reThink ELA #002: Interview with Jennifer Williams

reThink ELA Podcast
reThink ELA Podcast
reThink ELA #002: Interview with Jennifer Williams

RTE Podcast 002 Jennifer WilliamsIt’s so easy to do things as they’ve always been done. Why fix what’s isn’t broken, right? But what if that tried-and-true way of doing things doesn’t work in your classroom or for your kids?

Today’s topic is Rethinking the Literary Canon. While this canon is a general compilation of the best literary works of our time, have you ever thought about whether your classes have any interest in these classic readings, mainly by White male authors? Do they zone out or become entranced in the stories? Do you feel they really teach something new or do they perpetuate the traditional White experience that our students see everyday in their own lives?

In this interview with Jennifer Williams, we discuss how to get our kids more engaged in class by choosing literature that is more current and speaks to their current lives. Jennifer is an Oklahoma teacher with 13 years under her belt and a staunch advocate for rethinking the Literary Canon. While there is a place for the classics that we all read in school, many kids – especially minorities – simply don’t relate to these stories and that’s where you as a teacher need to carefully choose books whose characters are relatable and more current. While it’s important to teach and learn about experiences that are not our own, teaching becomes much easier when the kids have a real interest in what’s happening in the story.

Resources mentioned in today’s episode

Related topics: Literary Canon, Podcast

About the author 

Michelle Boyd Waters, M.Ed.

I am a secondary English Language Arts teacher, a University of Oklahoma student working on my doctorate in Instructional Leadership and Academic Curriculum with an concentration in English Education and co-Editor of the Oklahoma English Journal. I am constantly seeking ways to amplify students' voices and choices.

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