Summer Reading Assignments: Everything You Need to Know

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As The Village Green recently reported, there has been some confusion related to changes to the Summer Reading Assignments in the South Orange – Maplewood School District (SOMSD) this year.

To recap: Maplewood Middle School and South Orange Middle School students are asked to read two books from a selection of choices, and to complete several tasks connected with what they read. See the attached PDF: 

Download (PDF, 190KB)

Columbia High School students this year are simply being encouraged to read for pleasure — however, teachers will definitely be asking high school students to talk about the books they read when school resumes in September. The district has suggested that books can be chosen from several sources including The New York Times Bestsellers List and Amazon’s Summer Reading List for Teens and Young Adults.

Teens can also ask local librarians for book suggestions.

In response to parents’ concerns and questions, the English Language Arts Department, led by Supervisor of Grades 6-12 Janine Gregory, has put together a list of FAQ Summer Reading as well as Sample Tasks and Templates By Grade Level.

Download (PDF, 304KB)

Download (PDF, 205KB)

 We had been talking for months about how to revise the assignments,” said Gregory. In middle school, several critical changes —  including the launch of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Program, the introduction of the state-mandated Common Core Curriculum, and the associated PARCC assessments — helped to fuel the ELA’s decision to revamp the summer assignments.

Also, in the past, teachers found it difficult to assess the middle school assignments because students were reading different books of their choosing, said Gregory. In addition, some students put a lot of effort into the tasks while others did not.

By giving middle schoolers choices taken from two carefully selected categories of books, which are all connected “in one way or another,” students will be better prepared to segue into the new school year, she said.

“The [books] are relevant but still gives kids a little choice,” Gregory said.

While the assignments will not be graded, they will provide teachers with an important way to assess where students are as they begin the new school year, said Gregory.


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