This week, we had to look at a few blogs and pick out some things we liked and talk about them. I noticed when reading some of my classmates blogs that many people commented on how to keep students interested when reading both at home and in the classroom. A Sassy Classroom commented how no matter what age, focusing on what you’re reading is always going to be difficult to do 100% of the time. Even as college students, as Sassy Classroom mentioned, we can read any entire page without really understanding what we read because we are tired and ready to go to bed. The same goes for our students. Several blogs commented on how Tovani talked about using sticky notes can help students stay focused on what they read. Using this strategy, Tovani talked about how students can write down questions, concerns, interest, or pretty much anything on these sticky notes. This way they become active readers.
Last week in class we talked about when we first started highlighting, underlining, and taking notes on our own in school. I shared that I started this in seventh grade, but after thinking about this, this was false. I remember in ninth grade I was in an honors English class and the very first day of class my teacher explained how in this class we were expected to be active readers. She explained that this meant underlining, writing in margins, highlighting, etc. in the books we read throughout the year. I specifically remember that when she told us this, I hated it. I didn’t want to make my books all messy and write all in them. I wanted to keep them nice and pretty and hated the thought of writing in my books. However, by the end of the year, I loved writing in my books. It helped me so much when studying for a test or doing a project to be able to go through and see what I wrote or highlighted during certain parts of the book. So after thinking more about this after last weeks class, teaching my students to be active readers is something that I want to definitely focus on. Even if they are like me and hate the initial thought of making their books look ugly, it will help them so much in the long run. This is one of those tips where your teachers tell you “you’ll have to do this in college so better start now” is actually true! Now that I can actively read, I feel like it really helps me in college and is a skill I will use throughout my life.
Going along with this same idea of keeping students interested in what they read, Education Dawg posted an interesting blog last week. This person (who I’m guessing is a boy) talked about two different situations where he is reading a Sports Illustrated magazine and can obviously remember everything he reads because it interests him. Then in the other situation, he has to read an SAT story and he reads the whole thing and has no idea what it’s talking about because he isn’t interested in it. I think we have all been here- when something is interesting to us, we obviously want to read more about it and understand what we are reading. When something is boring to us or complicated, we don’t have any interest in understanding what we read because we just simply don’t care because it isn’t interested to us. Again, Tovani provides some great strategies for this in her book. Again with the sticky notes and active reading, these are some great strategies to keep students focused on what they are reading because (honestly whether they like it or not, hopefully they like it), they have to pay attention to what they are reading.
Another thing I thought was interesting was from the blog Pin It To Win It. This is a quote from their blog on March 4th: “When you build anything you start at the bottom and go up from there. You can’t start at the top because there is nothing to support it. It will just crash! All of the energy you spent building it would have been a total waste. That is how I feel about children who are not on the level they should be on. Teachers don’t always see it that way. You see I believe in helping children grow, I don’t want them to fail. By giving them an assignment or reading especially that is too difficult for them they will not be able to figure it out, will become discouraged, and have wasted their time.”
I think this is a great way to view some of the things we have been talking about in class. We have talked about how difficult it can be to really give assignments that are on the specific level of your students, because some students may have deeper understanding of things than others. For example, someone who uses another language other than English as their first language will obviously not be on the same reading level as someone who has spoken English their whole life, even if these two people are in the same grade. So it is up to the teacher to assign work appropriate to the level they are on. I just thought this was a very interesting analogy that this Pin It To Win It posted and it was something that I had never thought of before. In order for all students to get the full understanding of topics, teachers must appeal to their specific learning level. This, of course like I have mentioned before, is easier said than done. At the same time, it is something all teachers should strive for.