Middle College, Alamance-Burlington School System
Alamance Community College Campus
Can the literary canon be fun?
For all my 22 years of high school English teaching, I have endured and observed the battles between
1. students who don’t want to read the traditional classics
2. teachers who passionately love them,
3. state curriculums and testing that mandate them.
Nancie Atwell’s first edition of In the Middle: New Understandings About Writing, Reading, and Learning, 1987, was the inspiration for me to try a different way of developing student interest in reading in the classroom. Nancie’s system allowed students the choice, within certain parameters of worth, of what they wanted to read.
Most of the current articles about high school readers say in a variety of ways that to convince students to be engaged requires tapping into their own interest levels.
The texts students will remember or find meaningful are texts that move them to feel differently about themselves, that affect their views of themselves, or that move them to some action in their current time and space.(1)
To Read or Not to Read
Last year, I thought I had found the book that would solve my problems of student motivation. From Hinton to Hamlet: Building Bridges Between Young Adult Literature and the Classics by Sarah K. Herz and Donald R. Gallo, 2nd Edition, Revised and Expanded, c. 2005.
The premise that grabbed me was that students could be motivated to read classics if classics were connected to YAL on similar themes.
My Research Question
Will students be more motivated to read the classics if they are preceded by a young adult novel on a similar theme?
The School Setting
Alamance Burlington Middle College is a school aimed at dropout prevention. This allows students to finish their last two years of high school on the Alamance Community College campus and receive dual enrollment credits by taking community college classes with free tuition and books provided by Alamance Burlington School System.
References and sources
(1) Alfred W. Tatum, column editor for The English Journal, “Adolescents and Texts” Vol. 28, No. 2, Nov., 2008, p. 84.Graphic first column: "Students" from Microsoft Word clip art.
(2) Graphic #1 - Hamlet from: Complete Unit Plans for Teaching Secondary English, EnglishUnitPlans.Com
(3) Graphic #2: Atkins, Sue. inspiration.jpg. May 30, 2004. Pics4Learning. 11 May 2010 pics.tech4learning.com
(4) Graphic by Atkins, Sue., Inspiration, May 2004 from Pics4Learning. pics.tech4learning.com