Skip to main content

When Other Students Bless a Book

Banned Books Week was in September. And now that it's the beginning of 2015, it seems like it was years ago. During that week, I highlighted banned titles available in the classroom library. One of those titles was Toni Morrison's Beloved. It remains one of the heaviest books I've ever read--and it's also one that has made me think about the legacies and lasting impacts of our actions.

Before winter break, I loaned the book to a twelfth grader, who also happens to be an AP English student. Their assignment over break was to read a book and come up with a question that the book is supposed to make you think about, not necessarily answer. I happened to have the student two years ago, so she came during lunch to ask for recommendations. She was expecting one recommendation, and I gave her two: Jackie Woodson's Brown Girl Dreaming and Beloved.

She returned the book this past Monday during my third hour, which happens to be an English 10 class. Normally I hate being interrupted while teaching, but her enthusiasm made up for that as she announced to the entire class that the book had changed her life.

I didn't even have to give another book talk before students started asking out the novel. And since then, I've even had multiple students ask to check it out from the library. As I look over the 30+ book talks that I've given this semester, only a few have generated as much spark as this student's impromptu endorsement.

As we wrap up the first semester, students have generated their own thematic and big-idea groups about their choice books. I'm looking forward to their posters that should look something like #WeNeedDiverseBooks posters here.

Comments

  1. That feeling - the one you get when a reader comes back with bright eyes and a full heart - is quite possibly the best feeling ever. It's especially exciting when their excitement is a catalyst for other readers. I hope you're able to share the posters online eventually; it sounds like a great project!

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Handwritten Cue Cards in the 21st Century

I just stumbled upon this behind-the-scenes clip of Saturday Night Live's cue card process. This is intense writing. This is writing that is dependent upon trust and checks and balances. Over a short period of time, skits are written, drafted on cards, revised, and the cards revised over and over again. I also really love that SNL continues to use cue cards and not a teleprompter. Like Wally points out, technology can fail. Handwritten cue cards ensure the show goes on. Comedy is hard work. Writing is hard work. Changes are made up until the last minute to get things just right. This is a form of real-world writing.

What's your "gap plan"?

Brene Brown introduces the "family gap plan" in the fourth episode of her podcast, Unlocking Us . This came about when she and her husband would argue when she would return home from traveling. It seemed like the minute she walked in, her husband would expect her to be ready for him to "tap out," where she could take over where he had been supporting the family. While she was away from home, this didn't mean that she was full of energy and at 100% the minute she walked in the door. She had been working too and was exhausted. So, over time they began to name where they were at as people and as a family: I'm at 10%. I'm at 30%. They knew they needed a plan for when collectively she and her husband were not at 100%, but they needed to be for their family. Beyond our personal lives, the idea of a "gap plan" got me thinking about our classrooms and schools. What happens when we are not at 100% or we know that our classrooms or students are not

Like in comedy, timing is everything

I regularly listen to the School Leadership Series and today's episode, " Slump or Spark? ", made me think about initiatives, goals, and how we often get stuck in the middle. Danny encourages us to think about the middle, the "often overlooked time." He encourages us to think about midpoints, the lull, and how we can transform them into sparks instead of slumps. He encourages us to be aware of them, use them to "wake up," and to imagine that we are behind rather than ahead in order to motivate us out of "coast" mode. He also mentions Dan Pink's When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing  in the episode. In this book, Pink gives advice for the varied levels of commitment during the middle: "... when team commitment to achieving a goal is high, it's best to emphasize the work that remains. But when team commitment is low, it's wiser to emphasize the progress that has already been made even if it is not massive" (p.