A Place to Share for Writers and Teachers
This was a powerful chapter for me, but then again, they're all powerful. This is one mighty little book.
I have been interviewing my students and listening to them for years because I'm a bit obsessed with this question: are we killing a love for reading in our English classes? The answer is a loud yes. Spark Notes have replaced deep reading for the majority of teenagers in my school, and since they hate the assigned reading, they aren't reading at all. I am on a mission to give kids more choice in reading because it turns my students into readers again. For every teacher who discovered a love for reading in one of the classics (that I came to love in college), there are 10 other kids that turn away from reading altogether. We are losing a generation of readers. BUT... with daily book talks, time to read (just 10 minutes in class) and a continual push to get students reading more, my students average about 15 books a semester. Many read much more. And many eventually choose classics... once they've built up the stamina to devour books quickly they are ready for them.
Newkirk is leading us to deep thinking again. His willingness to take on tough questions is the professional courage we all need. Especially in an age when utter insanity has taken over some of our schools.
I am a soldier of Nancie, too (maybe I'm wrong, but I give Nancie Atwell all the credit for "reading workshop" and the fact that I have my kids read 30 mins/night for HW every day). In our 8th grade, we gathered data and learned that our kids averaged 26 books read from September to June last year. Not bad at all!
And yet we STILL have naysayers who tell us that SSR is a "waste of class time." We STILL have naysayers who say that the books they are reading (mostly YA) have "low Lexile scores and are not challenging enough." We STILL have naysayers who say our job is to teach the classics -- end of story.
Amen to Penny on the Spark Notes. My daughter's ex- (say Amen!) boyfriend was the valedictorian of his high school and made the mistake of proudly proclaiming at our dinner table one night that he not read a SINGLE book in four years of high school! When I asked how that was possible, he smugly said, "Spark Notes and Pink Monkey." Uh... know your audience, kid!