After 10 years, our school is no longer offering the interdisciplinary World Studies class that used to combine World History and English 9.
This means that English 9 is a new course for me, and I’m excited.
One of the biggest challenges is that ninth graders say they don’t like to read, that reading is boring, and that it’s pointless. The bigger problem is that they’re entering our school two and three years below grade level, in general. No wonder why they don’t like reading! (I don’t like things I’m bad at.)
So I’m thinking of adopting a hybrid reading workshop approach, where students will get to choose a large part of what they read. Although a popular and established practice, reading workshop has only recently received a lot of press. And not all of it is positive.
But I’m going for it, which means that this summer, I’ve begun to build a classroom library. The point is to get really good books really close by so that students don’t have an excuse not to read.
It’s been fun to check out used bookstores and Salvation Army stores. But my favorite — and most productive — way of getting books has been through DonorsChoose. I keep things easy: I bundle up books 15 at a time, change my proposal just a bit to keep things new, and wait. It’s been amazing. All five of my proposals so far have been approved, usually within 10 days of posting. Even better, I seem to have an anonymous donor who likes me and who strikes on Sundays.
I can’t wait to get all these books in September and put them on my bookshelves. I also can’t wait to read some of these books. (The research says that students read much more if their teacher has read every title in the classroom library — a daunting prospect.)