Saturday, August 4, 2012

My Students Know Their Books

I'm combining several ideas this week, and hopefully longer. I've accepted Laurie Halse Anderson's challenge to write 15 minutes every day...whatever I want. And, what I want, is to put my work with my class into perspective as I head into my last year of teaching. I want this year to be the very best one, and I want to commit myself to learning as much as I can, to be the teacher my students need me to be. That means studying. Reading. Thinking, Researching. Lucky for me I love all of that.

Last semester, I experimented with my final exam and had students write questions. It was a stunning success! This was the most interesting final I've ever read. I knew kids' questions would be very similar to ones I've written in the past, but sitting back and watching them write and prioritize questions was fascinating.

I reread all the finals and collected responses. I was able to make some broad categories of answers and now have interesting data to ponder.

One question that was non-negotiable was the one that asks students to tell me how many books they've read this semester. They know it's coming. I've asked them to keep track of their books and pages since the beginning of the semester...but all does not go according to plan. I never get complete data.

For last semester, I have statistics for 124 students. They read a total of 1582.5 books, for 472,415 pages. That's nearly half-a-million pages in 18 weeks. Now, my students don't all love books and reading the day they enter my classroom. Many are reluctant readers, fake readers, out-of-practice readers, indifferent readers. Some have never finished a book on their own. Some haven't read regularly since elementary school. So every page is a stunning success for these kids, and I'm so proud of their work.

Today, I want to present my students' list of books I gleaned from several of the questions. Kids wanted to write about the books they plan to share with their own children. They wanted to talk about the books that inspired them. I compiled titles into one list.

When I do presentations, skeptics always ask me two questions. The first is what do I do if students don't read. It shocked me the first time someone asked. I thought back, and everyone reads. I don't have kids who don't read. I will write about this question later, because I think I've found the answer.

But the second question I get is, 'Well, if you LET them read WHATEVER they want, won't they read trash?' Boy, do I have the answer to that. So, friends, I present the list of books my students were inspired by, or the books they love so much they will share them with their own children when they become parents. You will notice there's NO trash here!

100 Years of Solitude
13 Reasons Why
A  Million Miles in a Thousand Years
A Child Called “It”
A Game of Thrones
A Kiss in Time
A Monster Calls
A Northern Light
A Piece of Cake
A Teenager’s Journey
Artemis Fowl
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother
Book of Mormon
Burn Journals
Catching Fire
Chasing Brooklyn
City of Thieves
Diary of Anne Frank
Ender’s Game
Falling Leaves
Fault in Our Stars
Game of Thrones
Go Ask Alice
Great Expectations
Handmaid’s Tale
Harry Potter – all of them
Heaven is for Real
Hunger Games
I am Number Four
I am the Messenger
If I Stay
Jane Eyre
Jurassic Park
Just Another Girl
Killing Brittney
Life of Pi
Looking for Alaska
Looking Glass Wars
Lord of the Flies
Marked by Fire
Maximum Ride
My Sister’s Keeper
Of Mice and Men
One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Peace Like a River
Plain Truth
Pride and Prejudice
Princess Bride
Rich, Thin, Pretty
Secret Life of Bees
Sister Carrie
The Alchemist
The Art of Racing in the Rain
The Book Thief
The Catcher in the Rye
The Color Purple
The Five People You Meet in Heaven
The Great Book of Amber
The Great Gatsby
The Help
The Kite Runner
The Lucky One
The Maltese Falcon
The Notebook
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
The Shack
The Sound and the Fury
The Things They Carried
Their Eyes were Watching God
Three Little Words
To Kill a Mockingbird
Tuesdays with Morrie
Waiting for Godot

I've said it before, I have the best job in the world...

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