This semester, I have been surprised by the literacy levels of my students. They are able to discuss in class and with their neighbors about the readings. The varying levels at which my students perform surprise me. Some students are very capable at analyzing readings and interpreting abstract symbols and themes, while others find a hard time moving away from the literal readings. They are not able to do homework very well. In fact, my CT made the decision years ago that because student's don't do homework, it is pointless to assign. When we do have to assign homework, we remind students every day that a due date is coming up and we stress to them that homework is so rare for our class and is therefore important when we do assign it. My students still need help reading between the lines and recognizing symbols and abstract concepts.
What will your literacy-rich classroom look like?
My literacy-rich classroom will have many bookshelves of "fun" books for students to read. My literacy rich classroom will encourage reading across genres. Many of my students love crime and mystery novels and I will incorporate those into my curriculum. My literacy-rich classroom will have contemporary and relevant reading material.
Journal Sept. 30, 2013,
My literacy rich classroom has many bookshelves. My class has book clubs, where students choose from a list of books and jigsaw and read them together. My classroom curriculum is relevant to my students' lives and includes books by John Green (The Fault in Our Stars) and Markus Zusak (The Book Thief). My students are engaged in many extracurricular activities and also a book club for my class. They are all either involved in sports, theater, chess, debate, or the writing clubs. Some are active in their community and in clubs such as Key Club, Rotary Club, FFA, NHS, or CSF. My students are reading YA novels and comic books. They often find the books they read at the public library or the bookstores 'recommended books' table. I'm worried about student buy-in but am discussing with them the importance of learning.
Dear Diary, December 15, 2012
My literacy rich classroom still has many books. My students are really engaging in the material. Instead of focusing on readings from certain eras and time periods, I've grabbed material that hearkens back to the same ideals. I've taught the ideologies and sampled work from the time period, but have had the novel/selection of novel come from more relevant works. My students are still active in sports and extracurricular activities. They are much more respondent to the book club. My students are reading better, with stronger annotations, because of my lessons on cognitive markers and annotations. My students are writing stronger essays and paragraphs, and appreciate my sliding rubrics. My students have created a safe environment in the classroom, and often discuss the readings in fishbowls. The topics can get heated, but students remember to be respectful even when it is difficult. They surprise me at their empathy for one another. We have discussed giving out homework and have eliminated any busy work. They understand that when I assign a reading or writing at home assignment, it is of the up-most importance. My students have improved wonderfully from the beginning of the year.
Dear Diary, May 30, 2014
It's the end of the year! My literacy rich classroom looks much the same, but now the students are much more receptive to reading and writing. We've come a long way and have had some struggles as time went on, but we've all come out the other side. My literacy rich classroom has read many stories, novels, plays, and excerpts. We have learned the important literary concepts. My students are much more engaged with annotating and reading for fun. I've really tried to push the concept of reading for fun and I think I've finally started getting through to them. My students are still super involved in school and the community, and are just really awesome individuals. My students are now capable of independent learning in the following areas: reading between the lines, abstract concepts, understanding common archetypes/tropes/themes/symbols, understanding denotative/connotative meanings, analyzing difficult texts (like poetry) and sharing respectfully with one another their opinions and findings.
I'm so proud to be finished with my first year of teaching and with my students.