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Encouraging Outside Reading in the High School Classroom

-Have each student read a book of their choice and be prepared to discuss with others.  It takes only part of class to do the small group discussions if all is organized.  The questions for discussion would be ones that would apply to any title.   Every student doesn't discuss every question.   Students have to be guided in how the discussions take place.  The librarian would be a great one to be another interested adult in the room with them.  Doing it in the LMC gives the groups more room.  The groups don't wander too far from focus if there's someone designated to report group consensus about which titles are recommended to others, what would appeal to a smaller audience, etc.

If the teacher assigns students to groups, it's a form of book club with everyone doing their own choosing.  I know when I did it years ago the kids wanted to read what others recommended.    Or she/he could continue requiring students to read but begin asking questions that require their own personal thoughts so that they can't use the work of others.  Also asking them to compare titles helps with their own insights limits using others ideas. 

-We have never had a "reading program" here at WHS, but our English teachers do require book reports and outside reading each 9 weeks (we also have SSR every other day for 30 minutes).  They have the students complete their book reports in various fashions (i.e., in year 10, they do a "banned book" report and some research on the censorship of the book - in year 11, one of their reports takes the form of a book review on a 3x5 card!).  You might want to check sources such as Nancy Pollette for other ideas that students can use for book reports (songs, powerpoints, etc.).

-My circulation statistics are high, and I do have a lot of readers. Unfortunately, when our freshmen enter the building, it takes about 6 months to get them to the point of  coming in to get something to read on their own - they do use a reading program at the middle school and the english teachers there count the scores for a grade.  The kids are very much NOT readers.   I am not a proponent of reading programs AT ALL, and believe that promoting books (with teacher help) is the best way to get kids to read.  If your English teachers are using the program as an easy credit, then I'd try to convince them to do something else!

-Since students have been complaining that they do not all like to read the same book, the Sumner English teachers are having the entire class read some books, but then the other times they use literary circles.  For literary circles, four or so students read the same book in class.  That way, not all students in one class are reading the same book.  The English Dept. has bought four copies or so of many book titles.  This summer I am going to finish a list of all the fiction and biography that Sumner library has four or more copies of.  This way I hope some library books will get checked out for the literary circles.

-In our school, we printed Reading Logs in the planners, and monitored our students reading a little more closely.  If a test appears on the record without our seeing any evidence of reading the book, I run a quiz takers report and it's pretty obvious what happened. Our policy is to give both kids a one day ISS and zero for a score on the quiz. (Both kids) This has almost eliminated cheating for us.  Some kids always have to try it though!  I think the value of letting students self select their reading on their individual levels outweighs the occasional cheating.  No program is perfect.

-We used Accelerated Reader and only the library personnel give the quizzes, therefore, there is not cheating.  It would a shame to not allow students choices in reading!  Grades 9 - 12

-Read two novels and have the main characters have a conversation about some topic that they have to really know how the character acts so they can defend a viewpoint the way the character would.  - Maybe Bill Gates and Ebenezer Scrooge discussing some financial decision in the news.  

-What if the teacher has them keep a log of their daily reading and use that as all or part of the assignment- with parent signature perhaps?? Student have been cheating on book reports forever.

-Have your teachers tried using story maps?

I have a 9th grade teacher that uses the Read Write Think story map.  It may make it a bit more difficult to cheat.  I know a student that apparently had not read the book (he was looking up book info online) came in to the library to fill the map out one day and was not successful.

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Last updated: September 26, 2006