Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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In Search of the Novel:Teacher-TalkNovel

Subject: Reading in class

From: Sue Oliver (soliver@d20.co.edu)
Date: Tue Apr 11 2000 - 17:24:29 EDT


There was some discussion about reading aloud in class or giving class time for
students to read. I heartily agree that both should be allowed. I teach 8th
grade and most of my students enjoy being read to. Many of them are slow
readers and find it helpful to hear the first page or so before I turn them
loose to read on their own. It gives them a purpose for reading and I usually
leave off in a place where they want to keep reading. They keep at it until the
end of the story or chapter. This also helps slow readers to follow along with
the words. They can see and hear pronunciation and listen to how a sentence
should be read.

I also agree that kids need time in class to read. They do have hectic
schedules and appreciate (usually) what time they are given. If they misuse the
time, they don't get it in the near future.

One other idea. I just started a unit where I'm combining the reading of the
novel with their research. I gave them a list of 12 novels from which they
could choose. We have 10 of them as class sets, which I've taught before. They
must choose a novel that 3 other people in class are also reading. That way
they have a discussion group formed and we will meet in small groups along the
way. Also they must base a research topic on that novel. For example: No
Promises in the Wind by Irene Hunt. They could research teen runaways, gangs,
circus professions, the Great Depression, hobos and Hoovervilles, etc. They can
choose any of the 12 novels and then select what topic they'll research based on
that novel. The other titles include To Kill a Mockingbird, The Iceberg Hermit
(Roth), Words by Heart (Sebestyen), Woodsong (Paulsen), Call of the Wild
(London), Hound of the Baskervilles (Doyle), Eva (Dickinson), Beardance (Hobbs),
Summer of My German Soldier (Greene), The Last Silk Dress (Rinaldi), and Z for
Zachariah (O'Brien). This gives the students a feeling that they have chosen
the novel and the topic and it's not being pushed down their throats. It will
also (hopefully) give a chance for quieter students to voice an opinion in a
small group that they wouldn't offer in front of the whole class. We'll see.
Any comments/suggestions?

Sue Oliver

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