Thursday, April 23, 2009

When students "get it" -- fabulous!

I have been grading non stop for hours. The great thing about this is that I've been grading Book Club papers. Students self-selected into "book clubs" to read professional books and discuss them in small groups. I suggested about four to five titles for students to choose from; they discussed the book on their own schedule, group members posted reflections of the discussions during the semester, then everyone wrote a reflective paper on the experience. This is the pay off - students are making connections between class activities and discussions and the books they read; they are making connections to their own student teaching experiences. These have been the best papers I've gotten on this assignment in a number of semesters.

I don't know whether students are just giving me what they think I want or whether their connections, inferences, and assertions truly represent their views. The optimist in me chooses to believe that they do - that the assignment has made a difference for them. I hope so. We need every good teacher we can get in middle school classrooms.

Truly, it was a pleasure to read the papers I graded tonight - makes grading them easy!


David G said...

The course has highlighted the multitude of literacies and offered tools to address them and monitor the students' progress as well. In my mind, the challenge going forward, when we are up to our ears in alligators during our first year of teaching, is to implement the strategies we've been exposed to and assess their effectiveness with our mix of students.

If effective, we and our students will benefit.

Melanie Callahan said...

I got a huge benefit from the book club assignment. There were several things that for a social studies teacher would be useful. I liked the idea of teaching them how to take notes and that is definitely something I will incorporate into my classroom, whenever I get one.

Curtis W. Smith said...

Dr. Gillis - thank you for selecting those books for us to read. Having us pick a book would have been like having a kid pick out one piece of candy in a candy store. I would highly recommend "Do I Really Have To Teach Reading?" to anyone on your blog. It has great information about motivating students to read, modeling good reading techniques, and capturing information as you read. I have already put a couple of other "Book Club" books on my reading list for this coming summer!

Debbie Owens said...

"Real Reading, Real Writing" is an excellent book. I wasn't sure about teachihng reading in a science class, but this book co-authored by a science teacher gives stategies, ideas and encouragement to do just that!
Debbie Owens

Jeremiah Floyd said...

Do I really have to tach reading? Yes. Literacy is at the very foundation of teaching and education. This book really made a great impression on me, in that we all have the responsibility to teach our students the literacy skills that apply to our content area. There are different literacy skill sets needed in each content area, therefore we must model these particular skills to our students and not assume they already posses them. Thanks for the enlightenment Dr. Gillis!

Chuck Hall said...

Honestly, I did not fully appreciate my book club reading until I wrote my final reflection. It helped me to realize that the "flow" was the glue that held the learning cycle together. It is the enabling of smooth transitions while teaching that we all have difficulty conquering. The class discussions have really assisted me in making connections between all of the assignments. This would have been a great class to take during practicum so that I would have been able to create more "flow" in my student teaching.