Parlor Spider...Step In, Little Fly

Insightful thoughts and/or rants from atop the soapbox from one who wishes to share the "right" opinion with everyone.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

If U.S. Grant Read 50 Pages a Day...

Somewhere in the past, I read that even during the Civil War and his presidency, Ulysses S. Grant read 50 pages each and every day without fail. I find it hard to comprehend since he certainly had more weighty matters on his mind during those times. Maybe it's just folklore; maybe he was reading trashy novels instead of more erudite fare. Whatever HIS case, I have a task in front of me not unlike his...though I suspect 50 pages per day won't be enough. Twenty-one, count 'em, twenty-one. That's how many books are piled on my desk at this moment for me to read over the fourteen weeks of the next semester, covering subjects ranging from politics to human development to anthropology to literature. Such is the life I live as a tutor. Fortunately, I am more than moderately familiar with a few of them, especially the ones assigned "my" students as requirements for Women's Literature and an introductory literature class: Homer, Virginia Woolf, Maya Angelou. Others, even some of the literary requirements, are unfamiliar for now. The political science tomes are approximately 500 pages, and there are two of them...EEK! And those are just for starters. It's just the trickly before the waterfall (as it were).
As the semester moves into the first few weeks, there will be more students with more reading, but this semester, I am going to try a new technique. Instead of merely reading along and discussing what was read, I am going to ask my students to write out what they think they read before we discuss the reading, and then give them a short test a couple of days later on each reading.
In a recent study, researchers found that method to be even more effective than taking copious notes, writing in the margins, highlighting and reviewing just before a test, and I am anxious to see if it is as effective a method as it is purported to be. If nothing else, the students will get a significant dose of higher-level thinking about what they read instead of just looking for a summary and trying to guess what test questions might be asked.
The only sad part for me is that reading for pleasure has been moved to the back burner until sometime in June. With an average of 23 or so students, I really have no time to read for myself, but that simply means I'll just start making a summer reading list, and I will begin with historical fiction about Attila. I read the first of a three-volume set last week, discovering it too late to get all of them done before the start of the semester; books, however, are timeless.
They will wait.
Attila isn't going anywhere.


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