Tastes Like More!

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Xerographica, Mar 14, 2017.

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  1. Xerographica

    Xerographica Rookie

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    I'm not technically a teacher. But my friend is and we just got off the phone. She teaches 4th grade and too few of her students have a passion for reading. Ideally, all of her students should really love to read.

    Her standard approach is for all the students to read the same book at the same time. Then they can have enjoyable and insightful discussions with each other about the book. Of course the students are encouraged to read any additional books that they are interested in.

    My issue with her approach is that some of the books that she chooses for the class to read aren't necessarily books that I personally would have truly enjoyed reading in the 4th grade... or any grade. A student reading a book that they dislike, or only moderately like, has a very high opportunity cost. It uses up time that they could have used to read a book that they super loved. Plus, reading becomes more of a chore than a pleasure. Students should thoroughly understand that reading doesn't always have to be work!

    If I was technically a teacher then my approach would be to introduce the students to the widest possible variety of the very best books. What's a good analogy? I never know. All I can ever think of is bad analogies. If you go fishing and want to catch the widest variety of fish, then you have to cast a really wide net or use the widest variety of bait.

    The problem with this approach is that it could be very expensive. Assuming of course that the library didn't already have the widest possible variety of the very best books. So I wondered about the possibility of simply providing the students with photocopies of the first few pages of the best books. I'm guessing that there would still be copyright issues. But the copyright issues definitely aren't worth discussing if the idea has absolutely no merit!!!

    Have any of you ever tried this approach or even thought about it? Let's take The Little Prince for example. I think only one student in my friend's class has read it. What would be the optimal number of pages to copy? Only copying the first page doesn't seem like it would be an adequate "sample"... right? Copying the entire first chapter seems a bit much though. Although, in this case the first chapter is pretty short. Whatever the optimal sample size, I don't think it would be necessary to provide every student with a sample. Perhaps one sample for every 5 students would be enough. Then they could simply trade samples of different books. There would also be the possibility of digitizing the samples and uploading them to Google Classroom.

    Wine tasting comes to mind... but as usual I suppose it's not the best analogy. Heh. I suppose sampling ice creams would be a better analogy. :) Maybe kids won't enjoy sampling books as much as they enjoy sampling ice creams. But, it sure seems theoretically possible that, if a student samples enough books that they'll find one that tastes like more.

    For those of you who didn't read my previous thread, I'm very intrigued with the idea of grading posts. So if you (un)consciously graded this post then don't hold back!
     
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  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    So a sample could whet a student's appetite for a particular book or genre, but then the problem becomes one of getting that book into the student's hands. If a teacher has the actual texts from which to make photocopies, then those books should be in the classroom library for student perusal and choice.
     
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  4. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Nah.

    The copyright issues are pretty serious and not something you should disregard.

    Besides that, there is probably a reason your friend is using a novel with the whole class. The value of what they are surely learning in their class-wide novel goes beyond helping students develop a passion for reading, although that may be part of it. Hopefully they are also learning about theme, setting, colorful language, grammar, literary devices, allusions, plot development, vocabulary, storytelling, making inferences, and a host of other academic topics and skills. Beyond all those things, there are certain elements of some books in particular that are good for students to think about and discuss, even if the book's topic or genre isn't particularly interesting to a given student. Since you're not a teacher you might not realize that some things are important to learn even if they're not exciting. That's why it's the teacher's job to determine what gets taught and learned, not the individual student's.

    Does the teacher also include an opportunity for students to self-select their own books or do they have an opportunity to go to the library for that? I'd be willing to bet that they do. All in all, this seems like something you don't need to worry too much about.
     
  5. Xerographica

    Xerographica Rookie

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    czacza, if my friend has one book of The Little Prince in her classroom and a student decides to borrow it, then it might be out of the classroom for a substantial amount of time. As a result, the book becomes less accessible. But this certainly wouldn't be a problem if there was an entire bookcase filled with nothing but The Little Prince. However, there's certainly a limit to how many bookcases that can fit in a classroom.

    Sure it's great for the school to have a nicely stocked library... but then again there's the issue of accessibility. The students can't spend all their time in their school library. They are going to spend far more time in their classroom. As such, it's better to have the best books within easy reach.

    I think we want the students to be like kids in a candy store. But for their classroom to be the candy store and for the candy to be the books. In theory, the more book samples they have easy access to, the better.

    In economic terms, it's a matter of supply and demand. There's the supply of books and the demand for books. I'm really curious how to greatly increase the demand for books. From my perspective, right now the students' demand for books is way too low. According to my friend, only two of her 29 students will take the initiative of reading a book if they have the opportunity to do so. Personally, I was always reading in elementary school even if I didn't technically have the opportunity to do so. I was always getting in trouble for reading during class. It's not my fault that the books were always far more interesting than the lessons. Of course there were a few exceptional lessons/teachers.
     
  6. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Do you know how a classroom works? You're talking about accessibility of books, as in books in the classroom are more accessible than books in the library...but how accessible are classroom books when the class is actively engaged in lessons and activities? Are students permitted to get up willy nilly to search for a book on the classroom shelves? Or is there a designated time when they can browse the shelves, much like the likely designated time that they visit the library every week?

    It really seems like you're stretching. No child will have access to every single book about every single topic, period. That's not feasible. It is equally impractical to have an entire class set of every single free-reading book made available to students in either a classroom or a library. The fact is that the teacher and librarian need to develop collections that are age-appropriate and about topics that most students will find interesting. If some students have to branch out a little to find something suitable, that's perfectly fine. It doesn't hurt a kid to read a book that isn't his first choice.
     
  7. Backroads

    Backroads Connoisseur

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    In this day and age, kids have no excuse to not access their own books outside of the classroom. While I like the Book whisperer method, copying books is overkill.
     
  8. Xerographica

    Xerographica Rookie

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    Caesar753, my theory is that increasing the supply and variety of book samples will increase the demand for books. Have you tested this theory? Has anybody tested this theory? Has anybody disproved this theory?

    Is it a bad theory? It sure might be! But so far you haven't said anything which leads me to believe that it is a bad theory.
     
  9. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    The de facto violation of the law doesn't make it a bad theory?

    The redundancy of having copies of first chapters as well as actual first chapters (in the form of the book itself) doesn't make it a bad theory? And if you don't have actual first chapters (in the form of the book itself), then having a sample without the rest of the book doesn't make it bad theory?
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2017
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  10. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Phenom

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    I don't need samples of books in my library. I don't have room for them. I'd rather use the space for the actual books. We share passages and chapters from books we enjoy each week to advertise our favorites. Sometimes there's a waiting list for a book, but that's no different than the public library.
     
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  11. Xerographica

    Xerographica Rookie

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    Caesar753, I am super not interested in having a debate over how much of a book a teacher can copy without violating the doctrine of "fair use". If you do want to have that debate, then you're more than welcome to start a thread dedicated to that topic.

    "The redundancy of having copies of first chapters as well as actual first chapters (in the form of the book itself) doesn't make it a bad theory?"

    Why in the world would the teacher bother supplying samples of a book that's adequately abundant in the classroom?

    "And if you don't have actual first chapters (in the form of the book itself), then having a sample without the rest of the book doesn't make it bad theory?"

    Perhaps you didn't actually read or understand my theory... so here it is again...

    My theory is that increasing the supply and variety of book samples will increase the demand for books.

    With this in mind, consider what Backroads wrote...

    "In this day and age, kids have no excuse to not access their own books outside of the classroom."

    If kids don't take the time and make the effort to access books outside of the classroom... then clearly it's because the interest is not there.

    My theory is about increasing the interest in reading. Once that interest is there then, and only then, will kids make the genuine and sincere effort to find the books that taste like more.
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2017
  12. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    ...But the copyright issues are a major part of this plan. Without the ability to provide legal copies of sampled work to students, your plan cannot work, at least not within the parameters of the law.

    I would further suggest that many children don't have the knowledge, skills, or access to outside reading resources, at least not without their parents' effort and possibly money. Can a first grader hitch a ride up to the public library once he's discovered that Fly Guy isn't in available in his classroom or library? Can a third grader run up to Barnes & Noble to buy a copy of Babymouse? Can a 6th grader without a phone or computer or internet access download Diary of a Wimpy Kid at home? Probably not. You're overthinking this and making it too hard. Let the kids read what is in the classroom and school library. Trust that good teachers and librarians are doing what they can to provide interesting materials and develop a love of reading already. If a kid wants to seek outside reading materials after finding out about something that isn't available at school, he can do that with his parents' help.

    Honestly it feels like you're getting a bit snippy with me for providing the feedback that you've expressly asked for. Is it that you want everyone else's answers, just not mine?
     
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  13. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Xerographic, maybe it's because you aren't technically a teacher, but it seems while your intent is good (improving students desire to read), you clearly don't know how reading instruction and student independent reading happen in classrooms. It takes time and money to build a classroom library but frugal teachers hit garage sales, thrift stores and library sales to suplement their collection. Well chosen and delivered read alouds pique student interest. School libraries and librarians are great, invaluable resources to engage students and supplement classroom needs. As professional educators we can admire your intentions...Know that teachers are thrilled by kids who WANT to read and work diligently to support reluctant readers. Your suggestions, however, are in violation of copyright law, not best practice, and don't support classroom needs.
     
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  14. Xerographica

    Xerographica Rookie

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    Caesar753, you keep saying that there isn't a problem and I should simply trust the system. But my teacher friend is the one who told me that too few of her students are passionate about reading. So you're essentially saying that my friend is clueless and doesn't know what she's talking about. But you're also saying that I should trust her and the system. Eh?
     
  15. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    So your friend needs suggestions to ignite student interest. Your suggestion,however, is not the best way to do that
     
  16. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I'm not sure where I said that there isn't a problem. Of course it stinks when kids aren't excited about reading. Breaking the law and violating someone's intellectual property isn't really the best way to fix that problem, though. There are other ways.
     
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  17. Xerographica

    Xerographica Rookie

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    czacza and Caesar753 you both say that there are better ways to increase the demand for books. So... what are they?
     
  18. Xerographica

    Xerographica Rookie

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    Can you please elaborate? How, exactly, do you share passages/chapters with each other?
     
  19. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    That sounds like a book talk.

    OP, what is your background? Are you working to become a teacher?
     
  20. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Is the goal to increase the demand for books, to increase the amount of time spent reading, to improve literacy rates, and/or to help students develop and maintain a love of reading? It seems like you are mixing up a few of these things, and there may be different ways to best achieve each goal.
     
  21. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    http://bfy.tw/Aef5
     
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