professornana (professornana) wrote,

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The new list from Benoit College is out. You know this one don't you: an annual list of what incoming freshman know (and do not know) that separates them from their predecessors. Here is the link: While I do not agree with all of their observations, I do find this annual reminder a good one for me. Each new semester brings a new crop of students into our classes. They bring with them certain experiences. Their childhood, adolescence, and adulthood might be different from none in distinct ways and similar to my own in others. I used to take for granted that they had a baseline of knowledge about children's and YA books, but that knowledge can vary wildly from student to student.

And so, this week, as the classes open, students will see their first assignment: the reading autobiography. I wrote mine when I took YA literature from Dick Abrahamson. He wrote his when he took YA literature from G. Robert Carlsen. The ones I receive this semester will tell me about my students' experiences with books and reading in and out of the classroom, the high points, the low points, the memorable (for whatever reason) reads. I have changed the assignment to allow for more CHOICE over the last several years. Traditionally, this assignment has been submitted as an essay or memoir of reading. Now I encourage students to convey it to me in whatever form or format makes sense to them. I have Power Points, of course, and Prezis, and timelines. I enjoy viewing each and every one of them. This semester will deliver about 60 new pieces for me to read and comment upon.

What I love is the "mindset" of each reader. It gives me some insight into who they are and what books have shaped them to date. In an online program, getting to know students is key. This first assignment helps me "see" my students in an important light: as readers.
Tags: benoit, books, mindset, reading
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