- Consider a teaching scenario. I will give you a teaching scenario—a kind of classroom, a kind of assignment, a particular population of students. You will be asked in 250 words, to talk about how you might teach this text, what makes you worried, what seems exciting about it—the joys and complexities of teaching texts to young people.
- Write and respond to the scenario given the reading for the week. In the true spirit of what I’ve come to see as the standard way people run online classes, you will need to respond to at least one of your classmates. I am hoping that the prompt is interesting enough to engender real and interesting back and forth. Response posts should be between 100 and 200 words.
A NOTE ABOUT WHAT TO THINK ABOUT AS YOU POST: The Book Club Reading journals are only about the fictional texts we are reading. The idea there is to engage in the texts as readers first and not teachers, to value these texts not as YA Lit, but as current literary fiction. Here, the goal is to think about how you might teach that text. That is why I include the theory or supporting scholarship as part of the conversation. That material is meant to help you to think about how and why you’d teach a text, it is meant to help you think about what would be hard about it, what would be exciting about it, etc. Respond with this in mind.
- Once a semester, serve as a respondent. That said, I have my doubts. That is why, for each whole class discussion, I will ask two people to serve as respondents. You will need to serve as a respondent only once during the semester. Serving as a respondent once is part of your overall requirement for participating in the whole-class discussion. Your job as a respondent: read through the entire discussion and write up a bulleted list of take-aways from the discussion. In other words, what are the joys, the complexities, the strategies that we came up with in spitballing how to teach the text.
THIS WEEK’S SCENARIO: The two short stories included in this weeks reading come from a list of short-stories for middle-schoolers. I have used these two stories with rising 8th and 9th graders. Long before the 80s, when Reader Response theory was all the rage, Louise Rosenblatt was training teachers to think about the role reading played in the lives of students. She wrote Literature as Exploration in the 1930s, but it still resonates today—in some ways because we don’t think enough about what she is saying when we pick and teach texts.
You are teaching a class of 30 8th graders at Whitman Middle School. Here is a class picture. . The class you are teaching is majority white. There are two students who identify as African-American. Just over ½ of the class are young women. None of the students are first generation American, but a few students have grandparents who immigrated, mostly from Ireland. More likely, the majority of students have great-grandparents or great-great grandparents that came from to the US during the great migration in the late 1800s—Italy and Ireland mainly. Your classroom is well-equipped. Students have ipads for use in the classroom and all of the students have internet access at home as well as at school. You maintain a teaching website where parents can check assignments. The parents at Whitman are, more or less, invested in their children’s education and pay attention to what is going on in the classroom. You have 7 students on IEPs ranging from high-functioning spectrum to ADHD mix. Two student are on IEP for cognitive processing problems.
You may elect to focus on one text over another, as long as you think about what Rosenblatt says about reading in your post.