Spanish Fork Junior High English teacher, Rillene Nielsen, had the distinguished opportunity of presenting at the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Annual Convention held in Las Vegas, Nevada. During a November 17 Saturday breakout session, Nielsen and her co-presenters led a philosophical discussion, encouraging English teachers to see themselves as “Englishists” whose specialty lies in the literature they love. Participants considered the different ways scientists, historians, or even artists might read and interpret texts, then juxtaposed those practices with those of the devoted “Englishist.”
Nieslen demonstrated a way to use film as a tool to help interpret literature by sharing a short piece she created so her students could gain a better understanding of Rodman Philbrick's use of metaphor in the YA novel, Freak the Mighty. She also shared ways in which informational texts can be used to supplement literature and poetry.
Participants were encouraged to reflect and even redefine their roles as analysts and writers of literary works at a time when Common Core Standards emphasize the reading and writing of informational texts—texts which are primary sources in history and science classrooms but are secondary in the Englishist's.
Nielsen's inquiry into the Common Core prompted her to write the NCTE proposal and will continue to guide her practice in the classroom. Her colleagues wish to thank her for her ambition, conviction, and leadership as her efforts have prompted them to draft proposals for next year's NCTE convention.