Graphic Novel Review 101/365: Further Classroom Reflections

I received a good amount of positive feed back on my Tuesday teacher reflection, and today was an interesting day in school, so here’s another reflection which with I hope you can engage.

I’m off first period, so I usually go into my 2nd period with excitement, gusto, and caffeine high!  I teach Best Selling Novels 2nd period: a class that I have never taught.  It’s a senior elective with approximately 25 students.  Out of these 25, about 22 of the students picked this class as one of their senior electives.  They chose to be in Best Selling Novels: a class in which they read novels.  But here’s the rub: the kids don’t want to read.  Let em explain…

Our first novel was an all-class read: The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.  An engaging book, we read both in class together and independently.  When the students did read on their own, the comprehension quizzes were OK.  Nothing to write home about but not terrible.  I’d like to note that many of the kids did not like the book; this is an issue in any class in which there is a work selected by the teacher.  I find this to be true in Best Selling Novels and in my Film & Lit course…not as much in my Graphic Novels course, but I’ll get there in a bit.

After The Glass Castle, we moved into an Abe Lincoln Book of the students’ choice.  The Abe Lincoln Program is an Illinois school program in which the schools are given a list of about twenty-five recently published books, and if the kids read at least four, they get to attend a pizza party and vote for their favorite; the votes are sent to Springfield, etc.  So, my students researched and selected a title from the list for a book review project.  Over 50 % did not finish their book, with about 25% not reading the first 20 pages.  In a class titled Best Selling Novels…for which they signed up.

Now, we are reading the short I Am Legend, and we will be doing a comparative analysis of the story and the film.  While the story is only 150 pages, the students will only read with me in class, and they complete the task with disdain.  I can hear the boredom in their breathing.  I Am Legend is a fantastic story, and I thought that the promise of watching the film would be good enough of an incentive for them to get through the book.  I was wrong.  They do not want to read.  I have to fix the problem.

I have a few ideas…hold that thought.

One of the students said that she thought that the class was going to be the reading of only books of their choosing and completing assignments on those titles, and for the next title, I will try a completely individualized book selection project, but we have to finish I Am Legend.

I’ve decided to go through the last 100 pages, select the 20-30 that are most important, read those with the kids, and summarize the rest.  Not ideal, but it will get us through the book.

The bigger issue is one of why the students would take a Best Selling Novels class without wanting to read.  And the Even Bigger issue than that is why don’t these kids want to read at all, even when they get the choice of class and novel??

I’m over 550 words here, so I’m going to end here for the day, but I will continue this thought tomorrow.  I have more to say, and I will be linking it to my Graphic Novels class.  I hope I’ve started enough of a conversation for you to come back for part two…

Happy Reading!

Eric

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