Wednesday, December 30, 2009

LA Adoption Surveys Available

I found these when I had gone to The Source. (Are they on the News and Calendars page? No and why not? I think any time they have an on-going survey process on any subject, it should be on the homepage or News and Calendar page.)

Anyway, here's a link to the LA Adoption page. On the righthand side are links for both the parent and student surveys. You get to see the reading lists for all 4 grades for high school and make comments on the lists, see additional books they are considering and offer new books. Honestly, I was a little underwhelmed. A lot of the usual suspects except too heavy on the Shakespeare (love the work but there are other great playwrights and I think some kids get sick of it), a little light on classics in 9th grade and, overall, I think the booklists are too short for both students and teachers. For the students, I feel like they need more choice and for the teachers the ability to have a wider choice of books that they may have already taught.

Take the survey and tell me what you think. Note: parents of elementary-aged students - you might want to take this survey because they are likely to keep this for a long time. You might want to give input while you can.


ParentofThree said...

I took the survey and found it a bit hard to complete. They ask you what books would you add or remove from the list by grade. I was not prepared to make book suggestions.

They also ask what you think overall of the lists by grade and was able to make some general suggestions.

I did think it was one of the most comprehensive surveys they have produced. And I do hope that parents fill it out and make some suggestions.

Unknown said...

Melissa: I am confused by the information on the page. I had thought at one point that the idea was to have one required book, two or three from a preapproved list, and teacher discretion for the balance of any books to be read in a school year, but I can find nothing on the page that supports that concept. So -- what are we surveying? Is this list the definitive list of all books that CAN be taught in a given year? Or is this just the list from which the single required book and the two/three "other" books must be selected?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Jan, I believe this to be the definitive list (with, obviously, the additions they ask about). I can ask someone next week to confirm.

Unknown said...

I was a little surprised at how little Shakespeare there was, and how many graphic novels. I understand that some graphic novels (eg Persepolis, which is on the list) are literature in themselves, but do we really need one or two per grade level? I would also have liked to see more John Steinbeck and Walt Whitman.

I did lose a lot of confidence in the survey and process when they misspelled Thoreau ("Thorough") and Kesey ("Kessey"). Who proofreads this again?


Charlie Mas said...

I found the list lacking in non-fiction other than biographies and auto-biographies. It was supposed to have a wide spectrum of genres and themes but non-fiction was almost completely absent. Since growth as a writer requires reading excellent examples, I wonder where our students are going to develop expository writing skills (much more important for adult life than creative writing skills) if they don't read non-fiction.

Other than that, I thought the list was very good. One year the theme was the American Experience, and I thought it was a little short on the Civil War era. It could probably have benefitted from the addition of something post-modern, like Generation X by Douglas Coupland. There was also a shortage of science fiction here and there and I should have recommended Neuromancer by William Gibson.

Now that I think about it, other popular genres were either nearly or totally absent. You might think them low-brow, but there are good and important works in all of these genres. I don't recall much Western fiction (i.e. Zane Grey, Larry McMurty), detective fiction (i.e. Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammet), fantasy (i.e. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis) or romance (okay, other than Gone With the Wind - which is too big to assign, I can't think of an important work of Romance fiction).

There were plenty of classics and good representation from a variety of cultures. I was happy to see Shakespearean tragedies and comedies on the list. The only other Shakespeare I would have added would be a History, Henry V.

Now I have to take the survey again so I can add these titles.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Eric, I wrote exactly your comment in my comments on the survey. Who proofreads this stuff?

Charlie, I totally agree with the lack of non-fiction. One, there is a lot of great reading out there that is non-fiction. Two, most of what kids would read at work/college would qualify as non-fiction. Three, there are some kids who like non-fiction; why not have a least one title per year?

Meg said...

On Shakespeare, it seems like it would make sense simply to assign a category to a grade - histories and tragedies to 12th, for example, and allow the teachers to choose a text.

Overall... each list strikes me as rather short. Just... short. 29 books for 9th, 31 for 10th, and then some expansion, with 51 in 11th and 62 in 12th. As Charlie pointed out, nonfiction gets some pretty slim pickins in already short lists.

My beefs? Dumas isn't in there at all, and while it's pulp fiction of the 19th century, there's certainly some pulp of the 20th and 21st in there, so Dumas deserves a mention. No George Eliot? Really? And Cry the Beloved Country isn't in there either. No Wharton. The Brontes get pretty short shrift, as does Austen. The ancient greek plays are pretty light, and I'd throw a little Desire Under the Elms in there (or SOMETHING by O'Neill. I myself would probably go Chekhov or Tolstoy over Doetoevsky for high schoolers, but I do see that I'm simply being finicky on the Russians.

But my biggest surprise: no Hemingway. Not a one. Look, you can like him or not, but he was an awfully influential writer, and excluding him entirely from LA courses taught in the US seems whacked.

And Charlie, I'm with you - I would include some best in class genre stuff like Tolkein.

mkd said...
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