On the first day of school with my 6th grade reading class (okay, it's called Language Arts Enrichment class..but really? It's READING CLASS!) I asked them to tell me one thing they didn't enjoy about reading class...something that had happened during their past six years of school that really drove them crazy. I emphasized that we weren't naming names of teachers, but merely wanting to talk about what reading class sometimes looks like...the good, the bad, and the ugly. (To be perfectly fair, we actually started the discussion with everyone writing down a book the LOVED and talked about those to begin our time together. Then we moved on to the negatives!
The comments were anonymous and were all put into a big container for me to pull them out so we could talk about each one. Talk about generating good discussion on day one! As I pulled out each comment and read it aloud, most students had comments to add to the discussion. It was a wonderful way to get a feel for their likes and dislikes at the beginning and for me to tell them all the things I promised not to do with their class.
Check out some of the bluntly honest comments below. I grouped them after class and took pictures to share. I've retyped/deciphered under each picture & corrected some of the 6th grade spelling and grammar, but the gist remains the same!
- Having the teacher read to us a lot -- very boring
- Read aloud
- Reading with the class takes so long?
- I hate listen(ing) to other people read slow(ly) aloud. I would rather read silent(ly).
- Reading Class? So long - Reading a part of a book doesn't take an HOUR
Lack of Choice concerns:
- I don't like being rushed when I read a book.
- I don't like to be assigned to read a certain book.
- Teacher giving homework on a bad book.
- I don't like reading non-fiction.
- class: too long & I don't like it when someone else picks the book.
- More activities (timewise) than being able to read
- I hate to read the school books
- Having to read a book you don't like
- Books I don't like
- Bad - The Kid with the Read Jacket
- The Kid in the Read Jacket - Bad
- Magic Tree House
- Terrible - Stargirl
- Pictures with Hollis Woods
- The Kid in the Red Jacket
- I don't like reading books.
- Don't like to read
- Hate about reading - reading
After talking through all of the submitted comments, it was clear to see that my class of (mostly) readers, was quite adamant about many of the same things. They don't enjoy having the teacher choose the books they read, all reading the same book, nit-picking a book to death with vocabulary, questions, and worksheets, the class reading textbook and reading together out loud as a class.
I had to be honest with them. I don't enjoy any of those things either. We talked about choosing books and how if you choose what YOU want to read, it's much more enjoyable to spend your time reading. I also made my pledge to them that this school year would be about choosing their own books to read.
Choice, choice, choice will be our anthem as we forge onward through sixth grade reading skills.
Hopefully, at the end of the year, my 5 "haters" will be readers who enjoy reading after being able to make their own decisions about what to read daily. I also hope the rest of the class will enjoy the change in reading class and grow into even better readers who make good choices about what to read and love to talk and write about books.