Reading with the kids....
I said this before, but my number one priority this year is to turn my students into life-long readers this year. Some of them are already there. Others haven't actually read an entire book since the fifth grade. Students are experts at fake reading, and often their teachers suspect or know this, but aren't sure how to fix the problem. And English teachers are just so devoted to the whole class read, which is where we lose so many of the kids. Here's why:
- The book just isn't everyone's cup of tea. Reading a book with your class for three to six weeks is a perfect way to ingrain the attitude that books are boring... based on the kid's experience of being forced to read a book he or she just didn't like.
- Students read at different rates. If you hand The Great Gatsby to a group of students on a Friday, there is going to be that one student who finishes the book by Sunday. She's going to be bored and disengaged when the class is still discussing the first half of the book two weeks later.
- Every reader is unique. Probably some of you reading this now were reading all through high school, churning through dozens of books... Just not the books you were supposed to be reading for class.
- The only way a reader is going to fall in love with books is to find the right book. This means students have to be free to choose their own books.
So, this year in my classroom students are being given choice, and being asked to read both in and out of class...books that they choose. This doesn't mean we won't be reading anything together... there will be at least one whole class read. And we will read and discuss plenty of shorter pieces: essays, stories, poems, etc. Our first reading this year was Sherman Alexie's "Superman and Me."
For fans of classroom photos, here are a couple. In the first one, my husband is working on my bulletin board the weekend before school opened. We have a tradition that he always comes in to help me at the beginning and the end of the school year.
And this year I really started from scratch. I moved from a first floor classroom that I had been in since the school opened ten years ago, to a second floor classroom with a nice view of our stadium. Also... birds!
I need to take some better pictures, but you can probably see that my podium has a painting after Magritte... This podium was created by some of our students a few years ago, and I traded a more traditional podium to get this one. The kids like it!
Finally finishing East of Eden...
At last! Cue the Etta James song. I just finished reading East of Eden on Friday, and even though it took me forever, it is one of my favorite books of all time. I need to write my final post for Andi's event East of Eden Read-a-long hosted by The Estella Society...The even officially ended August 18th, but I'm going to use my "teacher card" and not worry about finishing so late.
An event I don't want to miss...
Aarti at Book Lust is hosting A More Diverse Universe (#Diversiverse) during the second half of September. I love this event! Reading books by diverse authors expands the universe for all. I've already signed up--I just have to make sure I manage my time so that I can get at least one, or maybe two books in. My first choice for this event is Men We Have Reaped, a memoir by Jesmyn West. I've heard this is a very powerful book, and it has been on my TBR stack since spring. I'll be making a list and arranging my reading priorities to try to get at least one more book in. Maybe Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique. This novel is set on the island of St. Thomas, which is where my husband was born and grew up. This is another book that has been sitting on my TBR stack.
For more about Aarti's Diversiverse event, go to the sign-up page at Book Lust.
Some of that other stuff....
I don't want to forget about The Classics Club. The latest "Spin" gave me my next Classics Club book: Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. Yesss! And I need to post an update very soon....
Two books I want to mention:
A novel from Anne Leigh Parrish, author of the short story collection Our Love Could Light the World. Parrish's novel, What is Found, What is Lost, is a beautifully written story of four generations of women, and I was enthralled by it. My review is coming within the next week.
And Judith Starkston, who is Reader in the Wilderness to me, has a new novel coming out. I just got my copy of Hand of Fire in yesterday's mail, and can't wait to read this novel of Brieseis and the Trojan War.