September 1, 2009

Reading Debates!

Did someone have something else to say about AR? Oh, yeah. Susan Straight did. And she said it so well. I'm sure you've seen it, but I had to keep it out there because it's so good. Another anti-AR article to add to my folder. I know, I know, for some kids it works. But that's the point. For some kids it works and for others its a drag. Don't force it.

And you've probably read this one on reading workshop too. It's weird how they talk about it like it's this radical new thing, but I look around and don't see it as much as I'd like, so we can't shove this kind of thing under too many noses. It's stirred up a bit if a debate with the "choice" people versus the "canon" people duking it out. I like Kelly Gallagher's take on it in his book Readicide. (Which is a great companion to Atwell's The Reading Zone.) He takes a 50/50 approach. Half the time the kids self select and read what they want. The other half is some standards from the list. He tells the that he doesn't necessarily expect them to like a novel like 1984 but that they need to learn to engage with that kind of academic reading and, if nothing else, they'll never look at their government the same way again.

It's all about balance, people. Now go out there, share these with colleagues and report back on any interesting discussions. I love a good debate.

(photo cc flickr)


C. B. James said...

I think you know I'm anti-AR but I'm pro-literature circles, which is probably the same as reading workshop. I've had my 7th grades in book clubs for several years now and I love it. We still read a few cannon-balls as a class, but most of their reading is self-selected, like mine.

Teacherninja said...

Thanks, C.B. I'm a big lit. circle fan as well. I let my kids do AR if they're really het up about, but I don't really encourage it.

Ms. Yingling said...

I'm not a fan of AR, but it can be used in a reasonable fashion. One book a month, say, on "their level". It can be used irresponibly, too, so I see the hate. Oddly enough, though, I greatly dislike reading circles and book discussions. As a student, I always had the "wrong" interpretation of the book, so I never said anything and the groups were a waste of time-- I could have been reading!

Teacherninja said...

Thanks, Ms. Yingling. I've heard that AR can be used reasonably, but it's so expensive that I'd rather just be buying more books. If you were my student, I probably wouldn't have forced you to join a lit. circle you didn't want to (though since you would have helped choose the book, I think you might have) but that's because you were already a reader. Most of my students aren't, so the lit. circles help provide the scaffolding needed to get them through a novel and helps them learn how much fun really getting into a book can be. Thanks!