Monday, November 9, 2015

Book Clubs- 5th Grade Version

We just finished up our first successful round of Book Clubs (AKA Literature Circles, Lit Clubs, Book Circles, Book Studies, etc.). It can always seem like a three-ring-circus trying to keep it all organized, but my kids always LOVE these clubs!!

So here is what it looks like in my room...I select 4 books that I hope to draw student INTEREST in!! NO, I do not base my book clubs on READING LEVEL. {Disclaimer- I do have a group of HIGH readers and I do choose books that ALL of my students are capable of reading. I DO understand that this is not always the case and will not work for everyone!}

I have spent lots of time reading and researching on reading instruction. I have struggled with book reports and my love-hate (more like I only love to hate them) relationship with them. I read the book The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller and decided that the best thing for me to do is to "break-up" with book reports in my class. To me they were busy-work take home projects that your creative students put a lot of attention in to and end up with the same grade as the students who scrape by and put only the required minimum in to them. Also, I am not fooled into thinking that my students read their book in its entirety. I have tech-savvy 5th graders who have the same online resources that I did when I was a student who didn't want to read the entire book. OK so enough about my book report thoughts....I came to the conclusion that I NEED my students to LOVE reading! And so that is what I set out to do in my classroom this year. We set out to spend many more minutes READING for the love of READING in my classroom. MORE ABOUT THOSE THOUGHTS TO COME LATER....

Here is the book I was referring to...

Moral of that LONG paragraph was that in my classroom, students are not bound by their reading levels. Therefore, I pick books that I can hook them with. The students rank their picks in order in which they would want to read them. I select groups based on their top picks (with a small behavior consideration of course). Then they get together and READ!!

Last year I feel victim to the endless copies and the JOBS each student needed to complete in books clubs. I get creates a grade and holds each student accountable. BUT it does not encourage reading or comprehension. Instead I focus in on a skill every couple of days and allow the students to demonstrate their knowledge of that skill.

For instance, one skill we focused on was character! About 1/4 of the way into the book, I asked the students to analyze their character. I asked them to use character traits for the inside and outside to tell me about the character. I asked them to tell me about problems the character was facing and to look for solutions that may come along. I asked them to look for ways that they character has changed as a person. This took them two to three reading sessions to complete and they could add and change it as they please. The assignment took them about 5 minutes each day, but I KNEW that they were actively reading and THINKING about the character in the story.

Another skill we have focused on is DISCUSSION. I challenged my students to come up with a THICK and open-ended discussion question to share with their group. We went over good vs. bad questions and I set them on their way. They got it! It clicked! I was so proud of the effort they put into thinking this through...but the fact that I modeled until I couldn't model anymore might have had a little to do with it.

Currently they are working on SUMMARIZING and PREDICTING with this quick recording sheet.

This was meant to be a short post to share TWO books that I read with my students and fell in LOVE apologies on the short novel that led me to these points:

1. Make Book Clubs MEANINGFUL!! Don't give lengthy assignments each time that require lots of WORK from you as the teacher. Focus on allowing the students to READ!
2. Skip "follow up" assignments that resemble boring book reports. Again, make it meaningful!
3. Throw out the BOOK TESTS!!! (see #4)
4. Read THE BOOK WHISPERER by Donalyn Miller- it will change your reading instruction for the best! And for the best I mean for the students and their LOVE of reading!

Here are the two books I fell in love with:

This is a super CUTE and FUNNY read for pre-teens! It was a story that kept me and my students laughing and wondering what they outcome would be.

I am a SUCKER for Mike Lupica books. He had me hooked when I was in college and buying books for my classroom all the time. His books have a wonderful story line and are one-day readers for those with the time! This one was no exception. I had boys and girls in this group and they all LOVED this one. It talks about families in hard times and I think all of my students were able to relate to this at some point in their lives. Even my off the charts high reader (who had already read this book) told the whole group that they would not be disappointed. His books are perfect for your sports enthused boys and girls! I am considering reading this one again already...

My kids LOVED being able to pick their reading groups so much that they BEGGED me to start another round of Book Clubs even if it meant that they would have only two weeks to finish the book clubs before our Thanksgiving Break! I firmly believe that my knowledge and research from Miller's book is helping my kids grow their own LOVE for reading!

Donalyn Miller Quote
Graphic from HERE

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