Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Local Educator Tim Gillespie to Speak

We hope you can join us on Wednesday, November 10, for a somewhat unusual event, as local teacher and author Tim Gillespie presents a book designed to coach English language arts teachers on engaging students in more complex texts. In his new book, Doing Literary Criticism: Helping Students Engage with Challenging Texts, Tim sets out three principles: students should be doing (and not just reading) literary criticism; they should be exposed to a variety of critical perspectives; and nothing should be done to smother the pleasure of reading. He then presents a rigorous curriculum featuring eleven critical approaches, each with an overview of benefits and limitations, teaching suggestions, and practical activities. The book comes with a CD that provides reproducible overviews for students, essay exam questions, a bonus chapter on postmodern criticism, and more.

Tim Gillespie is a 37-year veteran of teaching in public schools. A winner of a National High School English Teacher of Excellence Award from NCTE, he has written regularly about his classroom experiences over the years. He earned his bachelor's degree in English from Stanford University and his master's degree in teaching from Lewis & Clark University. He also holds a master's degree in English from the University of New Hampshire.

Tim began his teaching career as an aide in an inner-city elementary school, teaching writing in grades 1-5. "That experience cemented my decision to get my certificate and make teaching my profession," Tim says. Over the years he team-taught a first-grade writing class, a fifth-grade writing class, and an eighth-grade language arts/social studies block, as well as middle school. He also served as the K-12 district writing coordinator for the Parkrose School District in Portland, Oregon, and later he worked as the K-12 language arts specialist for the Multnomah County Education Service District. He taught reading and journalism, served as adviser for the school newspaper and multicultural club, and taught summer school for eighteen- and nineteen-year-olds who failed their senior English classes.

In addition, Tim regularly taught evening classes for teachers when he served as an adjunct faculty member in the Graduate School of Professional Education at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. For several summers he was the codirector of the Oregon Writing Project.

Tim says he loves his job because of all the things he gets to learn while teaching. "Teaching gives me a shot at living a seamless life, linking my enthusiasm for reading with the opportunity to get my students enthused about reading; binding my efforts to help students master the writing craft with my efforts to master the writing craft.... I love teaching because it's consequential; it means something. The stakes are high. When it is successful and when it is unsuccessful, teaching changes lives."

Tim is an avid walker, hiker, and traveler. He is also a bookworm who has been known to merge reading and walking, though he warns, "I do not recommend this practice." A longtime harmonica player, he has been a member of a professional blues rock band.

The reading will start about 7 pm. Come early for a good seat -- and for the rumored treats that will be served and the prizes to be won.

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