Reading, a priority focus in HS classrooms

Dear Parents,

If you would ask your high school student what the biggest change is in their classes from last year to this year, I think (and hope) that most would respond that they are being asked to read a lot more than in the past. They are not only being assigned more reading, they are being taught specific skills and they are practicing reading in ways that are improving their comprehension and understanding of the information. For example, most students have been frequently taught the specific skills involved in “close reading, with a pen in hand.” These skills help students to be much more focused and involved in their reading.

The quotes below are from the book, Results Now, written by Mike Schmoker. It is a book that has played a substantial role in shaping our goals going forward for OHS, and the District as a whole. The quotes below emphasize the importance of reading, and reading at high levels of comprehension even with challenging texts, as an absolute necessity in preparing our students for the future.

We hope your students at OHS are reading more frequently in their classes, reading more challenging texts, and also are increasingly being taught specific skills to make them better readers. We further hope this is occurring in the vast majority of their high school classes. And we hope that each student understands why reading is so important in their preparation for the future.

“Adolescents entering the adult world in the 21st century will read and write more than at any other time in human history. They will need advanced levels of literacy to perform their jobs, run their households, act as citizens, and conduct their personal lives.”—Richard Vacca

“Imagine…all students, regardless of socioeconomic circumstance, having spent most of their class time in most of their courses closely reading, rereading, discussing, and writing about the ideas in various texts. Imagine every student graduating from high school having analyzed and imitated excellent examples of adult writing and having written countless close literary analyses, essays, grant proposals, business plans, and position papers on multiple political, scientific, and cultural controversies—after carefully reading and discussing two or more conflicting documents on innumerable engaging issues.”

“Close, critical, strategic reading—with pen in hand—needs to occupy a substantial portion of every school day. But strategic reading is not enough. For students to fully develop their intellectual capacities, close reading and rereading must be joined by writing.”

“The lifetime consequences of good—or poor—literacy skills are monumental.”