Read Around the Block 2016

This summer, the entire secondary school community at St. Benedict Prep participated in our fifth annual summer reading program: Read Around the Block.  This program, which incorporates elements of book group discussion models, culminated with a school-wide discussion day on August 30 and a project day on September 6.

This initiative was based on a presentation at the National Council of Teachers of English Annual Conference in the fall of 2011 that focused on the power of student choice and discussion as components of summer reading programs.  With the unique opportunities afforded by a secondary school including students in grades six through twelve, Read Around the Block has evolved into a program that exceeded the original concept.  Now in its fifth year, the program involves every secondary school student as well as the entire faculty, staff, and administration - including the Head of Parish School, the head of the secondary school, the mission advancement officer, the counselor, inclusion facilitators, and more.  This truly school-wide program models reading as a way to build community and reinforces our school's commitment to life-long reading.

Each year, a new group of books is used for Read Around the Block, nominated by students in grades 5 - 12, encouraging them to take active roles in their reading.  For 2016, approximately 100 books were suggested from a wide variety of genres, demonstrating that our students have the desire and the enthusiasm to read - and to read well.  The students indicated their top three choices from the final list; then small groups of five to nine students were created that include students from different grades who read the same book, allowing for rich discussions that are only possible because of our diverse secondary school population of students. 

Read Around the Block 2016 marks the third year that student leaders were involved in a special way.  Secondary school teachers nominated rising juniors and seniors who they thought would make exceptional discussion leaders for this project, based on their classwork, extracurricular activities, and character.  The student leaders attended a training session over the summer where they learned how to lead a book discussion, how to involve all students, how to work with the adult readers in their groups, and how to foster an environment of respect for all.

The teachers, administrators, and staff selected their books just before the end of the school year.  One adult was present for the entirety of every discussion to support the student leaders, to model appropriate book discussion behavior, and to participate as active members of the group.  During professional development in August, faculty, administrators, and staff reviewed the expectations and objectives for the project, including the rubrics that will be used for assessment.

The tabs on the side show the books that were read for Read Around the Block 2016 and the culminating projects that the students created.

If you have any questions, please contact Carrie Mocarski, English/Language Arts Department Chair, at cmocarski@stbenedict.com.