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Imperial High students start school year with book reports

August 25, 2001|BY JENNIFER RALTON-SMITH, Staff Writer

IMPERIAL — A newly introduced summer reading program at Imperial High School kept staff at the Imperial Public Library busy checking out books all summer long.

"Many students do not pick up a book at all during the summer break," Kathie Francis, chairwoman of the English department at Imperial High, said in a telephone interview Friday. "We wanted all our student body to keep up their reading skills during this long break. And so we came up with this program, which we named ‘Spending the Summer with the Classics,' as a way of encouraging that."

Other California high schools have implemented similar programs, Francis said.

Imperial High English teachers together created a list of books suitable for each grade level using the "California Reading List" as their guide. Each student was given a copy of the list at the end of the school year and a letter explaining the program was sent to students' homes.

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Students were required to read three books from the list over summer. Within a month after school starts Monday, students will be required to give a presentation on those books.

Francis stressed that in their oral presentation, students will be expected to not merely give a recitation of the book's story line but must explain in detail the characters, themes and the author's writing style.

Students can opt to include a visual presentation at that time, Francis added.

As an alternative to giving a presentation in front of classmates, students who selected books from the list may be able choose to take an "Accelerated Reader" test at the teacher's discretion, she said.

The international "Accelerated Reader" program analyses books' reading levels, designs a test for each book and makes the test available via computer or the Internet. Before being assigned a list of appropriate books, students take a diagnostic test to determine their reading level.

Library technician Fred Fontaine said nearly all the 200-plus incoming freshmen visited the library to select books from amongst the wide selection of titles chosen by their teachers. Fontaine estimates that of the entire student body, at least half checked out books.

Staff Writer Jennifer Ralston-Smith may be reached at 337-3442.

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