Hello! I teach honors Eng 4 and AP Lit in Wichita. So far I am really enjoying the book. I agree with Kittle's assertion that some changes must be made if we want to change the culture of most high school English classes so that kids are actually reading, etc. My big question is HOW? I am hoping that she gets into the logistics of managing the workload and so forth.
Maybe it's because of the current political climate, but her ideas on page 22-23 about readers participating in our democratic society really caught my attention. Literature is art and I do want them to see the beauty and value in various perspectives, even if they don't agree.
In addition, the comments about college reading were interesting. I agree that reading more will benefit my students, but the shift from reading fewer texts to more will be a huge challenge--even if there is balance between the type of texts. I wonder if even my strongest readers will be resistant. Finally, one battle I wonder about is resistance from parents. Parents who "never read" in English themselves may be less encouraging than their kids need.
Looking forward to hearing from everyone!
Hey Melissa! I didn't realize you were Honors English 4 too. I'm really interested in trying this out with my students as finish up the last 8-9 weeks of school as a kind of trial run. I also have a lot of questions about logistics. I feel like I'm trying some things with this quarter to get my own feet wet and see what kind of changes I should make for next year. It's a little scary but a good challenge.
I agree, the comments about college reading stuck with me because it is such a focus to help make our students "College Ready." They definitely need to build up stamina in order to keep up with college reading. I remember feeling this when I made my own transition from HS to college. I remember buying books for my undergrad history class and feeling overwhelmed as I bought two or three non-fiction novel size books outlining different wars and time periods to study. It was a hard transition for me even coming from honors and AP classes at the HS level. It confirmed this nagging question I've struggled with for the last year or so of whether it was enough to only teach a handful of novels a year alongside other short stories, poems, non-fiction text, etc. It's true, we have to find a balance between volume and depth of reading if we want to really prepare students for college.
As far as parents go, I expect some resistance from them but I really think they will take the cue from us as teachers leading their students in this direction. It is a change of pace from the past of teaching only a few novels a semester/year. It seems like the middle schools who do the reading challenges can get students and families on board so I know it can be done. I think a lot of parent response will be directed by our attitudes in our classrooms and how we present it.
I am sort of doing a modified choice reading unit now after break. Long story, but what I discovered is that when I gave them general guidelines and dates they "have" to be finished, they scheduled themselves over 30 pages for homework! And then did it! When I gave them one chapter about 20 pages it was like mutiny. So I am going to change some things from now on in that area. We should definitely compare notes and conquer!
Interesting, Melissa. I just had my Tower Time (Sophomore intervention) class set reading goals this week. I tried having them read for about 15 minutes in class. Beforehand they had to set a goal of how many pages they thought they could read in 15 minutes. Most students said 2-4 pages. They then read and compared their estimate to what they actually read. Most of them undershot their goal. They actually were reading 10-12 pages. If they undershot their goal I asked why they thought they read more in that time period than expected. The most common response, "Because I actually like this book I'm reading. It's interesting." It is interesting to me how students often times underestimate what they are capable of because they are so use to reading something they are forced to read. When given opportunity and the right book they go above and beyond.
We started allowing students to choose their own summer reading books a couple years ago - and they have loved it. Now, telling them that we expect them to read 25 books in a year, that might be more difficult. I would expect them to complain that they just have "too much" other homework. But this year, I've included 10-15 minutes of class every day for "no rules" independent reading, and most of my students even look forward to it. The difference is that I haven't had them actually DO much with it. And I've fallen into the trap of asking them to do "book projects," which basically leads some of them to scramble and throw together a report/poster before they've even finished their reading. I think if I changed the way I ask students to respond, I could get better results. I'm really excited to learn more about how to ask my students to respond authentically, without making it all about accountability.
I also let AP kids choose their summer reading, in addition to How To Read Lit Like a Professor. I tell them it should be from the frequently tested list. I am considering encouraging one "for fun" and one from the list for this summer. I like your idea of using class time like that. I can see that being a great way to model and connect through books.
Hey all! I teach AP Literature, Speech Communication and 9th grade reading intervention (Tier 3, double block)
LOVE LOVE LOVE the foundation she lays in the first two chapters. I've been a reader as long as I can remember, but even I remember that I did NOT read A Tale of Two Cities when it was assigned in high school. And I still have a bad taste in my mouth when I think about Dickens. I have to believe (even if they won't admit it), that many of my students have done the same. And I have to wonder if I would have grown to love Dickens if I had been allowed to discover it on my own.
"Is reading only about what's hard?" No way. Some reading should be hard, should challenge us. But some reading should be enjoyable, easy, light. We practice this in our own reading, but we forget that our students need it, too.
I can't believe that only 50% of third graders report that they like to read. (pg. 3) THAT IS TRAGIC. How did we let that happen? (I realize this is another discussion entirely, but could we please scale back this obsession with test scores and let kids enjoy learning again?)
The brain science behind the "bidirectional relationship between will and skill." Kids have to be willing to give reading a go in order to have the slightest chance to grow into more proficient readers. I know that I have plenty of students who take AP Lit before they're ready for the level of reading that I've been assigning. And, once they're in the class, there's no way out. They get overwhelmed and try to just get by without truly understanding.
More than anything, I just really feel like this book is giving me the research and proof to support what I've always believed in my heart. That reading, and reading a lot, is what creates a good reader. Not programs, not one-size-fits-all curriculum, not Common Core. Kids need to love reading, and they need to read as much as they can. They'll find the "great" literature eventually. I know I did. I want to help my students get there, too.
I teach Tier 2 and AP Lang.
Just a couple of short thoughts today--
1) I'm all for choice but feel completely inadequate as a resource. I just don't have the background in YA/Teen lit. So when it comes to directing students in the direction of their interests, I have much to learn!
2) I'm not on block schedule, so I think twice a week might work better for my Tier 2, which is the group I truly want to activate and concentrate on! While my Juniors would love the time to read for pleasure, I DO feel that I need to expose them as much as possible to the nonfiction side of literature. I have done a self-selection unit and want to develop more for next year. But it is my 9th & 10th graders that hate reading, that I worry about getting to graduation, that I know have to work SO hard just to survive! And they aren't even the lowest readers in the building.
3) I'm not sure that Kittle has adequately (yet) addressed the idea that students have to read more rigorous texts (at least occasionally) to show improvement (and there's a great deal of research supporting this, including Shanahan).
4) My sincere apologies for typos as I'm contributing from my phone tonight!
Hi, April! It was great to see you at East yesterday. Thanks for sharing these thoughtful points! Regarding point 3, I think you'll appreciate hearing Kittle's thoughts in Ch. 3 (specifically pp. 33-34) where she talks about increasing the complexity over time.
SPOILER ALERT: I was particularly intrigued by the power of individual conferences with students, the importance of "to read" lists and goal-setting (and the sharing of those goals--and books--with peers), and the balance between texts that teach us and texts that simply entertain us.
Katie--I agree that conferencing has powerful potential. What a wonderful way to connect with students from Day 1 of class! I know it will be challenging with large classes, but I am all in.
April, I'm with you on point 1! I feel like establishing more independent reading in my English classes this year, along with working on my graduate hours in literature has forced me to explore and devour more and more YA lit. Actually, just literature in general. I walk into the library with classes and I don't always know where to point students but it has helped me to pick up more books I wouldn't normally pick up, then I tell my classes about the books I am reading. I've also found it very helpful to ask other students in the class to help their peers find a good book. When students ask me in the library for book recommendations I'll ask a couple questions about their interests or previous books read. If I draw a blank I quickly turn to the closest group of students and ask, "What was the last good book you read? Can you recommend something for (Fill in the student's name)?" Inevitably they come up with a couple titles the student is willing to try. It has actually become quite enjoyable to try and match students with books. I never thought I'd say that!
Hi everyone! This year, I teach AP Literature and English 2 and have been inspired by Kittle's motivation to want to create better readers even in the two chapters I have read.
Chapter one includes quite a bit of truth that is hard for me to swallow. We have talked and talked about how important differentiation is for our students, but it seems to only reach as far as the assignments, projects, etc. they are given. Why not books? I feel Willingham's claim was spot on when he said, "It is self-defeating to give all of your students the same work". When doing whole class novels, I have always struggled with the fact that the book is simply too easy for some and too challenging for others, causing them to check out. Allowing students to choose their own reading material will help solve this problem and build students up to reading the literature many see as expected of them.
Another point that particularly stuck out to me was that students need material with which they can connect, but also material that will help them solve problems they didn't even know they had or were interested in. Good reading can move and change us, it leaves something behind which is something that a lot of our students just don't get...yet. Once they are able to find a book that helps them explore themselves, they will be moved or at least will be able to see the value the book holds.
I'm an Honors English 2 and 3 teacher. I feel similarly to most previous posters which is that the first chapter is a hard pill to swallow, but I know it's true. Even with my honors kids, I know many of them check out of the reading in the first 1/3 of the book and essentially cheat their way through the assignments.
As much as I hate that, I'm still not sure what to do about it. I'm happy to encourage them to read books of their choice and even offer extra credit for doing so, but there are still some texts that I do think are valuable to cover as a class, even if they aren't as engaging to them as the popular dystopian novels of late. Even if I get kids to read a large quantity of their choosing outside of class, am I really going to get more buy-in with To Kill a Mockingbird or Fahrenheit 451?
And I know she gives an example of how she keeps track of each book the kids are reading, but with 6 classes of 20-30, I struggle with how to stay organized enough to keep track of that many books with that many kids and keep them accountable.
Essentially, I really like the ideas and understand where they're coming from, but I'm struggling with the practicality of them.
We're here to exchange ideas and ask critical questions to get the most our of our book discussion.