High School English Teachers discussion

What books are you teaching / reading this fall?

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message 1: by Katie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:18PM) (new)

Katie | 1 comments Mod
I am teaching
Things Fall Apart
The Tempest
all for my Juniors
I am reading for fun:
Strong Motion
Teddy Atlas: Life in the Ring
and hoping for some good suggestions.

message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

My students are currently reading Yellow Raft in Blue Water. We use two primary nonfiction texts for the class (Humanities, so history and English together) -- America's Women by Gail Collins and A History of Women in the United States. Next trimester, we'll read Beloved. Not sure what else, but we use lots of essays to supplement.

message 3: by Katie (last edited Jun 04, 2008 07:12AM) (new)

Katie Verhaeren | 3 comments Hi! My name's Katie, I'm going into my student teaching year this fall. I'm going to be teaching World Lit all year, I guess using 1 textbook: "Elements of Literature" and reading selections out of it. My mentor teacher says he usually teaches selections rather than whole texts. The selections are from Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales, Macbeth or Hamlet, Lord of the Flies, The Iliad, Romantic/Victorian poetry, and Haiku. Night and Hiroshima are also in the curriculum, but he never gets to them.
I'm wondering what other teachers think about reading only selections rather than full texts. I understand his reasoning for doing so, but I was never really taught that way and we haven't discussed it in my teacher education classes. Any helpful hints?

message 4: by Kat (new)

Kat | 4 comments Simple fact: TIME. That's why a lot of us teach selections. Also, sometimes that's what's in the textbook, plain and simple. Yet another reason is that sometimes a little piece is all a person needs, and sometimes is much better than the whole (read: Beowulf taught to seniors at 7:30 AM, reading just the main battles and leaving out the speechifying works a LOT better. Along with giving them coffee.).

I've got a lot to read this summer, as we jsut revamped our whole curriculum for senior English. I'm reading Night, re-reading Othello and Tartuffe (I LOVE these plays), and a whole bunch of other stuff. I have a whole mini-anthology to look over and create brand-new lesson plans over.

www.webenglishteacher.com is a lifesaver, by the way. :)

message 5: by Amanda (new)

Amanda I teach 10th grade English, and we'll be reading the following for this upcoming year: Medea, Antigone, Julius Caesar, and A Separate Peace. They all happen to be some of my personal favorites; I think that makes a big difference in how one's students respond to reading the work. If you're enthusiastic, they're more likely to be interested (or at least conscious--let's face it, that's sometimes all we can hope for) :).

I also teach a variety of multicultural selections from the text. If you're limited by what's in your textbooks (such as just having selections from your favorite plays/novels), you should check out Dover Thrift Editions. I always wanted to teach Medea, but it was not in our textbook. I found copies of the play for $1.50 each at Dover and my principal jumped at the opportunity to purchase them for my class. However, I think having selections isn't always a bad thing. The more you can introduce them to, the more they're exposed to. I often present several novels or other works by the author of the selection that we're reading so that, if a student is interested in that author, he or she can find some of these books in the high school library.

message 6: by Katie (new)

Katie Verhaeren | 3 comments I do like the fact that reading selections allows students to be exposed to more texts than time would allow otherwise. I also think that I may offer some sort of incentive for students who choose to read the full text or another work by the same author.

message 7: by Jen (new)

Jen Taylor (mrstaylor) | 8 comments Hello! I'm going into my second year of teaching and I have one of each grade level this year! That means I'll be teaching over 15 novels! I'm super excited! Among them includes, and is subject to change, the following titles:

~ Ordinary People by Judith Guest to seniors who struggle in English (my school tracks, their group is called 'Applied')

~ Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton to either sophomores or the Applied Seniors, haven't decided yet, or it could be both!

~ Shakespeare - one play per grade, department requirement

~ Dracula by Bram Stoker to my sophomores - super excited about this one!

And others that I can't think of off the top of my head. And I'm really truly going to get off the computer and get ready for my meeting at school soon, too! :)

message 8: by Ken (new)

Ken It's too bad more of us don't just allow choice in books. Our school does, but we also have a few "requireds." Still, choice is the foundation. Kids read 1/2 hr. a night in a book of their own choosing. If they get bogged down, they abandon it and start another. Just like us.

Does anyone do this with the kids and booktalk your latest finds? I like YA stuff (though there's a lot of garbage out there, too). Can't imagine pitching Ethan Frome (is that the "sled" book?)...

message 9: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Newengland, I couldn't agree more! I booktalk constantly (classics, young adult, variety of reading levels and genres) and, in addition, I post the books I'm reading on my classroom door so that students who have had my class in the past can still keep up with what I recommend. I did away with book reports and the required "classics" reading list a few years ago and the results were amazing--students became much more excited about reading and sought out books on their own--which may eventually lead to their seeking out the classic literature as they become more sophisticated in their reading selections. As an English major, I of course value the classics, but I would ten times rather students voraciously read books of their own choosing than have them spend a 9 weeks actively avoiding reading classroom novels that have been forced upon them. We still read classics as a class (Medea, Antigone, Julius Caesar), but they're given one day a week to read a book of their own choosing. This system has worked wonderfully for me.

message 10: by Claudia (new)

Claudia (cswisher) | 5 comments Our school offers a reading elective, called Reading for Pleasure. Over 300 kids a year sign up, many of them multiple times. The few who begin the semester thinking this will be a 'blow off' find out they really WILL read and they really WILL write. But with the free choice to read whatever BOOKS they choose, most fall into the system so quickly.

Right now kids are reading Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why...Asher is ON goodreads, by the way. They're also reading Ellen Hopkins' new book, Identical.

Chris Crutcher and Sarah Dessen (also on goodreads) continue to be popular with my high school students. We won't even talk about the Twilight series...I must have five of those books in every class...Oops. I talked about it.

Free choice is alive and well in Norman, OK!

message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

I teach senior English and IB. For seniors we read the Brits. I love to teach Macbeth, the Sonnets, modern English poetry, and the novel Brave New World. For IB I teach Dubliners, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, A Farewell to Arms, JM Coetzee's Age of Iron, and The Handmaid's Tale. I think I enjoy teaching Dubliners and Handmaid the most--Dubliners because of the prose and diversity and Handmaid because of the social issues it raises as well as the symbolism, which I think is brilliant. I admit, I do not do as good a job teaching Ivan because of my general lack of interest in the book. New this year is Sylvia Plath, "Daddy", "Lady Lazarus", "Mirror", "Morning Song" specifically. Any ideas on how to introduce these works to some good high-level thinkers would be greatly appreciated!

message 12: by Penny (last edited Sep 10, 2008 03:34PM) (new)

Penny | 2 comments Thank you for the comments on booktalks and choice! ;)

message 13: by Boyd (new)

Boyd | 6 comments I'm teaching Beowulf, Macbeth, and Lord of the Flies as required reads. I may also work in either Angela's Ashes, 1984, or Brave New World. Other than that, my kids mainly read books of choice with a target of 25 works for the year.

Popular books this year:
13 Reasons Why
Diary of a Teenage Amnesiac
Kite Runner
Cruise Control
Stuck in Neutral
Inside Out
Soldier Boys
Into the Wild
Go Ask Alice
A Child Called It

message 14: by Ken (new)

Ken I noticed the Hautman titles on your list. Where would we be without ole Pete? (And Carl Deuker... and Dean Hughes... and Terry Trueman).

If your kids liked Roland Smith's PEAK, show them ZACH'S LIE and JACK'S RUN. All plot, easy reading. Candy for reluctant readers.

message 15: by Boyd (new)

Boyd | 6 comments Hautman is just so darned good. Probably, pound for pound, my favorite YA author.

BTW, I'm going to get to do a weekend workshop with Neal Shusterman in a few months. Super exciting as he's no slouch either. I'll also be doing one with Jacqueline Woodson, so I'm going to have to actually sit down and read some of her stuff.

message 16: by Boyd (new)

Boyd | 6 comments That reminds me:

Unwind by Shusterman has moved very well this year.

message 17: by Ken (last edited Oct 05, 2008 01:30PM) (new)

Ken I'm waiting for UNWIND to go paperback. And man, I wish my district had your district's $$$ to go to all these workshops and seminars! Once upon a time I spent 4 days at Nancie Atwell's school watching HER teach, but since that golden moment, it's been hard times (no reflection on Chuck Dickens, however).

message 18: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer | 1 comments My High School Lit class is reading 6 books in addition to the textbook this year. Books include:
*Scarlet Letter
*Last of the Mohicans
*Tuesdays with Morrie
*The Note

My 7/8 grade class is reading:
*Where the Red fern Grows
*Incedible Journey
*Old Yeller
*Diary of Anne Frank
*Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

My 6th grade class is going to read:
*Tuck Everlasting
*The Big Wave

Hope that helps!

message 19: by Andrea (new)

Andrea Bullmaster | 1 comments Katie,
I have been teaching JH/HS English for 4 years going on 5, and while I think teaching certain works by selection only (Beowulf for example) is helpful- other works (such as novels) should be taught in completion. Without teaching complete works, students will not learn how to fully read a piece;instead, they are receiving the message that only part of the work matters. They need to be taught how to read the whole work and shown that the entire piece matters. When selections are used, they should represent the entirety of the work and present a clear beginning, middle, and end. Good luck with your cooperating teacher! Teaching is an amazing job-- stick with it!

deleted user wrote: "My students are currently reading Yellow Raft in Blue Water. We use two primary nonfiction texts for the class (Humanities, so history and English together) -- America's Women by Gail Collins and ..."

message 20: by Lara (new)

Lara Searcy (larasearcy) I teach 9th grade English and this is my fourth year. Currently I teach the following (some from the "Holt- Elements of Literature textbook):

*SHORT STORIES: "The Most Dangerous Game," "The Gift of the Magi," "The Lady or the Tiger?," "The Cask of Amontillado," and "The Necklace"

*NOVELS: To Kill a Mockingbird, The Odyssey, The Iliad, The Time Machine, The Red Badge of Courage

*DRAMA: Romeo & Juliet

*POETRY: Selections from Frost, Dickinson, Wordsworth, Hughes

message 21: by Kelly (new)

Kelly (kellynn) | 4 comments I am teaching Othello right now, and I'm happy at how well-received the plot always is by teenagers, especially because we have a lot of diversity in our school.

When I taught AP a few years ago, we did all of the classics, but I had a lot of luck with A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving.

With my middle school students, I did Tears of a Tiger before Christmas and will do Freak the Mighty at the end of the year.

message 22: by Viola (new)

Viola | 4 comments Hey Everyone...

I'm new to the group. Cheers!

I agree that we need to have some common selections that we do as a class together, and I usually focus on novels for those pieces. We do use short stories as well, but I think the novels or longer pieces offer more complexity and depth. I usually have about 4-6 major pieces we do together in a year, and those would included novels, nonfiction, and drama.

More importantly, I do tons of booktalks and offer the kids many opportunities to work with books that they have selected themselves. Much of my teaching is similar to what Nancie Atwell and Kelly Gallagher propose, if you're familiar with that.

I saw that Unwind was mentioned, and my kids LOVE that one. Also, I just read aloud the novel The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson to my 8th grade GT kids, and they really enjoyed it.

message 23: by Jeanne (new)

Jeanne | 5 comments Hi all,

I'm new to the group as well! It's so interesting to see what is being taught by other teachers.

This year my 9th grade students are reading:
Old Man & the Sea
Lord of the Flies
Romeo & Juliet
The Odyssey
A variety of short stories

10th grade:
Things They Carried
To Kill a Mockingbird
12 Angry Men
Catcher in the Rye
Of Mice and Men

This is my first year teaching the 10th grade curriculum and I'd love to hear any feedback/ideas on the novels we're reading! I'd especially like to hear how people teach TKAM- the former 10th grade teacher assigned it as summer reading because it was so long but I feel like it's such a classic that it should be read during the year. Thoughts?

message 24: by Viola (new)

Viola | 4 comments Hi Jeanne...

I teach all my novels Kelly Gallagher style: Set up and frame it, get them excited and engaged, and then set them free to read it on their own with no interruptions. We go back through and discuss/have a close read of the novel once they are finished. It works really well, and it really helps the kids get into that reading flow to enjoy the book without it being cut up in sections.

To Kill a Mockingbird...oh my! I can't imagine not doing that in class! The kids really enjoy it; they act weird about it at first, but by the end, especially once they get emotional about Tom Robinson and Boo Radley, they see the relevance to their own lives. Best moment...when they figure out who the mockingbird is in the story. I LOVE Mockingbird. :)

For 9th grade, I always made up a scavenger hunt/journey for the building, aka their own odyssey. This happened EARLY in the unit as Odysseus begins his travels. They go in small groups around the building and have to get signatures from various people (different academic departments, secretaries, nurse, guidance, etc.) just to give them familiarity with locations and people that they need to know.

message 25: by Jeanne (new)

Jeanne | 5 comments Hi Viola,

Thanks for the input! The Odyssey scavenger hunt is such a great idea! Unfortunately, we read the Odyssey at the end of the year... but I'm thinking I can tweak your idea to make it work. :)

So when you gave the students time to read TKAM, how long did it take for them to get through it? I'm trying to pace myself because the 10th grade curriculum has SO many more novels than 9th. I agree with you though, TKAM needs to be read in class. I just re-read it and love how relevant it is, even to this day.

message 26: by Viola (new)

Viola | 4 comments Jeanne,

Are you on a block schedule? In a 90 minute class, I try to give my kids 20 minutes of time in class to read. In a 50 minute class, I can only squeeze in about 10-20 depending on what else we have going on. Either way, with Mockingbird, I would frame it and set it up for a couple of days (background information with the Jonesboro trial ...I think that's it, and I always read aloud the first chapter so they can hear the voices of the kids and get a feel for things), and then I would set them loose. I would give them a week.

Going back over things, especially the characterization, foreshadowing, and double plot structure is great afterwards because they can see it and truly appreciate it without interrupting the joy of reading it. I always mark scenes to read aloud and revisit as well; sometimes I begin those in class during the week they are reading, but I keep it in choronological order and give them a two day head start, assuming they will be ahead of me. If not, they'll get to hear it for the first time. The reading aloud is such good modeling, plus you can use those moments for discussing and let them hear Atticus and Scout's discussions in a nice, fluid way. Besides, it's always a treat to get to say "pass the damn ham" in class, right?

Mockingbird is just so relevant, and it's one of those that the kids refer to later in high school and note the relevance and how important the book is. The movie is great too, and they always love seeing that.

message 27: by Jeanne (new)

Jeanne | 5 comments Hi Viola,

Unfortunately we have 50 minute classes but I really like your reading approach. It definitely gives me a clearer picture of how I'm going to tackle the brilliance of TKAM. Thanks for the words of wisdom! :)

message 28: by Steven (new)

Steven B. | 1 comments Cool selection. In general, I noticed an interesting trend among those just enrolled in college. They like subjects in literature, history, and sociology. Since among these fascinating subjects, there is a great deal of time for theory and there is no need to do tedious tasks, especially considering that the first day in the life of a novice student is as hard as described on http://shoutengine.com/ADayintheLifeo.... Everything is clearly arranged in the schedule and structured, there is still no hardening with experience during a study, when everything is done. That is why it is better to add legible books such as Jane Eyre to the reading set.

message 29: by Smith (new)

Smith Maddrey (smaddrey) | 2 comments Looking to jumpstart some conversations about newer, more contemporary reads for high school students. Has anyone taught any of the following at the ninth grade level? Did they work?

The Poet X
The Best We Could Do (graphic novel)
We Measure the Earth with Our Bodies

message 30: by R. (new)

R. Walraven | 4 comments I'm a retired HS English teacher. I do believe contemporary books belong in the curriculum as long as they are excellently written and well-edited. I also believe we should hang on to many of the classics. I'm concerned about so many being banned. The favorite books of my HS students are OF MICE AND MEN (John Steinbeck); MAN'S SEARCH FOR MEANING (Viktor Frankl); THE LITTLE PRINCE (Antoine de Sainte Exupery); and many others. Please don't give up on the classics.

message 31: by Smith (new)

Smith Maddrey (smaddrey) | 2 comments Thanks for your comment. I teach many classics and don't plan on abandoning them. But Mockingbird, for example, just doesn't address today's racial issues like it did 50+ years ago. I believe in engaging student readers with contemporary ideas and newer voices (previously excluded ones!) being added to the canon. Chimamanda Adichie or Yaa Gyasi are just two examples. It's about bringing together authentic voices and high quality writing.

message 32: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie | 1 comments We do a lit circle on how American experiences can change a persons American view. We use poet x as one of the choices. The kids really like this lit circle project!

message 33: by R. (new)

R. Walraven | 4 comments If you want to find JOY in teaching, JOY for your students in learning, and JOY for parents and team members, please take a look at my book. I wrote precisely to help all involved connect with each other. Not a boring textbook but true scenarios from my 35 years of teaching. I'm passionate about education. Free on KU. www.amazon.com/dp/B07ST3LD7X
by R. Janet Walraven, M.Ed. Best wishes!

message 34: by R. (new)

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