I have been struggling with the best way to implement independent reading into my 10th grade classes since I began teaching, and while I believe I am improving on some fronts, I still fail on others.
For the past two years, I have used readings logs for my honors classes. I ask that they read 400 minutes in about a month (to begin). What I found with that (since I don’t require parent signatures) is that many students just make up the time spent reading and never actually pick up the book.
Last semester, I implemented Kelly Gallagher’s reading conference idea, and it went very well (though I still have some improvements to make). Basically, students conference with me on a weekly basis about what they’re reading. I ask them about how many pages read, where they left off, etc. I write down everything in a notebook where I give each student a few pages for the semester (we’re on block schedule, 90 minute classes).
My accomplishment with the reading conferences was that I got to know students a lot better and what they like/don’t like to read. Students were eager (after they realized it wasn’t a witch hunt) to talk about their books and ask for suggestions. It was actually fun!
My failure was that some students’ reading logs didn’t correspond to what they said in their conference (not a surprise), and there was no real way to give them a consequence for it (I don’t like to add a number system to reading independently). Other than they felt pretty embarrassed once they realized I knew.
So, this year, I am going to use Goodreads as a means to have students read about books they may like as well as write reviews (of which I will grade) of the books they read in class. I know I am going to try this with my honors classes–I’m not quite sold on my CP classes yet.
What do I still need to figure out?
- A rubric for grading the reviews (and how many I expect in a semester). Right now, I’m thinking a minimum of two.
- How to encourage other students to write constructive comments on their peers’ reviews (maybe for a grade?).
- How I will know when students write a review. Is there a Share to an E-Mail feature?
So, I still have some things to figure out, but overall, I’m pretty excited about using more technology in the classroom.
Since last year, I have been compiling resources to teach with All American Boys to my CP level students. I taught the book for the first time in the Spring of this school year, and it was definitely the highlight of the semester. I was able to connect it to many themes throughout the semester, and the students remembered and quoted the book all the way up to the exam. We had discussions in class after each chapter that I haven’t had with this level in a long time.
Social Justice Unit Outine
I’ve updated my outline to add some new resources from the #TeachTheHateUGive on Twitter and the dedicated Facebook page. Let me know if there’s anything else out there that I should add. I know I need to add to the News section (but it’s so depressingly negative).
Also, let me know if you use this at all and how it goes!
Last school year, my department had the amazing opportunity to see Kelly Gallagher. This is the second time for a few of us, but the time never seems like enough. In his presentation, Gallagher covered Thought Logs, which is a strategy that students can use in keeping journal entries for their readings.
My husband and I blessed enough to teach in the same school and in the same subject, and he created a thought log inspired by Gallagher’s presentation. We both used it last year, and while we do see some places where we need to make some adjustments, overall, it worked very well with our College Prep students.
Here’s a preview.
I did find that my group of students engaged more with the process if I helped them through the first few ones, and honestly, I ended up doing several with them because the discussions that came out of the answers to the questions were amazing.
You can see the full version here. Let me know if you use this in your classroom and what adjustments you would make.
In our current state of Journalism, “Fake News” is thrown around like a water balloon, and unfortunately, our students are falling for it. It is our duty as teachers of high school students to weed out the biased news from the unbiased news. While CNN is constantly under attack from President Trump, CNN 10 has always seemed unbiased to me.
No matter the level, I always begin class with watching ten minutes of news, following with a discussion period on the day’s stories. For my lower level students, I give them a pre-printed handout where they can take notes (and we usually do this together).
Last year, we took weekly quizzes on those notes. I’m still trying to decide if that’s what I want to continue this year.