Ever since I can remember, I have loved to read and effortlessly created entire worlds in my head filled with characters and settings. I was able to hook myself into reading. I remember thinking in fifth grade, while reading My Side of the Mountain, that the life outdoors as described in the book was so enchanting that I just had to experience it for myself. It wasn’t long before I was traipsing through the woods in back of our house with my dad’s hammer, a blanket, some string, and a few snacks. I love that fifth grade self – so full of spirit and determination, but somewhere along the way I lost my enthusiasm for school-assigned texts. I would spend whole weekends reading for pleasure, conducting research, engaging in comparative analysis of texts, but when it came time to read Romeo and Juliet or The Scarlet Letter, I skimmed through and sometimes (gasp) didn’t even do the reading homework.
In retrospect, this leads me to an important realization about the readers in my classroom, many of whom respond to survey questions stating that they “didn’t read” the assigned texts completely or “didn’t enjoy” them. I have to figure out what will fill the gap, and I think that we, as teachers, need to help students discover what is “magical” and “memorable” about school assigned texts. I owe this tip to Ron Clark and his book that I’ve been listening to called The End of Molasses Classes. [Read more…]