Previewing Gee (or any other reading)

James Paul Gee - sketch credit: Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning, Indiana University Bloomington

James Paul Gee – sketch credit: Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning, Indiana University Bloomington

Emerging writers sometimes struggle to make sense of texts they need to write about.  Often, the problem is that they read passively, by which I mean without activating their curiosity, attentiveness, openness, engagement, and connection-making habits of mind, and without purpose or expectations.  This can happen when they are unfamiliar with the topic, or are working with material that stretches them. Under such conditions, reading can become the simple decoding of words, instead of the rich meaning-making activity it should be, and needs to be, if it is to fuel writing.

Previewing a text is the practice of scanning it quickly but purposefully, with the goals of

  • Initiating an individual connection to the text
  • Creating expectations and needs to drive a second more careful reading
  • Activating the reader’s prior knowledge to deepen engagement with the text
  • Anticipating difficulties that might need special attention during reading

Here is a procedure for previewing James Gee’s “Literacy, Discourse and Linguistics: An Introduction.”  It’s one that could be adapted to other readings in other settings.

  • Read the title.
    • Activate prior knowledge by trying to make text-to-self, text-to-world, or text-to-text connections.
    • Make some predictions about the text using these stems:
      • I think “Literacy, Discourse and Linguistics” is going to explore ___________.
      • The title makes me think about ____________.
      • I have the following questions about this text:
  • Skim the text with the goal of determining the following:
    • What does this text seem to be about?
    • What questions or problems does it pose?
    • What key words or concepts seem important?
    • What questions arise as I scan this text?
    • What connections can I make among this text and my self, the world or other texts?
    • What difficulties or roadblocks do I anticipate reading this text?
  • Use KWL to make a connection to the text
    • What do I know, or think I know about this topic?  What do my classmates know about this topic?
    • What do I want to know about this topic?
    • What do I think I’ll learn about this topic from this text?

How to Prepare for Your Learning Objectives Conference

Over the next week or so, we’ll be meeting one-on-one for a half-hour conference to discuss your progress towards the course learning objectives.  All conferences will be held in my SASC office, room 4.  You won’t need to check in for these conferences.  Find the conference schedule at the bottom of this post.

Learning Objectives

To make these conversations fruitful, you will need to:

  • Review the course learning objectives
  • Gather evidence of your progress
  • Reflect on your learning

For this first conference, we’re going to focus on the following course learning objectives, each of which is described in detail on its own post on this site.  Start by reading and understanding the learning objectives and the


Once you understand each learning objective, look for evidence of your progress.  Evidence of your progress may include:

  • An ePortfolio post that shows you reflecting on some part of your learning, or the habits of mind of experienced writers
  • Your revision plan video
  • Marked up pages from readings
  • Prewriting samples
  • Peer review comments
  • Description of your attitude and effort
  • Placing yourself on the Continuum of Engagement

Once you have gathered your evidence, you can choose either of the two following options:

A. Write a reflection on each of the four learning objectives we’re assessing this time in which you describe the learning objective and present the evidence for your progress, and then come to conference to talk about your progress.


B. Prepare yourself to present evidence of your progress to me in conference, then write a reflection about your progress, making sure to consider each of the learning objectives.

Remember, you have already selected one of these options in class.

Conference Schedule
Tuesday, Oct. 4

10:30 – Cali (B)

Wednesday, Oct. 5

2:30 – Kenny (B)

Thursday, Oct. 6

1:45 – Meg (B)

Monday, Oct. 10

8:45 – Ciara (A)

1:15 – Ian (B)

Wednesday, Oct. 12

11:00 – Chelsey (B)

11:30 – Blake (A)

12:30 – Hannah (B)

2:45 – Myles (A)

Thursday, Oct. 13

12:30 – Ally (B)

1:45 – Ben (B)

Friday, Oct. 14

1:15 – Michaela (B)

ePortfolio Help – Menus and Widgets

Help - photo credit: Bart Maguire

Help – photo credit: Bart Maguire,

We hit a speed bump today in class when we realized that some WordPress Themes don’t automatically include menus, or include items in menus.

So you may need to do some work to enable readers to find your literacy narrative on your ePortfolio.  If your theme already includes a menu, you may need to add your page to the menu.  If your theme doesn’t already have a menu, you’ll need to add a custom menu to a widget.

The following resources curated by the folks at UNE Digispace can help:



Writing as a Recursive Process 1

Course Learning Objective: Writing as a Recursive Process – 20%

Reading is part of the writing process, and writing is part of the reading process. The iterative, recursive nature of the writing process means that careful reading of both one’s sources and one’s own writing are regular practices for one who approaches mastery of this learning outcome.  A student who is making substantive (global) changes in both the content and organization of a writing project as it moves from an early to a final draft is moving in the direction of mastery. A student moving in the direction of mastery is also engaged in local revision in the final steps of the process through careful editing and proofreading.

Some markers of substantive change (global revision) across drafts include:

  • Changes to an introduction to better frame the project, establish the conversation and sources in play, and articulate how the student’s thesis contributes to that conversation
  • Reorganization of paragraphs to more effectively develop the written project
  • New body paragraphs that develop on ideas in an early draft or that introduce important new ideas
  • Improved source use (evidence) and explanations

Some markers of local revision include:

  • Improvement in signal phrases leading into and punctuation around quotations and paraphrases
  • Reduction in subject-verb agreement, plural/possessive, and punctuation errors that yield fragmented or run-on sentences
  • Attention to the overall readability of one’s prose


The Writing Process

Critique Own and Others Work 1

Course Learning Objective: Critique Own and Others’ Work – 15%

Strong writers can effectively evaluate both their own and their peers’ writing. They analyze drafts for idea development, claims, evidence and organization; identify solid elements of a draft as well as targeted opportunities for revision; and consider organization from a reader’s point-of-view. They go beyond merely identifying problems and offer concrete, specific suggestions for revision. They participate fully in peer review markup and group discussion of drafts, and they embrace revision as an opportunity to transform a project. A student engaged in these practices is moving in the direction of mastery.

Some markers of solid critique of one’s own and others’ work include:

  • Comments on drafts that address idea development, claims and evidence, and organization
  • Comments on drafts that offer specific suggestions for change (possible quote, claim, or explanation), not merely a critique of weak spots
  • Discussion of a peer’s ideas include exploration of the ideas in the project, suggestions regarding implications, possible opportunities for extension, and even counterarguments
  • Visible work after a draft that demonstrates efforts to clarify, to rework sections, and to rethink ideas
  • Concrete, specific revision plan
  • Both offers and accepts feedback generously and in good faith


Active Critical Reading Process 1

Course Learning Objective: Active Reading, Critical Reading, & Informal Reading Response – 15%

Active, critical readers mark their texts by underlining, highlighting, or otherwise identifying key passages in a reading. They treat margins as places to ask questions, to sketch connections, and to express their ideas or thoughts about a text. And they work to follow a writer’s line of argument, to locate and evaluate the claims, and to imagine possible challenges. They aim to grasp key concepts and examples, while also locating moments where they might disagree with a writer. An active reader uses informal writing in response to specific moments in a text to discover one’s thoughts, to improve one’s understanding, and to explore connections between readings. A student engaged in these practices is moving in the direction of mastery.

Some markers of active, critical reading include:

  • Marginal (or similar) note-taking that shows a reader asking questions, understanding key concepts or examples, drawing relationships between parts of a text or across multiple texts, challenging claims in a text
  • Focused informal writing that shows a reader extending ideas, challenging ideas, exploring connections between texts, and/or considering implications of specific passages for an idea
  • Presenting specific passages and ideas about those passages in small-group work, in an informal presentation to the class, in a blog post, or elsewhere


Engagement 1

Course Learning Objective: Engagement – 20%

Engaged learners are physically, mentally, and behaviorally present in class. They are willing to try new things and accept that mistakes create important opportunities for learning. They embrace what Carol Dweck calls a “growth mindset” that helps keep them open to learning from both success and failure. A student engaged in these practices is moving in the direction of mastery.

Some markers of strong engagement include:

  • Attending class, focusing on class tasks, and participating actively in small group and class discussion
  • Completing assigned activities, even when they might be difficult or time consuming
  • Trying different approaches to reading, writing, and discussion
  • Reviewing mistakes to explore ways to improve and grow


Continuum of Engagement