Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Please, Write in Your Book:
A New Twist on HS Summer Reading Requirements

For twenty years, Paideia's summer reading requirements have been very unstructured.  Students had to read a certain number of books over the summer -- any book, any choice -- and hand in a list of their reading at the beginning of school.  That's been really cool for the students, but harder on the teachers who wanted to build assignments around summer reading, or check a little more deeply into whether their students really had read (and understood) the books they'd listed.  It's hard to come up with an academic assessment that works for a whole class when student choices range from fantasy and sci-fi to classics of the canon, graphic novels, popular fiction and non-fiction.

Click this image for
a printable copy of
these instructions.
A few years ago, we instituted an "Junior High Community Read"  requirement, picking one book for all 7th & 8th graders to read over the summer in addition to four free choice books.  Now, some of the first activities of the new school year include writing assignments, author visits and group discussions of the Community Read choice (which for 2016 is Ami Polonsky's lovely novel Gracefully Grayson).

Paideia's High School English department spent much time and several department meetings investigating the summer reading programs at other schools, and debating how to craft a requirement that reflects the range of student and teacher interests, upholding Paideia's core value on reading for pleasure, while also giving teachers the ability to plan around a single title read by all their students.

Below is the result, and I think it's a fine compromise.  This information is printed inside the cover of the 2016 High School Summer Reading booklet (downloadable PDF edition) or, if you just want to print the instructions, click the image above for a printable copy.

Happy Summer Reading -- read early and often, and feel free to contact me with any questions.

The English department has decided that only ONE book (the grade level title) is absolutely required, and that students may choose ANY THREE additional books they wish from the reading booklet (including anything from the Teacher Picks list). 

NEW!!   2016 Paideia High School Summer Reading Requirement   NEW!!

Each high school student must complete the 4 steps below during the summer months.  Read a total of 4 books  -- 2 required books and 2 personal choice books — plus watch 2 movies from the list.

1.  Find and read the Mortimer Adler article, then read and annotate the book assigned to the grade you will enter in fall 2016:

All grades must read “How to Mark a Book” by Mortimer Adler.

(There are several PDFs on the Internet.  Once you have read the article, you are required to annotate your grade’s book listed below as you read it.  Bring your annotated copy of the book to school with you on the first day of school to share with your English teacher.)

9th:  Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons
10th: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
11th and 12th:  The Round House by Louise Erdrich

UPDATE -->2.  Choose one of the books from the top picks of the English Department teachers (some are available as free PDFs or ebooks on the internet—search book name followed by the word 'text.'  Example:  "Tess of the d’Urbervilles"  text).

John’s pick: Tess of the d’Urbervilles  Thomas Hardy
Clark’s pick: The World’s Largest Man, Harrison Scott Key
Joseph’s pick: Number 9 Dream   David Mitchell
Gavin’s pick: Treasure Island  R.L. Stevenson
Marianne’s pick:  Left Hand of Darkness  Ursula LeGuin
Tally’s pick: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Gregory’s pick: The Farming of Bones by Edwidge Danticat
Sarah’s pick: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Thrower’s pick: any poetry collection by Billy Collins
Jim’s pick: Colored People by Henry Louis Gates

UPDATE --> 3.  Choose TWO THREE more books from the plethora of books in the summer reading list.  One of these can be from the Teacher Picks list above, if you choose.

4.  Watch two of the movies from the list below.  You can get some of them through streaming internet sources. 

• Beasts of the Southern Wild
• Selma
• The Namesake
• A.I.: Artificial Intelligence
• Stand and Delver
• 4 Little Girls
• Moonrise Kingdom
• Crooklyn
• Children of Men
• Billy Elliot
• Brooklyn
• Hugo
• Bend It Like Beckham