We wrote the first edition of Bridging English (1993) because we could not find a balanced, comprehensive English methods textbook whose theory was rigorous and whose practice was accessible and pertinent. We revised the first edition (1999) to strengthen its comprehensiveness, theoretical soundness, and practical usefulness. Reviewers and users report that both texts effectively moved readers from theories of learning, language, and literacy to classroom realities in today's schools. One colleague and his class call our text BE because, as he explains, it captures what his students need to know and be in order to confidently enter secondary English classrooms and actively engage the students waiting there. Its readers appear also drawn to its student-centered, constructivist, developmental, inquiry based, and reflective perspective. Many colleagues report that this is one textbook their students do not sell back because they regard it not simply as a general introduction to English education, but as a reference and resource with which to begin their professional libraries. Many teachers tell us that it occupies an honored spot on their desks always ready for use.
We have revised the second edition of our text, as we did the first, for two primary reasons: 1) to address new developments in the field of English education, and 2) to clarify, expand, and vivify many of our original ideas. In this thorough revision, we have tried to retain and strengthen what has proven most valuable while we demonstrate and animate both the old and new ideas and methods. In clearer, crisper prose, each of its now fifteen chapters presents conceptual frameworks, a multitude of tested teaching activities, and invitations to the reader to reflect on both.
STRENGTHS OF THE FIRST AND SECOND EDITIONS
In the first two editions of Bridging English, we attempted to bridge many different shores: of self (as the reader prepares to move from the role of student to that of teacher), of instructional theories, of methods, of texts, of cultural expectations of English classrooms. With a consciousness of the quandaries of prospective teachers, we challenged readers to make personal connections between their previous experiences as students and their future expectations as teachers. Two textual features particularlyInvitations to Reflection and Teaching Activitiesengaged readers and invited them to reflect, to test, and to plan. Readers tell us that the texts' breadth and balance "brought it all together"-an understanding and grasp of literature, language, and learning. We have retained many of the valued aspects of the first two editions such as:
- the interplay of learning, language, and literary theory with best teaching practice
- the numerous sequences of instruction, teaching activities, and concrete examples of teachable texts that range from literary classics to works by minority and young adult writers, from print to non-print
- a balanced view of the debated pedagogical issues in the English Education field: grammar and writing instruction, cooperative learning, reader response based approaches to literature, multicultural literature, technology in the classroom, authentic assessment, and critical and cultural literacy
- the treatment of numerous vital, but sometimes overlooked subjects such as the history of the English language, ten schools of literary criticism, the canon wars' debate, oral language, poetry, nonfiction, media, and evaluation
- an authorial voice that filters and interprets its information and ideas through decades of teaching at the secondary and college levels
CHANGES IN THE THIRD EDITION
Like its predecessors, the third edition of Bridging English grows from our ongoing experience, observations, and reflections on English classrooms. It represents our course notes passed on to our younger colleagues. We feel again a little like E. B. White, who explained of his writing that he just wanted to keep the minutes of his own meeting. In these intervening years, our meeting has continued and has entertained many provocative developments in our field and in ourselves: With these changes in mind we update, amend, and enlarge this third edition. Because we pay attention to new currents in this student generation, in the field itself, and in schooling in our society; our revisions include the following:
- In our largest reorganization, we move the chapter on organization to the front of the book and divide the chapter on oral language and scripted drama into two.
- We present additional graphic organizers and clearer chapter subdivisions to provide better visual and verbal maps of approaches, sequences, and methods of instruction.
- We sharpen our focus and expand our treatment of many crucial issues.
- Approaches to Teaching Grammar
- Learning with Technology
- Multi-lingual Students
- National Language Arts Standards
- High Stakes Testing
- We add current and important research in the field to seminal and still relevant early research studies.
- We enlarge the Appendices and include new titles in its lists of texts.
- To the insights of many veteran teachers included in the first and second editions, we add those of young teachers who have read these editions and currently teach.
- We include more concrete, authentic classroom situations and problems in our Invitations to Reflection.
- We have tightened our exposition, demonstrated more and explained less, and reduced redundancies.
As we have incorporated these changes, we have tried again to avoid the decision made by an Austrian film company that wanted to remake Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein's 1965 classic, The Sound of Music. The Austrians knew that the original was too long and that they had to work within boundaries, so they decided to leave out the music. In our revisions, we have tried to trim old ideas in order to make way for new ones without leaving out the music.
NOTE TO ENGLISH EDUCATORS
This edition of Bridging English, like the first two, is designed for English methods courses that vary from state to state, from school to school, and from teacher to teacher. The chapters are self-sufficient and independent of one another and can be shifted around with no loss of coherence or momentum. Indeed in our own methods courses, each of us progresses through the text differently. After sampling many of you, our readers, we have organized this text, as many of you do your courses, to begin with Chapter 1, Envisioning English, and then to move to Organizing Instruction, Chapter 2. We then build on these organizing constructs (including a completely rewritten section on Learning with Technology) as we present Teaching Activities throughout the subsequent chapters.
In those states and locales where literature-based instruction is paramount, we hope again that you can interface chapters on drama, prose, and poetry with those sections of the writing and evaluation chapters focused on literature. In our examples of teaching prose fiction, we have tried to select either widely read novels or short stories that are often anthologized and are therefore either known or easily available to the reader. In our examples of classroom practice, we again name the teachers whose ideas we include. Some of you have wanted us to distinguish the seminal thinkers in the field from the able practitioners in the classroom. Our repeated citing of our original sources will hopefully identify them, but to omit the names of classroom teachers would diminish our grateful acknowledgment of both those who have contributed to the solid building of our field and those who continue to explore, test, and renew it by their persistent action.
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