This month’s From the Classroom post comes from Tricia Ebarvia, PAWLP Fellow and high school English teacher. If you feel inspired after reading Tricia’s post, please comment below and also consider sharing your own favorite lesson here on the blog. Click here to learn more.
GRADE / SUBJECT
Grade 9, World Literature
1-2 class periods
Whenever my students and I come to the end of any novel study, I’ve always struggled with finding that perfect and elusive “closing” activity—the lesson that can somehow do justice to our novel study before we move on to the next text. While we often do some sort of writing that helps students synthesize their ideas, I don’t think that we always have to write the traditional literary analysis paper in order to engage students in higher level thinking.
In recent years, I’ve shifted my reading and writing practices to try to be as authentic as possible. Whenever I revisit my approach to a text, I ask myself: How authentic is the learning we’re doing? In what ways is the work we do in class work that’s done only in school or work that reflects the type of reading, writing, and thinking that’s out in the world, beyond our classrooms? Read more
This month’s “From the Classroom” column features a lesson from Brian Kelley, PAWLP Fellow and 8th grade language arts teacher. If you feel inspired after reading Brian’s post, please consider sharing your own favorite lesson here on the blog! To learn more about contributing, please click here.
The “From the Classroom” column is back and with a new—and improved—format! This year, we have a new opportunity for PAWLP Fellows—an open invitation to contribute to the “From the Classroom” column and share all the good work that you’re doing in your classrooms.
Below, PAWLP Fellow Jen Greene shares a lesson she uses with her 2nd graders to teach about specific word choice—and right in time for Halloween! And if you feel inspired after reading Jen’s wonderful post, please consider sharing your own favorite lesson here on the blog! To learn more about contributing, please click here. Read more
Like most English teachers, one of the things I love most about the summer is time to read for pleasure. While my favorite reading spot in the winter is that comfy corner on my sofa, in the summer, nothing beats sitting poolside, the sun warming my face as I escape into another world.
I know many of my students feel the same way, which is why giving students opportunities to read for pleasure during the school year and during the summer is so valuable. Choice matters. There are too many books in the world for students to be limited by the choices their teachers make for them.
Now, to be clear, I’m not suggesting that teachers are trying to limit students’ experiences. After all, the foundation of our work is to broaden our students’ horizons. And when we assign this book or that, it’s usually because we believe that the texts we choose will do exactly that—broaden their experiences—especially if it’s a text students might not otherwise choose for themselves.
But what if, instead of choosing a specific title for students to read, what if we encouraged them to broaden their horizons by making choices for themselves. Read more
by Mary Buckelew
“Before choosing The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney for my self-selected book, I figured that I’d be reading aesthetically as I wanted to read for entertainment. After reading, I can say I read mostly with an aesthetic lens, but I did read efferently at times to soak in new information regarding my major.” (Ethan, undergraduate criminal justice major)
“I wish I’d known about the different stances of reading long before this, and I wish my high school teachers hadn’t focused solely on the efferent aspects of reading and books. I only read books in high school to pass tests, write required papers, and other test oriented stuff . . . I don’t think my teachers knew that the aesthetic stance existed. Even summer reading was always selected for us and then we were tested – efferent all the way.” (Sarah, undergraduate biology pre-med major)
“I now like to think about how I am reading, why I am reading, and I even apply efferent and aesthetic to other classes and life in general.” (“Honest Anonymous Feedback” from the end of the semester evaluations, Lit. 165 2:00)
Sarah, Ethan, and the anonymous student were enrolled in my Literature 165 classes this past spring semester. They shared these ideas in their final reflections and in final evaluations.
By Tricia Ebarvia
Ever since the NCTE Convention in November, I’ve been thinking a lot about the theme of advocacy. How can we advocate for our students—and the teaching practices that we know will best serve them? How can we help students advocate for themselves—on their own behalf and perhaps more importantly, on behalf of others? How can we help students advocate for issues that can help make their world and our society a better place?
As educators, we know the power of empathy. Just yesterday, as we finished up our unit on Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus, my students and I discussed how important that novel is to our understanding of others around us who may be feel vulnerable or disempowered. Literature has the unique power to allow us to walk around in another character’s point-of-view, to broaden and deepen our own experiences so that we can become, ultimately, more understanding fellow human beings.
But lately I’ve been thinking that literature, by itself, may not be enough. If we read books, no matter how rich and wonderful and engaging they are, but we fail to expose students to study today’s relevant social issues, we miss an opportunity to help students to read the world. And in this era of #fakenews, reading the world may be more important than ever. Read more