A very sensitive area tied to equity is found in how many CI classes are made to read “class novels”. If thirty five kids have a wide range of reading ability, because of their background down to elementary school, availability of books throughout their childhoods, family wealth, etc. then many of them will be odd-man-out in classes that “challenge” the class, which is code for “only teach to the top kids in the class”. We don’t want that. So what we choose for reading materials is a big deal. We want everyone to be able to read, especially because it is input and input drives the CI train. Kids should never be made to feel behind in a reading class, and yet as we speak most do in classes that use classroom sets to try to read a novel “together”. That is why six years ago I went to the 10′ individual free choice of books – any level, the student chooses what they want to read – sessions to start class and why I condemn the reading of class novels during class time. Reading should be individual, not as a class. It also saves a lot of money since we only need to purchase 2 or 3 titles of each book instead of 35 classroom sets. The books offered to the individual readers should be easy. If those four kids out of the thirty five want to read “up”, fine. But don’t make the class do it.
This is a good question for the group:
Hi Ben –
Do you know which books are getting positives from teachers? I am using them for Free-Choice Reading this year, and have $450 burning a hole in my pocket.
I just can’t see making reading competitive and that is largely what class novels/readers/chapter books do. How can the slower reading kids enjoy their learning experience when they can be seen, perceived, there is a feeling in the room, that (as usual) they are not as good as the frontrunners? This is very much about equity and inclusion and self perception and availability to books and where the kids went to elementary and middle school and what they think of themselves as readers.
Even in an all white school where kids, usually in the suburbs, experience a fair amount of social equity and no racism, it’s still about equity because I define equity in terms of guaranteeing to a child that they are not going to be judged, marginalized, subtlety bullied intellectually, or seen to be not as good as another no matter what their skin color is.
Since FVR is not voluntary, Tina and I have espoused the term Free Choice Reading to describe how we start our classes. But that’s not the purpose of this post, rather to just let everyone know that Greg has a video we can watch on how he built his classroom library:
I built it myself and paid for 80% of it myself.
There are plenty of interesting readers (I go by what the kids are telling me, not by what I think is or should be interesting) on Teachers Pay Teachers where teachers sell cheap readers that you can print for your classroom.