Some of you may know that one of my jobs on campus is to coordinate those sections of first year writing designed for those students who, through placement essay writing, GPA and, in some cases, self-selection, are identified as needing extra support as readers and writers.
The component that is most central to this is a book club. Students work with a facilitator to read a book length work of either fiction or non-fiction for the entire semester. Many of the students in the class have never completed a reading of this length and complexity in their lives.
Our goal is not to make life-long readers out of them. That would be nice, but it's not realistic. What we are really trying to do is help students learn strategies and attitudes that keep them from quitting when the academic challenge gets challenging--so in other words, reading resilience. Writing plays a role in building resilience--and, in turn, the low stakes writing they do in book club via journaling about the text helps them to meet the demands of longer more complex and more intellectually demanding writing assignments later on. Among the faculty of the course, we call this "pedagogy of struggle." Teaching students to lean in to struggle, to not give up, and to see that learning happens in the struggle is one of the most important things we can help our students to understand.
To make up for today's canceled class, please watch this (oft-cited) TED talk on teaching and resilience ('grit" as the speaker, Angela Duckworth, calls it).
THE CLASS: After you watch the TED TALK consider this group of students:
THE READING; If it's 9th grade, you know what that means: Romeo and Juliet is on deck. Even though most students sort of know the plot of R&J , Shakespeare is never a walk in the park for the inexperienced and mostly disaffected reader.
YOUR TASK: Brainstorm a reading and writing assignment or assignments that will build resilient readers and writers using Romeo & Juliet as the text you are reading in class. You can think about the frameworks, but you don't have to at all. And you can bring in any other text or media that might help them. Consider the other TED talks we watched for today's class, and the major points we've covered since the start of class. How can all of this help you to build reading and writing experiences that will build sturdy readers and writers among our students?
Don't be shy and don't worry if you don't know what you are doing. Remember: we started this class thinking about what about our student experiences worked and what didn't. Rely on that. And seriously think about what we've been talking about in class. I mean this seriously: sort of try to have fun. Coming up with assignments should not be a miserable experience.