My Spanish I students have just finished reading their second independent novel (See the reflections from their first novel here: http://www.brycehedstrom.com/2013/they-finished-reading-their-novels). Once again, they chose a novel they wanted to read. The only constraints were that it be interesting and comprehensible to them. I have to repeat that idea a lot. Students have done plenty of regular self-selected independent reading in class between the first novel reading assignment in November and this one, so they are beginning to get the hang of it, despite the fact that our national school system is attempting to beat the notion of reading for pleasure out of them—the new school reading paradigm is harsh and unending textual analysis—that is apparently the only reason anyone would read!—nothing so soft as reading because students actually enjoy it.
To counteract the reading-sucks-so-why-would-anyone-do-it juggernaut that has been imprinted in their minds, I regularly checked with students to be sure they really liked something about the novel they had chosen, be it genre, setting, characters, plot, or whatever (the “interesting” component) and that they could understand much of it without too much trouble (the “comprehensible” component). Here is a free poster on how to choose reading materials that explains the interesting and comprehensible idea in five ways using kid-friendly language: http://www.brycehedstrom.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/HOW-TO-CHOOSE-READING-MATERIAL-Classroom-Poster.pdf. Most of the students were able to find a novel that met both of these criteria. This time the focus for reading was on character change, from Light Reading Book Report #1 (http://www.brycehedstrom.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/LIGHT-READING-BOOK-REPORTS3.pdf).
I gave them three weeks to read the novels. Most were able to finish in class within the scheduled 15-20 minutes twice a week. A few checked out books to take home overnight. The objective with the Light […]