Friday, February 7, 2014

Collaboration, Proofiness, and The Crucible

We’ve had lots of snow (and snow days!) in New Jersey and so time to catch up on some of our reading. Tara Seale’s piece, “Creating Synergy beyond the English Hall,” in the January 2014 issue of English Journal (103.3) caught our attention for its intriguing suggestion of a non-fiction pairing.

Seale talks about how she shares tips and advice with a math colleague (the bulk of Seale’s article is about transformative collaborations like this). She mentions a particular tip from her friend: Proofiness: The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception, by Charles Seife. In the introduction to his text, Seife discusses Joe McCarthy’s use of numeric proof to bolster his argument about communist infestation of the United States. As Seale writes, “the introduction alone is a good nonfiction excerpt to add to a study of The Crucible. Proofiness explains the importance of numbers to any argument and how numbers distort or enhance arguments.”

What a great informational text connection! And what a great point about how helpful it can be to tap the knowledge of our non-language arts colleagues for ideas for these kinds of connections. Good work, Tara Seale!


  1. HT @meenoorami: Pair documentary FOG OF WAR as a text w/ THE THINGS THEY CARRIED

  2. Thank you for your kind comments.
    If anyone reading this blog would like a copy, I will send a copy of the article I wrote to your email, while also encouraging you to become an NCTE member and subscriber to the EJ. NCTE and the EJ have helped me become the teacher I am today, and I want to endorse both as credible investments in the continuing knowledge for all dedicated English teachers.

    1. My email address is

  3. Jessica Keigan describes in an Education Week blog post a rewarding English-social studies collaboration in which students analyzed several revolutionary declarations (Declaration of Independence, Declaration of the Rights of Man, Declaration of Rights and Sentiments). This background knowledge then informed the students' study of A Tale of Two Cities:

    "This particular unit requires students to analyze the nature and patterns of revolutions. For history class, they continued to read and analyze historical documents as representations of patterns and stages of various revolutions of the 1700s and 1800s. In English, we moved from analysis of informational texts to a study of A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens. Students applied their analytical skills to deconstruct Dickens' style and purpose. They looked for evidence of his historical perspective and authorial choices and examined how these two elements worked together to create a commentary on revolutionary ideas."