What to do when reading a class novel?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by mr_post22, Feb 16, 2014.

  1. mr_post22

    mr_post22 Companion

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    Feb 16, 2014

    I teach 9th grade English 1 Honors and we are about to start To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and I was wondering how you make sure the students are where they need to be? I used to teach middle school language arts and I had the kids listen to the audio book and answer chapter questions. But than I moved to high school and the teachers told me that it was to "middle school". Whatever that means. I thought about having them do independent reading but I figured some would not read the book. The county has supplied me with 160 student copies (one for every student) of the books that they cannot write in and I have an annotated book from a previous teacher. I was told I could use the audio book sometimes but not all the time. Also, my public library had paired with the Hoopla app so I will use my school iPod Touch to use the audio book if I choose to. I am starting this tomorrow so I need help (yes I have to teach on Presidents Day. But we got last Friday off for Florida State Fair Day.):thanks::help:
     
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  3. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Feb 16, 2014

    Using an audio cd is not too middle school. Your are accommodating special ed students, dyslexic students, low readers, struggling readers, etc. You just need to make it clear that they must follow with their eyes, they can't just sit there and listen. (I always tell them, we're not in preschool, and this is not story-time).

    You can do a hybrid-reading. Students will be assigned certain pages / chapters within a time frame, and will be assessed with a quick 10-15 question quiz the next day to ensure they have read it. You will then discuss and work with the read material in class, followed by in class reading (read out loud or audio cd), for a day or more, then the students will be required to read more at home.

    edited to add: I overlooked the fact that they're English honors, so in that case the audio cd is probably not needed.
     
  4. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    Feb 16, 2014

    I don't teach English, but I know that our English 9 teacher has the kids read the book out loud as a class since he also has a problem with students' doing independent reading (and they can't take the books home since he only has a class set).

    Some days they read a whole section out loud; some days, they read a part and then the class spends 15 to 20 minutes reading independently. He makes them answer review questions at the end of each class period and he counts them as a daily quiz that students must finish before the class period is over.

    I tend to hear pretty favorable feedback from students on TKAM (and Romeo and Juliet), they seem to really enjoy reading it so good luck!:thumb:
     
  5. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Feb 16, 2014

    If they are honors students, I'd expect them to be able to do the reading. I'd probably say no to using the audio book.

    Ensure accountability with your assignments, classwork, and quizzes.
     
  6. Glühwürmchen

    Glühwürmchen Rookie

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    Feb 16, 2014

    For Honors English I think listening to the CD (or spending any time in class reading actually) is babyish. Show them that they need to spend time reading closely or they will fail the reading quizzes (with things that are not on Sparknotes). I know that seems harsh, but these are honors kids, they should be able to take responsibility. Some kids still won't read, but that's not your fault. If you want to be a little nicer, let them use hand written notes on the quizzes.
     
  7. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    Feb 16, 2014

    If you really want to use the audio book on a regular basis but don't want it to be perceived negatively; just run the idea past your IST or Dept. Chair and see what he says instead of listening to your teammates. Then, you will know for future texts if audiobooks are appropriate at your schools or for your Honors students.

    I also came from MS to HS this year and have been told by my teammates that somethings are too MS (such as having sign-out sheets for when kids go to the bathroom). Some advice I take, some advice I ignore.
     
  8. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    This is why I'm so very glad I ended up in MS despite my plans to teach HS. I'm no longer even a little surprised when I hear the "well that's too babyish and our kids wouldn't go for it." Funny when all the kids come back and say "none of the teachers there do anything but give out assignments and worksheets. I hate it."

    I used mixed methods with my honors 8 class last year when we ready Ayn Rand's Anthem. We used the audio book, me reading, them reading aloud, and them reading independently. You are asking kids to deconstruct a text in a way that many of them likely never have. Give them every possible chance to actually do it. If that means an audio cd, go for it.
     
  9. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Can you go into detail as to what this looks like.
     
  10. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Feb 16, 2014

    I use audiobooks and allow time to read in class quite often. I sent my honors seniors the link to listen to our novel. Some use it, some don't. I've never had any of them call it babyish. Some are very appreciative of it.

    We also read Macbeth and Antigone entirely as a class.

    I hate study guide questions though in most instances.
     
  11. mr_post22

    mr_post22 Companion

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    My Department head was the one who told me it was "middle school" and my team mates backed him up
     
  12. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    ^^^ Then you know your answer; I would not use it/do it if TPTB say not too.
     
  13. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    I would read aloud to them as they follow along. Pause to discuss the author's technique or vocabulary. Once in a while stop and ask them to raise their hands when they can tell you where you stopped. Call on a random student to tell you where you stopped. As you go though the novel, you'll need to do this less and less.

    At a point of great interest, stop and assign them the rest of the chapter for at-home reading. Tell them there will be a one sentence quiz on the part they're assigned.

    Start the next class with a one-sentence quiz and correct it together. This will form the basis for discussion about the book and the next reading.

    Make it a class goal to study Lee's writing style and tell your students they will be expected to write 1200 words that sound just like Harper Lee wrote them.
     
  14. Ms_C

    Ms_C Comrade

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    Feb 16, 2014

    You might try using Dialectical Journals.
     
  15. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    Feb 17, 2014

    Interesting. I was told this year I'm not allowed to read the book in class. No audioCD, I can't read aloud, kids can't read aloud.

    So reading is homework. I have them keeping a reading journal, because they can't write in the books. They are to write down words they don't know, any figurative language they find, questions they have, and a summary of each chapter.

    When they come to class, we have circle time (we're working up to Socratic Seminar). First we made a board of hurtful responses side-by-side with friendly responses ("That's stupid" replaced with "I see where you're going, but I don't think that's what the author intended" etc). I start off with a question, then they take it from there. They can't talk unless they have the stuffed animal. occasionally, I need to jump in with questions for important points they're skipping over.

    After discussion, they work in groups on a sheet for each chapter - character analysis, setting/mood, close reading analysis, etc. each sheet gets glued to a display board for the group so that it doesn't get lost and is always available.

    It's working out pretty well so far. We're only on Chapter 3... and I have 7th graders.
     
  16. Honest_Teacher

    Honest_Teacher Comrade

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    Feb 17, 2014

    Books on CD or teachers reading every word of a text are scaffolds that are completely overused in many content classes.

    Most novels are written below a 9th grade novel and are within the ZPD for almost every single student in a general education high school classroom (including my inclusion classrooms).

    I'll occasionally read aloud for parts that I want discussed in class because they're integral to the plot or for various other reasons, but the vast majority of the text (90%+) should be read by the students. How are they improving their reading abilities otherwise when someone else is doing the heavy lifting for them constantly?
     
  17. mr_post22

    mr_post22 Companion

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    Feb 17, 2014

    He seemed pretty adamant about it but he never stated I could not.
     
  18. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Feb 18, 2014

    Why would you read the parts to be discussed with them if kids should be able to get it anyway?
     
  19. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    If you get a chance can you describe some ways this looks in detail. It sounds very complex and challenging, but I am not sure what it would look like.
     
  20. teacherguy111

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    My wife does a combination of listening and independent reading when she reads that book. I would also say that it would be important to follow along. It may not be necessary to have the audio with an honors class.
    As mentioned above you could just give quizzes that could not be mastered without reading the book. Students have to take responsibility at some point.
     
  21. Honest_Teacher

    Honest_Teacher Comrade

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    We discuss the whole book in class; I'm talking about parts of particular importance where we want students to be able to immediately talk about their reactions, not wait until the next day for discussion.
     
  22. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Feb 19, 2014

    I have no experience with elementary so I can't really speak to your level. That said, deconstructing text isn't complex in reality. We do it all the time as educated adults. As a history teacher it is really all my kids do. With a short text or article we can do it paragraph by paragraph - marking the text for key vocab, topic sentences, statements of bias, etc., then draw conclusions using that evidence.

    With a novel that obviously isn't going to happen due to sheer volume. Kids have to do it on their own and, for the most part, automatically. That's why I advocate for reading along with them. The actual decoding of the words isn't going to be a challenge for most kids so why make an issue of it? It is finding the meaning that is the challenge (and what truly separates readers).

    I don't think there is a cut and dry formula as each novel has a unique structure and point of view. This is also true of marking our short texts in history. Each time they are marking for slightly different things. I hope by the end of the year they'll use those varying skills on bigger texts. I'll let you know how that goes.
     
  23. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    @rockguykev
    Thank you for taking the time to respond. There is some stuff I can use to improve my teaching.
     
  24. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Feb 19, 2014

    Pashtun, you might also want to have a look at Cris Tovani's I Read It, But I Just Don't Get It. Her account of her first year working with deeply reluctant middle-school readers, the book is anecdotal but an eye-opener, not least for the ways in which working with those students shifted her own views of what reading is and how it works. You might find that some of the techniques that she developed with her middle-schoolers to get them unstuck can be adapted for your younger readers so they don't get stuck in the first place.
     
  25. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Thank you very much for the suggestion, I will definitely be looking into it.
     
  26. ancientcivteach

    ancientcivteach Habitué

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    Feb 21, 2014

    I also recommend Notice and Note - it provides a great framework for helping students recognize key parts of a novel.

    You can get a feel for the framework by looking at the free companion resources on this site https://www.heinemann.com/products/E04693.aspx

    I work with fifth graders and they are starting to be able to use these independently.
     

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