choose The Books
"The Most Important Lesson Schools Can Teach Kids About Reading: It's Fun" in The Atlantic, by Jeremy Wilhelm and Michael Smith.
These two college professors have co-authored a book encouraging teachers to design student-choice reading programs. This article summarizes their viewpoint, and I couldn't agree more!
a) Having students write about their reading goals.
b) Requiring them to write literary letters about their books. For more on this, click this link to the Library of Congress Contest.
c) Filling my bookshelves with a variety of books and turning it into a small library.
d) Saying this: "You can always read in my classroom."
a)Doing whips around the room to ask about outside reading;
b) Going to the library for book talks (pictured).
c) Discussing books and posting book reviews on our class Facebook page.
d) As Penny Kittle suggests - having them maintain a list of "Books to Read".
Most importantly, the summer reading assignment was built entirely around encouraging students to select their own books.
This was the first year the English department tried this concept, and it was a rousing success!
Click here for the blog entry I wrote explaining the summer assignment.
That summer assignment set the tone and expectations for the whole year!
That's too bad. It's important to create student-choice in both their writing and their reading lessons. I do that through my usual methods: goal-setting, reflection, and mind-mapping.
The focus group for Wilhelm and Smith was eighth-graders, and I think most people tend to think only of our younger students when discussing our methods of teaching reading and writing. The truth is that if it works in 4th grade, it works in 12th grade.