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Reading programs help charter schools soar

August 26th, 2006 by Paul Martin

At the Central Campus, Principal Kenneth Bass implemented a One School One Book initiative which the students embraced enthusiastically. Every student was required to read Hoot by Carl Hiaasen, about middle-school students in South Florida.

Teachers tied the book into FCAT-style lessons in every subject. Even the movie industry had a hand in the school’s plan. The film version of Hoot was released in the spring. A school-wide field trip to see the film was the program’s culminating activity.

”It was the perfect book,” Bass said. “After they saw the movie, they were talking about the difference between the book and the movie. They were able to discuss it articulately. As an educator, this was the best project I’ve been part of, and I owe it to the teachers.”

At the West Campus, Principal Devarn Flowers implemented a different program, also enormously successful. Every student was required to read a minimum of 20 books in addition to regular classroom assignments, chosen from a huge list of books.

”We developed a culture of readers,” Flowers said. “You saw them reading in their spare time, while waiting for the bus or in the clinic. The list of books was so large they could all find books that interested them.”

The larger impact on the students was more knowledge across the board.

”They became more learned on issues in the world,” Flowers said. “They became better learners in every subject.”