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English Teaching Resources

Check out our lessons, strategies, and web resources to help you in the classroom.

Our Mission:

WCTE strengthens the teaching of English Language Arts through
mentoring, scholarship, advocacy and collegiality.

WE ARE HERE FOR YOU

Our Board of Directors bring experience from middle school through university level.
Meet our Board Officers:

JOHN SCHAD

President

KELLY SEEFELDT

1st Vice President

MARIANNE POTTER

Past President

DENISE MEYER

Past President

JENNIFER KIEREN

Secretary

TOM SCOTT

Treasurer

See what some Satisfied Members have to say


  • Collaboration

    I belong to WCTE because it allows me to collaborate with people across the state and it keeps me energized in my own teaching.

    Jennifer Kieren, Ellsworth Community High School

  • Best Teaching Practices

    WCTE membership acquaints me with best teaching practices and opportunities for collaboration with my Wisconsin colleagues.

    Katie Herrmann, Hartford Union High School

  • Connections

    As a teacher in a small district, I love the connection that WCTE allows me to make with teachers all over the state. Whether large or small, urban or rural, or somewhere in between, we can all help each other out.

    Kara Sommerfeldt, Arcadia High School

  • Family

    NCTE is my professional home; WCTE, my immediate family.

    Kathy Nelson, Arrowhead High School

  • Making World Better

    WCTE helps me make the world a safer and cooler place for English teachers and their students.

    John Pruitt, UW-Rock County

  • Opportunities for Growth

    WCTE is my link to professional growth in ELA. This group of dedicated educators works tirelessly to bring all of us opportunities for growth and fellowship. Join now!

    Martha Handrick, Lakeland Union High School

  • Having a Voice

    WCTE gives us a voice in our own profession! I love being part of an organization that believes in the values I fight hard to protect in my classroom.

    John Schad, Kohler Middle School

WCTE Update: September 2018 issue

This issue is chockful of information about the upcoming convention, outstanding members who are winning awards, news affecting English teachers in Wisconsin, and plenty of ideas for your classroom.  Check out the following:

  • Twitter Chats
  • Meet District #2 director, Sarah Rowse-Borelli
  • The Great American Read:  voting and TV episode about the books
  • Contest, Scholarships and Curriculum–all about First Amendment Freedoms
  • Books:  Recommendations from Board members
  • Books:  Well-crafted plans foe using Choice Reading with your students

Download here:  September 2018 WCTE Update

Contest, Scholarships and Free Curriculum

FOR YOUR STUDENTS, from the Anti-Defamation League.

Our First Amendment Freedoms Art & Essay Contest for Grades 6 – 11

For over 200 years, the First Amendment has been the cornerstone of freedom in the United States. Commonly referred to as the “five freedoms,” the First Amendment has helped people in the U.S. exercise their rights to work for a more free and just society and impacts every aspect of our lives.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is now accepting submissions for the 2018 “Our First Amendment Freedoms Art & Essay Contest.” Students grades 6 – 11 Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota can apply by Sept. 28, 2018. First Place winners in each grade category will receive college scholarships for $5,000. Second Place winners will receive $1,000.
As a part of the contest, teachers are invited to use ADL’s completely free curriculum guides on the First Amendment! A recent poll found nearly 75% of students took the First Amendment and its protections for granted. Help teach the next generation the importance of the First Amendment freedoms!

LEARN MORE AND GET STARTED HERE.

     

Did you know…

  • The classroom teacher with the most entries will be invited to the awards dinner and will receive $1,000. The school with the most entries will receive an Anti-Defamation League A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute educational workshop.
  • All art entries will be eligible for submission to local festivals thanks to Amdur Productions. The winning students will be invited to present their work at the 2018 Freedom Award Dinner in Chicago.
  • Scholarships provided by a generous anonymous donor, the Harold R. Burnstein Future Leaders Merit Award Endowment Fund, and the Kathleen Hart Solovy Scholarship Endowment Fund.

Dear Wisconsin Teachers,
We know it’s sometimes harder for students in states outside Illinois to get to our dinner in Chicago (where the awards are presented), but that does not disqualify them. They are absolutely welcome to enter the contest and teachers should most definitely utilize our free curriculum, lesson plans and other resources. Contact me with any questions.

Stephanie L. Seweryn
Assistant Director of Development
sseweryn@adl.org

Position statement opposing UW-Stevens Point’s proposal to eliminate 13 humanities majors

The Wisconsin Council of Teachers of English strongly believes the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point is making a very short-sighted decision in proposing to eliminate thirteen humanities majors, including English. Not only do we believe it will negatively impact current and future students interested in the humanities, but we also believe it will significantly diminish the quality of education for every student earning any type of degree from UW-Stevens Point. By weakening this vital area of the university which currently provides nearly 200 English and more than 600 total humanities majors with skills that are necessary in all career paths, you are choosing to remove those majors that have been the cornerstone of educated society for more than 2,000 years. WCTE sees this proposal, should it come to fruition, as having dire near and long-term consequences. If the proposed plan is approved, you are choosing to limit the potential and possibilities for the students and working people of central Wisconsin and quite literally taking away the ability to major in what makes us most human. We believe this is a mistake with far-reaching, unintended consequences. The mission of our organization is to “strengthen the teaching of English Language Arts,” and we believe the quality of the course offerings for students majoring in other fields of study, those seeking minors in English, and future English teachers will suffer due to the elimination of the major. The English Education program at UWSP has consistently provided the surrounding communities and our state with high-quality English Language Arts teachers, but the strength of that program comes from the strength of the overall English department. If the major is eliminated, the inevitable loss of course offerings and staff would negatively impact the preparedness of the future English educators, not to mention the critical humanities experience of students seeking other majors.

English majors do not simply write creatively and read novels, but rather are given the skills necessary to communicate effectively, argue intelligently, read all types of interdisciplinary texts analytically with advanced comprehension, and even more importantly, graduate with strong moral values and empathy for other citizens of our world. English majors seek to understand themselves and others through studying of the humanities. It is through reading about the experiences of others that we strengthen our social awareness. Literature is what helps make and define us as part of the human race. Reflecting on the classics and contemporary stories challenges our assumptions, hones our thoughts and defines our beliefs. The study of literature, as well as history and art, allow for such opportunities while simultaneously arming students with skills that are valuable in the workforce. We recognize the importance of preparing future generations of poets, artists, and historians; why would the university want to take away the opportunities for their students to become intellectual leaders? This kind of thinking has led to some of the problems we are currently having in our society – creating communities who only believe in the importance of science and math mistakenly puts all of the emphasis on aspects of life which can be quantified. In a world which only places value in the quantifiable, we lose the parts of academia which foster free thinking and creativity. Additionally, completing the required elements of an English major demonstrates to all future employers that your students have mastered a rigorous curriculum focusing on communication, critical thinking, analysis, argument, and multi-modal writing. Since these skills are needed in all careers paths, the potential cuts to your English major will no doubt water down the quality of the education received at your university by eliminating the content experts who currently strengthen the reputation and worth of a degree from UW- Stevens Point.

When it comes to eliminating humanities in general, we must consider the world in which all of our students will be expected to perform. As quickly as our world is changing, we cannot fathom what jobs and careers might be necessary to prepare our students for since some currently do not exist – it is our job to prepare students for all potential career paths as they move forward in a world that changes as quickly as we write this letter. A major in the humanities has the flexibility to prepare students for careers of the present and careers of the future. While we support high standards and instructional practices which promote college and career readiness, we maintain that education should also provide students with the skills to think critically and creatively, as well as the opportunity to become morally responsive to our ever-changing and increasingly-diverse world.

The proposed changes at UWSP follow the trend of simplifying the purpose of education to be exclusively workforce development. If our four-year institutions do not teach the humanities, where will students experience them? Surely a university is a logical place for students to study the impact of art on society, explore the tenants of different religions, begin to understand the complexity of music, and master world languages – helping to create well-rounded students is not only our job as educators, but a responsibility that should be taken with the utmost seriousness.

The underpinnings of universities lie in the opportunity for men and women to gather, to read, to engage in intellectual discussions of ideas, and practice what it means to be positive citizens. A university education is much more than training for a career. Humanities majors offer opportunities for students to grow and promote the development of new thoughts and ideas needed in the complex world which is waiting for the next generation of leaders. We understand this decision is being made as a cost-saving measure in an age of funding instability. But it is fundamentally incorrect to say the humanities are simply a drain of university finances with little to no value in the academic world.

Finally, please do not underestimate the impact of humanities’ majors on the Stevens Point community. The elimination of the humanities would hurt the cultural heart of the city’s artists, poets, readers, and writers. The weakening of these programs will no doubt be a devastating loss to the intellectual identity of the local community with long-reaching impacts on the creative abilities of your students moving forward. Losing the humanities would certainly limit students opportunities, and quite possibly, keep them from choosing UW-Stevens Point.

We ask that you reconsider eliminating majors in the humanities – please consider all other budgetary options before making these unprecedented cuts which will no doubt have an ever-lasting impact on your university, your community, and our state educational system.

Most sincerely,
John D. Schad         Kelly Seefeldt       Lynn Frick
President                Vice President      Professional Issues Chair

Resolution in opposition to Gov. Walker’s plan to strip Wisconsin public workers of their collective bargaining rights

The Wisconsin Council of Teachers of English strongly opposes Governor Walker’s plan to strip Wisconsin public workers of their collective bargaining rights. Here’s why:

  1. There has not been enough time for the legislature to make an informed decision.

The Governor is trying to rush this legislation through without an honest debate about the effects it will have on the state. In face-to-face meetings with school district delegates, Republican legislators admitted that they have not had time to read the bill and repeatedly expressed surprise at consequences of the bill that they had not foreseen. WCTE demands that more time be taken to fully understand the implications of the Governor’s proposal before a vote is taken.

  1. WCTE believes that decisions of this magnitude must derive from negotiation and open debate.

Unions and public workers have repeatedly informed the Governor that they are willing to negotiate necessary adjustments to wages and benefits to meet economic demands if the Governor is willing to remove all references to collective bargaining from his proposal. Despite public workers’ willingness to compromise, the Governor continues to refuse. Until he abandons this unreasonable stance, WCTE has no choice but to condemn his actions and oppose any vote on his proposal until all references to collective bargaining are removed.

  1. The quality of education in Wisconsin will suffer if the Governor’s proposal passes.

Teachers will have no voice in developing important policies such as class size, teaching load, professional development, planning time, extracurricular duties, and more; this will reduce the effectiveness of instruction because school districts will be unable to resist the temptation to use the removal of bargaining rights to cut costs in these and other areas. The Governor’s proposal also risks driving the most talented, dedicated, and experienced teachers from the profession or from the state.

Students, however, will suffer most. For example, five states currently prohibit collective bargaining for educators: South Carolina, Georgia, Texas, North Carolina, and Virginia. According to 2009 data, students in these states achieve significantly lower SAT and ACT scores than Wisconsin students do.

Since removing collective bargaining rights from public workers offers no economic gains to offset these losses in educational quality, WCTE has no choice but to oppose any vote on the Governor’s proposal until all references to collective bargaining are removed.

  1. School districts and administrators across the state have joined in their employees’ opposition to the Governor’s proposal.

The Wisconsin Association of School Boards, along with local municipalities and school districts across the state, has recognized the dangers of the Governor’s proposal and has issued statements to condemn it. WCTE recognizes that if these groups are willing to keep collective bargaining rights for their employees, there is no need for the radical changes the Governor proposes. Therefore WCTE strongly opposes any vote on the Governor’s proposal until all references to collective bargaining are removed.

  1. WCTE believes that public workers are not our enemies. They are our neighbors, our police, our firefighters and teachers; they are the people that plow our roads and clean our public buildings. WCTE demands that, in keeping with the venerable progressive traditions of our state, public workers be allowed to retain the bargaining rights that have sustained their professions for decades.

February 21, 2011

Wisconsin Council of Teachers of English: Common Core State Standards Position

Click here to see our stance regarding the Common Core State Standards.

Wisconsin Council of Teachers of English Position Statements, Resolutions, Endorsements

WCTE POSITION STATEMENT ON CHANGES IN LICENSURE

Tony Evers, State Superintendent
David DeGuire, director for Teacher Education Professional Development and Licensing
Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction
125 South Webster Street Madison, WI 53703

Dear Dr. Evers, David DeGuire, and Members of the Leadership Group on School Staffing Challenges,

We write to you today on behalf of the Wisconsin Council of Teachers of English (WCTE) to address our concerns regarding the emergency licensing changes. WCTE is a nonprofit, voluntary educational organization whose purpose is to improve the quality of instruction in the English language arts at all school levels in the state of Wisconsin. While WCTE understands the challenges administrators face with hiring qualified teachers across the state, we have strong reservations regarding some of the proposed changes. While these changes may help to ease the teacher shortages in Wisconsin in the short-term, the long-term effects need to be addressed. It is imperative for students to have high quality teachers who can provide high-quality instruction.

WCTE has the following concerns about the proposed changes:

Consolidated subject licenses.
An English license allows a teacher to teach English Language Arts grades 7–12. S/he does not have the skills or background to teach journalism or theater. One would do a disservice to students who were expecting to be taught the fundamentals of journalism but who would have to settle for one who is not licensed in that area, because, unfortunately, that’s what it would be. Students should not have to settle in their education. They should expect teachers who are experts in the content of their field and experts in conveying that content. Furthermore, giving school districts the authority to validate teacher competency gives too much power to individuals who don’t know the specifics of every license. As an example, if a school district lacks a reading specialist, will it try to substitute an English teacher? A reading specialist requires a diverse set of skills that are different from the skills required of an English teacher. Once again, to compare the two licenses is to minimize the other.

Consolidated grade level licenses.
A similar problem lies in the proposal to consolidate grade levels on teaching licenses. The skills and knowledge to teach differs with the age of the student. Teaching 4th grade students is much different than teaching seniors in high school, academically and developmentally. Teaching programs in Wisconsin universities and colleges would suffer attempting to prepare future teachers to teach any age in that 14-year span from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade.

Flexibility in earning new licenses in a new area.
Just because one can teach, does not mean that skill of teaching is transferable to any subject area. A teacher’s education and skills need to match the license s/he has. By allowing school districts to decide if a teacher is successful in a new license area lessens what it means to be a licensed professional. Will every school district across the state have the same standards to endorse a candidate for full licensure? Wisconsin is known for its high standards for teachers, and we urge you to keep those standards high.

Eliminate mastery testing when able to demonstrate content knowledge in other ways.
As teachers, we understand the desire to reduce high stakes testing, and the Praxis and other such tests pre-service teachers need to take to enter the field would certainly be considered high stakes. However, by eliminating mastery testing, the level of knowledge becomes inconsistent across the state and the high standard that Wisconsin education is known for diminishes. Furthermore, focusing on only content knowledge, one piece of the art of teaching, is diminishing the heart of the teaching profession: pedagogical skills and learning. Of the ten teaching standards in Wisconsin, only one refers to content knowledge. The other nine standards all revolve around pedagogy.

The WCTE mission is to strengthen the teaching of English language arts through mentoring, scholarship, advocacy, and collegiality. Altering the requirements for teachers and insinuating that pedagogy is less important than content knowledge diminishes the teaching profession and endangers the quality of education of Wisconsin students, two tenets for which our organization stands.

Respectfully,

Wisconsin Council of Teachers of English

June 2017

WCTE Position Statement Regarding the

Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts

In light of the recent questions raised by Governor Walker regarding the adoption and implementation of the CCSS for the state of Wisconsin educational systems, the Wisconsin Council of Teachers of English resolves:

WCTE recognizes the importance of and need for standards.

WCTE supports the rigor of the CCSS for ELA and its potential to impact student learning and develop Wisconsin students to be college and career ready.

WCTE encourages educational leaders in WI to have broad interpretation of the CCSS for ELA.

WCTE believes that the CCSS for ELA provide a basic framework, which can be a starting place in making curricular decisions.

WCTE believes that the spirit of the CCSS for ELA as a guide for college and career readiness is enhanced when seen in the larger context of the ELA as one of the humanities that explore the human experience.

WCTE endorses the efforts of Wisconsin DPI to place the CCSS for ELA in the larger context of the humanities.

WCTE cautions against the misuse of assessment of students and teachers that will be linked to the CCSS for ELA.

 

WCTE supports the five policy goals developed by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) through their partnership with the National Center for Literacy Education (NCLE) and their compelling report on the current status of support for professional learning in schools: “Remodeling Literacy Learning: Making Room for What Works.”

1. Support educators’ knowledge of literacy pertinent to their content areas.

2. Promote active collaboration among educators to deepen student learning.

3. Invest in professional learning that is ongoing, job-embedded, collaborative, and linked to engaging literacy learners across grades and subjects.

4. Deploy educator time to maximize the development of collective capacity across a school or system.

5. Foster shared agreements about literacy among educators to deepen learning in every subject.

Passed by WCTE membership October 11, 2013.

 

Resolution in opposition to Gov. Walker’s plan to strip Wisconsin public workers of their collective bargaining rights

The Wisconsin Council of Teachers of English strongly opposes Governor Walker’s plan to strip Wisconsin public workers of their collective bargaining rights. Here’s why:

  1. There has not been enough time for the legislature to make an informed decision.

The Governor is trying to rush this legislation through without an honest debate about the effects it will have on the state. In face-to-face meetings with school district delegates, Republican legislators admitted that they have not had time to read the bill and repeatedly expressed surprise at consequences of the bill that they had not foreseen. WCTE demands that more time be taken to fully understand the implications of the Governor’s proposal before a vote is taken.

  1. WCTE believes that decisions of this magnitude must derive from negotiation and open debate.

Unions and public workers have repeatedly informed the Governor that they are willing to negotiate necessary adjustments to wages and benefits to meet economic demands if the Governor is willing to remove all references to collective bargaining from his proposal. Despite public workers’ willingness to compromise, the Governor continues to refuse. Until he abandons this unreasonable stance, WCTE has no choice but to condemn his actions and oppose any vote on his proposal until all references to collective bargaining are removed.

  1. The quality of education in Wisconsin will suffer if the Governor’s proposal passes.

Teachers will have no voice in developing important policies such as class size, teaching load, professional development, planning time, extracurricular duties, and more; this will reduce the effectiveness of instruction because school districts will be unable to resist the temptation to use the removal of bargaining rights to cut costs in these and other areas. The Governor’s proposal also risks driving the most talented, dedicated, and experienced teachers from the profession or from the state.

Students, however, will suffer most. For example, five states currently prohibit collective bargaining for educators: South Carolina, Georgia, Texas, North Carolina, and Virginia. According to 2009 data, students in these states achieve significantly lower SAT and ACT scores than Wisconsin students do.

Since removing collective bargaining rights from public workers offers no economic gains to offset these losses in educational quality, WCTE has no choice but to oppose any vote on the Governor’s proposal until all references to collective bargaining are removed.

  1. School districts and administrators across the state have joined in their employees’ opposition to the Governor’s proposal.

The Wisconsin Association of School Boards, along with local municipalities and school districts across the state, has recognized the dangers of the Governor’s proposal and has issued statements to condemn it. WCTE recognizes that if these groups are willing to keep collective bargaining rights for their employees, there is no need for the radical changes the Governor proposes. Therefore WCTE strongly opposes any vote on the Governor’s proposal until all references to collective bargaining are removed.

  1. WCTE believes that public workers are not our enemies. They are our neighbors, our police, our firefighters and teachers; they are the people that plow our roads and clean our public buildings. WCTE demands that, in keeping with the venerable progressive traditions of our state, public workers be allowed to retain the bargaining rights that have sustained their professions for decades.

February 21, 2011

In the latest WCTE Update

WCTE’s position on Common Core Standards, convention review, DPI news, and more in the January Update.   

Theater in London

Theater in London

Program and Purpose:

This program offers you the opportunity to spend three fabulous weeks attending plays, studying theatre, and immersing yourself in the culture of London, the theatre capital of the world!

Our schedule of plays ranges from Shakespeare, to award-winning new plays, to musicals, to experimental theatre. We’ll see those shows at venues ranging from The National Theatre to fabled theatres such as the Barbican, the Royal court, the Donmar Warehouse, and the Bush Theatre, among others. London is the greatest theatrical laboratory in the world, and you will experience it at its best.

In the September Update

Convention sessions and registration form, testing news from DPI, award winners and more in the September Update.     

Nominations Deadline Extended

The deadline has been extended to May 15 for nominating candidates for the Nancy Hoefs Memorial Award for an  Outstanding Beginning Teacher.  See the Awards Page for details.