Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Getting Blamed for Beyond My Control

I was running a bit late today, and I got to class just after the warning bell rang.  Luckily, everything was set up.  They were continuing to read Black Boy by Richard Wright, and they were to follow along as a CD played. 

The CD was already in the boom box.  The lesson plan said it was cued up to the proper spot (later I found that he had just burned the chapters to a CD).  The class came in, I took roll and gave my usual intro, and then we started in on chapter 7. 

Things went smoothly for about two pages.  Then the CD started to skip.  The first time was no big deal, but after about five times of the CD catching on one or two words, the class was starting to lose it. 

"Did you get that at the swap meet?" a boy in front asked. 

Why they would think I brought in a boom box, I have no idea. 

I explained that what I had is what was left by their teacher.  I asked how he usually played the novel.  They told me he played it from his laptop. 

I explained that the teacher would not leave his laptop for the sub.  I would have thought that this would have been obvious.  Then again, sophomores can be a little dense sometimes. 

Another student told me I should clean off the CD.  I didn't think that would help, but I did it anyway, knowing full well that I'd have to fast forward through the already heard 14 minutes.  It took as long as I knew it would. 

Did that fix the problem?  Of course not.  It skipped several more times.  Then, miraculously, it stopped. 

I've had technical issues like this before.  But this is the first time I've had this much trouble from the class when they happened.  Usually, the classes roll with it. 

These are things I consider when writing my note for the day.  I don't appreciate getting blamed for technical difficulties. 


  1. The first time I taught at a middle school where the novel was played on CD, I was appalled. There's no reason the kids shouldn't be reading on their own. If they're just going to listen to someone read for them (because you know they're not really following along in the book) they might as well just watch the movie version.

  2. I disagree. I believe there's value in hearing a story read. Nuances can be missed when a kid plows through, skipping words he doesn't know.

    Also, some of the kids like being read to. Hearing the words stimulates a different part of the brain, and some kids understand things they hear better than things they read (I know I do).

    I guess it doesn't bother me as much because I know that this is not the only way they are introduced to literature. They do read aloud in class. This particular group has a book report due once a quarter--a book that they must read on their own but must be approved by the teacher.

    Hearing a book that may be more challenging to them is a good way to help them get into it, as long as they are paying attention. Yes, some aren't. (This teacher had strict penalties for talking, sleeping, or general inattention.) It isn't perfect. But it was better than battling with them over who should read, who would read, and how they read.


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