Heads Up

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English books required by Oct. 7

Not surprisingly, as online reading has become the preferred mode for many young people, and with our school’s laptop environment, many English students have been relying on digital versions of the texts studied in class. Teachers in the English department have noticed a number of side effects to this trend:

  • It’s difficult to teach active reading strategies with online texts since annotation tools are imperfect and difficult to save and reference later. Why do we annotate? There’s a growing body of research that suggests writing notes like this can improve both reading skills and comprehension of text.
  • Reading behind screens interferes with the discussion-driven environment in English.
  • PDFs and other digital texts are sometimes illegally downloaded from the Internet and are therefore in contravention of copyright restrictions. This practise is difficult to monitor.
  • Reading exclusively in a digital environment may be affecting students’ ability to read thoughtfully and deeply. As Nicholas Carr argues in his book The Shallows, “Whether I’m online or not, my mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.”

Therefore, it’s the expectation of the English department that each student arrives to class with his own hard copy of the studied text. We request that all books be purchased now to ensure your son can fully participate when we begin study of a text later in the year. We’ve requested paperback versions to minimize costs to families.

The required texts and specific ISBN numbers are listed on course outlines distributed to parents during curriculum night or they’re available on your son’s Haiku site. In the case of Shakespearean works, different versions are fine.

We ask that you order the texts immediately through the CSBE website or purchase them via other vendors.

We’ll hold a department-wide “Book Day” when students will bring all of their books for the year to class. Each book should have the student’s name clearly written on it. This will occur on:

Monday, Oct. 6, day seven for classes that meet on odd days
Tuesday, Oct. 7, day eight for classes that meet on even days

Thank you for your help. Please feel free to discuss any questions or concerns with me or your son’s teacher.

Colleen Ferguson
English department chair