|picture by AKARAKINGDOMS|
English 101, 102 Literature Circles
I have been mulling over the idea of using literature circles in my English 101 and/or 102 classes because I love the idea of allowing students to choose a book that interests them. I envision offering 5-6 different books and asking each student to choose whichever one sounds most interesting, rather than let them choose any book in the world, because HACC has a pre-approved list of acceptable books for these classes, and the list has a several very good, interesting books.
Prior to reading Literature Circles by Harvey Daniels, I was apprehensive about allowing students to choose from a variety of books because I assumed I would have to have read all of them and know them all intimately to be an effective facilitator. But Daniels has eased my mind and I am more excited than ever to use literature circles.
In chapter 2, Daniels suggests that teachers become fellow readers in a literature circle and model the process for their students with a book they’ve never read. I take this to mean that teachers do not have to be familiar with all of the books their students are reading. Apparently, I am not the only teacher to have this apprehension because Daniels says, “This mandate to model can be threatening to teachers, who assume they must be a paragon of cognition, of elevated literary taste, and authoritative interpretation” (24).
Tracking English Classes
I left public high school for a private high school after my sophomore year because I wasn’t learning anything. The teachers in public school spent their time on ineffective classroom management in untracked classes, which left me bored and frustrated. The administration’s answer was to offer me a spot in the “gifted” class – but that was just an extra class I’d have to take instead of study hall. I didn’t want EXTRA work – I wanted better QUALITY work, which I got at the private school.
Would my experience in public school have been better if classes were tracked? I doubt it. But because of this experience, I can easily understand the “misconceptions” that the “Untracking English” article mentions: “Parents and educators worry that the behavior of unruly, uninterested students will keep the teacher focused on classroom control rather than on teaching” (173). I must note, however, that it was not the “poor” or “colored” students causing problems; it was the bored kids causing problems, and that could occur at any academic level.