Ack! It’s English class

Lorrie McNeill gives her middle school students a wide choice of reading in Jonesboro, Ga.

Junior High and High School English = grammar, spelling, and reading Cliff Notes.


It all depends on the goal. The NY Times recently published an article about a whole other approach to language arts. Nellie is one of those who is trying this new approach with her 7th and 8th graders.

She’s had experienced similar fears, similar results, and similar comments from parents as the teacher featured in the article. Most importantly Nellie has kids reading more than they’ve ever read in their lives, writing more than they ever imagined they could. And it all derives from a change in the goal—make lifelong joyous readers and writers versus teaching the students to be able to recite facts about a given set of works.

Of course, the students still learn literary concepts and grammar, but only as it supports and relates to their writing for publication, whatever form that publication may take (family newsletter, review in local or school paper, letter to favorite author, pro, etc.)

She’s loving this program and has been amazed at some of the stuff these kids produce and the progress they make when natural motivation kicks in.

BOOKS | August 30, 2009
The Future of Reading: A New Assignment: Pick Books You Like
The experimental approach is part of a movement to revolutionize the way literature is taught in U.S. schools.

And for you who might think society might fall if we let them choose their books, consider this…

LIFE & STYLE, AUGUST 29, 2009, 5:04 A.M. ET
Good Books Don’t Have to Be Hard: A novelist on the pleasure of reading stories that don’t bore; rising up from the supermarket racks
By Lev Grossman

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