It's requisition time. That means I need to decide what needs to be ordered for NEXT school year for my classroom. As usual, requisition time comes when I am knee-deep in the current school year, and I find it hard to imagine what I want for next year. But, the bean-counters know best: we have to budget for the upcoming year so that the Board can approve spending.
Here's my other problem: I really want to re-vamp how I teach Honors English 11 in an attempt to combat reading apathy in my students. Far too many of my college-bound juniors say, "I don't read," or "I don't like to read," without flinching a bit.
So, what's a teacher to do?
I've decided that I want to help my students fall in love with reading again. A large part of why they don't like to read is because some adult has been telling them WHAT to read for years. I want to give them more ownership of their book choices, and I believe the best way to do this is to implement literature circles in my classroom.
What is a literature circle? Well, I do a modified version of lit circles now. We all read the same assigned text. Students are assigned various roles for any given portion of the text. For example, my AP students are reading The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. I've placed them in groups of 4, and the roles that they will rotate are: Discussion Director (write at least 5 discussion questions based on the reading); Passage Master (find at least 5 passages and analyze the way the author has written the passage); Wordsmith (make a list of at least 10 words you didn't know and their definitions, or make a list of at least 10 words that carry some significance in the passage); and Connector (find and make at least 5 connections between the reading and real life or other academic subjects). The students come together on a pre-determined day and these roles help to facilitate a book-club type discussion on the text.
In true literature circle format, the students not only complete various, rotated roles for discussion, but they also select the book that they will read. This means that at any given time, students in one class may be reading 4 or 5 different books at once.
Clearly, I need to be flexible enough to handle that many texts being read/taught ... and assessed at once. Because I believe that literature is a vehicle for examining the human condition and that a myriad of reading and writing skills can be taught through any book, I think I can make this work. The fact that students will have a say in what they are reading and perhaps even rediscover a love for literature makes it worth the work, to me.
Here's the tricky part: It's requisition time. I have some possible books selected, but I am not completely done with the selections, so I am hoping I'll be able to put a placeholder in that says, for example, "I want 12 of a book whose title has yet to be determined, but will probably cost about $15 a piece."
Here's to trying, anyway!