This is the third of a 4-part series of posts taken from a popular workshop I’ve offered over the years to homeschoolers.
If you would like to have the full text of the workshop (this series of posts will share about 1/3 of the information in the workshop), you can download a .pdf of the whole thing from our ebookstore for just $1.99. Click here to purchase.
In case you missed Part 1, click here to read Teaching Literature – Helping Students Form Relationships with Books
click here to read Part 2, Teaching Literature Interpretation in High School
or click here to read Part 3, Teaching Inferential Reading in High School.
Teaching Reading for Evaluation
Yet another level of reading is Reading for Evaluation. When we evaluate a book, we determine its worth. This is a highly subjective process, and it can be empowering for students who are NOT natural bookworms when we teach them to evaluate a book and encourage them to articulate their conclusions.
The worth of book can be defined in countless ways. Simply pick one, and ask your student to evaluate it on that scale. Then give them a different scale and ask them re-evaluate based on the new parameters. Often a kids who thought a book was “stupid” will have a new way of thinking open up to him when he is asked to evaluate a book.
Here’s an example:
Our world lit. group read Books I and II of Plato’s Republic last year. Suffice it to say that Plato’s Republic will probably NOT make it on to any of their “My Favorite Books of All Time” lists.
Knowing that they were pretty universally NOT loving this one, I asked them to evaluate its worth and discuss their evaluations.
First I asked, “Ok, this is a work of philosophy. Plato wanted to explore the idea of justice in society, and to suggest what a truly strong society should look like. So, as a tool for getting the reader to think about ‘What is justice?’ and ‘What does a good society look like?’ was it effective?”
They were divided in their conclusions about this. Many of them thought that the ancient-world setting of the book made the examples and specifics too weird to work for them as they think about justice and society in our modern world. Some of them thought it was too confusing to follow the philosophy because they book is written as a dialogue among Socrates and his students. For the most part, they rated the book’s effectiveness about a 5 out of 10.
Then I asked them to evaluate the worth of the book as a tool for explaining and demonstrating the Socratic method of teaching. Socrates, as the main character, asks question after question to expose the flaws in his students’ ideas. I had explained the basics of the Socratic method to them before we read Republic, and I often use this method in my own teaching. But after they had read this classic book in which Plato opened the window onto Socrates and his teaching style, they were quick to say that the book was VERY effective in introducing them to the Socratic method.
Evaluating a book gives students a way to give credit where credit is due without having to say, “I liked it” if they really didn’t.
If you would like to download the rest of the text of my Teaching Literature workshop, click here. The .pdf file of the full text is available for $1.99.
Here are thoughts from 7Sister Kym about what to do when homeschoolers don’t like to read: