Last week, I shared this post over on Adventures in Literacy Land. Did you catch it? If not, here’s your chance. My experience may be K-5, but I live with teens and my coursework included Adolescent Literature. These tips are based upon these experiences as well as from information shared with me from a few secondary education teachers. I hope you find them helpful.
If you have lived with a teen recently or are beginning your career in middle or high school, then chances are these kids look familiar to you. Perhaps you’ve noticed that teens are very tech savvy often listening to music while they’re working on a paper for English, sending messages to friends through Snapchat, and checking the latest game scores on ESPN. Yes, our teens are multi-taskers to the extreme, and if you are teaching them, then chances are you’ve become pretty tech savvy yourself and observed these and many other teen behaviors.
Today, I am going to share with you information and tips from the literacy perspective, but before I can get to the tips, I think it’s important to share the characteristics of young adult literature to see how these characteristics mesh with the characteristics of teens today. It will help us understand the reason Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, and The Fault in Our Stars are so popular with teens today. YA books are…
- Stories are told from the viewpoint of young people.
- Young adult stories often get rid of all adult figures.
- Young adult literature is fast-paced and often edgy.
- Young adult literature includes a variety of genres and subjects.
- Characters come from many different cultural and ethnic groups.
- Young adult books are optimistic and characters make worthy accomplishments.
- Young adult novels deal with real emotions.
- Want to be independent. Can be emotional and/or rebellious.
- They can be risk takers and their energy level fluctuates.
- Maturing, so they do not care for parental involvement. Friends are very important.
- They are *very* social.
- They are often ambitious and idealistic.
- They tend to be a little more self-centered.
Choose your books wisely.
Reading material isn’t limited to books and articles. Be sure to include what’s relevant to your students. The kids are interested in reading about who’s popular in music and the movies, so including song lyrics and movie clips to model skills in your pacing guide will increase student engagement.
If you have multiple book options going in your classroom, one way to manage it is to put the students in charge of their learning. Reciprocal Teaching is a great teaching strategy to use with your books and can lead to wonderful group discussions. Group projects are fun too, and they take advantage of the fact that middle school and high school students want to be social. Careful matching of groups advised.
Ivey and Fisher describe well a huge number of teaching strategies such as Cornell Note Taking, anticipation guides, concept maps, quick writes, and many other options. Explicit teaching of strategies through read alouds scaffolds instruction for students and provides a gradual release for them to apply the strategy use independently. [These websites] offer a tech option that may work for teens. When I spoke with one of my friends who teaches English locally, she shared that her students enjoy using Twitter in the classroom. GroupTweet may work for you unless you have a firewall that blocks it. If that is the case, then give TodaysMeet a try. It is a free website, and either offer great discussion opportunities.
Many students hit middle school, and stop reading. This is particularly true with boys, so we need to expect our students to read and hold them accountable. Donalyn Miller’s books, The Book Whisperer and Reading in the Wild are two that I’ve read and recommend. They offer up options for goal setting and monitoring of independent reading. I blogged recently on my own blog about book talks, and this concept certainly would work for any grade level. My friend, Michelle at Big Time Literacy blogged about books for independent reading, and [this post] from her blog would be very helpful as you think about how to manage independent reading and most importantly, matching text to the child.
Using Reader’s Theater or picture books for modeling may seem like elementary stuff, but there are high level picture books with rich language that may work well for modeling literary devices. Reader’s Theater is a wonderful option for increased engagement and provides an alternative text. Students work on oral reading fluency without attaching a stigma. Having your students write scripts based upon their reading covers multiple skills…oral reading, comprehension, and writing.
I hope these ten tips are on the mark, but if some fall short, please know I’ve done my best. If you enjoyed this post and want to save it for later, here’s an image you can use.