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"Using Joseph Harris' Metalanguage for Revision to Nurture Reflective Practice"

For a panel presentation at the NCTE Convention 2014 in Washington D.C. "Story as the Landscape of Knowing" by Kate Flowers, Joe Harris, Carrie Holmberg, and Jonathan Lovell

Kate Flowers

on 12 June 2018

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Transcript of "Using Joseph Harris' Metalanguage for Revision to Nurture Reflective Practice"

"Using Joseph Harris's Metalanguage for Revision to Nurture Reflective Practice"
CATE Conference 2012
"Crossing Boundaries"
Ontario, CA
Kate Flowers, NBCT
Santa Clara HS
Santa Clara, CA
English 10 &
Expository Reading and Writing Course
for the High School Classroom

for Beginning Teachers

Carrie Holmberg, NBCT
San José State University

Repurposing, Adding

Dr. Joseph Harris
University of Delaware

for Teachers' Reflective Practice

Dr. Jonathan Lovell
San José State University
San Jose, CA
What is it?
Why do it?
Tips for trying it

The Verbal Sentence Outline

What are the implications
of what you have to say?

Taking an Approach:
“What’s next?”

How might you acknowledge
other views and possibilities?

“What else might be said?”

How can you build on the strengths
of your draft teaching?

Forwarding: “What works?”


…we forward Harris’s metalanguage
into the context
of teacher preparation?

What happens when…

for how to write so much as a set of terms to help students think about what they are doing as writers

Creating a metalanguage
1. Coming to terms
2. Forwarding
3. Countering
4. Taking an approach
The Moves of
Coming to terms
When you look to other texts for examples of a point you want to make.

Gives you something to think
anecdotes, images, scenarios, data, facts
Gives you something to think
keywords, concepts, approaches, theories
Texts don't just reveal meaning--we must
Be generous and fair
What is the writer trying to do in this text?
Think of this as translating the text into your own words
Harris explains that as he uses the term, “to counter is not to nullify but to suggest a different way of thinking” (56).
When you invoke the expertise or status of another writer to support your thinking.
When you draw on terms or ideas from other writers to use in your thinking.
When you put your own spin on terms or concepts that you take from other texts.

Arguing the other side:
Showing the usefulness of a term or idea that a writer has criticized or noting problems with one that she or he has argued.
Uncovering values
: “uncovering” (or discovering) a term or concept that has been ignored or undervalued, and analyzing the term in the light of what this says about the values (often not directly stated) that influence the text.
Identifying a shared line of thought on an issue in order to note its limits.

Taking an Approach
The Rhetorical Précis:
One structured approach to teaching
Coming to Terms
Working in the mode of another writer:
Acknowledging influences
Turning an approach on itself

Middle School teachers?
High School teachers?
College writing instructors?
English Education faculty?

"Revising is the sort of thing that is fairly simple to describe but very hard to do well--like playing chess, or serving in tennis, or teaching a class." (p. 99)
Teaching = Revising
Use all 4 moves to revise:
Let's Consider
When the "text" is a just-taught lesson
Pair Share
When you reflect on "the draft" of your just-taught lesson, what of value do you experience?
In the last year, how many of us have enjoyed a structured, deep discussion about the drafts of our just-taught lessons?
Coming to Terms
Countering and Forwarding
Taking an Approach

What did you notice about how this student teacher was coming to terms with her teaching practice?
Pair Share
Student Teachers' Inclinations to
Forward and Counter
Contrary to my initial expectations, it might be the case that student teachers' urge to forward their best teaching practices is far stronger than their urge to counter their just-taught lessons. Their whole mentality is forward-focused, perhaps because they are about to teach their next classes for the very first time.
What's Next?
A broader context for understanding these interviews can be found at "Jonathan Lovell's Blog" under the heading "Agency and the Teaching Profession."
What we are all talking about here is the vital importance of thinking seriously and centrally about teacher agency.
In the previous three presentations, we have demonstrated ways to use a "Harris approach" with high school seniors and with beginning teachers. We're now greatly honored to have Joe Harris himself reflect on our repurposing of

Search "Jonathan Lovell"
Seventh option (picture of me and my wife Ellen)
Click to open my YouTube Channel
to Reflect
Uncovering Values: another senior's example
On the day of his funeral, the New York Times ran an article stating that the slain Mike Brown was 'No Angel.'
As more than 4500 packed into a Missouri church to say their final goodbyes to a boy they described as a 'gentle soul,'

the New York Times thought it was necessary and appropriate to remind everyone that Mike Brown was 'No Angel.' This is no isolated incident. Media for years has been jumping through hoops to sully the names and reputations of black victims..."
Forwarding in "Drones" by a senior:
In his article, "The Moral Case for Drones," Shane draws from many people that have an educated background in the area of the use of these drones in the military. Bradley J. Strawser, who is one of Shane's sources for his article and was once an officer of the Air Force, states that " '… drones do better at both identifying the terrorist and avoiding collateral damage'," (Shane).

Many people who oppose the use of drones have questioned why drones should be depended on a task that could be better taken care of by a man with actual instinct and knowledge? From Shane's article, it can be seen that this military tactic can be very much be depended on because they have been shown to do so much better than humans. It appears very clearly that drones, so far, are a step for the better in society by allowing less men and women risking their lives on the field.
[As I will, eventuallly...]
take responsibility for teaching two different for the semester
work with either one or two mentor teachers
use both their own and their mentor teachers' material
San Jose State Phase II/III
Student Teaching
My Responsibilities as a University Supervisor
Visit each teacher 7 to 10 times per semester
Write observational notes during the classes
Debrief by reading these notes aloud to the student teacher
Debrief by discussing the lesson as a whole with the student teacher [and mentor teacher]
Interview student teachers at mid-point of their student teaching using the Harris moves
Interview student teachers just before they complete their own Performance Assessments [PACT portfolios]
Low-performing 7th and 8th grade middle school
Teaching first semester 7th graders argumentative writing
Using both her own and her mentor teacher's teaching materials
Middle to low socio-economic status high school
Senior English--most materials borrowed from mentor teacher
Just finished Hamlet; getting ready to start Oedipus Rex
Just read Plato's "Allegory of the Cave"
Mostly middle socio-economic students
Almost half the class are special needs [IEP, 504] and/or ESL.
Teaches 1st period intervention and 4th period regular 8th grade English class

Beginning teachers?
Mentor teachers?
University supervisors?
Revising (Chapter 5)
1. Coming to Terms
2. Forwarding
3. Countering
4. Taking an Approach
Harris in

writer's text/draft teacher's lesson

apply moves, apply moves,
improve writing/essay improve teaching

"sponsor revision" "sponsor revision"
time & support to time & support
rethink work-in-progress
Let's take that in...
What might that imply about
how we as a profession
"sponsor revision"?

What can we do about that?
Coming to Terms:
What's your project?
"A project is something a [teacher] is
working on--and that a [lesson]
can only imperfectly realize." (p. 17)
Why asking "What's your project?"
is a radical move


Joseph Harris
University of Delaware

Understanding, Repurposing,

The Freshman, Andrew Bergman, 1990

Fleeber on Fleeber

Harris on Harris







changing context

adding to the conversation

Imagine that you enter a parlor. You come late. When you arrive, others have long preceded you and they are engaged in a heated discussion . . . . You listen for a while, until you decide that you have caught the tenor of the argument; then you put in your oar.

—Kenneth Burke, The Philosophy of Literary Form

UD E688


addressing the audience





taking a stance


Rewriting Teaching


lesson as text

attentiveness (from Sarah)

What keywords do you want to bring to our discussion?

Joseph Harris
English Department
University of Delaware


Aim: "to describe revising as a knowable practice,
as a consistent set of questions you can ask of a draft of an essay" (p. 98)
Poll: How many of us are...
Surveying the room:
Full-length videos available
Full transcript