We are nearing the end of the school year. I like to finish the year with the novel Peter and the Starcatchers. It is a humorous adventure with witty dialogue and the back story to Peter Pan.
As teachers know, we get busy at the end of the year. Papers to grade, grades to load, awards to make, and much other craziness like picnics and field trips. I got the where I was thinking to myself, “How am I ever going to get through the book.”
Then I made a cardinal sin of teaching. I decided my class was just going to read for fun. No handouts. No guided notes. No quizzes. Just read.
A while back I read the book, Readicide by Kelly Gallagher. Gallagher talks about how schools tie so much work to reading that students begin to not like reading because it means more work. They learn to avoid reading to avoid extra work of journals, worksheets, logs and all of the other tools we teachers use to assess reading. Which begs the question, how do we assess reading enjoyment? How do we measure if a student will become a life-long learner? How do you evaluate engagement and fun?
Back to my classroom – There is a young man who is seated near my desk. I’ll call him Jack. He sits near my desk because of his IEP not by choice. He made it clear in the first weeks of school that he had not read a book in years and did not plan to this year either.
Last week he came to me during Student Assist and asked to borrow an extra copy of “Starcatchers”. He wanted to read ahead to find out what happens. He did read ahead and finished last weekend, a full week ahead of his class. He then asked to borrow the second book in the series,” Peter and the Shadow Thieves”. Jack is reading books for enjoyment for the first time in years, possibly ever. I deem that successful.
So my class is reading just for fun. Will I be taking many more grades? No. I am I stressed? No. Am I helping to create a group of readers? Yes.