Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Choice Novels

I believe that most teachers teach one novel at a time, or at least I do.....

If a teacher fully teaches one novel at a time, then that means that most teachers will teach approximately four novels during a school year.  A mere four books a year???

At the beginning of the school year, the language arts supervisor introduced the idea of choice novels. Her theory is that there are so many books in the world, and why would we limit students to four books a school year that are normally teacher selected? She proposed that we allow students choice in what they read, meaning that there may be lots of different novels being read at the same time in the same class.

At first I just could not wrap my mind around this idea. I was wondering, how would a teacher monitor if students are reading, how would I teach reading skills and concepts, how would I control this???

However, I started to grapple with this idea, and I know that I am madly in love with teaching literature, because I am always trying new things and trying new things helps to keep me relevant and intensifies my love for teaching literature.

With three other teachers who make up a Professional Learning Team, we decided to give this choice novel idea a try. We met to discuss the different possibilities, we created new things, and one by one we started to implement the idea of choice novels into our classrooms.

I decide that I would start with choice short stories with my tenth grade students. So, I selected five short stories and put students into groups. The groups decided which short story they would read, and they read the stories, worked on literary activities and vocabulary, and they also completed a visual that portrayed the theme and their likes and dislikes of their selected story. My people, this worked better than I could have ever imagined. The class was alive with students discussing literature and literature concepts. Their final visual depictions of their short stories blew me away:

After this success, I talked to one of the librarians, and I did something that I have not done in eighteen years of teaching; I took students to the library to actually browse around and find books that they would like to read. They asked questions like “Can I read a book about somebody?” Can I read any book in this library?” You should have felt their joy when they realized that the library was their playground.

I gave the guidelines for reading their choice novels, and we are reading in class, working on activities, and discussing literature. I am no longer having to beg students to read; they are reading and reading and reading, and the added bonus is that I get to read in class every single time that they read.

My people, change can be scary, but it can definitely be liberating. I would rather try something new and fail then to do the same thing over and over and over again......

The one thing that is consistent is change, and those who refuse to change become obsolete!

Loving Choice Novels Today!


dope. said...

This is an amazing idea! I have been teaching for almost five years now and never considered doing this...mostly for the same reasons you were hesitant. However, I am ALL about student choice and look forward to implementing this in my classroom next year. I love your students' visuals and look forward to reading more about their experiences with choice novels!

Jacqueline said...

Yes, it's works. Send me an email, and I will send you the guidelines for the short stories and the novels. You can modify the guidelines to fit your students.

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