Hello, Cooperative Classroom Friends!
It’s officially August; I can’t put it off any longer. I’m SO excited! Yes, I still do this right along with the kids! Now, to be fair, I have NOT checked into my classroom (which has been gutted if you haven’t read prior posts). It is supposed to be finished (I’m not certain how to define that, exactly.) by August 16. My oldest daughter, too, is a classroom teacher in Alaska, and she reported that she was “going with friends to Fairbanks for some school shopping . . . ‘Yes, I know it’s not even August, but we can’t wait any longer. We’re too excited!’,” so I guess I am not completely alone in this idea of looking towards the future!
So here’s what I’ve been thinking about this past week: reading skills. For the past 15-or-so-years, I have been trying to hone in on critical reading for upper-level students. I have talked with reading specialists; I have talked with district-level specialists; I have tried to remain positive. I have garnered more information and strategies pertinent to middle- and elementary-level students. And don’t get me wrong. I understand that I instruct secondary-level students, and I understand that I also instruct many enriched- and AP-level students. But ay, there’s the rub. I couldn’t engage anyone in the conversations about the specific traits I was encountering with students and texts at these levels.
Enter in my extended recovery from this horrid back surgery and more time necessary to put up my legs to fend off post-surgery edema: I began, yet again, researching “complex texts,” “secondary students,” and “reading comprehension.” What occurred to me this time, however, was that I am also looking at new AP Language & Composition structures and guidelines. And even though I’ve always told my students that our class is a “college course,” I never thought to plug those terms into a Google search string.
Well, well. Call me behind the times (and I’m used to being on the “bleeding edge”). Chapter 9 of John Bean’s Engaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom brings to the conversation so many of the qualities that I’ve been longing to discuss and address in my classroom (regular or advanced)--those qualities of older students and of complex texts from which we require students to learn, engage, and respond.
This week's FREEBIE is a beginning-of-year reading survey. (I've included it both in PDF (ready to use) and in PPT (questions editable).)
Again, my plan is to have students respond in class--with chill music playing in the background--sometime during the first two weeks of school. Again, I may also use this survey during some "gap" time and have students finish at home.
The information provided by students allows me to look at student needs first-hand as well as to open the doors of communication:
I hope you find this survey as valuable as I have in the past. In my next post, I’m hoping to cover some of the ideas Bean discusses. I’m both interested and excited to know how you address varying levels of reading skills in your class! What suggestions do you have that we might consider this year? Leave your comments below! I'd love to have this conversation!
Until next time,