Critical Reading & Writing Book Club (Grade 8-11)
In this small group class, we work on developing and honing close reading and essay writing skills that will help students succeed in advanced literature classes at the high school and college level. Too often, high school English classes focus only on summarizing texts, asking plot-based questions that test basic comprehension. In our class, we push students toward deeper, more complex reading that considers form -- the way the text is written -- to be just as important as the story. With each book, students are provided with a discussion guide consisting of dialogic questions that require them to seek out text-based evidence as they read, as well as make connections to their own life and other books/materials they've previously encountered. We discuss these questions in class in a specific, evidence-based way, examining passages in the text and seeking out patterns, consistencies, and changes throughout the book. In conducting the class this way, students are able to have the essay process modeled for them, and learn how connected the process of reading is to the process of writing. At the end of five weeks, students work on an essay of their own choosing, which is then given individualized feedback by the instructor. Rather than read classics of the Western canon, as students do in school, we look at bestselling novels and memoirs so that students can be familiarized with a wider array of genre and material.