Many students at Garden City High School in the southwest corner of Kansas took little or no time out of the school day to read for pleasure last year.
But with the school's new DEAR program--Drop Everything and Read--many are finding that the 40 minutes a week set aside this year for independent reading is not enough.
Just when the school's 2,100 students start getting interested in a novel, a magazine, or even a comic book, the twice-weekly, 20-minute reading period is over.
The focus on reading, no matter how short, has whetted students' appetite for literature.
"It is leading kids to continue reading even after the period is over," said Principal Kevin Burr, who along with Associate Principal Bill Weatherly created the DEAR program to help improve reading skills.
The school's 250 staff members, from Mr. Burr to the janitorial staff and cafeteria workers, are also expected to push aside their work, ignore ringing telephones and pressing tasks, and read.
DEAR has its repercussions, though: It has placed an added burden on the school's librarians, as they now must meet an increased demand for books and magazines. But it's a problem they welcome.
PS 365 in New York City is facing the same obstacles integrating technology into the curriculum that many schools elsewhere in America encounter.
Many of the teachers at PS 365 want to learn about technology but don't have the time to do so. The librarian is afraid of computers, and many of the students know more about computers than the teachers do.
Although PS 365 is a fictional school in a 30-minute drama performed by trainers from Teaching Matters Inc., a nonprofit group that helps train educators and principals primarily in New York City to teach with technology, the problems portrayed there are common to many schools.
The play lets people stand in another person's shoes, said Susan Sterman-Jones, the play's director. "It helps them say, 'I'm not the only one with that problem.' It role-plays solutions."
The production has helped principals picture what happens when technology is brought into the classroom, added Sue Bastian, the group's president.
"This [play] got the point across about how to get people to relate to technology," said David Fong, a principal who saw the play last winter when it was performed at a workshop for New York City principals.
--KATHLEEN KENNEDY MANZO & MARY ANN ZEHR
Vol. 18, Issue 3, Page 3