Posted in Classroom Ideas, Teaching Techniques

Reading Journal

Originally I meant to write this post at the beginning of the month, but then among other things I got distracted and didn’t. I haven’t written any posts this month because I’ve been finishing up all the classwork for my masters, and life has just been crazy. But I’m actually really glad I didn’t write this post sooner, because it will be a much better post now. Instead of writing about how I’m going to start a reading journal, I can write about how yesterday I did start my reading journal.

To be honest, I got the idea from a blog post I read last month and reposted to this blog. I want to be able to keep track of what I’m reading, and I find that I need a pen and paper method over a digital method. Digital is great, but I simply don’t spend enough time on my computer to keep up to date with such a method. I always have time for paper and pencil, and there’s no booting up required which is good when I’m short on time.

So, yesterday I grabbed a blank composition notebook and some colored pens. The composition notebook because I’m hoping to have many reading journals and I want them to be uniform in size. The colored pens because color coding is obviously important always. And with materials in hand I started writing.

I wrote about my relationship with reading and thoughts I have regarding reading first. Such writings are just done in black pen because that’s easy. Then I wrote about the books I’ve read this month. Books I read for personal enjoyment I wrote about in pink. Pink is a happy color. And books for student teaching I wrote about in green because that’s how I color code work in my planner.

I recorded the month and the year I read the book; no dates because honestly that’s getting too complicated. What if I don’t write about a book for a week, and I forget when exactly I read it? Then I wrote the title and the author of the book. And then I wrote some of the thoughts I had about the book. If I liked it, why I liked it, etc. This was I can talk about books with my students if I want to, and I know what I’m reading and how much I’m reading throughout the year.

I’m really looking forward to keeping up with this project and eventually sharing my reading with my students. What are your thoughts on reading journals?

BB

Posted in Food for Thought

Poetry

Not unlike the classics, I’ve had and still have a complex and complicated relationship with poetry. While the classics at least intrigued me in an abstract way, poetry was my nemesis.

I didn’t like poetry, understand poetry, or see the importance of poetry. I hated analyzing poetry because I never saw the hidden meanings; I still often don’t. I firmly believe that sometimes a chicken is just a chicken.

My last semester at UConn I read The Stray Dog Cabaret – Russian poetry. And suddenly something inside me clicked. The beauty of poetry became apparent. Hidden meanings still elude me, but I saw why poetry was important, why it spoke to the soul. I began writing poetry successfully. A whole new world was open to me.

I want to help my students reach that moment. Some will and some might not, and I accept that. But I want to show them that poetry is beautiful and a wonderful means of expression. I want their eyes to open like mine did. Not all poetry will click and connect with everyone. I understand that. I know it was true for me. But I also believe that every student has a poem or poems they can connect  with. I know that was true for me.

BB

Posted in Food for Thought, Teaching Techniques

The Importance of Literary Analysis

In past posts I’ve written about young adult literature and literary classics. In this post I want to talk about literary analysis.

Analysis is one of those things in the world of English that I really struggle with. It’s not the same type of struggle that I face with reading the classics. That’s something I can grow into, learn to love. Analysis is a little bit different. I know that analysis is important. I know that analysis is kind of a big deal. But I struggle with it.

I think that part of the problem is that much of my reading is done for pleasure. I don’t want to analyze a text when I’m reading it for pleasure. I don’t want to be looking for figurative language or themes or anything like that. I want to embrace a story and let it absorb me when I’m reading for pleasure. I just want to love what I’m reading.

But as an English major and an almost English teacher, I have to embrace analyzing literature. I have to actually actively analyze literature. I have to teach students how to analyze literature.

And I will. Over the years I’ve developed tips, tricks, and techniques for analyzing literature. I have Post-Its and annotations and all sorts of other knowledge. And I know that analysis is important, so I’ll teach it as such.

But in the interest of full disclosure, when I’m reading for pleasure, I’m just going to let myself be absorbed by the story. Sometimes that really is the most important thing.

BB

Posted in Classroom Ideas, Food for Thought

The Importance of Reading the Classics

Last week I blogged about young adult literature. In that post I talked about the fact that reading the classics is important and is something that needs to be done. Really I wrote an entire paragraph on the importance of balanced reading. So this post is all about reading the classics and my thoughts on that.

Reading the classics has always been something I’ve struggled with. The classics aren’t something that’s ever truly and deeply interested me. I know that some people are really drawn towards the classics, but I’ve always been pulled more towards YAL. It’s where I felt I fit best; they’re the books that felt like home.

But as I’ve grown up and moved forward in life, and especially as I’ve moved closer to becoming an English teacher, I’ve realized I want to be more well read. I think it’s important for a couple of different reasons.

  1. I want to be well read so I can have educated conversations about literature. I majored in English, and I want to be able to sound like I did.
  2. I want to understand the texts I’ll teach my students. A lot of times these texts are classics. Therefore, I need a certain level of familiarity.
  3. The classics I have read, I’ve largely fallen in love with. To Kill A Mockingbird anyone?

These are all good reasons, but there’s one more I think is really important. I think it’s important to model good reading habits for my students. I think to model good reading habits I have to read a variety of books and texts and talk about them. I think we have to be honest about our likes and dislikes and explain why we feel the way we feel. This will allow students a solid example and foundation to build their own reading habits on. And ultimately, don’t we want our students to be readers?

BB