Sierra High School is involved in an ongoing commitment to build student literacy. To reach those means, the staff at Sierra High School regularly collaborate on how to implement literacy across the curriculum. Staff actively engages in professional development that supports the development of discipline based literacy skills and practice modeling and the use of strategic literacy skills in the classroom. The overall objective of building students literacy success is multi faceted and in addition to content area literacy instruction is the use of a daily leisure reading program. All students read daily for 20 minutes in a novel of their own choice. The purpose of this grant is to fund the purchase of novels students choose to read during our daily leisure reading program. The main objectives that develop from this leisure reading program include students building stamina, increasing their range and use of reading strategies and acquiring an identity as a reader. These objectives directly correlate with the students increasing literacy successes in our content area classrooms. When students can choose the novels they want to read, have time to read independently with no additional requirements, and share their reading experiences with their peers, their reading successes increase.
Sierra High School is a unique blend of diverse learners. The school serves students with special needs, english language learners, students from low socio economic backgrounds and students with difficult social emotional situations who are at risk of not graduating from high school. With the expectation that the Leisure Reading program is implemented school wide, all students benefit from their increasing literacy skills as they read a novel of their own choice daily for 20 minutes. In addition to building stronger literacy skills in our school, we see this leisure reading program as having impact in our communities as well. As students take home novels they have chosen to read, they share them with their families and communities. Additionally, we have noticed our teen parents increasing their engagement with their children by choosing to purchase books to read with their children as well. We believe these interactions tie strongly to the district's vision of being an All American City and participating in the campaign for grade level reading. These leisure reading novels are consumable by nature, seeing that they have so many interactions, but the impact they provide to our overall school community is long lasting.
Upon enrolling in Sierra High School, students often report they have not successfully completed a novel in five or six years, or in some occasions, ever. A crucial component to this lack of success is often that students don't find books that interest them. The staff work diligently to find novels that interest our student body and sometimes that requires reading off the district's traditional canon of required novels. Once a student finds a book they like, they report finishing it independently within the first month or two of attending Sierra High School. Students who have attended Sierra High School for more than a year or two often report that they finish between 4-5 novels a year independently. As we see our school reading community grow, with students taking a leadership role in talking about what books they like, asking for what books they want to read, and sharing their reading experiences, we see our students develop and grow as readers. This in turn supports the learning in our content area classrooms as students' dispositions towards reading increases.
Our schoolwide leisure reading program is built on several different tenets, beginning with reading daily for 20 minutes. Students are encouraged to choose books they wish to read and there are no additional assessments or requirements for the task. Student choice is a major part of the success of the program and eventually leads to students viewing themselves as readers. This program differs from the reading program currently being implemented in other district high schools by its strong commitment to student choice and no further testing required upon completion of reading. The idea of daily interaction with reading built on choice and reducing the stress of assessments or assignments is intentional with the goal of building students' efficacy towards their own reading abilities.
This grant supports all students in all grade and subject levels of Sierra High School as the expectation is that all students read across the school every morning. Students read in their biology and math classes in addition to their English classes. Additionally, we have noticed as teachers are talking more about direct content area literacy skills in their subject area classes, we have seen the increase in requests from students for non fiction books related to Math and Science topics.
Some Title I and Measure A funding may be used to supplement these novels, but not enough funding to implement schoolwide program