Allen Webb makes hat trick in publishing

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KALAMAZOO--Dr. Allen Webb, Western Michigan University professor of English, has accomplished a rare triumph, garnering concurrent contracts with the publisher Routledge for three books.

All works in the trio focus on the contemporary teaching of English and will be sold at home as well as in Great Britain, Canada, Australia and South Africa.

The first book, "Teaching Literature in Virtual Worlds: Immersive Learning in English Studies," is an edited collection that discusses the viability of teaching literary works using virtual worlds.

Webb used a Presidential Innovation Grant he received from the University in 2006 to put together a team of scholars and graduate students, who performed valuable research by setting up online virtual worlds for study. The resulting book, published in October 2011, includes chapters written by 13 WMU graduate students and English department faculty.

Another work published in October 2011, "Teaching the Literature of Today's Middle East," responds to a need for resources on teaching texts by Middle Eastern writers and provides a gateway into the literature emerging from the Middle East.

It includes strategies for teachers to give impactful and relevant lessons on current Middle Eastern events and literature as well as outlines ideas for getting students to gain an in-depth understanding of the literature and culture.

Webb's third publishing contract is for "Teaching to Exceed the English Language Arts Common Core Standards: A Literacy Practices Approach for 6-12 Classrooms." Scheduled for publication in April, it is co-written with Richard Beach, professor emeritus of English education at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, and Amanda Thein, associate professor of English education at the University of Iowa.

The book coincides with the overwhelming acceptance of the Common Core State Standards Initiative, a states-led effort to establish a shared set of clear educational standards for English language arts and mathematics that states can voluntarily adopt. These rigorous, college- and career-ready K-12 curriculum principles have already been adopted by Michigan and nearly every other state in the union.

The book discusses both the intentions and limitations of the curriculum and will serve as a timely and thoughtful guide for teachers seeking to prepare their courses to meet the new standards.

Webb came to WMU and the Department of English faculty in 1992. His research and teaching focus on English education, postcolonial and minority literature, and Internet learning. He is principal investigator on the WMU Literary Worlds project and past president of the Michigan Conference on English Education.