Critical Literacy: Point / Counter Point

3 Myths That Block Progress for the Poor

Bill Gates annual report on the Gates Foundation –
2014 Gates Annual Letter: Myths About Foreign Aid – Gates Foundation is a great example of digital publishing techniques combining text, graphics and video.  It has also prompted discussions on Gate’s predictions, particularly from Joshua Keating at  “Incomes in Africa Have Barely Budged for the Last 15 Years

Students could read and evaluate Gate’s claims and evaluate Keating’s criticisms.  Excellent opportunity for rich discussions and further research.

Resilience / Learning Styles / Learning Skills

Resilience and Self-Regulation

I think a case can be made that self-regulation is the most important learning skill with the least useful title.  I wish the Ministry of Education had chosen the term “resilience” to describe these attributes.  Here’s what we’re trying to teach our students to demonstrate when we focus on a student’s self-regulation skills: 

  • sets own individual goals and monitors progress towards achieving them;
  • seeks clarification or assistance when needed;
  • assesses and reflects critically on own strengths, needs, and interests;
  • identifies learning opportunities, choices, and strategies to meet personal needs and achieve goals;
  • perseveres and makes an effort when responding to challenges.

I’d describe much of that as resilience. To be resilient is to believe you have control over your success. I fear that at times when we discuss learning styles or preferences with our students we leave them with the impression that they don’t fully control their own success. So to put the teaching of learning skills and thinking about learning styles in context, I’d suggest these three important goals for the discussion:

  1. I’m interested in you and interested in understanding your strengths and preferences, to help me be a more effective teacher;
  2. I’d like to help you to recognize your interests and strengths so that you can use them to build on your weaknesses;
  3. I want you to understand that your learning styles are not a trap, they do not mean a you are only capable of learning in one way.
These three documents try to present these ideas to students. The first is more concrete in its presentation, the last is more abstract:

1. List of learning styles and self-regulation skills: List of Personality Traits / Learning Styles
2. List of learning styles and self-regulation with some analysis: Personality Traits and Learning Styles
3. Scholarly article questioning the research on Learning Styles with discussion questions: Are Learning Styles a Myth?

The Rosie Project


A fast read, and a great companion / counterpoint to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night, or The Reason I Jump or as a great contrast to Sisters Brothers, Romeo and Juliet or The Great Gatsby. Chapter 2 stands alone as a charming character study of a man on the Asperger’s spectrum: Chapter 2 of The Rosie Project.

From GoodReads.comNarrator Don Tillman 39, Melbourne genetics prof and Gregory Peck lookalike, sets a 16-page questionnaire The Wife Project to find a non-smoker, non-drinker ideal match. But Rosie and her Father Projectsupersede. The spontaneous always-late smoker-drinker wants to find her biological father. She resets his clock, throws off his schedule, and turns his life topsy-turvy.


Ben Stiller has published a recording of the classic Thurber story, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” to promote his feature film interpretation of the story.  You can find the original short story here:  pdf and the recording here: audio version

Students who’ve seen the movie might be interested in hearing the source material.  The episodic nature of the story invites “fan fiction” versions.  Students could try to capture Thurber’s voice and write an additional scene.

Update:  Google Forms Quiz comparing the film trailer and the short story – with embedded video.