31 May Slice of Life: One School, One Question
My local high school, Newton South, has been doing One School, One Book since 2008. Even though it has been working well, the committee decided to revise the format next year based on feedback from students and teachers. Rather than One School, One Book, Newton South is going to try One School, One Question. Students will be given a choice of five texts to read. These texts will be linked by a common theme or question. Each student will choose which text to read but all students will consider and reflect on the same question. Conversations will explore the guiding question and theme and students will share the point of view of the text they read.
Like with any change, there are pros, cons and varying opinions. The school is embracing these opinions and thinking about how to structure next year to preserve the positive aspects of the tradition while implementing new ideas to try. The main reason for the change was to allow for more choice:
There has been “a lot of research on how choice affects [students] reading and engagement. Students do a lot better with books that they’ve had some choice in and one text would just give one side of [any] perspective, so this gives a bunch of different choices,” said Lellock. (Robin Medoff: http://nshsdenebola.com/one-school-one-question-brings-exciting-changes/)
I love the idea of giving students more choice. The past two years my son has participated in One School, One Book and it has been interesting to hear the responses to the books chosen among the kids I have known for years. The books have all been great picks, but they did not meet the range of interests in the school. The event is meant to celebrate reading – providing choice will hopefully engage more students.
Looking across texts with a common question or theme also relates well to the standards. The school has developed a text set for students to explore. The question will relate to each text in a different way and provide students with a lens for discussion. I wonder if the question will propel students to read multiple texts and not stop with just one. It will be interesting to see how many students read multiple texts; which text is most popular; if certain texts are more likely to be chosen by particular groups of students; if the experience still promotes a feeling of community without having one book?
I am excited to observe the process and hear how the change impacts the experience for the school. Choice is critical for readers – if this provides choice while still inspiring response, dialogue and reflection among the community – then it seems like a win-win to me!
To see the texts chosen and the guiding question, read this article from the school newspaper: