How do I get students to read? Look no further, this is a great new site!

Posted on September 13, 2009. Filed under: English/Language Arts, General, High School, Middle School, Teachers |

by Cathy Arnold

Any of you that know me knows that I hate to read!  I know, I know…I’m an educator and I need to foster that desire to read and to learn in students.  We need to encourage students to read the great classics!  I agree, but for me this never came easy!  Ugh…I’m a math geek and I could never figure out why some people could sit for days and read those hundreds and thousands of pages of text called literature.  Reading is hard for me and frankly when I was young my parents had to practically bribe me to read (…or threaten …whichever way one looks at it!  🙂  )   Being mathematically inclined, everything is literal to me.  I absolutely cannot read between the lines.  Why then should I read something I do not understand?

Well, here comes Miss Havisham!   I came across this article in the USA Today which explains that a young, very tech-savvy and very smart woman is opening doors for those students like myself to actually understand the reasons behind those long, long novels.   This is a huge task to accomplish, but from the samples on her site that I’ve seen so far, this idea is a winner!   Hey…she even has tempted someone like me to want to read!

For almost all of the books listed, she has 60 second clips of the overview, plot, cast, theme(s), symbols, motifs and conclusion.  Unlike SparkNotes or CliffNotes, these clips do not seem to give enough information for a student to attempt to take a test without reading the book.  However, it does explain enough to entice students to read or clarify information.   It seems to direct students to the correct train of thought.  Of course, don’t listen to this non-reader, watch and listen to Gabby, a student, responding to Great Expectations on this 60second club recap –  (  ).

Keep in mind, I’m not an English major and not a huge reader, so I would love to hear thoughts from those of you that are English teachers and/or avid readers.   Has Jenny Sawyer (Miss Havisham) created something that can be used in your classroom to entice young readers?  Is her information about the books on target?  Do you think this is something needed today?  Let me know. 

Visit the 60 Second Recap at .  



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2 Responses to “How do I get students to read? Look no further, this is a great new site!”

RSS Feed for Technology Thoughts for Teachers Comments RSS Feed a really clever idea. Jenny Sawyer is, like you said, really smart (obviously), but she’s also funny and normal-acting. She just seems sooo approachable. I think her insights are really incisive, which is kind of amazing because she’s doing it in a bunch of goofy 60 second videos. She’s the Carl Sagan of literature.

Susannah…I love the comment “she’s the Carl Sagan of literature!” How true! I’ve noticed that she has added more books to her site and I feel that in a couple of months, this site will become an invaluable resource for educators.

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