I do not often find myself authoring negative reviews*, but my unfortunate experience last year with Global Read Aloud was so deplorable, I feel a moral obligation to warn others. While my complaints are many, I’ve narrowed it down to these three. Teachers, heed my admonition!
It was far too time consuming given the few benefits.
As a seventh grade language arts teacher, I have quite a myriad of important concepts to teach. Because of GRA, I was forced to stop teaching and read aloud to my students. Everyday. For six weeks. Do you know how many worksheets didn’t get completed because I was reading aloud to my students? It might as well have been the entirety of my wall of file cabinets of worksheets. All down the drain thanks to this so-called “innovative” reading approach.
Furthermore, as I read, the little irritants kept pointing out words that contained suffixes we had covered during vocabulary instruction. We had to stop and discuss the words and their meanings. In the book Pax it happened so often we made a list as we read: piteous, excitement, hopeful, fatherless, motherless, gangly, and so on and so on. Ugh, more time!
I won’t even begin to calculate the time lost to discussing the book. It was minimal at first, but soon it was, “Mrs. McMath, why do you think Vola is being so mean to Peter?” and “Mrs. McMath, do you think Peter’s dad knew that would happen?” and “Mrs. McMath, I had a pet that reminds me of Gray.” Oh, it was exhausting. I ignored them, but then they just talked to each other. It’s unbearable to think of what we could have accomplished if they would have just shut up about the book and let me teach them something.
It contributed to unfamiliar behaviors that almost cost me my job.
As the aforementioned anecdote relays, the talking was quite an unfamiliarity in our classroom. “Silence in this room helps learning bloom” hangs on a beautiful floral sign above the doorway as a reminder of the benefits of a quiet space for all. Reading Pax was the beginning of the end of my quiet classroom. I can’t even describe to you the uproar as we went on to read Orbiting Jupiter. You’d think I would have learned my lesson and stopped at just one of the GRA books. I was cuckolded into reading another and continued to lose control of my students. They were engrossed in these books and wanted to discuss them at length.
I was so wearied by the hubbub of activity that I directed them to online communities of students who seemed like-minded about the book. This is where things truly began to spiral out of control. They connected with these students and talked about the book, which led to other discussions about other books. Complete shame overtook me when my administrator stopped in to observe me during one such class period. I wasn’t even teaching! My students were discussing the alternating points of view and what it would have been like if there had been a first person narrator. I quickly explained to my principal that this was a one-time activity and my lecture on point of view would be a better lesson to observe the following day. My, what a close call!
Students were very vocal about how much they hated it.
Everyday they would rush into class asking, “Are we going to read Pax today?” It’s all they bugged me about for weeks. So vexatious. Perhaps they were asking in enthusiastic anticipation, but I’m confident they were dreading it because when I finished reading everyday they would exude the most painful sounds. “Awwwwww!” and “Noooooooooo!” filled the room. Occasionally a, “WHAT?” or “Are you kidding me?” Their faces downcast, I had to work extra hard to snap them out of it to move on to the next lesson. Poor children. I hated putting them through that each day.
What a disappointment. I hate to drag you through my dreadful experience with this, but I’m hopeful it will help you not repeat my mistake. If you are so bold as to participate in the Global Read Aloud of 2017, best of luck to you. It will be the absolute worst decision you will make for your students.
*However, my repertoire of sarcastic reviews abounds. Did you see what I did there?