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As an English Language Arts teacher, I am often fighting an internal battle. My ultimate desire is to incite within my students a passion for language. This is developed through a love for reading and writing. Unfortunately, I am also bound by state guidelines and school policies. I must teach certain things, in a certain way, and to grade them on their attempts. I often feel like this is counter-intuitive to my definitive goal.
How can we foster a love for reading?
So this year, I’ve decided to try something different. I’m no fool; I know that it is hard to “love”a book a teacher is forcing you to read. There’s no passion for writing when your topics are being dictated to you. I am still bound to teach the requirements. However, I am going to try my hardest to foster a love for literature in my students. One of the ways I hope to accomplish this is by encouraging independent reading.
Read what you want…it’s your choice!
My students can choose any book of their choosing. I have set no limits regarding the type of literature; I am not even concerned with the Lexile level of their books. My goal is just for them to choose something that they enjoy reading. I grade them on two things, and two things only. They must actually participate on reading days, and they must post in our online book club.
On days where I have set aside time to read, they are required to have their books with them and quietly read. If they fail to do either, they lose participation points. The format of our online book club is still a work in progress, but I love the direction in which it is headed. Students post three times every two weeks in our Google Classroom. One post should be in response to a question I ask. They must post something original, and their final post can be a response to one of their peers’ posts. The conversations that have unfolded in our little group are simply amazing. It is inevitable that most members of the class end up with more than the required number of posts because they are actually having conversations…about books! It’s an English teacher’s dream.
They are actually reading…and enjoying it!
They’ve really seemed to embrace this little experiment. I love the effort they are putting into their virtual book discussions. The greatest reward came just the other day. A student that read a baseball magazine during the first week because he “hates reading” pulled out an actual book. He was reading before class even began…and it wasn’t even a reading day!