One of the questions I’ve had to deal with is one of my least favourite, but it’s also one of the most common and (to some extent) fairly understandable: Why do we have to read books?
It’s usually followed by something like “It’s so boring!” or “I hate reading books!” or “It takes so long, and I could do something else!” Which, yes, I guess? If that’s how you feel, then sure. That’s a thing, and it’s all up to you. But really, reading is awesome, and there are so many cool words. I tried my best to find some interesting texts, including Nnedi Okorafor’s Zahrah the Windseeker, Doris Pilkington’s Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence, and Thanhha Lai’s Inside Out and Back Again. Even knowing that I have a lot of kids who really like anime, I grabbed Diana Wynne Jones’ Howl’s Moving Castle (which also gives me an excuse to show Hayao Miyazaki’s film).
I really tried finding things that they just might relate to and may also open their eyes to something that happened in this world. Why? Because I hated when I was made to read the same boring texts a lot. (Seriously. I grew up in the US, and I’m pretty sure I’ve read To Kill a Mockingbird at least 5 times as part of required school reading.)
But it’s cool to have some neuroscience news that shows that reading has some (more) cool effects on our brains: The whole thing has to work together in order to comprehend a text.
For example, parts of the brain that are generally segregated into sections (say, the audio section and the visual section) learn how to work together as a cohesive unit through exercises like reading. Since writing (and therefore reading) are relatively modern inventions in terms of human history, it’s not likely that we’ve developed a specific area of the brain for ‘reading’. But, because our brains are really adaptable, they’re able to essentially ‘rewire’ themselves as we practice the skill and get better at it.
And, honestly? That’s amazing. Brains are cool, and we should definitely be helping them.
We’ve been working our way through globalisation. My students have been going over what globalisation is, examples of globalisation, causes of globalisation, and impacts of globalisation; it’s been an interesting experience thus far, but it’s nice that kids are starting to see a lot of different elements of something that affects them so greatly (but is something that, for many of them, they haven’t totally acknowledged as being a thing that happens at all). It’s been fantastic to see the connections that they’ve been making.
So we’re coming to the summative project for the class, which is to make a flyer, brochure, or poster that describes something about globalisation. They can choose an impact, a cause, or an example and explain everything about it. But we need a rubric. What would a good visual presentation look like? How can students show me they’re meeting the criteria? So students helped me develop tangible examples of what each criterion looks like. These are from last week, when we had this brainstorming session.
Some of these were directly copied from the board, and a lot of my students were struggling with some of the concepts. Hopefully, as the year goes on, they’ll find this kind of exercise easier because it’s going to happen pretty much every time that we do a project.