Monday, April 18, 2011

So many novels, so little time

Today the ALE students, along with their teacher, presented a lesson to my students about being a responsible dog owner. Their points were don't chain a dog, get them spayed/neutered, and adopt from a shelter rather than buy or breed. The presentation and question session lasted about 30 minutes. Because I have my 7th graders for two periods each day, this was a great lead in to the novel we were going to start reading - Jack London's The Call of the Wild. From time to time, I switch up the novels I read with my students. But this book is one that my students and I usually enjoy, and I don't often skip it.

Sometimes students mistakenly think that because it is a small book, less than 150 pages, it is an easy read. Very quickly, they change their minds. The vocabulary is challenging for most. Another reason they sometimes think it will be easy is that it is told from the perspective of a dog. Students remember children's books being told from an animals perspective. They are usually surprised when I don't allow them to read the book independently. I sometimes have students tell me that they read the book in elementary. But after we start reading and discussing in class, they admit that they now have a much better understanding of the book. Sometimes they even start out telling me that they didn't like the book - this is a sure sign to me that the book was too challenging for their independent reading.

Today we read the Forward by Gary Paulsen and chapter 1. Even with as many times as I have read/taught this book, I enjoyed the reading. I hope that tomorrow we can get through chapters 2 and 3, but I won't rush it. The more I can get them to discuss; the more they learn and enjoy the book.

Eigth graders are only in my room for one period, so we didn't begin a new unit today. Tomorrow I am going to give let them play games such as UNO, Yahtzee, and Ratuki as a reward for their hard work on the Benchmark tests last week, but Wednesday we buckle down and get back to work. I have to admit that I haven't decided for sure just what we will be doing. Some of the novels I read with 8th graders include The Giver, Animal Farm, and sometimes The Diary of a Young Girl. This year my 8th graders also need to finish a comic project that we have been working on in bits and pieces throughout the year. There just isn't enough time to get to it all. The Giver is one of those books like The Call of the Wild that students have frequently have read independently and will tell me that they didn't like it. Most times they love the book after we read and discuss it in class. Another case of reading something before they were ready.

I would like to know what you homeschoolers read with your middleschoolers.
Classroom teachers, what novels do you teach in 7th and 8th graders?
What do you remember reading from that time period in your life?

1 comment:

  1. i loved the giver and may have even read it aloud with my 7th graders when i taught. but i haven't read it to my kids yet. i try to pick things i can read aloud to all of them at the same time (ages 6-13). we just finished summer of the monkeys. we've also read the sign of the beaver which they loved and the bronze bow.

    i read constantly or listen to audio books so i tend to forget quickly what we've read. i'll have to go back and see if i've written anything down lately that we loved.