Accountable Independent Reading Project:

Hi all,


I want this independent reading project to be a chance for you to truly ENJOY your reading.  Explore honestly, keep on top of your due dates, and you’re guaranteed to do well on this project.


The project itself will not simply be finding and reading a new book.  You will have to complete all of the individual parts of the project in order to get maximum credit.  You CAN read NON-fiction works (books like Sebastian Junger’s The Perfect Storm, Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air or Frank McCourt’s memoir Angela’s Ashes are good examples of acceptable non-fiction works).  I reserve the right to veto any book choice that I feel is of questionable merit (below grade level in length, quality or complexity). No books that are read as part of any course offered at Longwood.  You must have a parent's permission for the book you select. 


Here, in the order you will turn them in, are the Five (5) written project components:


Project Proposal 10%

In a one (1) page typed statement, give the title and author you are reading, the author of your book, why you are interested in this book/subject, and a description what your actual final project might look like based on your clearly identified personal learning goals.  Also, if your parent reads along (with another copy) as you read it, you will not have to do the “book talk!” Simply have them write their intentions at the bottom of your proposal where they agree to keep to your schedule.  Generally, I just need to know that you are thinking about the learning process and that you have some ideas as you establish a timeline that will allow you to complete the book by assigned date, and the project by the end of the following week.  If you wish to have some in class reading/project time as part of your proposal include it in the proposal.  In addition to the 10% of the total project grade this part is due ON TIME because you may need to keep a journal as you read (see project ideas HERE).



Project Rubric with the ability to make Evidence Based Claims 10%

This should be related to your learning goal. Be able to describe how you will earn an A B C D and F.   A Rubric and Evidence? Go HERE


Book Talk 10%

Each student will be responsible for a brief (5 minute) overview of his/her book shared with the class or a parent or other adult with whom you live. This may include elements of the project you are working on or be a simple presentation.  If you elect the parent discussion option you are done when your parent gives you a letter grade for having read a new book and the quality of your sharing in a note to me. Of course, if your parent or guardian has agreed to read along with you, and then skip this step you already get the points!   Please note, the average American English speaker engaged in a friendly conversation speaks at a rate of approximately 110–150 wpm. (Interestingly, publishers recommend books on tape to be voiced at 150-160 wpm, auctioneers are generally 250-400 wpm while the average reading rate is about 200-300 wpm) you should aim for the conversational rate.  This means you should prepare 600 to 1000 words for your talk.


Essay 20%:  

A) Practice Critical Lens only if you are taking the Regents Exam.  SAT essay if you have taken and passed the Regents Exam. 

For whatever book you read, you will be responsible for writing a sample Critical Lens essay using YOUR independent book as one of the two works of literature featured in the essay.  This task involves YOU choosing the LENS (quotation), selecting one other work of literature, and writing (handwriting OR typing) a CRITICAL LENS ESSAY of appropriate length and style as if for a Final Exam or Regents Exam.  This component of your project is worth 20% of your total grade.


B) Practice SAT style essay--  USE ONE OF THE PRACTICE TOPICS PROVIDED at the bottom of this page.


Actual Final Project and Self Scored Rubric 50%:

The possibilities here are endless.  Should you come up with an original idea you like better than any I suggest, GO FOR IT! Keep in mind, when you have time scheduled for this assignment you need to be working in class.  Expect at least one day per week to be working on some aspect of this project in class.  Originality and quality WILL be rewarded.  Consider ideas that other classes have come up with in prior years HERE.  The following are possible essential questions for exploration:



Why is it important for people to be able to communicate effectively? or

What does effective communication look like?

How can literature serve as a vehicle for social change?



How will active reading strategies make me a more effective reader?

How do literary elements and active reading enhance understanding?

How are literary elements used to convey meaning?

What is the importance of understanding vocabulary while reading text?

Reading Behaviors

How does self-selection and reflection  impact my growth as an independent reader?

What effect does my rate of reading have on my comprehension?

What roles does Evidence Based Claims have on my comprehension

Literature Analysis

How is theme connected to character and self?

How is genre connected to reader's return to that genre?

How does knowledge about an author's

personal experience impact the reading and

interpretation of their work?



 Practice SAT style essay options:

Each of the topics consists of a prompt and an assignment.

1.    Prompt:
"That which we obtain too easily, we esteem too lightly. It is dearness only which gives everything its value."
Thomas Paine

Do we value only what we struggle for? Plan your response, and then write an essay to explain your views on this issue. Be sure to support your position with specific points and examples. (You may use personal examples or examples from your reading, observations, or, knowledge of subjects such as history, literature, science.)

2.    Prompt:
If we are afraid to reveal our lack of knowledge we will not be able to learn. In order to make progress we must admit where we are now. Such an admission of ignorance is not easy. As Thoreau says, “How can we remember our ignorance which our growth requires, when we are using our knowledge all the time?”

Does the present system of education encourage us to admit our lack of knowledge, or is there too much pressure to demonstrate the acquisition of knowledge? Plan your response, and then write an essay...

3.    Prompt:
“The price of greatness is responsibility.”
Winston Churchill

Do we expect too much from our public figures? Plan your response, and then write an essay...

4.    Prompt:
“What man calls civilization always results in deserts. Man is never on the square – he uses up the fat and greenery of the earth. Each generation wastes a little more of the future with greed and lust for riches.”
Don Marquis

With our modern awareness of ecology are we likely to make sufficient progress in conservation, or are we still in danger of damaging the earth beyond repair? Plan your response, and then write an essay...

5.    Prompt:
There is usually a kernel of truth in the words Oscar Wilde puts in the mouth of his most outrageous characters – they wouldn’t be funny otherwise. One such gem that is worth pondering is: The only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on. It is never of any use to oneself.

Is it true that when we most need advice we are least willing to listen to it? Or is good advice always