Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Independent Novel Projects and Catch-22.

With my seniors finishing yesterday, the 8 juniors remaining in my elective "Exploring Literature" class have been hounding me to let them watch movies for the rest of the year.

Ahem. No.

Instead, we compromised on a project to take us through to June 15 (my last day of school). With about 3 1/2 weeks to work with, I didn't want to read the remaining novel that was designated for the class (Alas, Babylon. No, I haven't read it). And since some of them had already gone and read Catching Fire, that was out as well.

So, we decided to do an independent novel project, with almost all of the work being done in class. I managed to get 8 laptops from the Media Center to use in the classroom each day, so that the students can post on a private forum in response to questions, prompts, etc about their novels. They're also being required to respond to each others' posts, so it should be a nice, interactive way to read their novels of choice-like mini book blogs!

The requirements for their novels is that it needed to be something of a reasonable length. Since the writing and posting portion of the daily work will only take half the hour or so, they will be getting almost 30 minutes of reading time per class period. That's a lot! I also pointed out to them that we read The Hunger Games in three weeks, and Ender's Game in 3 1/2. Their books must be fiction and can be in any genre. We've read a pretty heavy science-fiction diet in class, so I am assuming they're going to branch out from there.

The last few days will be spent creating a Photo Story using a program by the same name. The program allows you to integrate images, music, narration, etc to create a mini-movie. On the day of their final, we'll eat breakfast and watch everyone's reports on their books. :) It should be a wonderful day and a great way to end the year.

I have also decided to participate with them. I very much believe in modeling for my students. I usually bring a book with me to school...even though I never read it, to show them that hey, I really DO read outside of school. I also update my back whiteboard with the titles and authors of books I am reading, or recommendations.

Anyway, to model the project for them, I've decided to read Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. I've been meaning to read it for awhile now, and since it is on some of my challenge lists, I was going to get to it anyway. I already planned out my reading schedule, so it should be a fun experience to read a book with my kids. :)

I'm hoping that by the end of this, they all walk about with a few more books to read in the future, and the knowledge that no matter how old you get, reading and exploring literature is important.

21 comments:

  1. What a great idea! Honestly, I wish I had had a teacher like you when I was in high school, lo these many years ago. I have followed your blog for a while now and I am amazed at the things you come up with to entice your students to read. Great job!

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    1. Oh thank you! That means a lot to me!

      Reading has saved me in so many ways, so if I can share that with my kids, I will.

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  2. This is such a great idea! I can't wait to hear how it goes! :)

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    1. Thanks! They seemed pretty excited about it this morning, so we'll see how excited they are tomorrow. :)

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  3. I wish you'd been my teacher! I had one really good literature teacher in high school, and one bad one. What a great project for the end of the year. I'd love to hear about what books the kids read and how it goes.

    How is it possible this school hasn't snapped you up for a permanent job?????

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    1. Oh, thanks Karen. I'm all blushing and such. :) I will definitely update with their book list!

      The market has been really rough in Michigan. And while I do get interviews...I always fail to land the job. I think my resume is strong, but I'm not as good at expressing myself verbally, on the spot. If I can mull things over, write them out, I do a much better job. :)

      I will say that I have far more confidence in my abilities after this year.

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  4. You know, both my parents were teachers and ended up really tired and worn out by the kids. And quit. I've always said that I never ever wanted to be a teacher - but your way of teaching, of showing them that you read too and sharing that with them, inspires me, so that I'm thinking that teaching could be fun. I'm not going to be a teacher since I already have an education I want to use - but I can use that for some teaching (philosophy) so maybe I should consider that. Thanks for the inspiration!

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    1. Oh you're very welcome!

      I am always amazed at the negativity associated with teaching. Sure, I have some crappy days where the kids drive me insane and I just want to go home and cry, but those little moments make it for me. I love working with teens and sharing my passion with them.

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  5. Ooh yay! I'm glad you'll be reading Catch-22. It's one of my very favorites as you know and I love hearing people read it!

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    1. I know it is! I tried it a few years ago, but didn't get into it, so I am hoping it'll click faster this time.

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  6. This sounds like such a great project! I wish I'd has a project like this when I was in high school. Now don't get me wrong, I had some amazing English teachers, but this just sounds like so much fun. I'd love to hear what books your students ended up picking. Maybe you could post their reading list at the end of the semester, and tell us how their presentations go?
    I've never read Catch-22, but I've always meant to. I can't wait to see what you think of it.

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    1. Thank you! They seemed excited about it this morning, as well as the bagels we had for breakfast. And I will most definitely post a list of their books.

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  7. This is a GREAT project idea! And I'm so impressed that your school has enough laptops to check out. Wonderful, wonderful. Would love to read more about how they do on this endeavor.

    Rock on, Allie!

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    1. Our school is fortunate in the technology department. There are 4 computer labs total (including the media center), as well as 45 laptops in the school. We're very lucky in that the kids can work on essays, etc all in school.

      I'm looking forward to how they feel about the project. It is "looser" than everything else we've done this semester, so I hope they love it.

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  8. I think you would have been the kind of teacher I would have loved in high school!

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    1. Thank you! That means a lot to me!

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    1. I hope so! I have heard only good things.

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  10. This sounds like a really great project! I remember doing a couple independent novel projects in school and enjoying them. Good luck to you and your students!

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  11. Sounds like a fun project! Especially for ending out the school year, which can always be tricky.

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  12. Catch-22 is an excellent choice in that some of your student's might also pick it up and I can almost guarantee than most of them will love it.

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