Issuu on Google+

1

Developing Identities as Readers

By Meghan Sweeney Northern Nevada Writing Project: Summer Institute 2012


2

Table of Contents Rationale

3

Essential Question

5

Literature Review

6

CCSS Writing Standard

9

Supporting Materials: Book Club Assignment

10

Student Samples

16

References

18


3

Rationale As I have begun to try to better understand how reading theory fits within composition theory, and of course pedagogical theory, I have become fascinated with the idea of identity. Most of what I have come across has claimed that college students do not read as much as they have in the past, and in general people read less today. I have heard similar comments from professors who are convinced, whether or not they are correct, that students do not read the assigned texts for their classes. According to education theory, these concerns are based in identity: identity that the student creates for herself and that the teacher creates for the student. With these nascent ideas of reading and identity theory rattling around in my brain, I realized that I wanted to understand better my book clubs that I have been running fairly successfully, but not completely successfully in my developmental English classes. So while I wanted to understand how we can help students develop identities as readers, I more directly wanted to know how classroom-based book groups (or literature circles) can aid in the development of this identity. One particular “fact� that I was told in my Master’s program was that developmental composition students need to read fiction because it is important for them to follow a story with plot, characters, symbolism, and theme. But lately, I have been questioning this bit of wisdom. The new focus in the Common Core State Standards on informational text further piqued my curiosity. For my inquiry, I scoured the ERIC database, looking for any recent articles on fiction versus non-fiction. Through this search I also found articles that espoused the greatness of book groups and social literacy practices. Finally, to better understand how to


4

get students seeing themselves as readers I looked to Kelly Gallagher and his book on reasons for reading. As I read these articles and book, I kept focused on my own book club and kept my mind open in terms of how I could evolve my book club to increase the odds that students would begin to see themselves as readers.


5

Essential Question How can we help students develop identities as readers? Sub question: How can classroom-based book groups help in developing this identity?


6

Literature Review My inquiry-based research led me to find several articles on motivating students to read as well as discussions on what type of reading students actually prefer. The most useful book I read on motivating students was Gallagher’s (2003) Reading Reasons: Motivational Mini-Lessons for Middle and High School. He divides the books into several lists, the first of which are the building blocks that should be in place before trying to build motivated student readers. The building blocks are 1. getting students access to highinterest reading material 2. giving students time to read and a place to read (a numbers game) 3. modeling the value of reading by teachers 4. not grading everything 5. providing structure to the reading program. The final building block, Gallagher claims is the most important: 6. teachers should focus less on how to get students to be better readers and focus more on why they should be better readers. Here he seems to be discussing what Hall (2009) refers to as identity. A student needs to know why taking on the identity of a reader is empowering. It needs to come from their own motivation, not extrinsic motivation. In essence, Gallagher is providing tips and tools for how to reach those students who may seem to be struggling, so that transactions between teacher and student are not strained by the teacher wanting the student to behave in a particular way (Hall 2009). To make the “invisible visible� and show students the value of reading, Gallagher shows students they should read because 1. Reading is rewarding 2. Reading builds a mature vocabulary 3. Reading makes you a better writer


7

4. Reading is hard and “hard” is necessary 5. Reading makes you smarter 6. Reading prepares you for the world of work 7. Reading well is financially rewarding 8. Reading opens the door to college and beyond 9. Reading arms you against oppression (p. 17). He then goes on to detail assignments he uses to get students to see these nine benefits; however, what I really took from this book were items 1, 5, and 9. And if I am seeing my composition class as a way to arm students with the tools they need, not to succeed at work or in other classes, but mainly to succeed in life, then I need to expand my book club to include critical reading that gets them questioning the world around them. Several classroom-based empirical studies pointed me to this conclusion, showing that students in general preferred non-fiction writing (Correia 2011; Stein and Beed 2004). Some similar studies examined the fiction versus non-fiction debate, but by examining the differences between female and male students. Apparently, male students prefer nonfiction, informational texts, like newspapers, magazines, comics, emails, and web pages; female students prefer fiction (Jones 2005; Topping 2008). This difference is important because student engagement in reading matters more than the socio-economic background in reading proficiency (Topping 2008). And to complicate matters even further, reading larger amounts of non-fiction may have a “deleterious” effect on students’ reading achievement gains (Topping 2008).


8

This literature review tells me that while my book club project is pedagogically sound, with Stein and Beed (2004) calling it “empowering� and Jones (2005) advocating for reading being seen as a social rather than solitary activity, the missing component is the addition of non-fiction, informational readings as choices for students. However, Topping et al.’s (2008) finding that non-fiction reading may harm reading achievement makes me feel that something needs to be added in order to make this type of reading something that will help the student grow. What I came to realize through this literature review is that adding non-fiction choices to the book club reading lists would make the activity more enjoyable to many students, especially male students. However, to avoid the deleterious effects of nonfiction, I need to combine critical reading practice to these book clubs, so that students are not just reading the texts for information, but are also thinking critically about the texts: questioning, evaluating assumptions and evidence given. By adding complexity to the book club, while still keeping it social and student focused, I can improve upon this assignment.


9

Common Core State Standards K-5:   

6-12   

Standard 1: Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text. Standard 4: Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone. Standard 8: Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.

Standard 1: Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text. Standard 4: Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone. Standard 8: Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.

College English 098: no reading outcomes English 101: Interpret, analyze, discuss, and evaluate a variety of readings;


10

Book Club

Throughout the semester you will be reading one book outside of the class. You will not, however, be reading it alone. I will be placing you into a group with about three other students who are reading the same book, otherwise known as your “Book Club.” You will have about four or five book club discussions throughout the semester. During the last week of class, your Book Club will be required to give a group presentation, summarizing and critiquing the book for your classmates as well as making the book into a movie, making it visual. But first, you must choose your book from the list below. Investigate the following list of books and choose your top three. Put in some effort when selecting the texts since you will have to live with your decision for the rest of the semester. I recommend you browse the shelves of your local bookstore, reading the back cover of the books and even reading a few pages to make sure the book is your style. You can usually read the first few pages of any book on Amazon.com as well as browse reader reviews.

The List Dorothy Allison Melissa Bank David Benioff Mark Hadden

Bastard Out of Carolina The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing City of Thieves The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

Your Top 3 Picks (1 being your top choice) 1. ___________________________________________ 2. ____________________________________________ 3. _____________________________________________ **CHOOSE YOUR TOP 3 PICKS BY THE NEXT CLASS ***

Comment [M1]: Along with updating the fiction here, I would add just as many non-fiction texts.


11

Book Club Meeting 1 Discussion: For the first 20 minutes of class, please have a general discussion of the book. This is a freeform discussion, but in case you need some help getting started, here are a few questions to spark conversation: 1. Are you enjoying the book so far? If so, why? If not, why not? 2. What has interested you the most about the book so far? What has surprised you? 3. What themes do you see emerging from the book? Do they interest you? Why?

Comment [M2]: Or arguments

4. What do you relate to in your novel? Does anything in the book remind you of

Comment [M3]: book

something from your own experience, or a movie, a TV program, a song, or another book you have read? 5. What questions do you have about the book? What has not made sense? 6. If you had to pick three to five people, living or dead, that you would like your characters to meet, who would they be? Why? 7. Begin a Character Chart. You need to cast your characters in the movie and to do that you need to know who your characters are. Make a list of the characters in your book. Next to each character, give a physical description (which actors match this description) then describe that character’s personality (which actors have played similar personalities in other movies). Example from To Kill a Mockingbird: Scout Physical Description: young, gangly, tom-boy, not too pretty, brown hair. Personality: Headstrong, talkative, naïve, likely to get into a lot of trouble Actors that fit this description:

Comment [M4]: I would add a “Key Players Chart” for the nonfiction books.


12

Book Club Meeting 2 Discussion: For the first 20 minutes of class, please have a general discussion of the book. This is a freeform discussion, but in case you need some help getting started, here are a few questions to spark conversation: 1. Are you enjoying the book so far? If so, why? If not, why not? 2. What has interested you the most about the book so far? What has surprised you? 3. What themes do you see emerging from the book? Do they interest you? Why? 4. What do you relate to in your novel? Does anything in the book remind you of something from your own experience, or a movie, a TV program, a song, or another book you have read? 5. What questions do you have about the book? What has not made sense? 6. Begin a Story Board. You need to storyboard key moments in the book for your movie. Make a list of the key moments in your book so far. Remember that you can start the movie anywhere, including the most dynamic moment. Discuss some possibilities and begin drawing.


13

Book Club Meeting 3 Discussion: For the first 20 minutes of class, please have a general discussion of the book. This is a freeform discussion, but in case you need some help getting started, here are a few questions to spark conversation: 1. Are you enjoying the book so far? If so, why? If not, why not? 2. What has interested you the most about the book so far? What has surprised you? 3. What themes do you see emerging from the book? Do they interest you? Why? 4. What do you relate to in your novel? Does anything in the book remind you of something from your own experience, or a movie, a TV program, a song, or another book you have read? 5. What questions do you have about the book? What has not made sense? 6. Begin a Soundtrack. That’s right. Take out your Ipods (or your music listening device of the month) and start sharing music with your group members. Which songs fit particular scenes from your storyboards? Which songs will help set the right tone for the theme of the piece? Start compiling a list and designate a group member who is technically savvy enough to burn a CD with all the songs.


14

Book Club Presentations For your final assignment in this class, your book club group will be giving a class presentation (15-20 minutes in length) on your book. This, however, is not your typical “book report.” As a group you will be creating, presenting, and handing in the following: 1. A critique of the book (1 page, double-spaced, typed) to be handed into me and read to the class. If you loved the book, view this as a sales pitch—why should your classmates go out and buy this book tomorrow? Only turn in one for your entire group. Hint: Use your restaurant review writing skills. 2. Poster Board/YouTube/PowerPoint Movie Presentation—as a group, you will decide how you would make this book into a movie (or a better movie, if one already exists) and then present the look of that movie on a poster board. Of course, we are not filmmakers, so view this as a “what if” scenario. By making it into a movie, you will be forced to consider all the fiction elements that make a novel a novel—theme, plot, tone, characters, style. Here are the elements that should be included in your visual presentation: 1. Scenes—storyboard the important scenes from the book that you would insist be included in the movie. You’ll want to decide what scene from the novel begins the movie, where the movie ends, and what happens in between. You should have a minimum of eight scenes. These storyboards should be drawn on the poster board or drawn on paper then taped or glued to the poster board. 2. Cast—decide which actors would play the characters from your book. When making the decision, consider not only what the actors look like but also their “personality” and other characters they have played in the past that remind you of your novel’s characters. Find pictures of these actors and include them on your poster board. If your novel has more than 8 main characters, you can pick the main 8. 3. Style—decide on the style of your movie. Your novel has a particular tone, the intangible way that it makes you feel as you read it, whether it’s sad and moody, or exciting and action-packed, or artistic. Each movie has a different tone/style as well (think Donnie Darko, Pulp Fiction, Indiana Jones…). What style fits your book? Find images that illustrate that “look” and location of the movie. Include these images on your poster board. 4. Soundtrack—decide on the song(s) that would fit the theme of your novel. Bring in a copy of that song or songs for us to play in the class during your presentation. 3. Explanation of your movie decisions—write a one-page, double-spaced explanation or rationale of the choices you made in making your movie. I’ll be looking for an understanding of your book club’s novel, such as the characters, the theme, the tone, and the plot. Only turn in one for your entire group. 4. Evaluation of your group members—as with any group project we run the danger of doing all the work while others stand by and take the credit. Because of this, I want each member to turn in an anonymous evaluation of their group members, so I know how to distribute points fairly.

Comment [M5]: I would add a whole section for analysis of the text--fallacies, assumptions, faulty evidence—so the students can critique books in that way as well.


15

Creating a Storyboard 1. What is a storyboard? Planning is key! Storyboards are graphic organizers which show the scenes in a project in a rough drawing form. A storyboard will help you visualize how the content chunks relate to each other and will help to shape the direction of your efforts as you create your project. With a storyboard, you are able to map out your original ideas for communication to your viewers. Evaluating the storyboard will allow you to make adjustments during the early formative stage while revisions are still quite simple to do. It’s a lot like outlining! 2. How to create your storyboard: A. Write down key scenes under consecutive storyboard frames. B. Your storyboard should in essence be a type of map, outlining all the major scenes needed. C. Make rough sketches of visuals for each frame. Don’t worry about polish at this point; you just want the idea of the visual clearly portrayed.


16

August 13, 2008 Explanation Deciding on what to make for our presentation was pretty simple, but not effortless. We decided on making a slideshow-movie of some sort. With each slide, we explain the important parts of the story as they contribute to the novel as a whole. Starting from when Marley is being put to sleep, we backtracked and made our presentation into a sequential flashback of Marley’s life. Our scenes included when John and Jenny first picked up Marley, the comfort Marley showed Jenny after her miscarriage, the protectiveness the dog showed to John the night of the stabbing,

Comment [M6]: I love that these students changed the order of the book to be more cinematic.

and others that were important in explaining the importance of Marley to his owners. We pondered on which characters to use and came up with what we thought was the most suitable. For John’s personality, being a loving and caring yet funny and sarcastic man, we thought Ben Stiller would fit. Jenny is the persuasive and hopeful wife for whom we figured Jennifer Aniston

Comment [M7]: Usually Brad Pitt gets cast in every movie.

would suit. Along with the characters came understanding of the theme, tone and plot. The themes in the novel stood out as universal truths—seizing the moment, optimism in the face of adversity, and unwavering loyalty. There were plenty of times in the novel when Marley, or even John and Jenny would seize the moment. For example, adopting Marley or when Marley would charge at John in his lighthearted way every day. He taught John and Jenny that life is a precious thing that could be taken away at any second, and people need to enjoy it. Also, that you should be open to people, and look at their inside as a means for judgment—not their outer appearance. The overall focus of this novel, however, was really growth of people through experience.

Comment [M8]: These students are grappling with the thesis/meaning of the book.


17

Critique of Marley and Me Marley and Me by John Grogan is the epitome of the cliché of a dog as man’s best friend. This novel is a very emotional one, filled with happiness as well as sadness. As the future of a young

Comment [M9]: Here is a missed opportunity that a critical component could add: why does this cliché work for them as readers? Why as humans do we love these clichéd narratives?

couple unfolds, their dog, Marley, teaches them more and more about life. We see this when Grogan states “Marley taught me about living each day with unbridled exuberance and joy, about seizing the moment and following your heart. He taught me to appreciate the simple things…and above all else, unwavering loyalty.” His novel is a story of hope, energy, thankfulness and mourning. Marley truly touches the lives of the people that read this book, even if not everyone who reads it is an animal lover. The friendship that builds between Marley and his owners, especially John, is one that makes your heart ache. I highly recommend reading Marley and Me because it’s an all around emotional read—making you feel every emotion you are capable of feeling all in a matter of 300 pages. It opens your eyes to make you see how simple and non-

Comment [M10]: This group made a claim. Nicely done.

judgmental a dog’s mind can be. It is true what Grogan says, “A dog doesn’t care if you are rich or poor, educated or illiterate, clever or dull. Give him your heart and he will give you his.” Marley and Me truly pulls on your heartstrings and makes you think about what counts, in life, and what doesn’t. I also recommend Marley and Me to anyone looking to buy or adopt a dog. It shows you how responsible you need to be, yet how rewarding it is in the end. This is the perfect “life lesson” novel (in my opinion).

This group’s final project: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=318NeEWPXvM

Comment [M11]: Is it trying to persuade us then? Again a critical component could have these students examining this book differently.


18

References Correia, M. P. (2011). Fiction vs. informational texts: which will Kindergartners choose? Young Children, November, 100-104. Gallagher, K. (2003). Reading Reasons: Motivational Mini-Lessons for Middle and High School. Stenhouse Publishers. Hall, L.A. (2009) Struggling reader, struggling teacher: an examination of student-teacher Transactions with reading instruction and text in social studies. Research in the Teaching of English, 43(3), 286-309. Jones, J. (2005). Priority male: if we want boys to love books, it’s important to recognize what They want. School Library Journal, March, 37. Kirby, D. L. and Kirby, D. (2010). Contemporary memoir: a 21st-century genre ideal for teens. English Journal, 99 (4), 22-29. Lamb, M. R. (2010). Teaching nonfiction through rhetorical reading. English Journal, 99 (4), 43-49. Stien, D. and Beed, P. L. (2004). Bridging the gap between fiction and nonfiction in the literature circle setting. The Reading Teacher, 57 (6), 510-518. Topping, K. J., Samuels, J. and Paul, T. (2008). Independent reading: the relationship of challenge, non-fiction and gender to achievement. British Educational Research Journal, 34 (4), 505-524.


Developing Identities as Readers