Reading is one of my favorite subjects to teach. I know that it’s not always a favorite for some of my students because of mandated response sheets (not from me!), recording books on logs at home, or lack of choice when it comes to what they can read. Throughout the year I try to take what our curriculum offers and tweak it just a bit (OR A LOT!!!) to make it interesting and engaging for my readers. I say offers intentionally–no curriculum is perfect, let alone perfect for every.single.kid in my class! My goal is life-long love of reading. I make strategies clear and model them through read aloud and shared reading many, many times before ever expecting students to do them solo. Of course we as adults don’t usually sit down and do plot profiles or a million sticky notes–we know that! But just like counting on your fingers becomes mental math, so does jotting your thinking to not only track it across time for your own reflection, but so teachers (and peers!) can help you grow. I want what we do naturally as adult readers to become second nature for them and for them to do it on their own again and again and again. #readersgonnaread
One way I set out to do this was with Book Club Cafe and Colonial Cafe. Both have “cafe” because I like alliteration and giving them a menu of options. That’s the most important part of this post! Today I’m going to share the book club version. First and foremost–nothing is ever new to my students when it comes to what is on the menu…in some cases the content or questions might deepen but the ways in which I’m inviting them to share their thinking have been done together as a class in read aloud (like with my Fish In a Tree mini-module…want it, comment below!) and shared reading. (P.S. This menu is editable!)
As my grade team and I unpacked the expectations of the module, I made a list of what types of learning experiences would engage students, but also capture their thinking so we could help them become smarter, more thoughtful and reflective readers. With this list, I created a menu of options that would be served during reading (appetizer), after reading (main course) and after writing about reading (dessert). The non-negotiables for me were the reading and writing portions of the menu because so many students work at different paces. The dessert would be the “bonus” or extension, but to be fair, I value this extension just as much as I do the other sections because it is through these multi-modal representations of the characters, story and theme that I can see students interpretations and how they are thinking deeply about big ideas.
Using the resource I created, each student received a placemat to keep things organized. I asked for community service volunteers to help put the mats into clear plastic sleeves and together we brainstormed how best to keep the groups organized. Below is what we came up with… a file organizer that holds all 6 groups’ materials and can easily be grabbed by them and me. It sits underneath our changing anchor charts that grow and change as we get deeper into historical fiction. Some other notable things I do:
- Groups are organized by reading level and needs as learners. I am respectful of students and no one feels like they are in a “low” or “high” group. They just love book clubs!
- I launch this work with a “Quiet Conversation” of the book blurb without the title of the book. This is a must see and I’ll share a video soon!
- I like to organize clubs as a reading day and then talking day (to keep me sane). BUT–As students get older it becomes more difficult to stop them from reading and in that case I give them much more independence to read and talk when it makes sense for them. They just have to agree as a group.
- Sometimes I have them record their convos on an iPad or phone so I can be in 6 places at once! It is also fun to let them use a conversation rubric to grade each other!
- I let them pick their names and make a mat that has the rules they want to follow. They usually come up with WONDERFUL expectations because, you know, I have taught them! haha
- I DO NOT love giving students jobs–but especially younger students (this product would not be for them unless edited!!) need that to practice doing different things like questioning, responding, connecting ideas, etc. If a group is struggling, that is a support I give them. But if I start like that it begins to feel like I am dictating their every talk move and I do not like going to a book club where the host dictates what can be said and when you can say it. It should feel effortless and natural! #bookclubgoals
- I also use the #nofrillsFlipMArk (bookmark +flipbook) so students had questions and prompts handy for their conversation. The placemat helped them keep track of their “food” choices and it was just plain fun for them.
I’m sure there are more tidbits, but that’s all for now! Happy reading!