Online resources provide temptation not to read assigned texts

mitch sparknotes
Students admit to using online help sites for English, even though most teachers dislike them. “A book is definitely easier to read if it’s in a topic I’m interested,” junior Josh Hylan said. “Otherwise, it’s just hard for me to focus on it.”

Teachers talk about the struggle to keep students from using online resources like Spark-notes or Cliffs-notes, and making sure they are reading and retaining the information.
“I don’t like those sites because it takes them outside of the text that we want to focus on,” English teacher Christian Schaeffer said. “It’s our job as teachers to help you read better, and if you’re not going to come in with that minimum effort of not reading the assignment, I can’t really do anything for you as a teacher because we’re literally not on the same page.”
Schaeffer goes on to explain how it’s hard to check if kids are using these sites, or lying about their reading, because they could be lying about it.
“Reading is hard to do a homework check on, it’s not like a math problem where you can say ‘Prove it to me,’” Schaeffer said.
Although it is hard to check, Schaeffer goes on to explain the huge difference between what he teaches in class, and what is taught on the online resources.
“We’re aware that those temptations are out there and we try to fill in elements to the class that discourage that, because Spark-notes might tell you the plot of the story, but they’re not going to help you with close reading aspects and inferences.”
According to English students, such as junior Josh Hylan, reading doesn’t take a first priority to his other homework, depending on his involvement with the book.
“When given a reading assignment, teachers usually give about an hour of reading time a night,” Hylan said. “Most students, including myself, don’t get into the book like we are supposed to, so we rely on outside sources like Spark-notes or Schmoop.”
Not every teacher is 100 percent against the idea of online help with book comprehension. English teachers like Mattie Rudolph believe that those sites, if used correctly, can be used as a helpful tool, along with reading the assignment themselves.
“I think, especially when it comes to difficult texts like ‘The Scarlet Letter’ or Shakespeare, using sources that help translate it as a learning tool is acceptable,” Rudolph said. “Especially with my struggling readers, to help them get more independent in their understanding, I have no problem with it being a learning tool.”
According to Rudolph, she is worried more about students who only read these sites and completely ignore the actual assigned reading pages.
“Having it be the source of what they read is the problem,” Rudolph said. “Students need to understand it’s supposed to be a tool.”
Some students say that a reason they cannot fulfill their reading requirements is because they are occupied by other assignments during the night. Also, as in the case of sophomore Alexis Poe, the books usually aren’t intriguing.
“It’s really hard because I have sports too, so I come home and have no time to just relax,” Poe said. “Also, if the books are boring, I won’t be interested so I can’t force myself to read it or I’ll fall asleep. If they are interesting then I will read them but it’s hard to stay on pace with the rest of the class.”
Even with its benefits, the department policy still outlaws the usage of online help such as Spark-notes and other sites.
“I stand by the department policy,” English teacher Nora Biggs said. “We’re trying to teach the ability to figure their way through things that are difficult. Not just find the answer, but how do you work through it when it is challenging to develop those skills.”



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Online resources provide temptation not to read assigned texts