All reading is done IN CLASS

Discussion in 'High School' started by MsGwyn, Jul 27, 2017.

  1. MsGwyn

    MsGwyn New Member

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    Jul 27, 2017

    I am first year teacher working at an alternative high school. Many of my students are not at grade level, almost all of them have discipline problems, and they see very little value in education.
    Truthfully, I tend to have an ok time with the students because I am young and I try to make my classes engaging. However, my greatest struggle is getting my students to read. Period. They hate it! They complain of it being too hard, too boring, pointless, etc. And even if they do find it engaging, they beg me to read it to them.
    At this school, there is absolutely no homework, and students cannot be trusted enough to take care of and return books even if they did take them home. Therefore, ALL reading must occur during class. How do I have time for anything else?
    Please, any advise is appreciated.
     
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  3. mckbearcat48

    mckbearcat48 Cohort

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    Jul 27, 2017

    I taught for my first full year at an alternative school as well. The best advice I have for you to make sure that whatever you teach, make sure you can relate it to them. We were not allowed to assign homework either, but that can be a good thing because you can work with them much easier when the work is done and due in class.
     
  4. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    ,
     
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  5. MsGwyn

    MsGwyn New Member

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    Jul 27, 2017

    I've watched it, and I love it. I have my students journal, and one of my students wrote to me that I remind her of the teacher from Freedom Writers. I was thrilled to be compared to such an inspirational character. However, I feel that her story is rare. I really struggle with helping my students to see what they are capable of. Many of them are just biding time until they can drop out.
     
  6. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Jul 27, 2017

    You might see if you can find a copy of Cris Tovani's book I Read It But I Just Don't Get It. Some years ago she was reassigned from elementary school to teach reading to middle-schoolers who were floundering and often disaffected. She describes her struggle to understand the differences between her reading process and theirs and the strategies that she developed to help her students grasp that nobody reads effortlessly (whatever it looks like) and that the effort that reading takes is indeed worth it.
     
  7. GPC0321

    GPC0321 Companion

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    Aug 3, 2017

    Truthfully, I teach at a traditional high school, and the attitude towards reading is the same there, even in my honors classes. Naturally, more honors students will do outside reading, but they still complain about it, and more than a handful will try to get by without reading. Heck, they brag about not doing the reading (these are 10th grade students). The class of honors seniors I taught last year could be counted on to actually do the reading with a few exceptions.

    Most of my students of all levels prefer for me to read to them. For some it's laziness, for others it truly helps them. I've read the entire novel of To Kill a Mockingbird aloud so many times (three times a day, split into two semesters, so 6 times per school year) that I know parts of it by heart.

    Honestly, I love reading aloud, and it reassures me that they've "done the reading". But the truth is, they need to be able to do that reading on their own. This year, I'm not doing it. Or at least, with on-level classes I may get them started, modeling how to read the selection, but then they have to take over. Honors will be expected to do all reading individually, some at home, some in class. We have a bad issue with decidedly "non-honors" students taking honors level English courses just because their friends do. Then they all whine and complain and say they "can't read" because they think it will get them out of doing work. But they want credit for an honors course. Nope. Not happening.

    A lot of students have learned early on that saying, "I don't get it," and "I can't read," pushes the burden of learning off of them and onto the teacher. For some, it's very true, and you can tell those students because they want you to help them get it. But the lazy ones just want you to do it for them.

    I had an honors student proudly blurt out in class one day that she hated learning. Can you imagine that? Hating LEARNING? I didn't know what to say.
     
  8. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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  9. GPC0321

    GPC0321 Companion

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    Aug 3, 2017

    I agree with you completely. And what's funny, when my students take the state English test at the end of the semester, without exception my highest score usually comes from one of my on-level classes. And I'll have plenty of "honors" students bomb it. Go figure.

    I've revamped my courses this summer so that honors and on-level are entirely different. Different literature, different vocabulary, different writing assignments, different grammar warm-ups. Everything in the honors class is much more rigorous.
     
  10. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    This is my 6th year teaching alternative ed and the situation is the same. No homework, because most of the kids won't do it, and then you're just setting them up to fail.
    We don't have enough books for them to take home, we have one class set that all classes use.

    We've been reading novels this whole time and I love it.
    Here are some of my tips or things I've learned
    - kids will complain that something is too hard, too easy, too boring, I don't care. You can't pay attention to that.
    - the reading is best if it's a bit above their reading level and you focus on reading comprehension and you clarify things, ask questions (a lot of them will understand it), vs. reading a novel 3 grade levels below where they're supposed to be. Then it's boring, and most likely the content is childish
    - I never make kids read out loud. They volunteer but they all have to follow along and I may make them read a sentence to show me they know where we are. I use Class Dojo for points (same fro reading out loud or reading silently) and they get a participation grade. They also get points for answering questions. I do this because a lot of them feel shy because of their low reading level and I don't want them to feel even worse. I've seen kids with limited English skill and very shy personality volunteered because the environment was safe, no one made fun of the other, etc.
    - When I read a novel, that's all I do. I do vocabulary, and class discussion as we read along, often we write summaries, and we have quizzes / tests, but we're not doing grammar, or other things, most of the class time is spent reading.
    - I love when we read because I've found that behavior is best at that time. They actually pay attention, some might not, but there is no talking. I had one horrible class one year, and it took forever to go through the warm up and everything, because of their clowning around, but once we got to the reading, they were little angels.
    - kids in alternative school seem to be more mature with content. They love more adult content, violence, war, even death. They've seen it all. You probably want to read something that has a positive twist and is approved, but they can definitely handle it. They enjoy it. Can't say it's boring.
    - you do want to chunk the assignments, so if you're reading 35 minutes straight, make sure you stop every 5 minutes to clarify what was read and summarize it. Don't do it yourself, ask the kids.
    Keep it simple, but higher level. "what did he mean by this?" "why do you think he said that?" "what do you think will happen?"
     
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  11. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Aug 3, 2017

    This past year I've done silent reading. Honestly, I did that to gave myself sometime to grade, because I had no prep period, so how am I supposed to grade and plan if not on my own time?

    But it turned out great. Sometimes we've read together and the last 20 minutes I told them they will finish it on their own. When I saw it worked, I had them read silently the whole time, maybe once every week / every other week. I prepared questions for them to answer in writing, this way I knew they read it. With novels they can't fish for information the same way they could with science or history, as long as you have the right questions.
    Sometimes I even threw in questions such as "which vocabulary words were use on the pages and where?" I always told them to read the questions ahead.

    This worked out really well, some read a little slower, and didn't get to finish, even though I gave a lot of time. We always went over all the questions at the end, so those who didn't get the read it at least got caught up with what was read.

    This year I'm doing it again, because I will have 6 periods, teaching 3 preps, with 15 minutes before and 15 minutes after school for planning. That's crazy, so I will be selfish. But, it is also great for the kids, because they need to know how to read on their own.
     
  12. iRhetoric

    iRhetoric New Member

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    Aug 14, 2017

    I've been there. That's sort of the way it goes. Novel study typically takes twice as long because you have to read sections and then leave time to discuss as well. I focussed on making the discussion engaging and relevant to their lives because at the end of the day, that's probably more important than how many books they read in your class.
     
  13. DAH

    DAH Companion

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    Aug 14, 2017

    [QUOTE="MsGwyn,... working at an alternative high school. they see very little value in education.
    any advise is appreciated.[/QUOTE]

    Ms. Gwyn. You've got lots of great advice here. I have a lot of experience with alternative ed. as well, and I've discovered that worksheets work best with this group. A 2-page worksheet for every lesson. The reading material on the first page, the 2nd page questions to answer about the reading. In this way they are NOT OVERWHELMED by the content. That discourages this population more than anything else, when something looks like its TOO MUCH. This method can be used to teach EVERYTHING: science, English, math, history.

    So, cut everything down to size, and spoon feed it to them.
    I got good participation this way; Inever force anyone to read who refuses, it just takes up too much time trying to talk 'em into it, and you'll have a fight on your hands that you CANNOT win.

    Alternative ed. is a "PETRI DISH" classroom. You really have a lot of leeway to try different methods to see what works best.
    Good luck
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2017
  14. DAH

    DAH Companion

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    Aug 14, 2017

    [QUOTE="GPC0321,...I had an honors student proudly blurt out in class one day that she hated learning. Can you imagine that? Hating LEARNING? .[/QUOTE]

    Yikes!
    I have never taught honors classes (I may have subbed for them once or twice), but I did raise two honors children!
    That student was having a bad day! Like when my 9-year old daughter shouted at me, "I hate you!"
    Did she mean it? Well...she probably felt it at the time she said it, but she didn't feel that way long-term (thank God). Some times we have to take what kids say with a grain of salt.:rolleyes:
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2017
  15. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    Er.... although this is a great movie and based on a true story, it is definitely not an accurate depiction of what happens in a real, honest to goodness classroom. Saying that a movie can solve all problems is like saying that romantic chick flicks depict normal relationships.
     
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  16. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    I don't completely agree with the worksheet method and to spoonfeed anything to kids in alternative ed.
    It is true, they do get overwhelmed by more rigorous work, larger textbooks, huge novel, high expectations, but you can get them used to it and bring them up to a higher level. That's what I did and it worked.
    I do use worksheets here and there, and those are easy days, they like it as well, but I wouldn't do that every day. Too much of anything is not good, it would get boring.
    And instead of spoonfeeding things, I'd call it scaffolding and chunking assignment.
     
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  17. DAH

    DAH Companion

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    Aug 15, 2017

    Good advice, Linquist. I've worked with kids who wouldn't do a cotton-pickin' thing, even with the book in front of them and opened to the page. This was the gang-member crowd, and I learned after subbing for them numerous times that the more I simplified it, the more cooperation they were willing to exert.








     
  18. Mshope2012

    Mshope2012 Companion

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    Aug 15, 2017

    Audio books.

    At my school, we also have a no homework policy. It's probably a good thing because half the kids won't do anything and the other half are bombarded with sports practices, dance, and other activities that they are at until late at night. However, this slows down our class a lot. When we are reading a novel or short story, at times, we go to the audio. Depending on the quality, I will sometimes buy the audio. At other times, I will just use a free online reading.

    I find that many of my students will not read silently. They just won't do it. Others zone out when reading with partners. They do listen when I am reading, but I can't read all day. My voice just gives out. So we'll do the audio a little, a volunteer might read, back to the tape, etc. We do stop to discuss a lot. That helps.
     
  19. DAH

    DAH Companion

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    Aug 15, 2017

    That's been my experience, MsHope. I've had long-term assignments with this population and I can remember spending what seemed to be HOURS coaxing them, trying to get them to PARTICIPATE at any level, and it was like :banghead: beating my head against a wall!
    They just would not do it! I had to try something else. That's when I discovered that short, quick lessons worked best with them. You can actually do a lot with that; it may be a little more work for you, but you can get a lot of information in that way AND garner more participation at the same time.

    However, I do agree with Linquist, to work on using other options in an attempt to bring them up to par as much as possible.
     
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