Sunday, July 3, 2016

Book Clubs in the Classroom

Book clubs improve reading comprehension and include activities that encourage kids to love reading. Read six easy steps to launch literature circles with your students in the classroom.
Many readers asked about how I conduct book clubs, so I am excited to write up about my use of book clubs (also known as literature circle) in the classroom.

There are lots of different ways to do book clubs, I am just sharing what I like best in my room. Feel free to leave comments about how you run yours in the classroom, I am always looking for new ideas to incorporate into my teaching!



STEP 1: CREATE YOUR GROUPS
There are two different ways that I create groups for book clubs.

Firstly, you can group by reading level. This is what I do most often, since it allows me to find books that are slightly challenging for the reading level. We use the DRA at my school, so I do a mixture of their DRA level and whether or not each student can "handle" a certain book.

The other way to group is by interest. I have a pretty good idea what each student in my class is interested in, so I can mix reading ability this way. Students who are interested and are eager to read a certain book are going to keep a growth mindset and conquer reading a book, even if the reading level is a bit more challenging or easier than usual. Remember, book clubs allow for self-differentiation. A too-easy book for a high student can still provide a plethora of ways for critical and higher-level thinking in terms of the assignment given. Sometimes a less-than-challenging book allows a less confident student to decipher and interpret it in more complex ways.



STEP 2: CHOOSE YOUR BOOKS
Time to get thee to a nunnery. Err... reading room. Hamlet has always been my favorite Shakespearean poem, can you tell?

Don't have a reading room? You can prep for book club with a variety of methods.

  • Firstly, you could buy the books for cheap in the New/Used section of Amazon. 
  • You can also check out the $1 Deals on Scholastic. 
  • You could also purchase the books on Scholastic, and use all the points you get to receive more books for free. 
  • Look into Donor's Choose to fund your book club and set up a project to better your classroom.
  • Finally, you could always just submit a purchase order for books from Amazon into your school finance person. I have done this several times instead of going through our reading room specialist, who is more picky about what books we can/cannot have. 

When choosing the books, I love to lean toward the classics. Many students are so enthralled with their Wimpy Kid series or Harry Potter (nothing against Harry Potter.... I am an HP fiend. #teamslytherin), that there are many classics and award-winners that they choose not to pick up. I like to use book clubs as a way to get those sorts of books into the hands of my students. Some of my favorite books for book clubs that my students particularly enjoy as well:

FOR HGH READERS


STEP 3: ASSIGN PAGES
I like to sit down ahead of time and map out all the pages that the kids will be reading. My first year I started teaching, I would assign pages on the spot. This resulted in a lot of unequal pages for various weeks. Instead, I now decide how long I want to do book clubs. I usually do four weeks. I take the total amount of pages in a book and divide by four. This number is roughly how many pages they will read each week. I say roughly because I like to end on the end of a chapter, so sometimes their reading will be a little longer or shorter to ensure that the last page they read each weeks finishes at the end of a chapter.

My Literature Circle packets have a spot in the beginning where you can first choose the number of weeks for the kids to complete a book (four, five, or six weeks), then they have spots to write down all the pages. If you don't use my packets, you could have them write the pages on a sticky note used as a bookmark!


STEP 4: MEET!
My book club meetings are in place of any guided reading/small group work. What I love about book clubs is that it is mainly student directed. Whichever one of my students is Discussion Leader leads the discussion. I am there to monitor the discussion and make sure everyone is on task... but for the most part, I pretend that I'm simply a fly on the wall. I want to hear their ideas, not project my own ideas!

In the beginning of the year as they are first learning how book clubs are conducted, I serve more as a mediator and leader. It is a lot of fun to start loosening up on the reins and passing on the leadership role as they become more comfortable. I also tell the kids that they are graded on participation- which involves listening as much as it does talking. Often kids (and adults.... I am often 100% guilty of this) wait for others to finish talking but are not listening to what they are saying. Participation is listening to others and voicing one's own opinion in a respectful manner.


STEP 5: KIDS DO WORK ON ROLES
I use literacy stations in my classroom. During our book club cycles, one of our stations is Book Club work (the other stations are generally DEAR, reading comp, and small group time when I work on something with the students). Kids can take their book home and read for the required 20 minutes a night, and they are also more than welcome to do book club work at home. It is up to them! It is a great way to teach time management to kids. Often kids will want to spend most of the language arts block independently reading, so many of my kiddos will take their work home to make sure that this happens.

I use my literature circle packets to conduct my book clubs, available here. My roles generally consist of:

  • Discussion Leader: Come up with higher-level questions from the reading and lead meeting
  • Word Wizard: Use a dictionary to learn new words from reading
  • Character Kiddo: Compare two characters of one's choice on a Venn diagram
  • Summarizer: Write a summary from the reading
  • Connection Conductor: Find connections to your own life from reading
  • Voracious Visualizer: Draw a scene from the reading
Each week one role is assigned per student (if your groups are large, double up on a role). The student comes ready to share their role with the group.



STEP 6: REPEAT
I meet weekly with my students. Book clubs can be personal- I want the kids to read the book and enjoy it, not feel rushed to finish. Some teachers I know have book club meets a few times a week. I personally feel like this is too much - I am an advocate for encouraging reading for pleasure at a young age. However, I also see how this would be a good way to track your students and ensure that they are keeping up with the work. So anything that works best in your classroom- you know your kiddos best!


How do you do book clubs in your classroom? Is this something you'll be doing this year?


Book clubs improve reading comprehension and include activities that encourage kids to love reading. Read six easy steps to launch literature circles with your students in the classroom.

2 comments:

  1. Does anyone else use ReadyGen reading? We have books we are supposed to use for 'text clubs' Text clubs are like book clubs, but the books are so short - about 15 to 20 pages long and most are nonfiction. I LOVE your ideas, but it is so frustrating that the my kids can read a text club book in a day- would love to hear ideas from others how to extend the activities. Our school district is really strict about adhering strictly to the core curriculum. Any ideas would be SO welcome. Thank you! So glad I discovered your blog - there are so many good ideas:)

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    1. I've never heard of a text club before, very interesting! You could alternate a day of "text club work" with a day of sharing. For example, giving a group of 5 kids a particular text to read on a Tuesday. The assignment would be due Thursday. They can work on it in class or home on Tuesday and Wednesday, then share with their group on Thursday. There could be four different texts in a month, and each week a group is assigned a brand-new text and role. Then the kids could still be doing book clubs and roles, it would just be an entire book a week instead of a chapter. Just a thought, I'm not familiar with ReadyGen, so just a guess on how maybe it could work :-)

      Glad you stopped by!!! Happy summer :-)

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