I happily tossed aside the district curriculum for two days and you will be shocked to find out that my students still managed to learn and my classroom did not burst into flames.
Through regular interaction with my students, I discovered that 26 of my 30 students had read The Hunger Games. They all had read the book on their own and we were spending time at the start of class discussing the Gale v Pitta debate. After some thought, I decided it would be fun to explore the book and really dive into the literature. I set aside two days this week (Monday and Tuesday) to talk about the hottest dystopian novel in years.
The kids could not have been more excited. I had 15 and 16 year-old students getting into heated debate over the value of the games and whether or not Katniss had to kill anyone. Student debated who the real monsters were, the Capital, the viewers of the Hunger Games or the Tributes. The importance of Haymitch as a drunk versus a traditional mentor was discussed at length. A girl was so excited to participate in the discussion, she Skyped in from Florida where she was finishing her Spring Break! Honestly, what 16 year-old girl do you know would wake up at 8am to have a discussion with class about a book?
I could go on at length about the need to update curriculums across the country, but that is not really the point of this post. Our students are reading and sometimes we just need to ask them what it is. Luckily I had read the books, but if I had not, I would have. Engaging students is increasing in difficulty as books get older and kids get younger. I set aside two days to have a discussion about the literary merits of a book my students had read. No points were awarded, not homework assigned. Students that chose not to read the books, sat and watched as their peers had a heated discussion on the symbolism of the bread sent by district 11 after Rue's death.
Sometimes curriculum can get in the way of learning. I plan on risking the immolation of my room when I set two days aside to discuss Mockingjay and Catching Fire.