Reflection: High Quality Task Boarding the Frigate: Choosing Books for Literature Circles - Section 1: Teacher to Teacher: Lesson Context and Time Frame


In 2005 Barry Schwartz wrote a book called The Paradox of Choice. In it he argues that it's possible to have too many choices. This thesis pushes against conventional wisdom, even in some educational circles. Many English teachers give students complete autonomy in choosing what books they'll read, what papers they'll write. The idea is that the student knows best what s/he should study. This scenario sounds like a utopia for the student; however, as a teacher who has experimented with many methodologies, I advocate finding a balance. 

Rather than an either/or scenario, I advocate some choice for students. I also contend that we can give students a sense of autonomy with 3-5 text choices. We can offer writing choices, too, but with limitations. For example, when teaching expository writing, offer choice in terms of the controlling mode instead of saying, write an essay. 

Additionally, guiding questions can offer ways for students to chose while also offering some framework for learning. 

Barry Schwartz talks about this Paradox of Choice in a TED talk: 

  "The Paradox of Choice": It Must be Just Right
  High Quality Task: "The Paradox of Choice": It Must be Just Right
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Boarding the Frigate: Choosing Books for Literature Circles

Unit 13: Reading and the Empathetic Imagination: Teaching in Literature Circles
Lesson 1 of 5

Objective: SWBAT choose a book to read in literature circles from five options--"That Shakespeare Kid," "Life of Pi," "MAUS I & II," "Pride and Prejudice," and "Tuesdays with Morrie."

Big Idea: "There is no Frigate like a book to take us Lands away." --Emily Dickinson

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6 teachers like this lesson
English / Language Arts, Literature, Fictional Literature, literature circles, Student Choice Reading, MAUS, Pride and Prejudice, Life of Pi, That Shakespeare Kid, Tuesdays with Morrie, There is No Frigate Like a Book
  60 minutes
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