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Today (written Monday, after school) we were having a discussion about how to talk about books. I want my students to have deeper conversations than "My favorite part is..." and "Did you like it?" We started with making a list of DOs and DON'Ts when Discussing Books. As I anticipated, "Don't spoil the ending!" was top of the DON'Ts list...but then the conversation took a surprising twist. One student blurted out, "Unless they want to know how it ends."
Confession time...I almost waved off her remark, but something made me stop and address it. I asked the class, "Who wants to know how a book ends before you start reading it?" Hands slowly started going up. They laughed. I'm sure my expression was incredulous, to say the least. You know when your eyebrows descend so far you feel like they are touching your nose?!?! I froze and the students continued the discussion without me,
"I read the first couple of chapters and then I read the last chapter.""Yeah, I read the last page first to see if it's worth it." "I read the first and last page and then decide."
WHAT?!?! I was flabberghasted! Why do so many of my students want to know how a book ends before they begin reading it? One of them said, "Ms. Haseltine, it's the same way I watch tv. I watch the season finale before I decide to watch any episodes." And that's when it hit me. They live in a world where everything is at their fingertips.
When I was a kid (in the olden days of the 70s) and I wanted to know the lyrics to the song, I had to listen and catch the song on the radio so I could tape it. Then I had to listen to it over and over and over again while transcribing the words. (Come on...who remembers doing this?!?!) It was tedious, but I felt like I accomplished something. Now when I want the lyrics I google them and print them out.
My students are living in a world where the information is readily accessible. Having technology in class means that as I'm speaking, they are looking up what I'm saying, adding their own perspective to the discussion. They don't come to school to find out information anymore! Students don't have to ask someone else questions. They don't have to wait to find out...anything.
I challenge you to ask your students if they read the end as they begin and really listen to what they have to say. Please share with me as I'm so intrigued by this development in them as readers.
I'm off to start a new book...and I will NOT be reading the last page until I'm finished.