English Teachers: How do you choose texts?

Discussion in 'High School' started by MetalTeacher, Oct 26, 2016.

  1. MetalTeacher

    MetalTeacher Companion

    Oct 11, 2016
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    Oct 26, 2016

    How do you decide which books/stories to use in your curriculum, and what influences your decision? Is it canon/artifact status? Personal favorites? Appeal to students? How much do the potential objections of parents figure into your choices?
  3. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

    Jul 5, 2011
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    Oct 26, 2016

    1. Appeal to students is always my top priority. I want to find books and stories they can enjoy reading.
    2. I also choose personal favorites. I feel strongly that if I'm passionate about it, they will feed off of that.
    3. I also, of course, care about the quality of the text. It has to be something with some "meat" to it so we can really dig into it.

    Parent objections don't figure strongly. I haven't had issues in the past. If I did, I'd probably consider it more. I do shy away from some for that reason though.
  4. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

    Aug 2, 2002
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    Oct 27, 2016

    I hope this isn't off-topic, but you might be interested in Ann Hood's latest novel, The Book That Matters Most. It is fabulous.
  5. LiteraryDiva

    LiteraryDiva Guest

    Dec 1, 2016

    The county decides what novels are taught. It sucks.
  6. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

    Sep 7, 2010
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    Dec 1, 2016

    I am lucky to teach in a school/department that gives me almost complete freedom to choose my texts. I have a choice of about a dozen titles that are available for my grade level, with one or two required "core" texts that are agreed-upon (canonical authors like Shakespeare). Other than that, I have freedom to choose whatever I feel best meets my content standards.
  7. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

    Feb 4, 2010
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    Dec 1, 2016

    I have freedom in choosing that I want to use. In the past, I chose texts that were about overcoming obstacles: Living up the Street (lower level, but it is a local author to us so it was of high appeal), I know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Night, Dawn (Night is truly about overcoming obstacles, we read Dawn because it was the next book in the trilogy), Crime and Punishment (not quite obstacles, but still, it was interesting, although a lot higher than students' level was).
    I wanted to read Malala, (overcoming obstacles, role model) even ordered a class set and didn't get to read it. I think next semester.

    This semester we read Lord of the Flies simply because we had a class set at the new school and the students hadn't read it yet. (and it's a high school level book). I was very limited in what to read because ordering books would have taken forever. In my English 1 class we read Living up the Street again (these student haven't read it yet(, simply because I had the books.
    I also ordered Catcher in the Rye, it was recommended and peaked my interest, it's funny, that as an English teacher I haven't even read it. We might read it this semester coming up, if not, the following year.
    MetalTeacher likes this.
  8. platypusok

    platypusok Companion

    Jun 26, 2011
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    Jan 13, 2017

    I know this is months ago but...

    As a previous poster said, it has to have some literary merit/meat for discussion and then it comes down to
    1. What I like
    2. What the students like

    We read a ton of short stories and poetry. I have all the high school classes (I teach at a small school).
    "Big works": Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, The Crucible, Macbeth, The Lord of the Flies, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, Night, Animal Farm, Frankenstein, Into the Wild, Things Fall Apart and A Midsummer Night's Dream.

    The students' favorites are Night, Midsummer and Animal Farm. I've only taught Macbeth for three years, I really like but the response has been very meh from the students. I'm thinking of Much Ado About Nothing this year instead.

    I'm lucky because my admin lets me teach what I want, I got a grant a few years ago to buy books for my AP Lit class and I got a ton of class sets of novels, and I've never had a parent complain about the novels/plays.*

    *I did have a parent complain one year about my mythology unit because they don't believe in that kind of thing and they didn't want their kid reading it.
  9. Jerry Dill

    Jerry Dill Companion

    Feb 11, 2017
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    Feb 19, 2017

    I ask the students for input with emailed lists or surveys. (Sometimes they ignore my input requests).

    1. Is the book relevant to the lives of the students and will they learn something by reading the book?
    2. Is the book legitimate enough (hopefully a classic) so that the student could reference the book in the future in another high school or college paper and get some further use out of reading the book?
    3. Have other readers said they liked the book?
    4. Does the book interest me or am I going to be completely bored reading the book?

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