Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Planning for this coming school year - 20 books in a year

An English Journal article by Amanda Stovall (Nov 08 edition) accounts the step she took to increase the amount of reading students do and decrease the other homework that she assigned. Stovall's plan was to have students read 20 books in the year, create projects for each book. As a result, the students had no other homework.

After a few years of struggling with how to ensure that my homework assignments were beneficial and yet challenging, I found this concept to be an exciting one. So, I am implementing it this school year with my 9th regular English class.

I am excited about this because I find that reading benefits students in so many ways beyond just reading skills. Among other things, it helps students write better, think more critically, see points of view beyond their own, and connect with other readers. The creative project aspect is a bonus to this as it will allow my students a chance to share their books with others in class and beyond.

My students will not be completely free of other homework as I will still assign tests and quizzes that they will need to study/practice for. However, I will be working on keeping writing assignments as in-class work. I have done this in most cases in previous years and have enjoyed being present to work with individual students during all stages of their writing.

While I will still have books that I assign to the whole class (which will count in this total), students will have a choice of the other books. My biggest hope for doing this is to create students who enjoy reading. With their number of choice reading books increasing greatly this school year, I hope they find a few books, genres, authors, or topics that they connect with. I know my challenge will be to not only read 20 books with them, but to also be a better reference/reading embassador for students who are reluctant readers and think they will hate every book.

I look forward to reading with my students, seeing what they love to read, and seeing what projects they develop to share books with their classmates and the world.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Back to blogging

It's been awhile for me between finishing my thesis for my Master's program and other life events; however, I'm ready to begin again. My goal for this school year is to incorporate authentic 21st century literacy into all my classes. I know that this involves more than just using technology, so I am working on my plans for the school year with the intention of helping my students utilize technology to demonstrate their learning and to connect with others. I like how NCTE's Inbox blog paraphrases Kathleen Yancey stating "21st century writers write in order to take action, to make a connection." I look forward to challenging myself to make education more relevant to my students and to help them build skills they will use both in and out of school.

Some things that I plan to implement include:
  • students using blogs or Google applications to share personal writing - especially book reviews to help other students find interesting reads.
  • continuing my website to keep parents informed on what is happening in class.
  • encouraging students to view and respond to blogs from bloggers who are writing about their experiences in places across the globe.
  • working with students on their literacy skills in the areas of visual and technological literacy.
  • projects where students work together for authentic purposes of their choice

I'm looking forward to an exciting year!