Your first major assignment for the semester was a Mentor Text Memoir designed to get you to reflect on your own experiences as a reader, to reflect on the ways you can document your evolving literacy. As I've said many times in class, this is a first step in teaching literacy--we start with with what we know as readers and then learn what we can about other readers.
One thing that is often true about folks who want to be a teacher is that they themselves are good readers and do like to read, and despite themselves, often don't understand how this is not the case with the students in their classes. Further, folks who want to be teachers often found solace in the classroom (though not always): they were good students, essentially, and new how to do school.
It is easy to get caught up in who we were as students, and so it is useful to know the experiences of others. Thus, for this first book club, I am asking you to do a little qualitative research.
1. locate two individuals to talk to about their experience as readers.
Start with the same question for each person you interview: What are your most memorable reading experiences (good or bad, in school or out)? It might turn out that this one question yields follow up questions or it might not, but this is the kind of information you are trying to get at. Keep notes on what they say.
NOTE: Try to bring some diversity to your interview pool--so, in other words, try to ask folks who are not exactly the same as you.
2. Once you've talked with two people, compose a summary (150-200 words) & an analysis (150 words).
In addition to the summary, do some analysis: what do the literacy stories you heard say to you as a future teacher of reading and writing? Your analysis need only be another 150 words. It can be longer if need be but it is not required. Post this writing to this page.
3. Once you've posted, read through your colleagues posts and respond (150 words).
Respond cumulatively to what you are seeing across your colleague's posts. What is the snapshot this exercise gives us of readers (and not so much readers) of all kinds at this moment? What implications does it have for how we teach? For what we teach?
In class on the 15th, we'll use this information to shape our first contact with our fellow book club members and first year writer/readers in ENGL101E. We'll think about the reading (Rosenblatt and Smith) and the Gertrude Stein exercise from our 1 October 2018 class in light of how others see themselves as readers.
HOW TO POST ON THIS BLOG: Frankly, it could not be easier. Simply click on the "comments" button available in two places on this page: top right and bottom left. A dialogue box will open up. Fill out the info as required, and then post away. When you are ready, click "submit" and you are done. To reply to a colleague's comment, click on, you guessed it "reply" and the same dialogue box will pop up. Don't worry if things get disorganized in the posting. I (we) will figure it out.
DEADLINE: You have until class time on the 15th to post and respond.
10/13/2018 01:35:48 pm
I began by asking my self proclaimed "non-reader" husband his thoughts on reading. He told me he had never finished a book that he was not required to read. He never enjoyed reading. Recently however, he has begun listening to audio books that pertain to his business. Still not reading for pleasure, or reading at all for that fact, but in some sort of way, an approach to reading.
10/14/2018 12:47:26 pm
Firstly, I couldn't agree more with your husband on never finishing a book that he wasn't required to read. I have this same difficulty, I've started so many books that I have yet to finish to this day but if its for school I have no issues. I think its the job of teachers to make reading feel like an experience rather than a requirement. Too often teachers simply just assign page numbers for students to read at home. It could be beneficial in a classroom if its possible to read together in class. Its a way to get all students involved and also would help to get students on the same page. Its not uncommon for students to do the reading homework but they just don't understand what they're reading.
10/15/2018 11:25:54 am
Hi Herby! I like that you interviewed your mother who was not raised in America. I think it is important to recognize the differences in academics across the world, so it is interesting to hear that there was more focus on math. I think it's great that you are trying to encourage your mother to read more despite her past history with reading. When I was interviewing my friends, I think that the exposure to reading as elementary students deeply influenced the way they felt about reading now. Your mother's experience goes to show that it does sometimes matter how much you read as a younger student. I think reading at a younger age helps solidify the importance and hopefully the pleasure of reading. When it comes to your father, being stuck in his ways is definitely something that starts at a younger age too. I agree 110% that reading should be fostered early and often. It is good to recognize the importance of reading even if it is not necessarily for pleasure.
10/14/2018 11:56:10 am
I asked my wife Lindsay what literary experience had somehow changed or shaped her life. She told me about a book she read during elementary school. The name of the book is So Far from The Bamboo Grove by Yoko Kawashima Watkins. She really enjoyed Watkins story because of her rich writing style and real-life struggles during the war while returning to Japan. There were other novels that left a mark in her life, but Watkins’ story was impactful and opened my wife’s eyes to the horrors of the Second World War. Another fact that contributed to her loving the novel was the author’s visit to her elementary school. All students from her class were able to ask questions directly to Watkins and it made a huge difference. She was able to get more details in depth and find out tidbits of information that were not available on the book. Also, listening to Watkins autobiographical story in person added a layer of credibility and realism that sometimes seems far away from the students’ mindset, who usually are not acquainted to such harsh stories of despair throughout war times.
10/15/2018 12:45:59 pm
It is interesting to hear about your wife's experience of actually meeting the author of the book she liked. In our readings we have read about the potential value of vicariously experiencing (to some extent) the stories of others through reading. Being able to meet, firsthand, the writer of a text and to interact, question, and shake hands with them seems like it could add valuable depth and tangibility to the reading.
10/15/2018 01:42:10 pm
10/14/2018 12:30:15 pm
I asked my mother about her experiences with reading and her answer surprised me greatly. My mother explained to me that she doesn't remember doing a lot of reading during her school years. She pointed out that math was more of the focus. My mother wasn't raised in America so that I assume played a major part in her lack of interest in literature. Oddly enough my mother has tried to develop an interest in reading lately. She's purchased a kindle so she can read while at work, I've even encouraged her to read some of the free books offered on iBooks just to get her familiar with some of the more popular novels in literature. Despite the efforts it might just be too late for my mother to enjoy reading. She's a lot like me in that she has difficulty reading for solely pleasure. My mother even questions my choice of major sometimes because she doesn't necessarily see the benefits in reading.
10/15/2018 01:37:39 pm
I think it's definitely very important to consider cultural reading values, especially if teaching in a more diversely populated school. This is enlightening to that. If the parents of a child didn't come for a literature-rich learning background, that child's home environment is less likely to lead to active interest in reading. The classroom should strive to be a place to foster that interest in earlier schooling.
10/14/2018 04:54:12 pm
Jeremy has never been an avid reader. As a visual artist who focuses his attention on painting and filmmaking, he is more inclined to watch a story than to read one. In fact, he hasn’t completely read a book since he was in high school… ten years ago. He tells me about books that he loathed in school—The Old Man in the Sea and The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants are mentioned and described in particularly profane detail. Somewhere in between expletives and insults directed at his high school teachers I find him mentioning some specific reasons that he disliked the readings: they were boring, they were “required reading” (and he “f—king hated” that), he simply couldn’t picture the stories in his head.
10/15/2018 05:04:34 am
The first person I spoke to was Nate. He recalled a time when he would read Indian in the Cupboard with his dad before bed, while his dad read his own book. He remembers this as his way of emulating his dad. Outside of this, he says, he doesn’t really remember reading any other books for pleasure. However, he says that from about the third grade on he would read the Boston Globe every morning from cover to cover, then as he got older it would dwindle down to just the sports pages. He recalled the excitement he would have when he would find Sports Illustrated and other sports magazines in the mailbox. These were the days before the internet, so this was the way for him to access sports stats, interviews and articles, and he would pore over every detail. Of school, he admits that he probably never read a single assigned book, yet somehow “BSed” his way through the assignments (direct quote). Just recently he has gone back to reading books for pleasure, and expressed some regret for not reading while he was in school.
10/15/2018 07:40:17 am
Hi Johanna, I found my interviews went similar to yours. The two people I interviewed were my parents, and my mother enjoyed reading books, my father however does not. He grew up with strict teachers that forced and made him read books that he had no interest in, and the forcing is what made him not want to read on his own. My father enjoys reading newspaper, magazines and online articles, and hated to be forced to read. I completely agree with you that students should not be forced to read, but enabled and allowed to choose their reading choices. Although students do need to read certain things for school and classes, I think it should be done in a fun and entertaining way not a dreadful manner. One way a teacher can make students enjoy to read is having a library or a selection of books that vary with all genres and topics and book styles. I enjoyed your post, and felt that we had similar experiences with this assignment!
10/15/2018 08:22:03 am
10/15/2018 11:06:20 am
10/15/2018 07:32:48 am
I first interviewed my mother who is an active reader, and has been most of her life. She has always loved to read, and found it quite relaxing. She went to a private Catholic school where she said they had many times where they had to be silent, so she usually spent this time reading books. As she became older and busier, she mentioned that reading is a way for her to relax and unwind after a busy day with three children and a full day of work. The next person I interviewed was my father, a man who I have rarely ever seen holding an actual book. HE mentioned that in school he dreaded reading because his teachers had always forced him and his classmates to read, and he did not like to be forced. He mentioned that he does enjoy reading today, but he prefers to read news, sports, and articles about things that interest him; not novels or fiction. He said that when he was younger and in grade school, he would purposely not read when told just to get a rise out of his teachers.
10/15/2018 08:13:52 am
The two people I interviewed were my husband Matt and my mom. They are both very different in their reading habits. My mother who reads more books in a month than most people read in a year and my husband who I have never seen pick up a book, other than handing me mine.
10/15/2018 08:24:11 am
I forgot to mention that in my two interviews I learned that there is a importance to understanding that not everyone is the same and that knowing this will help out in the long run when it comes to teaching.
10/15/2018 10:59:37 am
10/15/2018 08:31:25 am
For my first interview I asked my roommate Lisa, a health studies major, what her thoughts on reading were mostly in school. She generalized her memories in elementary education and middle school as "good." She remembers being required to read after finishing snack or lunch in elementary school. Students could either bring a personal book in or choose a book from the shelf in the classroom. In middle school, after finishing work before other classmates, students were required to read quietly until everyone was done. Lisa didn't mind this because it actually forced her to read which she would not have done on her own.
10/15/2018 09:45:52 am
As I read my colleague's (and my own) responses two key questions arise. First, how much responsibility is and should be placed on teachers to foster a love of reading? Are we taking too much responsibility for a student's success or failure at reading? When does it fall on the student to identify himself as a fan of reading? Secondly, why do we require a classroom full of individuals to read the same book? Of course this allows for class discussion, but would freedom of selection also allow for students to share what they have learned with classmates? This would be a great opportunity for a class to learn about more books than they could possibly read in a semester and allow individual students an opportunity to both choose and present on a topic they are passionate about.
10/15/2018 10:18:05 am
I have the same thought, Jenessa. It's obvious that students are more likely to read about topics that interest them, and from my interviews I realized that that reading might not always come from a book but other type of reading like a magazine or graphic novel. Your question about why we make everyone read the same book really struck me and I totally agree. Is there a way to allow for more freedom of choice in certain reading activities? It could definitely allow for discussion as the children would have the responsibility of sharing their experience with the class and I think that putting them in charge like that can be empowering for the student.
10/15/2018 01:32:57 pm
I like the idea of doing reading after work, separating the two in the child's brain, and helping them to see it as something rewarding or fun, a break from actual work. That sounds like a smart way to get children interested in reading from a young age, especially if they are already inclined to that sort of environment.
10/15/2018 11:29:53 am
10/15/2018 11:36:33 am
When I spoke with Cassie about her experiences as a reader, her eyes sparkled with interest. Cassie has always been a reader; her favorite genre of books are historical fiction and nonfiction. Cassie’s desire to read historical texts comes from her papa, who was always interested in his Irish heritage. Deeply rooted in historical texts are love stories, gory battle scenes, bravery and dishonesty, old politics, and eery foreshadowings of the future. All of these elements keep her turning the pages a mile a minute. In school, Cassie always completed the assigned readings, but never really took the initiative to read outside of school. It wasn’t until her papa passed away that she decided to invest her time in investigating the past. For this avid reader, historical literature allows Cassie to time-travel into the past and fight right alongside the warriors, mend wounds with the nurses, flee the country with her lover, and start a new life in another nation.
10/15/2018 12:51:00 pm
I see throughout everyone’s posts that there are some who love to read and some who are not fond of reading. It is interesting to see everyone’s reading experiences and see everyone take different approaches in telling everyone’s story. I took the point of view from generations and how they are different or the same.
10/15/2018 01:27:37 pm
I first interviewed my girlfriend, Averie. Averie too advanced classes in high school, not because she enjoyed reading for school, but simply because she liked a challenge. She recalls hating Charles Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities, saying she found it “pretentious, and you could tell he got paid by the word”. She had difficulty engaging with the text because she couldn’t even see it as a challenge, citing that the only challenging thing about it was its length. She was able to remember many books she read in high school that she did not like, but struggled to think of one that she did; Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun. As a more science inclined individual, she stopped pursuing English and literature classes in college.
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Fall 2018 EVENING 301 w/Torda
We'll use this space to hold class when we can't meet face-to-face