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Spicing Things Up

Learning never ends for teachers who seek better ways of engaging students and UVA’s Tiffany Doerr is a good example.  She teaches 9th grade ELA and took a different route to spice up her live sessions. Her idea is to break up the monotony of how novels and literature are taught. 

She advocates using short stories to counter the dullness of learning about one novel over a nine-week period.  “Students tend to zone out at about six weeks in,” she stated.  Doerr presented her ideas to the Conference of Young Adult Literature in Louisiana.  She discussed using short stories from the book Flying Lessons and Other Short Stories from We Need Diverse Books. She also wants to use character analysis to teach students critical thinking skills surrounding decision making and higher-order thinking skills. 

Doerr was also a recent presenter to the National Council of Teachers of English with a different objective.  Those discussions centered on the change from the male-dominated hero/protagonist to the female hero.  It’s to empower female students to realize that they too can save the day.

She’ll bring what she learned from attending these two conferences back to the English department.  Doerr says through discussions with colleagues, they can shake up what they are doing, engage UVA students more, and reach our diverse students who may not otherwise engage with typical literature.


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