Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating a place to share our Slice of Life. Read more slices or add you own here.
Each week my students read an Article of the Week (AoW), an idea I borrowed from Kelly Gallagher. When I choose the articles, I try to find something I think will interest them. So, when I found an article about how reading changed a presidential candidate's life, I was a little skeptical. Boy, was I wrong. My students responded to this article in ways I never imagined.
The article is an interview of Dr. Ben Carson by a man named Michael Hyatt. He talks about how Dr. Carson grew up in poverty in Detroit, Michigan and was raised by a single mom. But the one thing that turned his life around was reading. His mother noticed that wealthy people read a lot of books and avoided watching too much television. So she turned off the tv and made them read, which ended up changing his life.
I have five classes of 6th graders. In one class, several students have IEP's; some need additional support with reading; some have behavior problems, and almost all of them do not like to read. I was overwhelmed with emotion by how they connected with this article. I think many of them saw themselves in Dr. Carson's early life because they come from poverty and broken homes, and many are at the "bottom of the class" - right where Dr. Carson was. By reading this article, they realized their life situations could change, but they have to make choices which will affect them in a positive way - like choosing to read and to become educated.
I would love to share all the comments by my students, but they were too numerous to write in a blog post. Here are a few of their thoughts after reading the author's last line in the article:
"I've always believed in the transformative power of reading, especially in books. Dr. Carson is a living example of why."
When I read this I was in a different world. I can't believe reading did that to him!
Well, knowledge is powerful.
I bet Mrs. Eck likes that guy.
(This one made me laugh out loud.)
Reading can be powerful.
That is a good thing to believe in.
He sets a very good example for kids, and honestly, I think that everyone should read this.
THIS is why you read.
One of my students told me a couple of weeks ago, that he started reading because of me. He said, "Mrs. Eck, you know, you got me reading. I didn't like reading before this year." He now enjoys reading and sees the pleasure in it. He knows reading has changed him and now he knows how powerful reading can be in his life.
Here are comments he wrote on his article.
Whatever your political affiliations or beliefs are, I encourage you to put those aside, read this article and share it with your students. I think you will see just how powerful this story is.
Click here to read the entire article.