This week I’ve dedicated my posts to series – why I’m burned out on them and why my students can’t get enough.
I might need to revise my post from Tuesday, April 24. I’m not burned out on series. I repeat – the series lives!
As a middle school teacher, I reserve the right to change my mind. I’ve changed my mind. Looking for the May Schmidt’s Pick, I grabbed Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl off a pile of books in my office. I had just finished Fear by Michael Grant and wasn’t too keen on starting another series – especially a series that a) hasn’t been finished yet and b) consists of 500+ page books. But I knew this isn’t really about me, it’s about my students and providing them with access to books they’ll actually read so they may actually beat the odds and read more than 1 book after high school. Literacy is important to me. That’s no shock to anyone who knows me, so if I have to “take one for the team” to keep the kids reading, I’ll do it.
Earlier this week I wrote about my love/hate relationship with series. I found myself, once again, stuck in the doldrums of YA series. There was nothing fresh about my reading because all I did was read one book after another that continued a series I had already started. I’m happy to report that I have sailed out of the doldrums, but more about that in a later post.
For now, I want to talk about my students. On Wednesday after we finished round three of state tests, I had the opportunity to just sit and have a conversation with my students. I haven’t had this opportunity in quite some time since I’ve been hosting a student teacher. On Wednesday afternoon, I found myself alone with my seventh graders for the first time in 3 months. Furthermore, they were a bit spent from testing all morning. So when they came into the classroom, I had them sit down, pull out their independent books, and start reading. They read for only a few minutes. I just wanted them to center themselves more than anything. At the end of their reading session, I had them discuss their books with their friends. Pretty standard stuff.
This week my school is mired in state tests. It’s a tough week for teachers and students. So for obvious reasons I needed to share the following exchange:
I was signing out my test materials this morning when a colleague/friend/parent said to me, “You’re the reason my eighth grader goes to bed with a book every night.”
And as I carted my test supplies back to my room, I realizes that it just doesn’t matter what the tests show since the tests don’t measure a love of reading or a desire to be a lifelong reader. If my students have (re)discovered a love of reading than not only am I an effective teacher, but they are advanced-proficient in my book.
Until next time … See YA
As much as I love young adult fiction, a steady diet of one thing is bad, and so I’ve found myself reading a lot of adult fiction during the late winter and spring. At first I told myself that it was because I had “homework” for Booktopia 2012, which I recently attended in Manchester, VT. Me being me, I did feel compelled to read the latest books by all of the authors in attendance, and I did start some of the back catalogue as well. However, as I look at my nightstand, desk, coffee table, and pretty much any flat surface that holds books in my house, I realize that I’m still grabbing adult fiction. This is not Booktopia’s fault. I recently read Marisa de los Santos’ newest book and A Change in Altitude by Anita Shreve – neither author attended Booktopia. So why am I grabbing adult and leaving YA to sit collecting dust?
As many of you know, I have pages on my blog, which get updated regularly – even if my blog doesn’t. One of the pages is a listing of my reviews of YA books. These reviews in their simplest form are simply one reader’s thoughts about a book. I recently finished and reviewed Cover-up by John Feinstein. I didn’t like the book. There were many reasons why I didn’t like it. This is my opinion and my opinion only. I gave the book one star. After I finished reviewing the book on Goodreads, the review posted to my Twitter account and the blog. And I went about my day.
I didn’t think twice about the review as I had seemingly more important things on my mind (like getting much needed highlights in my hair and what book I was going to read next). Later that day, I popped open my laptop cover to check in with my various social networking sites and maybe play some Angry Birds. Imagine my surprise when I had a response to my review. Who knew that people actually paid attention? However, that wasn’t as shocking as what followed.
My passion is literacy. This is no surprise to any of you who know me in the real world or in the virtual one. However, if I were to give a definition to this passion, I would have to say that my real passion is adolescent literacy – what do kids read, write, view, listen to, and speak about and more importantly what will get them to read (more), write (more), view things differently and even critically, listen critically, and express themselves clearly. I’ve spent 19 years in the classroom observing young adolescents and literacy and honing my pedagogy to help them become lifelong readers, writers, and consumers of knowledge. I’ve sought graduate degrees in this field, and I’m currently writing my dissertation about this topic. You may say I’m an expert, but I’m not the only one… (to badly paraphrase John Lennon), and John Lennon and the rest of the Beatles is where I want to begin today.
Monday will start my first full day sitting and watching someone else teach my class. I’m not sure how I feel about this. In theory, I’m pretty excited because I get to shape the next generation of teacher. In theory, I can use my 19 years of experience, my knowledge of young adolescents, my knowledge of literacy – both best practices and theory – to help mold this young teacher-to-be. That thought alone is pretty awe-inspiring. So what could be wrong with that?
The blizzard has slowed to flurries with an occasional snow squall. I am happy to report that aside from the book I’m listening to on Audible, I am only reading one book at the moment. And while I want to start a whole bunch of new books, I’ve just started a new pile. This pile is really just my TBR (to be read) in an ordered list instead of the books sitting nicely in no particular order on my bookshelves or in bags on the floor. Sadly, I have outgrown bookshelf space in my office, and my YA are relegated to the floor since they are transient anyway. My house is one stop before my classroom and then my students’ hands. I don’t devote a lot of shelf space to them. They get the floor.
This month alone I’ve read 14 books, and 10 of them were YA and another two could cross over from adult to YA. Book number 15 is on the coffee table. The cold and snow has helped me read this many books. But quite honestly, good writing has keep me reading.
In a bizarre twist of fate two things are happening: 1)I’m writing a mid-week blog post & 2)I’m having a problem controlling the books I’m starting. Does this mean that the East Coast might finally be getting some snow? Is it a sign the world is going to end in 2012? I don’t know. Nor do I care. I declare the Reading Funk officially over! (for now)
Posted in Independent Reading/SSR/Reader's Workshop, Random Musings
Tagged as: Andrew Clements, Carolyn Mackler, Georgia Nicolson, Jay Asher, Laurie Halse Anderson, Louise Rennison, Melina Marchetta, Reading Funk, YA Lit, YA Literature, young adult lit, young adult literature
I’m in a funk. I suppose it’s that time of the year. I feel like I live in darkness. I go to work in the dark; I drive home in the dark. And if it’s not raining (thankfully, the snow’s held off this winter), I get a few beams of sunlight through my classroom windows in the morning, but it’s still not the bright light of spring or the intense light of summer. I miss the sun. And unfortunately when I get in a funk, I get in a funk about everything.
I stand in the kitchen, and I don’t know what I want to eat. I sit with the TiVo list and stare at what I’ve recorded, not knowing what I want to watch. I pick up a book, and I’m only lukewarm about it because I don’t know what I want to read. I’m in a funk.
Of course, I’m blaming my reading funk on the weather. Some people might say it’s because I read too much. I don’t know. I don’t think so. I think I’m just simply bored with all the YA I’ve been reading. I’m tired of vampires. I’m tired of werewolves and shape shifters. I’m tired of whining girls and buff boys and absent parents. I’m just tired.