Ragamuffin, Barefoot Irreverence
Last week, I was stuck with my last period of the day for LIKE 20 HOURS. I had them all morning for state testing and then for the full double period in the afternoon. Of course, this class is my cross to bear. I know this is dramatic, but it is also true.
We spent our afternoons doing nothing particularly intellectually stimulating, as per, more or less, our administration's suggestion. We decided to watch Freedom Writers, which held their attention to a much greater extent than my choices--August Rush and Ghostbusters. Figures. I'm happy to report that they found the husband in the film just as irritating as I do (ah, but this is another post).
By the time we finished the movie, even my most stubborn, smarty-pants student told me "this is a good movie." Better yet, the kids were clamoring to read the book that Erin Gruwell and her students put together, The Freedom Writers Diary. My two most reticent readers were the most excited to read it. Funny what a little profanity and violence will do to inspire some reading. . . who am I to argue? When my period 9 is asking for a book, my period 9 is getting the book. So, this weekend, I marched myself--a dedicated little literacy soldier in the pouring rain--to the bookstore to buy two copies. I figured while many of them said they wanted to read it, they would be whistling a new tune come Monday. O how wrong I was. The entire class shot up their hands when I asked who wanted to read the books.
The solution? The time-honored pick-out-of-a-hat. I knew I would rig the results if given the chance--I have a soft spot when my struggling students show this much enthusiasm--and I knew that wouldn't be fair, so I asked our librarian to do the honors. Lo and behold, my honesty was rewarded: it was my two struggling readers' lucky day! If you ask me, it was no coincidence.
Picture this: two way too cool eighth grade boys, sitting side by side with their hoodies and their iPod ear buds slung over their shoulders and their extra-super-coolness, comfy amidst my grungy, thrice-hand-me-down classroom pillows, nestled under the counter, reading. Not just reading. Reading aloud to one another, taking turns, paragraph by paragraph. Repairing meaning, helping one another with difficult vocabulary, stopping to comment on the text, engrossed. In the zone. I wish I took a picture.
And this morning? "Ms. [Me], we're on Chapter 9! . . .Oh, and I did my other reading homework, too."
My heart is smiling today. I'm making readers of them yet.
Oh, and I ordered four more copies of the book (used copies this time, I'm wising up after all).