Wednesday, June 28, 2006

We did it our way

In Reading II today, our group did our presentation on Voice (one of the "six plus one" traits of writing). Instead of basing our lesson on a book, we played two versions of the song "My Way" --- Sinatra and the Sex Pistols --- and explained that authorial voice is like a singer covering a song and putting his own stamp on it. We based our lesson on that, handing out a sheet with three springboard questions for reflective writing (ie, "How does this song make you feel? How do you think the singer felt singing it? What is 'your way?'"). Our followup activity was quite clever --- one of our group brought a variety of birthday cards, some funny, some romantic, some spiritual. These were another example of authorial voice and how it ties into the text's intended audience. In all, I think we did a pretty good job, especially given our dearth of planning. (I stumbled a lot during my turn to speak, not out of nervousness, but just because I actually had very little idea what to say. I dislike not doing well at speaking, because I'm usually quite glib and articulate, but it's a minor annoyance, soon forgotten, I'm sure.)

The other groups did presentations on Word Choice and Sentence Fluency. The first group read a book about runaway slaves and a quilt; one girl dressed in period costume, and they handed out colored paper to make a big "word quilt." Cutesy, but probably effective for elementary kids. The other presentation was a bit dull --- so much so that I remember nothing about it except one girl (whom I'm a passing acquaintance with, so I'm sorry to say it) read the book their lesson was based on in the most monotone, uninspired way imaginable. It pains me to think of all these inchoate teachers whose reading skills are so lacking.

But sweet Shiva, speaking of poor reading skills, our Reading teacher Ms. L herself is a terrible reader! She glides over periods as if they weren't there, inflects her voice inappropriately at the ends of sentences, fails to inflect at questions and exclamations, and often misreads words. And it's not just the lack of fluency and iffy decoding skills; she seems to have no sense of pacing at all. In class today, after reading a children's picture book, of perhaps twenty pages, aloud to us for some goddam reason, she wanted to go back and show us a particular illustration. She had to thumb through the whole book to find it. She had just finished reading it not more than thirty seconds ago, but apparently had no idea where the page she wanted was. Why didn't she know that the picture was in the back, and flip right to it? The same reason that she has no sense of time and keeps talking way past schedule, I guess.

1 comment:

United We Lay said...

Reading teachers should ALWAYS have good reading skills. I tend to read a passage at least once siliently and once aloud (usually to my husband) before reading it to a class. We teach by example, and if we're not good readers, or students won't be, either.

Voice is one of my FAVORITE lessons to teach!