Harry Potter in the Classroom

Discussion in 'General Education Archives' started by Georgia"Teach", Jul 11, 2007.

  1. Georgia"Teach"

    Georgia"Teach" Rookie

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    Jul 11, 2007

    With the sure to be Harry Potter hoopla happening over the next few weeks, I am curious as to whether anyone uses Harry Potter in their classrooms? I am not talking about simply placing it in your classroom library or mentioning it off-hand, but actually using the text. For example, would you reccomend it for a read aloud activity? Literature circles? Other brief examples?

    I was recently hired in a county where there is an on-going debate about Harry Potter titles even being on library shelves. Luckily, the courts have ruled in favor of the books several times. However, as a new English teacher (and avid Harry fan!!!) I have a dream of eventually using Harry Potter in my classroom.

    Any thoughts/ideas about using the books positively in the classroom or how you use them? Thanks!
     
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  3. Bitsy Griffin

    Bitsy Griffin Companion

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    Jul 11, 2007

    I wouldn't touch it with a 10-foot pole as an organized assignment. Call me wimp ;)

    I've read all the books. I've got kids that have read all the books. We talk about it loosely. I've also got kids who have been told they can't read the books by their parents. So definitely not a read aloud.

    If I were to do it, I'd do it as a lit circle as one of the choices and possibly an extra choice. When I did lit circles - if I had 30 kids, I only had 30 books. If I added HP, I'd probably raise that to 36.
     
  4. LuvTchng

    LuvTchng Companion

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    Jul 11, 2007

    Sounds like you just got a job in my county...and I couldn't have been happier when the school board ruled in favor of HP books.

    Anyway, I tried to use the books instructionally a few years back but found the text rather difficult for my 4th graders, many of whom are English language learners. So I simply used them as read alouds. As a middle grades teacher, though, you may have more success with instructional uses.

    The audio versions by Jim Dale are fantastic. I'm on the last disc of Half-Blood Prince right now (wanted to reread it before the 7th book comes out).
     
  5. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Jul 11, 2007

    My old school taught book 4 with regular level SENIORS and did a huge project on epic heroes and archetypes. The kids LOVED it! Many of them went on to read the other books in the series, and these were kids who had gotten to their senior year without ever reading a book in its entirety. It was a great lead in to all the other epic stories in British literature. The kids were able to make some fantastic connections with Beowulf and the like when the read them later in the year.
     
  6. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Jul 11, 2007

    By the way, I went to the midnight showing of Order of the Phoenix last night... BEST MOVIE YET!!!!
     
  7. TeacherRW

    TeacherRW Cohort

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    Jul 11, 2007

    I would never use it as a literature circle book nor would I read it aloud... there's just too much backlash that could come from it. There's plenty of other good literature out there to read and break down for students. I also would not want to use it because some books/series should just be enjoyed for what they are. If kids are truly excited about reading the books, could I weaken their desires by "requiring" them to read them? Yes... and that makes me want to steer-clear. There are genres that I like to read such as romance novels, do I want to start dissecting them? No... I've have taken away some of the cozy, "read for the heck of it" feel. Off my soapbox now, in answer to the post, I would not ever use H.P. in the classroom because of many reasons.
     
  8. Teaching Grace

    Teaching Grace Connoisseur

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    Jul 11, 2007

    You must be working in Gwinnett county too! If that freakin' lady shows up at my door, I'll kick your scrawny butt to the curb! I love Harry Potter. I will more than likely read the book as a read aloud (but i'll prolly talk it over with my grade head first) but i'll probably have it in my classroom and use the books at different times
     
  9. emmyblemmy

    emmyblemmy Companion

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    Jul 11, 2007

    I am tired of all of the arguing and debating over HP by parents and school districts. It is fantasy- and fantasy means fiction. It is just fiction. There is no inappropriate contact in these books, unless you count Harry and Cho kissing. Yes, there is a murder in several books, but many titles and series do as well. The only reason I would not want to use it in my room would to be to stay out of any altercations with parents or school officials, and maybe because my kids are too young. The books are fantastically written and JK Rowling does a wonderful job of drawing her readers into the world of Hogwarts- I forget where I am sometimes while reading it! :) Even if the kids have already read them at home, why not enrich their understanding of it while having some fun with it? Some of the plot lines in HP can be a bit deep and hard to understand. Yes, there are many, many fantastic titles to be read at school- but that should not rule out the opportunity to use it in class. I think many children, especially in the more recent books, would really relate to Harry's growing pains regarding friendship, family and love. I cannot wait for HP 7!! :) So excited! I hope the movie is good!
     
  10. Georgia"Teach"

    Georgia"Teach" Rookie

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    Jul 11, 2007

    Thanks for the feedback everyone!!

    Bandnerdtx: I saw the movie at midnight too! It was a great way to begin the Harry-mania that is inevitably coming.

    TeacherRW: I think your argument about "reading for reading's sake" is an interesting one. However, I think the entire reason that I want to delve into these books is because they are so much fun to read! I think we focus too much on novels that we feel we have to teach for whatever reason. Why not teach a popular fiction title like Potter that is bound to spark, at the very least, amusing conversation? I think that is why I am mainly considering it as a read-aloud. Inarguably, the Potter series is laced with powerful friendships, meaningful lessons, and upper-level vocabulary. Not to mention the mythological references. I don't have to look far to find tons of literary devices. This is literature you don't have to dissect to analyze!! :)

    I agree with everyone in that I am most scared of parental backlash. I still want to figure out a way to weasel Harry Potter into a lesson or two without making heads spin!
     
  11. Jenny G

    Jenny G Companion

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    Jul 11, 2007

    I wouldn't because for the last 5 years (as long as I have been in a classroom), I have had at least one student who is not allowed to read the books. One family wouldn't allow their child to bring home HP valentines. That is their personal preference and I would have to respect that. Without a permission slip ahead of time, I wouldn't go near it.
     
  12. ChangeAgent

    ChangeAgent Comrade

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    Jul 11, 2007

    If you want to use it in any class, just go through the usual lines. Get it okay'd with your department and/or principal. Then, just send a letter home explaining what you plan to do, and tag a "if you have any questions or concerns, let me know" at the end. Send this home in advance enough, so if there is a problem, there is time to address the issues, or scrap the unit.

    Try it--worse that can happen is you have to pull back from it or rework it by providing other options! If you like HP and think it will work with you students, give it a try!
     
  13. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    Jul 11, 2007

    I think that I would maybe have a permission slip signed by the parents before I would use it. That being said, I LOVE H.P.! I would think that any of the H.P. books would be great for literature circles (that way a student could opt out of the H.P. circle and opt into another circle). Regarding lessons using the series -- I just read somewhere that the H.P. books are great examples of 6 trait writing, so there's an angle for you!
     
  14. deserttrumpet

    deserttrumpet Comrade

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    Jul 11, 2007

    Perhaps allow the students to choose to read it for a school assignemnt where they can pick from an approved list.
     
  15. bdclass

    bdclass New Member

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    I've used Harry in my 5th grade literature circles and it worked wonderfully. There are a lot of kids who are intimidated by the length (and maybe the small size of the words!), but in a book study environment, they can work through the book more easily with their peers (and myself) while able to ask questions and discuss vocabulary. This was, of course, a voluntary situation... I didn't force any of the students to read it, they are all naturally curious since there's so much talk about it. Every single group that has read it in their literature circles begged me to stay with their group to read the next book in the series. I'd say that was a success! :) Definitely go for it! It's awesome to see them so excited about a book that I'm excited about too... Great conversations! Good luck!
     
  16. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    Aug 9, 2007

    There is a teacher at our school who uses Harry Potter (with her mild/moderate disabilities class). Two years ago, her class constructed a cardboard castle that the students at our school could actually walk through!

    I have one book in my classroom library. A college professor encouraged us to keep books in our libraries, despite the controversial value.

    I don't use it in my room, though. I like finding books where the kids aren't familiar with the plot or characters.
     
  17. Cyndi23

    Cyndi23 Companion

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    Aug 9, 2007

    Funny ya'll mention Gwinnett, my best friend lives up there and told me about that lady!

    My school has a class set of a few of the novels but I have never used them. I am happy, however, that it is available. The kids LOVE it!
     
  18. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    Aug 9, 2007

    I wouldn't do that! At least not as a first year teacher. I personally would have it on my shelves but not read it out loud unless I have consent from all parents in my classroom. I also think that primary grade kids shouldn't be seeing the movies.
     
  19. Esperanza

    Esperanza Rookie

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    Aug 9, 2007

    My first year of teaching (this was before any of the movies came out) I tried it as a read aloud at the very start of school and quickly found out from students that parents objected to the material. I teach grade 5- and I don't think in fifth grade permission slips to read a book that is permitted in your school library should be necessary- I think you should use your judgement and trust your students to tell you if they have parents that object. You can usually tell very quickly by asking your class if they would like to do the book as a read aloud.

    At this point, my concern would not be parental objections, however, but the fact that a great majority of grade 5 students will have seen the movies already. I always tell my class that my rule is not to see a movie unless I have read the book but this is most often not the case. You then are limited as to what you can teach as far as reading a novel when students all know the characters, setting, plot, etc. Also, many of my students are not quite at the reading level for independent reading, and those particular books are so darn expensive to purchase multiple copies anyway! So, I guess I would use it as a read-aloud if I felt the group would enjoy it and parents would approve, but not in groups at the grade 5 level.
     
  20. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    Aug 9, 2007

    What is the lady objecting to in the book? I have a friend that won't allow her children to see it because Harry can talk to Snakes. And that is a sign of the Devil or something silly like that. SHe knows I read it and go to the movies.
     
  21. MissFroggy

    MissFroggy Aficionado

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    At the level I teach, Harry Potter is a huge milestone for the kids. When they can read HP, they have arrived as readers. I have multiple copies of each in my class (though no #7 yet.) I actually only read the first two myself. I have been meaning to read them again.

    Anyway, I don't want to do it as a read aloud because they are too long. I like to read lots of books, lots of genres, etc. Aside from which, it would take away from their chance to read the books themselves. By winter or spring every year, I have about 3/4 of my class reading HP. My youngest ones wait for the day they will read HP. I am teaching older kids though this year, maybe it won't be as big a deal and they will have already read them.... I will wait and see.
     
  22. collteach

    collteach Comrade

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    Aug 9, 2007

    I have at least 3 of the books in my classroom library. I will discuss the books one-on-one with students who are reading them. However, I will not use the books instructionally...just because there are too many fanatics who like to threaten lawsuits, etc.

    I absolutely LOVE these books and honestly, I think they have brought about so many other great series that reluctant readers are willing to try out. One boy in my class last year would only read short non-fiction books. It was like pulling teeth to get him into fiction books. His middle school-aged sister started reading the HP series. Mom bought him a set too. He was hooked after the first few pages! At year's end, he had read the first 5 and was working on the 6th. He also found a few other series that he was going to start on when he finished with Harry. I love that!!!!
     
  23. jazzminjoy

    jazzminjoy Comrade

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    Aug 10, 2007

    There are many Christian parents who don't allow their children to celebrate Halloween. These same parents would most likely object to the Harry Potter series. Witchcraft, wizardry, divination, fortune telling, and so on--these things are expressly forbidden in the Old Testament.

    I enjoy the Harry Potter series. However, my recommendation is to obtain approval from the parents first before using the book as a read-aloud. If even one student turns in a "no," then can the project for this school year.
     
  24. Alaskanteach

    Alaskanteach Cohort

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    Aug 10, 2007

    if it is on my curriculum guide for my course, I would teach it in a minute..

    If it isn't on the list, I wouldn't even try.
     

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