Help me write my MA thesis...PLEASE?
July 31, 2011 6:41 PM   Subscribe

Okay, this is a long-shot, I know, but I need help finding information about someone referenced in a random Ph.D thesis I came across on teh intarwebs. His ideas are about the use of patterning in High School English education, and I'd like to acknowledge them in my own thesis. His name is Chad Wolf and he taught at Jefferson High School in '00-'01. My Google-fu is weak, but all my attempts return nothing. All the information I have below the fold.

Ok. Here is a link to the pdf of the dissertation:

First Result (pdf).

And here's some relevant information without you having to read one hundred billion pages of text:


By: Donna Redmond Jones, Doctor of Philosophy, 2004

Research was done in Elizabeth County Public Schools (ECPS) area, which I'm guessing is in Maryland, like the author's degree granting institution.

Chadwick Wolf: Jefferson High School, 2001-2002 school year (taught 9th/11th grade English; he was a first year teacher who student-taught in Baltimore and got his credential at Johns Hopkins Immersion teaching program)

Here's the relevant excerpts (page 147 followed by 188):
For the first week of school Chad taught all of his students his system for identifying ways that writers use patterns in their writing to convey and develop certain ideas. Chad said that he introduced his “patterns system” prior to beginning the district’s prescribed ninth and tenth grade curricula because “I want them to have the foundation of writing before they start tackling their own separate curriculums.” This system of identifying patterns in literature would dominate Chad’s entire approach to teaching.

Contradicting the district’s tenet that teachers should employ different instructional strategies to address a wide range of student learning styles, Chad Wolf said emphatically, “I pretty much do the same thing with all of the material that we read. I’m teaching them [the students] a system of decoding literature. I call it the pattern system, but I made it up, so it’s not like a technical term or anything.” Chad’s pattern system involved searching through text to find instances in which the author repeats an idea. According to Chad, “good authors never
repeat themselves unless they need to. You know, ninth graders aren’t going to come into the school knowing about complex metaphors and a whole lot about symbolism and things like that, so you start out by [saying] ‘read this piece and look for places where the author literally repeats himself.’” Chad believed that once students started to recognize patterns in literature, they could begin ascribing meaning to those patterns, and eventually begin to identify more complex literary devices used by an author. He held to his fervent belief that this was the way to prepare students for college English classes.
In his classes, he would ask students to identify words that the author repeats, and he would write these words in a list on the board. Then, students would begin to group the words that they felt had some connection in the text, and then they would begin making interpretations about the meaning the author was trying to convey.

The best result possible would be finding a way of contacting Mr. Wolf and asking him about his system.

If I can't do that, then I guess I'd like to know if anyone else has ever used a system like the one he mentions or if they've ever come into contact with anything like it. I'm interested in the idea from a pedagogical standpoint, as it seems to be something I've never heard of before in the decade or so I've been in education.

So hivemind. HELP?!
posted by guster4lovers to Education (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Possibly?
posted by timsteil at 6:54 PM on July 31, 2011

Best answer: Well, there seems to be only one Chadwick Wolf on Facebook. He lives in York, Pennsylvania, which isn't far from the Maryland border and is only an hour from Baltimore. He also appears to have graduated high school in '96, which makes him the right age to have started teaching in '01-'02.
posted by cerebus19 at 6:57 PM on July 31, 2011

Best answer: Have you tried locating Donna Redmond Jones and asking if she's kept in touch?
posted by likeso at 7:10 PM on July 31, 2011

Seconding "contact the author of the dissertation": she may well have contact information. If not, just cite her work -- it's the only documentation you have for this method.

What does your own supervisor suggest?
posted by jrochest at 7:17 PM on July 31, 2011

Ask your librarian.
posted by k8t at 9:14 PM on July 31, 2011

Go to your school library web site and type in dissertation. There is a service that will order it for you.
posted by k8t at 9:15 PM on July 31, 2011

Best answer: Can't help you with Chad Wolf, but his pattern system sounds a lot like the way I learned to do literary analysis in junior high and high school. We were encouraged to look for "connections" within and between texts, however outlandish the connections might seem at first. We were also taught a vocabulary of literary terms like metaphor and motif, but "connections" was the catch-all term for noticing repeated elements, parallels, etc.
posted by Orinda at 9:34 PM on July 31, 2011

Response by poster: I am doing my MA at a small university with few resources, so the library services aren't really up to this task. I'm also really early in the data collection phase, so I haven't pursued this beyond the odd googling and this query of the hivemind. I will certainly talk to my advisor if these avenues turn up nothing - although she's not really an academic. In small programs like mine, the program director has so many hats that she can't possibly do everything, and are hardly experts in every subject.

I have sent a message Chadwick Wolf on Facebook - here's hoping that's him! I've also found who I hope is THE Donna Redmond Jones on Facebook, who appears to be the same woman here, and hope that she'll respond too.

Orinda, check your memail. And if anyone else remembers anything like that in their own educational experiences, PLEASE share!!

Thank you guys for your great detective work!
posted by guster4lovers at 1:44 AM on August 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

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