How did this tragedy happen? More importantly, what can we do about it?
Increasingly, I offer students choice in the texts they read, and as I have written in this space, I have some reservations about the trade offs. Nevertheless, I have one class of seniors this trimester in which I'm giving an unprecedented reading choice opportunity.
But first, I wanted to get to know my students as readers so that I could better direct their reading choices and help the most reluctant readers find books. For this, I use a project from William Kist's The Socially Networked Classroom (Corwin 2010).
The project begins with students responding to a questionnaire, which is in the book and offered here via google docs.
Here is a portion of one student's responses to the questionnaire:
Other students describe their struggles with reading and, sadly, how much they hated reading in middle school. I resounding theme for many is the constraints imposed on them by Accelerated Reader.
Once students complete the questionnaire, they move on to the multigenre project. Some take a rather less is more approach and create a Prezi that groups their reading choices. Others, like Brigham, offer much detail about their reading choices. Here is Brigham's Prezi:
Once students begin speaking about their reading lives and sharing their reading experiences, which we do in a very informal way, I often hear other students commenting about also having read a particular book or series. Many students have read Lemony Snicket but aren't aware that he is Daniel Handler. That gives me the opportunity to introduce them to Why We Broke Up, a book I'm sure Marissa, whose questionnaire appears above, would like.
Through their projects, students open the book on their lives and tell me stories about how they game the AR system and how teachers wouldn't allow them to choose their own books, ironically as part of a program that's, at least theoretically, based on choice. I find myself defending the teachers who have no choice but to limit student choice. Kids often don't know this.
We meander through the presentations, taking our time to share book titles and get to know one another through our talk about books.
But before the questionnaire and the multigenre project, I share with students my project, which I created using Animoto:
The Multigenre Reading Autobiography project set the scene for my trimester of experimentation and increased reading choice, the plan for which I'll describe in my next post.
Feel free to create your own Reading Autobiography and share it in the comment section, and thanks for taking the time to read. I know you have a towering TBR book pile, too.