professornana (professornana) wrote,

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What Drives Us?

I read a brief exchange recently about what should drive lesson planning.  One side asserted it should be content.  The other side suggested that strategies should be the driving force.  My vote:  NONE OF THE ABOVE.  Kids should drive our planning, our selection of materials, our lesson objectives, and all the decisions that fall within what we do when we plan.

As I prepare the reading list for my literature classes each semester, I begin the shuffle of titles.  Some need to remain as they are touchstone texts. They represent a genre, form, format, historical era, important development in the field, an award.  But other titles shift each semester to reflect the more mercurial: what will appeal to kids, what is a "bestseller" for them, what is reflective of a passing fancy.  Those, too, have their place. 

When I was teaching middle school so, so many years ago, I had books about TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES.  Biographies included Vanilla Ice, Paula Abdul, and New Kids on the Block.  Magazines were the early ones on skateboarding.  My classroom collection (and our school library collection, too) mirrored these trends and fads as much as they contained award winners and the like.

One of the sessions at this past weekend's YALSA Lit Symposium focused on pop culture.  Liz Burns and Sophie Brookover, two incredibly smart librarians have a book about this topic.  Read more about it here:

If kids need to be at the center of what we do (and I do believe they are the essential element), then decisions need to be LOCAL (read, classroom). This is yet another reason why mandates such as CCSS make me cringe.  I will not go off on a rant here (though it is always tempting). But anything that is imposed from the outside tends to take my focus on what should be front and center:  my kids, my classroom.
Tags: center of attention
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