Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Teaching Tuesday: Book Clubs

One of my favorite parts of the school year is when we start book clubs (literature circles, whatever you want to call them). Now that state tests are behind us, we're ready to begin! This is my 4th year to do them, and I finally found a system that really works for me. I think book clubs are like centers or Daily 5 for a lot of teachers. It seems intimidating and time consuming, but really, once you get it organized the first time, it becomes less work for you. I make allow my students to work independent from my direct instruction, so I am only a moderator at best. They love it, I love it, it's a win-win! I thought I'd share my system. 

When you start book clubs is really dependent on what your class is like. Some years, my kids are mature and responsible and could start as early as November/December. Most years, I start after Christmas break. This year being my first year at my school, I'm still getting to know everything so I'm starting them later than normal. There have been some classes I don't do them at all with because I know they can't handle the responsibility. 

I start by having our first "meeting". This is where I outline what we're going to do and go over my expectations (see anchor chart below). We talk about what those things look like (ex. Being respectful means we sit where everyone can look each other in the eye. Being a contributor means I do my work and discuss the book instead of just sitting there.) I give them their timeline, go over procedures, and then we choose books! 

I try to have a variety of books on all different levels. Sometimes I choose the books and the groups, but I usually let them do it themselves the first round. This round, the choices were books that I know they could each read easily independently so they could choose any book. What book they chose dictated what group they would work with. I try to stress choosing a book that you want to read instead of choosing what your friends did, but it still happens. They get a new bookmark, which is what we use to identify whose book is whose. 

Once they've chosen books, they have their first club meeting. In that meeting they have to decide how much of the book they're going to read to be finished by next week's deadline, (I allowed 2 weeks for these books since they're short) and what jobs they will have. 

Each of the groups have a folder With their names and the book title on the outside. I keep these in a special basket, and when they're ready to complete their assignment, they get their paper from the folder and get to work. They return the work when they're done so it's all ready for their meetings on Fridays. That's a big thing...all book club work must be done in their "spare" time. This could be during library center, after completing and assignment, even recess if they choose. They only directive I give is that it must be done by their weekly meetings on Friday. I usually give them a little extra time toward the end of the week to finish up, but I rarely need to. They're so excited and feeling grown-up that most finish early in the week. 

Here's where your personality comes in. I've tried several different ways of assigning "jobs." The system I use now is by far my favorite, but there are tons of different ideas out there. I found these great jobs through Lesson Plan SOS' Reading Teacher Binder on Teachers Pay Teachers. This book is WELL worth stocking up on your TPT points and getting. She's already done the work for you!! I run off the jobs she has provided and let the kids pick what they want to do. Some jobs get filled and others don't. My only requirements as far as jobs are these: 1.) You must have a Director of Discussion 2.) You can't have the same job twice. Her job descriptions are clear and easy to follow, and the activities go right along with what I teach in reading. It's fantastic!! 

Other than that, I check in with my can-be-lazy kiddos every day to make sure they're working all week, and I monitor groups during Friday meetings. That's it! The kids really are so excited they do the work and do it well! It is such a fun way to get them excited about literature!! I hope you'll try it out if you never have before. 

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