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So, teachers, what books have you taught in the classroom that have been particularly successful? Which have not?
My favorite to teach (high school level) is To Kill a Mockingbird. It isn't my all-time favorite book, but it has so many wonderful mini-literature lessons in it, that I get excited whenever we pick it up! I love that it's the Big Read this year for NEA in our community. Next year, the community is doing The Maltese Falcon. I need to read that one (I never have), to see if it might be appropriate for high school. Have any of you taught it before?
I've never taught either, but I LOVED Mockingbird when I was a kid.
Some of my favorites to teach seventh graders are:
Cheaper by the Dozen
No Promises in the Wind
Warriors Don't Cry
So Far From the Bamboo Grove
Last Edited on: 4/23/07 4:21 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
What a cute idea, Barbara T!
I'm way impressed you got them past the language of Christmas Carol, Laura!
Those are all great book choices! We're finishing Mockingbird this week and moving on to The Odyssey. Talk about changing gears!
I teach HS English in Texas, and we just started To Kill a Mockingbird this week. I was telling my students how it was ranked #2 on the Library of Congress Survey in 1991--the Bible was #1--and they were very impressed. I love when they love books.
But, my favorite novel to teach of all time--Silas Marner by George Eliot. It seems like such a stuffy, old classic, but I love it. I usually have a lot of kids who love it too, but I play a game with the book, and we draw the scenes on adding machine tape, and they really have a good time.
My other favorite book to teach is And Then There were None by Agatha Christie. Boy, the kids just go crazy for that one! I had a student come in one time and say, "That Agatha lady writes like Mary Higgins Clark!" And I had to explain how they all write like Agatha Christie.
If you want something a little more contemporary/urban , I have used Pinballs by Betsy Byers , its about foster kids. It is recommended for ages 6-12. (I used it in remedial reading with a reading level of grade 4). The Outsiders by SE Hinton seems to also be popular with that group, but I fear it might be getting a little dated, I find I have to explain the time period a bit more.
In the middle school The Diary of Anne Frank, concluded with the movie or play version has been pretty successful. We try to arrange with the history department to be teaching it when they are working on WWII. We do the same thing with the upper grades reading Night just before Schindlers List is shown in assembly.
A contemporary/urban one I used for my 11 grade class is The Pact by Sampson Davis, Rameck Hunt, and George Jenkins. It is a true story about three guys that grew up in the Newark projects and became friends. They made a pact with each other. They have grown up to be a 2 doctors and a dentist. I tried it one year with 10th graders and it didnt have as much impact. 11th grade they are starting to think about their future more and it seems to hit them harder.
Surprisingly, Romeo & Juliet seems to go over pretty well. Still get the groans over the Shakespeare, but I try to stick in enough flim clips and audio versions that it doesnt get completely overwhelming. So after a week or so of the old english they get use to hearing it and have an idea of the characters. That seems to help with the reading part a bit. I also have them keep a notebook of any of the words that throw them which they talk over in groups. Having their peers explain it seems to help. Anything multiple people have on their lists, we work through as a class.
Last Edited on: 4/27/07 2:31 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
I am currently doing novels with each of my writing classes.
3rd grade is reading "The Girl With 500 Middle Names" by Haddix. 4th grade is reading "Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing" by Judy Blume. 5th Grade is reading "Trouble River" by Betsy Byars. I chose these three because they are relevant to the kids, thus providing me with great jumping off places for lessons - 500 because it's about making new friends in a new school and appreciating your parents; Tales because EVERY kid has a pesky little brother or cousin; and Trouble because it deals very realistically with differences between generations.
We write letters from the different characters points of view, create diary entries, build small rafts for Trouble, practice trying to knit for 500, and design a baby sitting service for Tales.
I teach 4th grade...we just finished Cricket in Times Square and the kids really enjoyed it (although, in my opinion, *any* book is better than the dreaded reading textbook which has such boring stories!) It was a cute book...not sure what we'll read next.
When I was in middle school, we read novels for our language arts class and I enjoyed The Secret Graden and The Jungle Book.
In high school we read a George Orwell book, can't recall the name but I remember it was thought-provoking for me.
I was surprised we made it thru A Chrsitmas Carol as well. I was teaching remedial English and most of my students were special ed with really low reading levels. But they were driven and with the use of CDs and occassional film clips to peak interest, they trooped right thru it, and seemed to understand it more than the *regular* classes. Maybe they could relate more to parts of it.
My favorite book in high school was the Scarlet Letter.
I am a big believer in teaching classical literature, even abridged versions to remedial kids. To fully understand our language, you have to recognize and understand the analogies we make that come from literature. If you are never exposed to them, then your understanding of language will never improve.
I read to each of my three writing classes, the high point of my day and theirs. However, my fourth grade class, while they enjoyed the books, just didn't seem to connect to any of the books - no requests for the sequels, etc. like the other two classes. That is until I read them "The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe". They hang on every word, and I have already purchased the next two books at their request (I'm their fifth grade writing teacher, also.). The fact that they are enjoying a classic so much really encouraged me.
Last Edited on: 4/30/07 5:25 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
I teach reading and two books i love for middle school are Sadako and the thousand paper cranes, the kids always end up crying at the end, and also Maniac Magee, great book dealing with racial prejudices against black and white people
I teach ESL (K-4th) and I've done author studies or character studies. Because my students have limited English skills when they come to me, I don't really teach by grade but rather by level of English proficiency. Usually, the lower the level, the less English they know. The grades sort of match up to the level but not really. I have several 2nd graders who just came to the U.S. in September and were placed with my 1st graders. They now have a fantastic vocabulary and love to read and write about what they've read. I have one 2nd grader who increased his WPM by 15 in two weeks!
K or Pre-Emergent = David Shannon (No! David), Clifford series, Berenstein Bears series
1st or Emergent = Arthur series, Max & Ruby series (love, love, love)
2nd or Basic = Kevin Henkes author study (Lilly, Julius, Wendell, Sheila Rae, etc.) Strega Nona (my all-time favorite)
3rd or Intermediate = Flat Stanley series
4th or Proficient = Harry Potter
All of these authors have websites and have activities which you can download. I know Rosemary Wells (Max & Ruby) has coloring pages and puzzles.
I also have a Harry Potter Club for high level readers. We've done tons of activities from selecting wands (bamboo sticks) to choosing a house (internet) to making our own Coat of Arms to making trading cards (laminate them and the kids can trade like Yu-Gi-Oh cards!).
One of my favorites to teach in 6th grade is The Giver by Lois Lowry. I have the kids do a whole unit of study where they create their own utopia. They have to work together and create everything in the society from the system of government to the currency to the way they will eat. The kids always get a big kick out of it. They usually LOVE the book...it is great for teaching euphemisms and introducing the concepts of euthanasia, utopia and even can be used as a spring board for leading into a study on the Holocaust.
April - I read 6 Hank the Cowdog books to my 3rd grade writing class this year. Everytime we would finish one, I'd ask if they wanted another author, but they insisted on the next book. When we were writing a list about the "bad" things about a new school, one kid wrote "No Hank" meaning No Hank the Cowdog! Third graders love that series.
Last Edited on: 5/24/07 4:14 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
I teach middle school and have used Holes, The Giver, Running Out of Time, and Hoot in the past few years. The kids have LOVED all of these books and were begging to keep reading (I have reluctant readers so that says a lot!).
Some middle school books my students andI really enjoyed were Lois Lowry's set, The Giver, Gathering Blue, and The Messenger. The Diary of Anne Frank, Edgar Allen Poe short stories , and O. Henry's stories. This age student seems to enjoy the surprise ending.
I hate to brag, but I've met "Hank"!!! lol! The author is from this part of Texas and does readings a lot. He does all the voices and music that you hear on the tapes/cds and he is so fun to listen to. When I was in school, he came to our school and read part of a book to us and then just a few months ago, he and his wife performed at our arts facility. They are wonderful--they sang several songs and he did a reading. Afterwards, they stayed in the lobby for a long time standing for photos and autographs. They were just wonderful. I like the books even more after meeting them!
My high school juniors always love The Crucible and The Color Purple. My seniors are usually pleasantly surprised by Shakespeare--I've taught Othello, Hamlet, Macbeth, Twefth Night, and Much Ado About Nothing. My favorites to teach are Heart of Darkness, The Great Gatsby and The Awakening.