Reading Teacher Writes

Sharing a love of literacy with fellow readers and writers

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Update on Book Clubs

Update on Book Clubs: Letting Students Show What They Know

After the first week, the book clubs are still a hit! I noticed a few general trends and used my observations to speak with the groups today:

1) Students completely on their own will forget some of the skills and strategies they learned during the school year. A teacher facilitator’s job includes reminding students that they can, in fact, show what they know with a little review here and there. For example, one group was reading The Tiger Rising, and I noticed the readers completely skimmed over page 92 without saying anything to each other. (This whole page is absolutely an Ah-Ha moment! See Notice and Note signposts by Kylene Beers/Bob Probst.) I asked if I could butt in for a moment and had them reread the page. “Oh, yeah, we knew that.” I reminded them that when they stop naturally, that might be a place to share with others in the group. Maybe someone didn’t pick up on the signpost, and you all could have a great discussion. “OK!” Back to work.

2) Some students won’t be able to keep up with the assigned reading. Someone is always missing homework, and there’s always a reason for it. The group was upset at this one person, but the student had a family issues excuse, and needed encouragement more than a lecture.  My personal connection made the group think: “Remember when I had to leave and go to the doctor for my eye? I didn’t get my work done for a few days. My team helped me to catch up; it wasn’t nearly the problem it could have been because I got the support I needed.” Together, we set up a plan so the student could get back into the swing of things. Crisis averted!

3) Choice reading is the best, most engaging sort of reading that students do in school! How many times have we read the research by Donalyn Miller, Kylene Beers, Richard Allington, Nancy Atwell, and the many others who support reading what students choose to read! Transfer of skills, ladies and gentlemen! It works!

I love watching my students show what they know. They are excited, engaged, and energetic book club participants, and I am a captivated observer! Keep calm and read on! (Who said that?)




Slice of Life Tuesdays: Time To Show What You Know!

Slice of Life Small LogoTime To Show What You Know!

Waiting for the end of the school year is like waiting for the tea-kettle water to boil. Or for rain to come during a drought. Or for pigs to fly. Seriously! So I’ve decided to challenge myself: think positively every day and have fun every day. Today’s “beginning the book club” with my honors class was focused, fabulous, and fun! (For me, anyway. Yes, my opinion.)

First, I talked. Just a mini lesson, I promise! A few minutes of Great Expectations — “Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s your turn. I’ve taught you all you need to know. Now it’s time to show what you know!” I told them that they would read choice books during a book club. Current expectations include reading during reading time (always), writing to respond, and discussing their books with each other. As the hands raised, I smiled to myself. “They are going to ask me how I want this all done.” 🙂

The students knew this was coming. We wanted this to happen in March, but we never got around to it, with sickness and testing getting in the way. Now it’s time. These procedures will help students guide themselves for the next few weeks. I will be what a teacher is truly meant to be — the facilitator. The hands were still up. “Ok, I’ll get you started. What do you want this to look like? You have to decide for yourselves. I’m just the observer now. I want to SEE IT HAPPEN.” I told them the clubs needed to write out their protocols. Decide…

1) How will you take turns?

2) How will you talk?

3) How will you be responsible, active listeners?

4) How will you make sure everyone in the group gets a chance to take part?

I gave each group a piece of chart paper. “Go!” (Still hands!) “No! I’m not helping. Ask your group. Decide and write it down.”

Then, it just clicked! The groups split up, started talking, and writing, and reading. I stopped them one more time before the end of class. “Hey there! I just want to make sure. Did you finish today’s work, or will you have homework?” When one group assigned 4 chapters to read for tonight, I did butt in again, only for a moment, to ask, “Do you have time to do that much homework tonight?” They adjusted and moved on, each participant agreeing to do the work. Their decision. Their plan. Their work.

I’m now the observer during reading time. I want my students to show what they know. I cannot wait to see what happens!