The film “Revolution in the Classroom and Social Lives” is a wakeup call to alert us that youth today live in a technology-driven world. The fact is that part of our student’s life is technology whether we agree with that or not. Some teachers are making an effort to stay afloat while others think it’s too hard and stay away from it. The youth of today is able to multi-task and use different methods of technology at the same time. The film mentioned that one of the problems with today’s students is that they no longer read books, instead they read SparkNotes online. Students think that reading is boring and that it takes too much time out of their busy schedules. Is it laziness or just a lack of dedication to academics? As teachers, what can we do to help our students read?
Leisure reading is a choice people have to pick what they want to read. The moment a student is told they must read a certain book, it turns them off. In my opinion, as teachers we must also consider assigning books that will be relevant to the students to keep them interested and engaged in reading. As teachers, we must also make the reading material we assign relevant to the student. We need to make an effort to translate the material for our students so they can understand and apply what they read about to their own lives. Some books are difficult to understand, therefore, some students go to SparkNotes when they are confused about literature or when they don’t have time to read. One of the students in the movie “Revolution in the Classroom and Social Lives,” stated, “If there were 27 hours in a day, I would read Hamlet.” At times, students are overwhelmed with homework and after school activities and that may be one of the reasons why they don’t want to read, therefore; they go to SparkNotes.
There is opposition on both sides of the aspect. Some teachers are opposed to the use of SparkNotes and would argue that using SparkNotes should not be an option and that students are just lazy and that they don’t like to read. They would also argue and say that there have been mistakes found on the website and that it is not as accurate as students think. Some teachers also argue and say that SparkNotes does not help students with critical thinking skills that readers use to analyze literature.
Other teachers are okay with students using SparkNotes. One of the teachers in the film stated, “You take it as a given that students are going take stuff from SparkNotes and from other sources like that. The question is how we react to that and we can react and say, okay this is something that we need to fight against. The other way to react to it is accept is as a reality and say that that’s how the outside world works.” If teachers don’t want their students using SparkNotes, there are different activities they can incorporate in the classroom. For example, teachers can hold their students accountable by having a short discussion and giving students short quizzes after the reading. Teachers can also assign students to make journal entries after reading. Students can write about certain elements of the story or simply write about their thoughts. In addition, teachers can read to students in class and also have them take turns and ask them questions throughout the reading. In doing so, teachers can use these activities to do quick assessments and check for understanding. On the other hand, as a Special Education teacher, I can see the benefits of using SparkNotes in the classroom as a supplement. Most students in Special Education are well below reading level and it makes reading books like “The Grapes of Wrath” pretty difficult. SparkNotes can be used as a special modification for students to help them understand the reading. Another modification can be pairing up students with a partner and go through a specific part of the chapter and fill them in as a review while taking role or doing other classroom duties. This activity will prepare the students for a good discussion rather than spending most of the period reviewing. All of these activities will serve as a preparation to do a quiz at the end of the week. The quiz can also be used as a formative assessment.
In conclusion, I firmly agree that SparkNotes can be used a supplement, however; SparkNotes should not be used to replace original literature.