Tuesday, September 21, 2010
in the middle
So my computer has been sick (I think it still is, tbh, but since my computer doctor is also sick, I'll wait and see for a few days while religiously backing up everything I do), and middle school has been overwhelming, and the weather has been amazing...all of which leads to one full week without a blog entry. Again.
I know, that's boring.
Starting over. So my middle school students are starting a book blog. And at first, I didn't really think we'd make our own blog. I thought it would be enough to simply read blogs, comment on them, maybe look at the qualities that make up a good review. Possibly we would talk about the difficulties of writing a review of a book that isn't the greatest--how do you maintain honesty without being a jerk? This is a concept that many middle school students (and a fair number of non-middle school students) struggle to wrap their heads around.
But. On the first day, it became apparent that these students...they are WILD about books. They are full of awesome ideas and an amazing amount of energy that, if we can focus and harness (and proofread!) it, will result in a terrific chance for them to interact with authors and bloggers and readers not only at our school, but all over the world. And even though I am in the middle of editing one book and second-drafting another and assistant-directing a play (soon) and playing tooth fairy (Jabber lost another tooth today!) and mentoring a student teacher and checking the dilation of Monkey's pupils (fell off a step stool and cracked his head on the cast iron tub)...I find myself in the middle of another project. A middle grade/young adult book blog, written and developed by my students!
Aptly, the name of the blog is "In the Middle (of a good book)" and the identity we created for the blog is "inthemiddlereading"--middle schoolers reading. Our first post went live today, so please come by and share your favorite book with us!
Middle school is a strange time for reading. While a sixth grader may still be startled or even outright shocked at the appearance of a minor cuss word, an eighth grader may be devouring very mature books written for adults. Another sixth grader may read nothing but unabridged classics, while another eighth grader may be just beginning to move from chapter books to middle grade novels.
However, despite these differences, what has become very clear to me in the last nine years teaching middle school, is that when tweens and teens find a book they enjoy, it can change their whole lives. You can see them become a reader. They argue passionately about books; they feel personally offended by disappointing movie adaptations. They love their favorite characters so fiercely that they never want a series to end. They get so excited about books at times that they will jump about in their chairs, barely able to wait their turn to share their thoughts about books.
And I hope that we'll be able to keep up with this blog, even after my little elective class is over, so that they can continue to have a real audience for their thoughts, and so they can continue to make connections with authors as real people--to read reviews by other bloggers and wait anxiously for new releases and become a part of the literary community in a real, interactive way.
Thanks so incredibly much to Kari, who gave us links to her favorite blogs, ideas for the class, and a lot of support as I contemplated this idea in its infant stages. Her book blog, and the others in our blogroll, are an inspiration to my students!