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07 December 2014 @ 05:19 pm
everything old is new again  
Love this song by Peter Allen (lyrics here: http://www.metrolyrics.com/everything-old-is-new-again-lyrics-peter-allen.html) featured in the movie "All That Jazz."

"And don't throw the past away
You might need it some other rainy day
Dreams can come true again
When everything old is new again
When everything old is new again

Read more: Peter Allen - Everything Old Is New Again Lyrics | MetroLyrics"


What does that have to do with education? The latest report from SCHOLASTIC (http://www.scholastic.com/parents/resources/collection/guides-to-reading/what-kids-want-to-read) indicates what kids are looking for in books. Nearly three-quarters reported wanting books that make them laugh. Almost half want mystery. Many want books with characters that are brave and heroic. Many want books that require imagination (we might call it a willing suspension of disbelief perhaps).

This latest report reinforces much of what we have known from past studies on books kids like. Even George Norvell reported that kids liked humor and mysteries in the 40s and 50s when he surveyed hundreds of thousands of kids. My own middle school students in the 80s and 90s had similar interests. So, are we offering these to kids in our classrooms and curricula?

Compare Scholastic's report to that put forward by the folks who bring us AR. According to their report, the books most popular in 8th grade include: DIARY OF A WIMPY KID, THE PEARL, A CHILD CALLED IT, THE MONKEY'S PAW, and ANIMAL FARM among others. If your head is spinning, it should be. The lists from AR have more to do with the tests being taken by kids than truly measuring their needs, interests, and preferences. And yet I am willing to predict that the AR report will ultimately be the one quoted in article after article. This year, though, you need to sign up to see the full report. But take a peek at how it is all framed here (http://www.learnalytics.com/wkar/) and you will see CCSS all over it. Sigh.

While it is helpful to have the survey results, the only one that matters should occur in YOUR classroom for EACH class you teach. What do kids want in books in YOUR school? Does your first period class want the same things as your seventh period class? Do kids want something different as the year progresses? Donalyn Miller reminds us that tastes, interests, and preferences continue to shift; they are not static. Look at the books kids are burning through in Katherine Sokolowski's classes. See what John Schu is sharing with kids.

In other words, take the pulse of your own kids.
 
 
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