For this week’s open entry, it is a bit harder to write as we did not have any assigned readings besides readings for our project. I did read a book that would fall under the letters/personal genre earlier this week. Actually I started and finished it within one sitting. I miss those days of having time to be able to read a book until I finish it, simply because it is so intriguing and good that I cannot put it down. If I said I did not have any time to do so I would be lying. I do have time but during this down time I have, I am usually too tried to go pick up a book and read. I was highly motivated to read Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower because the movie just came out and I really want to see the movie. But I knew I had to read the book first or I never would. Sometimes I wish my students had the motivation to sit and read a book but I know this is difficult as I can barely get them motivated to read during class time. A few of my students are motivated and love to read. My 7th grader reads every day for 10 minutes before we start the day’s lesson. My principal walked in the room on Friday to speak to him and she was thrilled that he was sitting there, highly engaged in the book. One of my 11th grade coordinated studies student, Peter* picked Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’ The Communist Manifesto to read. He was supposed to read Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games and complete the assigned work. But he had no motivation to read it. Peter and I compromised on finding a new book. Of all the books I brought in for him to read, he picked The Communist Manifesto and I was overall pleased that he made this choice. Realistically how many students would pick this book for fun? Especially when I also brought in Max Brooks’ The Zombie Survival Guide as an option. After speaking to him about this, he seemed generally happy that I gave him a choice of what to read. Peter seemed even happier when I told him he could switch books if did not find the text engaging enough after the first few chapters. Seeing how happy and empowered Peter felt about having choice reminded me how important it is to provide students with choice. If I told him he had to read The Hunger Games, Peter would have read the text but not actively engaged with the text. He would have read it to answer the questions I provided him to do. But by giving him a book he picked, I am sure Peter will get more out of it than he would have with The Hunger Games.
This idea of choice with reading ties into choice with writing. After taking this class I am more aware of proving my students with choice when it comes to writing. Students will have a more meaningful interaction with their writing if they have ownership of it. When I was designing a project to serve as a capstone for The Hunger Games, I thought a great deal about how to create a project that served as a way to express a student’s creativity but also as a way to have the students write. I decided to create a multi-genre project that has nine different forms of writing. The first option, which is mandatory, is an essay. But to still provide the students with choice, I provided them with eight different topics. After writing the essay, students can choose any other project to complete. All the other projects are forms of writing, but are creative forms. They vary from writing a letter to the author, a news paper page, a commercial, to a poster with a summary. By assigning the essay I am able to see where their writing is with writing formal essays. Through the other forms of writing, I am able to see how they write when they write something that they wanted to do because (hopefully) they thought it would be a way to express their creativity. I provided general guidelines of what I wanted so students would have a direction to go in. Everything I want them to have is in the rubric that I made from the Rubistar website. Students will know exactly what their project needs to have to earn a top grade. This is my first time working with this type of project so I am hoping everything runs smoothly. When I was in school I loved having options for a book or unit’s capstone. Hopefully my students will appreciate this as well/