Students Given Freedom to Choose Novels
November 5, 2016
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Many freshman and sophomore English teachers are now allowing students to choose novels to read in class instead of required reading. These teachers include Annette Chuckran, Karry Dornak, Krista Garvis, Brad Karnes, Jenna Lynch, Brandi Maxey, Erica Ratke and Glynn Tolleson among many others.
Lynch, a freshman English teacher, started incorporating choice novels in her class second semester of last year.
“I felt like students weren’t connecting with texts we read prior to introducing choice novels,” Lynch said. “Even though outside reading wasn’t required, many students started reading on their own when I let them choose their own books. They also had a better grasp on the concepts we were learning in class.”
Teachers implement the choice of novels in different ways. Some teachers allow students to choose without limits, while others have genre guidelines or only allow students to choose from a predetermined list.
“A lot goes into creating an efficient learning environment,” Dornak said. “Some aspects are physical such as flexible seating options and others are more abstract, such as agreeing on expectations as a class, offering choice and catering lessons to students’ individual needs.”
According to Dornak, choice novels can have a profound, long-term impact on a student’s opinion of reading.
“The biggest change I have seen this year is more of my students actually reading,” Dornak said. “In the past, I often felt as if I was the only one reading the novel. Now, I actually have students excitedly ask if we are going to have reading time in class today.”
Dornak believes teachers should create positive reading experiences to instill a love of reading in students.
“I have always loved to read but, now it is more fun,” freshman Madison Hunter said. “There is more time to read what you want.”
Some of the novels students have chosen to read are “Unwind,” and “Bruiser” by Neal Shusterman, “Everyday” and “Another Day” by David Levithan and “Legend” by Marie Lu.
“I want them to enjoy what they are reading,” Lynch said. “I hope to develop lifelong readers and I hope they start to realize that there’s more freedom in reading and writing.”