In my previous post, I detailed what a genre study looks like in my classroom.
So what’s going on this week?
This student forgot his discussion points at home, but still wanted to join the group. So he called his dad and had his dad post a picture of his points on Facebook, and then brought that Facebook post into our group.
We’ve had a great week of rich, small-group discussions. A group of boys reading This Boy’s Life in my third period class have championed through their discussions and drive-by sold the book as a choice read to their eavesdropping classmates.
While my students are reading and writing discussion points for this unit, they’re also pulling pithy quotes from the novels that they can connect to in some way. By next week, they should have ten quotes and corresponding analysis compiled in their journals. They’ll reuse those on their summative assessment.
One student, currently reading The Bell Jar, has been obsessively pulling out quotations beyond her required ten. She just can’t stop. The book speaks to her.
I’m trying to be more flexible with how students are accessing the texts.
This student chose to listen to the audiobook of The Catcher in the Rye via YouTube and write his discussion points as he listens along.
I have students accessing their assigned reading in all kinds of ways this year.
Most are reading silently. Some are listening and reading along with the recording. Some are just plugged into the audiobook.
Are they still “reading” when they listen to the audiobook?
Not traditionally, but they may be “reading” more than they would be if they didn’t have access to the audiobook, right?
(That’s what I’m telling myself, anyway.)
I’ve also been rescuing students.
This week, I continued to check in with students who haven’t been joining our discussions.
I asked, “So, what’s going on in your book right now?”
Just about everyone could tell me, but a few told me that the book wasn’t making pictures, and they didn’t get it. But, they said, they were trying.
I switched both of those students out and into new books that also have an audiobook option. They’ll be a little behind next week when most students are finishing, but that’s okay.
I’ve been keeping stats and recording data.
I met with one of my administrators earlier this week and he asked me if I was tracking student progress beyond our discussion points.
I jotted down page numbers at the end of class today and yesterday.
“No,” I said. “Should I?”
He told me that I didn’t have to, but that it could prove to be valuable data.
I thought about it, and on our last day of class this week, I asked for an honest recording of where my students were in their books.
And now I have proof that they’re reading.
When I checked in, most students (yes, most) were a little behind, but not by much.
At first, it was mega-disheartening to see that most of my students weren’t where I wanted them to be, but, really, what does this data tell me?
First, it tells me that even though they’re not where I’d like them to be, they’re actually reading these books. That’s awesome.
Secondly, and most importantly, this data informs my instruction for our next genre study. Although my students are making progress, they’re moving more slowly than I thought they’d go.
For our next unit, I know that I should cut their assigned reading in half: Instead of two chapters a day, I’ll give them one. Instead of twenty pages a day, I’ll assign ten.
I’ve also had a few peaceful (and not so peaceful) protests.
I’ve had intense resistance from three students who are actively refusing to pick up their chosen text. It’s not that they can’t read it: they’re refusing to read it.
I remind them that they chose their assigned text themselves, and that if they need help, I’m here.
I remind them if they want to switch, they still can.
I remind them that when they’re ready to try, I’m here.
As frustrating as this can be: these three refusing students translate to 3% of my students, which means that 97% of my students are making progress in their assigned books.
97% of my students are reading their assigned novels, even if they’re moving slowly.
What’s more: even though these three students are refusing to read their assigned texts for our genre study, they’re still reading their free choice books at the beginning of class. Even within their peaceful protest, these students are still reading.
We’ll get there together.