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? 🙂