Vermont, North Dakota, Florida,
and Minnesota. But standards have
a blind spot if they deemphasize the
student’s role in the learning process,
because students also need to master
a task spelled out in the 8th grade
standards for Wisconsin: to “develop
criteria to evaluate literary merit and
explain critical opinions about a text”
(Wisconsin Department of Public
Where to Begin
Some educators who hope to expand
student choice have proposed choosing
assigned titles from lists of young adult
titles that connect popular books and
genres to traditional secondary school
content (see Wolk, 2010). For example,
teachers might connect the graphic
novel Maus: A Survivor’s Tale by Art
Spiegelman or Leviathan by Scott West-
erfeld to a unit on World War II. Yet
such catalogs of the variety of reading
available may leave practicing teachers
and administrators puzzled. Where, to
begin with, does such a list leave room
for any of the canon, much of which
is still valuable? Moreover, if a teacher
assigns an entire class a nontraditional
book, doesn’t the book take on the
aura of the canon and become, to most
students, just another forced text? Even
more important, who’s going to pay for
providing so many different books?
Give your students instruction that’s as
individual as they are with Imagine Learning
English® the language and literacy solution.
Anderson, S. B. (1964). Between the Grimms
and ‘The group.’ Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service.
Applebee, A. N. (1992). Stability and change
in the high school canon. English Journal,
Bohn, R. E., & Short, J. E. (2010). How
much information? 2009 report on American
consumers. San Diego: University of Cali-
fornia, San Diego. Retrieved from http://
Graves, C. E. (1928). Measuring literary
merit. English Journal, 17( 4), 328–331.
National Endowment for the Arts. (2007).
To read or not to read. Washington, DC:
Government Printing Office.
Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
(2006). English Language Arts Standards.
Madison, WI: Author. Retrieved from
Wolk, S. (2010, April). What should students read? Kappan, 91, 8–16.
www.imaginelearning.com/i Toll-free 866.377.5071
Barry Gilmore chairs the humanities
department at Hutchison School in
Memphis, Tennessee; bgilmore@