shared inquiry approach quickly discovered that their teacher does not know everything… and that is „okay‟. Once the reader and text transact, the reader Atwell, N. (1998). In the Middle: New Understandings about Writing, constructs meaning from the text. Prior to Reading and Learning, 2nd Edition. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. Rosenblatt, L. M. (1978). The reader, the text, the poem: The transac- that, the text is considered nothing but a tional theory of the literary work. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois series of symbols University Press. Rosenblatt, L. M. (1982). The Literary Transaction: Evocation and Response. Theory Into Practice, 21, 268-77.
    • Favorite Spring Moment: Meeting Myron Uhlberg Read the YADC blog! http://pajka.blogspot.com/ E-mail us! yadeafcharacters@gmail.com Why I Join Professional Organizations… and why I think you should too. I am a huge advocate for professional organizations. Professional organizations speak for educators and our students at the federal, state and local levels. It allows us to meet and learn from professionals. Whether it be through journals, newsletters, listservs, conferences, continuing education courses, the opportunity and need to share and learn with others is so important for our own education. Aside from that, being able to associate with individuals who do what we do, understand our joys and frustrations, and who have weathered similar storms is an important part of renewing and refreshing ourselves and our careers. There are some disheartening statistics about teacher burn out. I have been asked nu- merous times by peers if I am worried about burning out. I like to think that professional organizations give me the opportunity to be a Phoenix- the legendary bird rising from the midst of flames and ashes fully reborn. April was an extremely hard month for me both professionally and personally but during that first week in May when I attended just one day of the International Reading Association conven- tion, even before meeting Myron Uhlberg, I felt free. I brushed April's ash off my wings and started to soar. Here are a few of the professional organizations that I support…. The Assembly on Literature for Adolescents (ALAN) As the Washington, D.C. Representatives for the As- sembly on Literature for Adolescents (ALAN), my job is to spread the word about the organization and to recruit new members. Membership dues are $20.00 per year and it includes the journal, The ALAN Review. Their website includes tons of book recom- mendations and a book club! Check out the website http://www.alan-ya.org/ and consider joining. I love ALAN because they focus on adolescent literature, a part of literature that is often neglected. The International Reading Association (IRA) The IRA is supportive of including Deaf issues through the Spe- cial Interest Group. The regular individual membership is only $36.00 per year which includes the bimonthly newspaper Read- ing Today. You can now join the SIG without any annual dues! IRA provides Sign Language Interpreters for all of the hundreds of sessions at the convention. Check out the website http://www.reading.org/ and consider joining. The IRA had one of the best conventions that I have attended. National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Membership dues are $40 per year which welcomes you in an organization devoted to improving the teaching and learning of English and the language arts at all levels of education since 1911. This organization provides a forum for the profession, along with an array of opportunities for teachers to continue their professional growth. Check out the website http://www.ncte.org/ and consider joining.