Tuesday, May 19, 2009

HSAs and Summer Reading

I don't know why or how I do it every year, but I actually expect my students to come to class after taking the HSA, and they never do, yet I'm always surprised. 6 today in 1st period, 5 in 2nd period. I'm probably one of the only teachers who required attendance, and that didn't get me very far, apparently. Bummer. I had a great lesson planned.

Weird, weird week. There are no more regular days this year. HSA week all week, then a 4-day week next week because of Memorial Day, and then finals. This year is gone in the snap of fingers.

I'm really thinking about summer reading assignments right now.

Current choices (for advanced rising seniors):

What is the What by Dave Eggers


Going to Meet the Man by James Baldwin (the collection of short stories including "Sonny's Blues," my favorite short story of all time)

Here are the justifications:

* I want authors that cannot be taught in the course otherwise. Neither Eggers or Baldwin are on the IB list for fiction.

* Eggers' novel is really good, and it's an accessible, moving world literature story. The course is a world literature course so that helps. I don't really like summer reading too much, but the Eggers book is one I think the kids will like. That's important to me.

* Baldwin's stories are ripe for passage analysis, my primary goal for this unit. Additionally, I (currently) plan on teaching Baldwin non-fiction during the year (he's on the list for non-fiction, and I think the students would be very much into him), so I think reading some of his fiction will be an interesting setup for that. Additionally, everyone should read "Sonny's Blues" sometime before they die. Wow.

The drawbacks are that both are U.S. authors, and my course is already fairly heavy with U.S. authors. I haven't decided for sure what I'm going to teach, but I have 8 texts to choose from a complicated and rather restrictive list that IB provides. I have to center the texts around a theme, and they have to be from certain genres, and certain authors within those genres. I've decided on some of the works (Richard III will be my Shakespeare, almost certainly, and I really want to bring Song of Solomon back, and I believe Baldwin will be my non-fiction - really want to do some Steinbeck, too, because the teacher that shares the students is going to a Shakespeare Institute this summer), but need to figure out how they all work together and need to do a lot of reading this summer. I think the Eggers and Baldwin texts are adaptable to whichever way I decide to go with the curriculum (not that summer reading needs to relate that much, anyway).

I'm certain there will be plenty of posts about curriculum planning in the upcoming weeks. I have all summer, luckily, but need to figure out a summer reading assignment ASAP. Obviously.


Anonymous said...

What about the One Maryland One Book - Song Yet Sung? Or does that not meet some certain criteria?


smoneil said...

I have a book of microfiction by Eggers. Fantastic writer. It sounds as if you want Baldwin more for your love of that one story. Couldn't you assign Eggers as the summer reading and then incorporate Baldwin's story another way?

Anonymous said...

How about "A Long Way Gone"?

Anonymous said...

or "The Road"?

Teach Baltimore said...

bdc: I'm going to read that one this summer. I generally gravitate towards AA literature, and worry that I'm doing too much in a _world_ literature course. Like, I really want to so _Song of Solomon_, _Native Son_, _The Color Purple_, Baldwin essays, and even Langston Hughes poetry next year - all are options - but I should probably only do a couple of them.

Scott: I'm supposed to do two summer reading books, so students can see two different styles for passage analysis. Baldwin is really good for that particular skill. I'll admit I've only read a couple of his other short stories, though.

Anon #1: That's actually our 9th grade summer reading. I chose it! Good recommendation!

Anon #2: In one version of my curriculum, I thought about doing apocalypse and/or dystopian literature for the whole year, and thought about doing _The Road_ for summer reading. It's definitely a good choice.

Anonymous said...

Check with me off site about why you and I were both sand-bagged about kids not showing after testing...very disheartening...

-The Chaplain

Winnie said...

FYI, after reading your post, I finally decided to start reading What is the What, a book I bought at the beginning of this school year, and it is fantastic! I finished it in two days! Thanks for posting and unnknowingly giving me that extra nudge to pick it up!