We are counting down to the Reading STAAR here in Texas. There are six more days to cram their little noggins with every bit of information possible. What's a teacher to do?? Usually, at this time, I am practicing test taking strategies and passages DAILY. But, to be quite honest, I have finished doing that as of last Wednesday. My quarters have practiced so much, that I feel they have given up. So...I decided on a different approach. I will review strategies the day before the test, but as of this week, I am reviewing the TEKS, or skills, in a completely new way. We have started reading The Hunger Games.
Yes, you read that right. I am reading The Hunger Games to my quarters. Now, I am the one reading it. Quarters do not have their own copies. As the reader, I can edit parts that I don't feel are important to the message in the text or are too graphic. Before you question my abilities, hear me out. (I had this conversation with a parent, and she said she "trusted" me with her child and has confidence in me.)
Right now, this movie is the be-all, end-all for my students. Many of them have seen it. (I don't necessarily agree with that, but...) And all they talk about are the "killing parts". I am a firm believer in movies as a support to texts, not in place of them. Sometimes the message is lost in search of clever movie ideas. In reading the text, I can discuss, and focus, on the parts of the story that are relevant and important. For example, the oppression of the poor. I teach in a Title 1 school, so many quarters can relate to the "poor" message. They didn't "get" that from the movie. My hope is to have them think of the text and change their conversations. They are so desensitized to violence that they miss the point. This is my chance to talk about the story, not the gore. I am also able to introduce new, unique vocabulary, etc. We will spend the rest of the school year on it. All parents signed the permission slip and many bought their children copies of the book. As I told one parent, as an educator, I don't feel that it is my right to censor literature (as in not allowing them to read things they are interested in.) However, it is the parent's right to do so. And if that means the child cannot participate in the story, I have alternative materials for them. They are not ostracized or put out.
Anyway, as we read, we work on all of our skills...context clues, plot, main idea, details, fact/opinion, summary, etc...the possibilities are endless. Each night, their homework is to write about what we've read (a chapter), but I will ask them a STAAR question stem that they have to answer. (We do this in class, as well.) This idea has really sent me on a more open learning path with them. And it holds their interest!!
In writing, quarters are putting their research into "magazine" form. I love this!!! They have a written text, but the magazines put the research into perspective and they are able to see the non-fiction/informational side first hand. This is coinciding with our poetry unit writing, so we have many things going on at once. (Testing, practicing, and practicing has put us a little behind!!)
Here is a beginning example of their magazines:
As you can see, they use their flipbook to compile information. They also have their internet printouts, with pictures, available.
They create a table of contents, etc. (Ignore the spelling error!!!) As we go along, I will post more pics and final examples. But this is the path we are taking and the quarters are thrilled!!!!
Since I'm trying something new with my quarters, I think this quote will do:
"Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark; professionals built the Titanic." --Unknown
I LOVE IT!!!!!