How should ELA teachers approach informational texts?
This question informs the lessons in this unit, which emphasize approaches to teaching informational texts in the context of literature study. Rather than replacing or superceding the study of literature, I see informational texts as ways to amplify literature so that students see it as relevant to their lives.
Thus, rather than a shift away from both the literary canon and contemporary imaginative texts, the CCSS offers teachers a unique opportunity to embrace innovative approaches to teaching both informational texts and the imaginative literature that led us to teach English.
This lesson in its original context is part of a unit on teaching persuasive writing.
Since I taught the lesson during "Banned Book Week," I first explained that banned book week is commemorated so that students are aware of the challenges to books.
As an English teacher, I believe in both academic freedom and the right of readers to choose their reading material. I explain this to students.
The question I always raise when I hear about attempts to ban books from school libraries or classrooms is, "Who censors the censors?" I share this with students.
Next I tell students that we'll be celebrating banned book week by learning about
I also tell students that sometimes a student has abandoned a book because s/he might not like something about it and that students have this right.
To assist students in their understanding of how extensive book banning is and to help them identify reasons books are banned, I used a Prezi, "I'm with the Banned", I created for a guest presentation at our local university.
The Prezi includes the following information:
-confusing fantasy w/ reality
-taking the lord's name in vain
-unsuitability for children
There are wonderful moments in teaching when the stars align and students need no prompting to offer up their opinions. Today was such a day.
From the moment I began showing the first video in the Prezi, multiple students chimed "Why would anyone want to ban that book?" And "I love that book." This happened so often that we almost didn't finish the notes.
The student responses reflected their naivete about how often books are challenged.
I asked at one point, "Did anyone notice Shel Silverstein on the list?" I received the response, "Yea, what's that about?"
I had to quiet the kids several times as I complimented them on their passion and thanked them for their opinions. Many voiced approval of the lesson: "That's so interesting." Others voiced concerns about the prevalence of book banning.
I told the class at the end of the period that I'm going to have them research the books they're reading to see if they have been banned and if so why. But that's for another day.