Literacy and knowledge of the outside world are two important areas that today's students need to work in. In order to facilitate both of these simultaneously we need sets of books to do book talks, blogging, and classroom discussions around.
My students are all freshmen in high school, and are eager learners.
I work with students from varying levels and backgrounds. The school is in a rural area with a small liberal arts college in town. This creates an extremely diverse set of learning styles and abilities. All of my students have expressed interest in the world outside of our borders. The class is entitled Geography and Contemporary World Issues. All of the books deal with a different concept that relates to the core of the course.
In the past I have set my students loose in the library with some guidance as to what books to select. I created a list of potential books, but left it up to them in the end. The criteria was simple: Find books (fiction or non) that pertain to another culture -- and ones that you will be interested to read. Once the students selected a book they were to read it and then create a short presentation describing the "world issue" included in the book. For about half of my students this was a successful model. However, I want all students to get a lot out of this assignment, so I am planning to give it an overhaul. I would like to have groups of three (or four) students reading the same book. The books I have selected are all highly rated and recommended by colleagues and students. Once the students are in their groups they will have others with whom to consult. The groups will work together to understand the concepts in the books. They will blog, discuss, and present in the end.
This project will broaden the geographic knowledge of all of my students, and of my classes as a whole.
These books will be used in the formal group project, and as choice books for students at other junctures during the year. My hope is that it will inspire students to continue learning on their own about the rest of the world. I also hope that they will care about the state of poverty, education, rights, etc. in the world around them.
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