On another topic, I saw a few people have mentioned The Rinehart Reader. For those of you who use this, what do you like/not like about it? Do any of you have other nonfiction readers that you recommend? I've used The Writer's Presence and I've liked it, but I'm always open to new ideas. Many of the essays are obviously widely available for free online, so is a published reader necessary? How much of the questions and other resources in the readers do you utilize? I will be teaching AP Language at a school this year that has never had AP, so for now I'll be just using handouts, etc. I already use a lot of editorials, etc. Other ideas?
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I team taught an AP US History/AP English Composition course some time ago (about ten years) and the other teacher used The Rinehart Reader. I'm sure there have been other editions since then, so not sure how useful my review will be, but both teacher and students thought it was just OK. I remember her saying distinctly after first semester that if she had to do it over again, she'd spend the money on something else. It was pretty new at that time, and expensive.
Personally, and I think this goes for most subjects, I think you're better off using a variety of handouts that you choose yourself. You can tailor it to your classroom and student level, and you'll certainly save money/score points with the administration. Plus, there are some sites online where you can pick and choose which articles you want and collect them into a book they'll then publish for you for cheaper rates.
Teaching AP US History, I haven't used a textbook in seven years. My scores actually rose.
I agree with Brett about using a variety of other nonfiction sources. With the easy accessibility of the internet, there is no reason to ever run short on resources. Also pick up nonfiction material at various places in the community. What about a tax form from the post office. The NAEP national test used a 1040ez as nonfiction testing literature one year.
While it's good to have a foundational source with several useful works in it (plus it makes parents happy to see an actual textbook for a class), I rarely use just one reader for any of the subjects I teach. The Rineheart Reader is as good as any, but an anthology rarely meets every need in the classroom.
Instead, I supplement with all kinds of interesting things. How about some of Annie Dillard's work? Or Wendell Barry? There are lots and lots of really good, short essays or passages which are not found in anthologies of any kind. Your own reading can be the springboard for additional readings.
Like the posts above, I have used this anthology but also supplement it with many other sources. The internet is great! We also have a collection of great American essays which we use from time to time. One thing I love to do...which gets students training their thinking and recognizing what has depth and what is "worthy" to use on the AP test...is to give them a theme and have them bring in their own contributions. We discuss these in class, and the ones we agree are AP-worthy, I put in my file cabinet for use the next year. They always find quality pieces, and often they are also very funny. Kids love funny.
I began teaching AP without a reader, depending solely on the internet and the copy machine. However, in good conscience, there were many essays that I wanted to cover, and my only choice was to copy from sample texts I had--and we all know that this is plagiarizing in its ultimate form. When I had to go through the audit process, I was bound and determined to find a text with strong essays so that #1 I wasn't breaking the law and #2 I wasn't wasting my precious time at the copier and scrambling for texts. I found all that I needed in Bedford's Language of Composition (a text designed specifically for AP language courses). I highly recommend it. I still supplement with articles, and columns, and the like, but it is our main text, and I love it. Ask for a teacher copy to review.
I think that the posts reflect a divergent feeling about how to approach teaching a high level and high interest content with the emergence of the internet. I think that there are some significant copyright issues regarding the use of the internet, but I think that the resources are so wonderful and there is so much of freedom and autonomy it grants to teachers that it cannot be overlooked. Given the fact that school districts are feeling the pinch economically, the fact of the matter is that purchases of texts are not going to be as openly embraced as in the past. The internet offers us a wealth of resources that enhance what we want to do in the classroom and can go a great ways in saving money for our districts. Yet, the copyright issues are present. Perhaps, being able to obtain permission from publishers of websites that have documents available or going to websites that are "teacher friendly" might be the answer. In the end, the internet cannot be a resource to be ignored. There's just too much out there for us to be using and investigating.
Definitely agree with other editors on this one - every teacher is probably better off using a collection of non-fiction texts, some of which can be drawn from readers and anthologies and others which can be accessed on-line. Every teacher has their personal "favourites" - I must admit I really like some of the travel writing that Mark Twain wrote like Innocents Abroad and Roughing It which are great for irony and are just amusing texts!
I have taught AP English Language for the last five years. I started out with Bedford and Riverside readers, but when Bedford produced The Language of Composition specifically for AP Lang., my district jumped on board. Of the various readers that I have used, I do like Language of Composition the most, but I must admit that I do not use it extensively. As other posters have acknowledged, AP Lang. requires its teachers and students to search for effective essays, nonfiction books, etc., in order to be well-rounded. If you can get in touch with textbook reps from various publishers, most of them will send you exam copies--that has helped me tremendously in tailoring my syllabus.
I'm sorry if I can't relate to the AP English and all that because I teach 4th graders. They like historical fiction so I gear my readers to that genre. It's just enough of the real facts that they learn about the incident or person, but it's exciting and interesting because there's a person or persons they can relate to.
I must be picking out some pretty good ones because every day they clamor to read. We all have a copy and we go around the room with everybody having a turn. It's good, too, in that I can hear them read and gauge their reading ability at the same time.
The books I like to use are "Secret in the Maple Tree" and "Song of the Brook," by Matilda Nordveldt. She wrote them based upon her own life and they teach about frontier life and good morals. We also read "Johnny Tremain."
I agee with a couple of the earlier posts about using The Language of Composition. It has great nonfiction pieces that are arranged by theme, so it's a helpful resource to use as a starting place. I also like DiYanni's Frames of Mind. As a supplement, I frequently use speeches from American Rhetoric (www.americanrhetoric.com).
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