I love @professornana, the Goddess of YA Literature, and I learn a lot from reading her posts. This one got me thinking, and I opened and read every link she embedded in it.
This whole exile thing is crazy. Like Teri suggests, go take this little lexile quiz yourself. Then read the article she references, Teachers are Supposed to Assign Harder Books, but They Aren’t Doing it Yet. You’ll see what I mean.
The article got me (and not in a good way) at the title with the word “assign.”
My students are reading more than they ever have before because I am talking books, and suggesting books, and showing off books more than I ever have before.
I am not assigning them.
Choice works. Allowing students to read what they want, high or low lexile, works.
Do I sometimes steer students into genres, or most recently into Prize winners? Do I meet with kids and challenge them into more difficult books? Yes, but I’ve learned to always include some element of choice.
The past several days I’ve spent conferring with students during the first 10 minutes of class. Ten minutes that we devote to independent reading. I’ve met with 2/3 of my 145 students so far. Every student but two has read more this year than they did last. Most have exceeded the goal they set during our first reading conferences at the beginning of the year.
That kind of data speaks louder than any kind of lexile level. (I need to just say that my auto-correct changes lexile to exile every single time. Do you think that’s telling?)
Recently, a colleague visited my classroom. He watched my students engage with literature while I sat at a back table and listened. Later he asked how I conduct my readers/writers workshops. I told him “You saw it.”
My task is to get students reading and to teach them to talk about a texts: books, stories, articles, passages, poems. Once I do that, students can do most everything else when it comes to reading on their own.
There’s freedom here. Freedom for me and freedom for them.
Funny how my students learn more from each other than they do from me anyway. I wonder why it took me so long to realize that.
I’m reminded of a post Donalyn Miller wrote almost a year ago, and I echo her title:
P.S. Are you thinking about Summer Reading yet? It’s about to be a hot topic on my campus. To allow kids to choose or not to choose, that is the question.
P.S.S. I have to figure out how to allow student choice in AP Literature, which I am most likely teaching next year. Every experienced AP Lit teacher I’ve talked to “assigns” specific books. Still trying to think through this. Any suggestions?