Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Brief Shining Moment

When we've read Understanding Comics in class, I've had student volunteers read the first couple of pages out loud, while everyone else followed along, and then had the students read the rest of the chapter themselves. I also pass out questions for them to answer as they read the chapter. We need the questions, just like we need class discussion and note-taking and quizzes, because Understanding Comics is a challenging text. And I'm told that, if you're not interested in comics, it is somewhat boring. 

The inevitable result of giving them questions, though, is that most of them dig through the text looking for answers to the questions, without so much "reading" it in a linear way. This is not a criticism of my class in particular; it's just human nature to want to get the work done so you can move on with your life.  

But we have finished Understanding Comics and we are ready to move on. I want the class to do some good old-fashioned start-at-the-upper-left-hand-side-of-the-page-and-continue-to-the-bottom-right-hand-side reading, so today I had each student choose a book from the big pile I've brought in to class and start reading. When I went to a Curriculum Council meeting the other night we were told that students should not read silently in class for more than ten minutes at a time, so I set a ten minute time limit. 

It was a very peaceful ten minutes. It was also a rewarding experience, walking around the classroom, watching 21 teenagers reading comics in a wide variety of styles and genres, including Little Lulu, Arkham Asylum, Tintin, ABC Warriors, To the Heart of the Storm, Bone, Thoreau at Walden, Jack Kirby's Fourth World Omnibus volume 1, and more. The kids seemed to enjoy themselves. Was it because it was an easy grade, to sit and read a comic for ten minutes? Maybe. But I like to think they were actually engaged by the material. 

Some days I have my doubts, but today it felt like Creative Reading class is working.  

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