- March 28, 2017 at 4:16 PM #12401
In Readicide, (2009), Kelly Gallagher explores how teachers can “kill” students’ interest in reading by the teaching methods they use. One key term he defines is finding the “sweet spot” of teaching challenging reading assignments. (p. 90ff). “Overteaching” the context, characters, implications, symbols, allusions, and terms to help the students understand and appreciate the reading may very likely kill their interest. On the other hand, assigning students to navigate a classic without any orientation or guidance will often leave them frustrated or disconnected. The challenge is to find that “sweet spot” that enables the readers to engage the reading in a way that helps them find the universal wisdom inherent in the story. When students fail to gain insight from a classic, that is a judgment on the methods of study rather than on the classic.
I wonder if anyone has a story to share that illustrates having struck the “sweet spot” in teaching? If so, how did you do it?
- January 14, 2018 at 3:07 PM #42973
I’m still waiting for someone to share a story about having found that “sweet spot” in reading class — not giving so much structure and information that interest is killed nor pushing students out of the nest without sufficient direction.
I would guess the same idea applies to other subjects too. I’ve been working hard on finding that “sweet spot” in our writing class.
- January 17, 2018 at 12:18 PM #43025
Jonas SauderModeratorOriginal Poster@jonas
You’re right that the “sweet spot” concept particularly applies to helping students write. Being asked to write (even if you are given a format to follow) without something that you care about to write about puts you on the fast track to frustration, banality and boredom. Being asked to write about a subject that grips you without focusing on some skill development continues the track of mediocrity.
One of my most successful approaches in teaching writing has been the use of models for students to pattern their writing after. Models include much more than the structure/format elements of writing. They also include the nuanced aspects of communication such as tone, stance, feeling, weight, and worldview. Models stimulate students to “go and do likewise” with content, approach, structure, and style. Writing well is hard work–the wise teacher will note whether students are merely working hard, perhaps facing “writer’s block,” or whether they are simply frustrated with either no vision or no grasp of what they are being asked to do.
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