Subtitle: Reading motivation and skill building for secondary students who failed a state reading test, an author’s perspective.
Recently, I spent the day in a high school reading classroom with a wonderful teacher and all of her 11th and 12th grade students. I was there because that teacher, Kathy Snyder, was using a class set of one of my young adult novels, Sliding Beneath the Surface with all of her kids.
What a delight it was to see an expert educator getting teenagers deeply involved in a book when many of them truly hated reading and quite a few had little use for school in general. After having spent many years in the classroom, and working with at risk students full-time, I quickly realized I had walked into an astounding success story. Those young people couldn’t wait to discuss my book with me. Incredible!
If you would like more details on that project, there is a link at the bottom of this post for you to follow.
But what I particularly wanted to share here was the simple technique Kathy used of having her students draw a picture to describe one chapter, and then add in a few lines of text from the chapter that impressed them the most
When Kathy told me ahead of time what she was going to have her students do, I have to admit, I was a little skeptical. 11th and 12th graders were going to draw pictures like elementary school kids?
Well, I tell you what. When I got to her classroom, there were 100 full color pictures with text all over her walls. Every student had done the assignment and those kids were eager to point out their work to me, especially the 19-year-old 11th grader who wrote more text than anyone else and wanted to discus it in detailed during a class break.
Of course, using art was just one of the many things Kathy did to guarantee success while having her kids read my book, but it was a vital one. She really made excellent use of multiple learning styles, hooking into the visual and tactile senses that captured her students’ imaginations like nothing else could.
So if you are a reading or language arts teacher, or you are preparing to become one, you just might want to keep this technique in mind.
As you can see, I’ve included some of those pictures in this post. They will give you a good sense of what those kids produced and what they got out of reading my book.
And as I promised at the start of this post, below you will find the link to the initial article I did about Kathy and her work on that entire project. Kathy and I are now working together to create a teacher guide to help others who would like to follow in her footsteps.