My students are 9th grade members of an honors/dual enrollment academy housed within a traditional comprehensive high school. During their freshman year, students in the academy are required to take a leadership seminar. In this class, students learn leadership skills, conflict resolution, communication strategies, public speaking, and time management/study skills that will help them to be successful in high school and college. We want these students to become active participants in their school, and in their education.
As part of the leadership seminar students are taking this year, the students must develop, carry out, and implement a leadership project. During class, students brainstormed ideas and collaborated with different groups within the building to develop a project. The project the group selected developed out of a major change in our school. Our traditional 9-12 high school is in the process of becoming a 6-12 school. This year we added approximately 100 6th grade students to the high school as the first stage. The 9th grade leadership class decided to target the 6th grade group for their leadership project.
By building the middle school library, we could facilitate student led book club discussions and book talks using higher level critical thinking questions and presentation skills. We would implement targeted reading strategies to break down difficult texts that would lead to more independent reading. Allowing students to select from their own interests provides ownership over learning, and fosters a life-long love of reading. In addition to improved reading skills, research has proven that the more students read, the more their writing skills will improve.
In Their Own Words
The goal we have for our project is to get kids excited about reading. If the middle school students have access to a variety of different books that are not only challenging, but of more interest to the students, it is our hope that the amount of reading will increase and students will enjoy the experience.
For this leadership project we wanted to work with the new middle school students and provide them with resources to make school more interesting and fun. We talked with students then selected books that would reflect their interests. If the project is funded, we will catalog the books, create a high out system, and monitor the checkout/return process. In addition, we will participate in/mentor the middle school students in their book clubs and during their book talks.
This project is important because the middle school honors program is new to our existing high school building. The students in this program do not have access to books for their age group. The library would make students feel welcome in the building while providing an important resource for students. As students talk about the books they have selected, more and more students will become interested and a culture of reading can be created.
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