Earlier this month we prepared the students for participating in book clubs. After needing to postpone for a week, yesterday was finally the day.
The students had read their chosen book and prepared by taking notes on post-its. We gave the kids this bookmark as a tool. (It has two sides.)
Students worked for two weeks, some a little less. By yesterday their books were overflowing with notes – regardless of their reading level.
We prepared the students by looking at pictures of their practice book clubs a few weeks ago. They used the anchor chart we made to label the pictures of themselves in book clubs.
We covered the desks with table cloths, poured some juice, and the talking commenced. They were so excited and for the most part on task! As I walked around I kept expecting to hear conversations about things other than books, but they were really that excited talking about books! And the few times the topic got off, all we had to do was ask what they were talking about next. The students would turn to a different post-it and continue their discussion, referring to evidence in the book.
I know that we have worked hard as a class, teachers and students, but sometimes after standardized testing I get discouraged. Did I do enough? What could I have done better? This activity showed me how even if their learning does not show up on the test scores, they have learned so much about being a reader.
There is more to share about their conversations and reflections, but it will have to wait for another day.
This year’s reading workshop has encouraged children to be real life readers. They spend the majority of the reading block reading just right books of their choice. So, we decided to end the year with book clubs instead of literature circles. I wanted students to participate in a book club like adults participate in. Students will be reading a book over two weeks and then will meet with their club to discuss the book once everyone is done.
First, my co-teacher modeled reading a book (Amos and Boris) and taking notes with post-its in order to prepare for a book club discussion. Then, students were given a simple picture book to practice. They were grouped by a range of reading levels. (C-K, K-P, Q-W) The practice picture book was far below their reading level, so that they could focus on taking notes and having conversations
The following day we modeled having a book club conversation about Amos and Boris. We also created an anchor chart with the students. The anchor chart is based on Lucy Calkins Reading Workshop Unit: Historical Fiction Book Clubs. (The dark purple was written before we modeled and the lighter purple is from the students after we modeled.) After observing us and adding to our anchor chart the students began their book club discussions in the groups that they will be in for their novels.
The hardest part for the students was to stay on the same topic for an extended amount of time, but we were so impressed with their conversations. Here is one of my favorite conversations that I overheard about Amelia Bedelia:
D: My favorite part was when she planted the light bulbs, but she left the kids alone!
J: Yea, she should have gotten busted by the principal!
After our practice book clubs, we gave the students their book club books. Their excitement made it feel like I was handing over a bar of gold! They couldn’t wait to get started and the rest of the reading block was SILENT.