That’s been the mantra of my eighth graders the last couple of days during reading/language arts class.
We started The Light in the Forest and the first time we did a little writing activity, the cry went up:
Why can’t we just read a book to enjoy the book? Why do we always have to “do something”.
I see this from two different perspectives. First, what the heck are we doing to our kids?? Why do they need to “do something” in order to learn? Especially with 8th graders, if I can get them to read, I feel like I’ve got half the battle won. But this, this kills the reader them because it’s not a choice. Then to write about it and talk about it and analyze it and bah! No wonder I get push back!
However, the other perspective is just as pointed. They need some challenges, to get into text that is more complex. They need to be reading books that challenge their vocabulary, their word choices, their style of writing! They need to be pushed, because if I’m not pushing them, then it’s highly unlikely they’d do it themselves!
Honestly, I do four class books studies a year. Last year was the first year I’d read The Light in the Forest and honestly, I loved it. Indians vs. whites, good vs. evil, the whole discovery that life isn’t all that you sometimes believe is a good for our students. After those four books, we work to make sure they are making choices that fit. No, they aren’t always challenged, vocabulary isn’t a struggle, yet, they seem to learn. Reading is reading, and I push my students to do just that. If they can practice each day, they will get better. If they can see something the things we did in class in their everyday life, we’ve gotten to them!
I’m not sure if all this makes sense, but I know how they feel. Yet, I also know it serves a purpose and it gives them a little bit of exposure to some literature they’d not pick up otherwise. In the end, I want them to read.
Isn’t that what we all want from our students? 🙂
November 15, 2016 at 11:38 am
I also struggle with this. I want to replicate an authentic writing life for my 5th graders, but also want to bring their thinking even deeper. It’s good they are reading though, right?
November 15, 2016 at 11:43 am
I start with they are reading and celebrate that victory! Then, we start to dig a little deeper and go from there! 🙂
November 15, 2016 at 1:04 pm
I think you hit the dilemma exactly. It’s finding that sweet spot where you keep the love of reading and increase their thinking strategies! Great post!
November 15, 2016 at 1:45 pm
This is the struggle of all teachers who want their students to be life-long readers. I am a reader, I am not a note jotter when I read. However, if I were to be a part of a discussion group, I would want to have some notes to remind me of what great thoughts I had while reading. Writing pushes thinking, plus it is a way for you to assess what are they taking away from the reading.
November 15, 2016 at 8:02 pm
One of my students just wrote her personal essay on this very topic. She wrote well, and got a good grade. And I think I wrote “Mea culpa” on her paper.
November 15, 2016 at 9:22 pm
I had a student, a boy, say, “Just let me read!” last year. I agreed with him! I also explained that I want him to know how to read more deeply (he had Jedi Academy in his hands at the time, I think), to love a book like I do. To understand how this reading is part of my life. To know that reading can take him anywhere.
November 16, 2016 at 12:04 am
I’m with ya ! We are making it not enjoyable anymore
November 16, 2016 at 4:51 am
What if we reframe ‘reading is reading’ to ‘reading is thinking’? What if we let students know that you want them to both love reading AND love thinking about their reading and then ask them for ways they could demonstrate that thinking?