Friday, May 7th, 2010...10:34 am
Senior Independent Reading Reflection
Was there too much freedom within the unit?
- Having the students get their chosen books approved was key. I had a couple of students who tried to pick books that lacked plot. In other words, they were books written by comedians who were merely stating their political opinions or views on life.
- Each day the students were given a minilesson, a small writing assignment and time for silent reading. The minilessons discussed aspects of literature including audience, point of view, conflict/resolution and theme. The restraints of the writing assignments worked out nicely. In order to receive credit for them, they had to complete the writing by the end of class. This was easily done by all the students since the assignments really only called for a paragraph or two. These assignments could also be used at the end of the unit as the foundation of their project. The students respected the silent reading time for two reason: they liked their books and they didn’t want to worry about homework. Success.
- I think that the students had too much freedom when it came to working on their projects. During the creation of their projects they were simply allotted class time to work. There were not any mini-deadlines that they had to meet. They just had to have their project completed by a certain date. In the end, this was a big mistake. Most of the students’ projects required computers, so I booked computer labs. Problem most of the students then used that time to socialize or attempted to secretly play video games. There was some pretty cool projects submitted; however, those were from the students who took lab time seriously. To help motivate and regulate all of the students as a whole, I would incorporate mini-deadlines into the project process.
How can I guide my students to high quality literature and thoughtful projects while still allowing them to make their own decisions?
- This question is still tricky to answer. Each project involved writing two separate paragraphs. For the first paragraph, I developed a set of questions that the students had to choose from. They answered one of these questions, which asked about the human experiences and affects on society within the text, and then had to support their answers with the text. For the second paragraph the students had to respond to a passage from the text. The students did an excellent job with the questions. I thought they had insightful responses and did a nice job of selecting passages from their text to support their statements. The respond to a passage section was about 50 percent successful. About half the students were able to pick passages that were significant to the text as whole. The other half of the students merely picked passages that they enjoyed. This would have worked if they were able to describe why that passage was important, explored a literary device or considered the audience. Instead, most responses came in the form of “I choose this passage because it was really fun/sad/scary.”
- I am not sure I could have done much more to help the students create thoughtful projects. Those that really enjoyed their book and cared about their project, created amazing visual portrayals of their text. Those who just wanted to get it over with, didn’t. Ultimately, I believe this portion of the project is up to the individual student: their own motivation, responsibility and dedication.
Are the short story/poetry minilessons about literary devices, the human experience and issues in society being carried over into their own unit projects?
- I think this question again comes down to the responses to the questions versus the responses to a passage. The vast majority of students referenced the literary devices we studied during the unit in their response to the questions. I think this could have been even more prevalent if I would have asked specifically about conflict, plot, characterization, theme, symbolism, etc. The passage responses, in which they had to incorporate those things on their own, were not nearly as successful. I want my students to be able to determine significant passages in a text on their own; however, I think that simply asking them to pick a passage was to open for them. Next time, I think I would clarify that they needed to pick passages that represent a turning point in the text, a change in character, embodies the theme or symbolism in the text, etc.