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The Power of A Good Book
When a student starts at Kindle Farm, I often get the same response from them once I'm introduced as "The English Teacher". The student might tell me his name, or where he is from, but often, he says "just to let you know, I don't like to read". The knowing smirks and sighs from other students confuse the new guy, as he hears "you haven't read the book yet!"
Earlier this summer, a few friends on the staff at Kindle Farm recommended The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins to me. It took me a while to get around to it, as I haven't been in the loop for recent young adult literature hits like Twilight. Once I picked it up, I was hooked. I read all afternoon, ignored my family's repeated requests for dinner, and read through the night until I was done. I had a feeling that this book was too good for anyone to put down. Even kids who thought they didn't like to read!
Sure enough, by the second week of school, I was hearing questions that you might not come across in any school. Students were bursting into the third period class, all yelling some variation of "are we reading today??" One of the best parts of this unit was seeing the awesome projects created by students about the characters and plotlines in the story. Fictional arguments were created on student-designed Facebook pages. Everyone gained project management and teamwork experience creating a board game, complete with directions and trivia questions, to present and play with the class. The minute we finished the novel, I was caught off guard by a student asking "so, where's the next book?"
As a teacher, this experience has solidified my belief that when we give students something that they can truly be engaged with, their learning and effort increase dramatically. We saw students who had spent the last few semesters refusing to participate in English programs earning A's and B's in class. When planning for the academic year in the future, I know I'll remember the lesson learned from this class; never underestimate the power of a good book!