OK, so I was recently involved in an online debate about the merits of using Twilight in the classroom. Actually, it turned out to be not much of a debate, because despite our differences of opinion about the quality of the book itself, Fellow Teacher Leader Network member Jen Morrison and I agreed that we’d use anything to hook in a reluctant reader.
We discussed how we’d used the Twilight series in the classroom, how we appreciate any book that brings students into the fold of active and eager reading, and how we both strive to keep reading interest alive by allowing students choice in what they read.
As we all know, I’m not a fan of the books as high quality literature or anything, but jeesh, what kind of teacher would I be if all I allowed students to read were books that I liked? It’s important to be a part of the conversation with your students, however. And that means reading their books and using them, even if you’re not a fan. In so doing, by the way, you will find that there are tons of great young adult books out there that you would not have discovered otherwise. And, if you read the books your students are reading, they will also be more inclined to try books you recommend.
Anyway, to add texture to some of my arguments, I interviewed my students who felt the way I did about Twilight to help provide evidence in support of my side. Obviously, it wasn’t an unbiased portrayal that I was looking for. Clearly, more students love the book than don’t, and I understand what students love about the series, but the purpose of my interview was to see what repelled the students who didn’t like the series, and to get their input for my post.
What I ended up getting was this fantastic verbal literary response from my students. It’s not that I’m proud of what they said just because they agree with me. After all, it’s all just opinion. But I am so proud of how they said it. They could support their opinions, and you can hear members in the class disagreeing appropriately and with humor.
So it seems that in recording a mere literary response from my students, I have also recorded a model conversation in civil disagreement.
Have fun. We did.
Cut and paste the following link into your address line to access the edited version of my student interviews: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/4234943/TwilightDebate.mp3