I must share my wonderful end of the year Mitch Albom story. My friends and family are sick of listening to me, so it’s your turn!
I teach an English class for juniors and seniors who are enrolled in a technology school where they are studying a program for most of the day. The majority of my students are in automotive, building, or computer based programs. They vary in academic ability and interest, but for the most part they do not enjoy school. They choose to come to our center to escape the traditional high school setting and try something different.
As a result I structure my English class very differently. Reading is low on their interest and often ability list, so I spend only one day a week reading and discussing short texts in class. I teach a 4-way thinking model that helps students summarize, interpret, analyze, and evaluate the text. Throughout the year students build their strength in this, yet we never read anything longer than a 45 minute class allows.
This year I decided to try teaching your novel, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, one day a week for fourth quarter. I have to tell you that it was the most successful reading experience I have ever had with my students. They were instantly captivated with the characters and plot. They begged and pleaded for extra reading days. I just graded 20 final exam essays in which the students applied the 4-way thinking to the novel, and they are excellent. The class was truly able to summarize the key points, interpret the meaning of the novel, analyze important lines, and evaluate the text. Students wrote between two and four pages without any prompting or bribing. A few demanded more time because they had so much to say.
I’m writing because I usually end the school year exhausted and worn down, but because of this experience I am so excited and proud. Thanks for your part of this success.
Center for Technology, Essex, VT