Literacy is the name of the game in Vance County, NC this year. Before the year began, there was a great push with a day long professional development. I read Readicide over the summer and was planning on implementing a great deal of reading into the curriculum this year (which isn't hard because I teach Language Arts). I came into the year with two major goals. One, to give each student the opportunity to get to a point where they lose themselves in a book. Two, to cultivate that deep reading into a foundation for academic reading. To do this, I have implemented three ideas into my class.
1. At least 10 minutes of silent reading everyday in my class. - This has proved a daunting task. 40% of the students hate reading and refuse to give any literature a chance. There isn't enough time in the class period for the class novel, writing, vocabulary, and silent reading. Students don't understand reading for pleasure. Without a reading guide to fake their way through or a worksheet to hunt for answers in, they are lost. "You mean you just want us to read Mr. Porter?" Yes, grasshopper...read your heart out.
2. Articles of the Week (AoW) - This is the only homework assignment that I give. The students are given a current events article to read to create prior knowledge that is lacking. After they read, there is a reading strategy to practice and a question to think about and answer. The students were excited about the little amount of homework required and they are talking about the subject matter to each other. So far so good.
3. Read aloud novel and presenting one essay question to discuss throughout the novel (which will be their essay question at the end of the book). I like this approach so far. We have looked at specific paragraphs and discussed the importance of Brian's changes in the wilderness (Hatchet).
I feel rushed to do what the county wants with reading, to have a meaningful silent reading program, to teach writing, to teach the content that cannot be wrapped into the novel, and to teach the novel. How do teachers do it all and do it well?
It seems that something is going to have to give. I refuse to teach through the content just to get through it. Maybe we just won't get through it all, and I think I'm okay with that.