Engaging Readers Through Connections: Friday Night Lights
My students need a class set of a highly-engaging yet rigorous text to capture their interest and invest them in their reading development to start the year!
If you were a struggling reader -- at a level where making it through even a single page of a book can be a painful process -- wouldn't it be nice if that book appealed to your life and your interests?
The 11th-grade students I work with come to school every day with challenges beyond what most of us can comprehend.
I teach at 99% African-American, urban, low-income school, where students have been deprived of the quality resources and instruction provided to students just miles away in the same city. Students here simply cannot afford and should not be asked; to provide their own reading resources. They can and will read, and I've seen them devour literature that is engaging and with which they can personally connect.
Our school's literature offerings are wildly out-of-date and extremely out-of-touch with our students' backgrounds. It is a well-established fact that struggling readers should be offered texts that are engaging and relevant to their own experiences, rather than archaic texts that are uninteresting and difficult to access. "Friday Night Lights" is about a town in Texas consumed by high school football, where academics and social responsibility fall victim to the all-consuming drive to win football games. Our environment is very much like this -- a football-crazed community where athletic achievement is valued over academic progress. Students will notice the many connections, and some of them will even find their own role embodied by the compelling characters in the text. And on top of that, the text is literary non-fiction, which is exactly the sort of thing my students need to be wrestling with and comprehending on a complex level!
I'm tired of telling my students that certain books they clamor for are unavailable and that there's little we can do about our school's lack of accessible and engaging literature.
I'm tired of explaining to them why we have to read the same stale literature, when I know there are better (and just as rigorous) books out there that they will relish and that just might inspire the love of reading that my students desperately need. Help me change this situation.
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