Since starting book clubs in a different way, I have been excited to see how my students would carry through our first discussions this year. In my previous post, I described how, as a third grade team, we collaborated in designing a new plan to start book clubs in our reading instruction this year. A common theme in the way I have been introducing new routines and topics in the classroom is through strong, thoughtful, slow modeling. This has allowed students to really understand the expectations in the classroom. Now I am taking less time trouble shooting when confused students have questions or need assistance. In reflection of this success, I suggested that in book club planning this year, we take more time to model our expectations this year and take thoughtful, slow steps to allow our clubs discussions to be successful.
In the first week of introducing the books after modeling whole class with a read aloud, students were so eager to receive their books. I took the time during Daily 5 rotations to meet for a five minute introduction meeting with each book club group where I handed out their book, gave a quick introduction and reviewed expectations. Students were given their book club folders. Instead of having a packet of busy work activities like the previous years, their folders were filled with tools that students could use to interact with the text in a meaninful way. I created one higher order shorten answer question for each chapter of the book. One assignment is for students to answer one question from the chapters they had to read before their first meeting. Other than that, any other job they had to prepare was done from their own understanding of the text. Their folder included discussion prompts that they could use to take notes to share with their group members during discussions.
I took the time to model how to use sticky notes while reading to point out important parts in the story where students may have a question, connection, or key event that they can mark and then share with their group after meeting. Students did a great job of using them throughout the week. Something I noticed last year is students did not use the sticky notes at all because they did not understand how or why to use them, or they used them way too much in parts that were not necessary. I think these are a really helpful tool because students have to show how they are stopping to check that they understand and comprehend the text. Just taking the time to walk around and see why students are using sticky notes really allowed me to assess student understanding while reading. Throughout the week, I found students “tuning into interesting words” and writing down interesting words on sticky notes to share with their group. I had another students writing down a question about why the character made a decision they did in a certain part of the story. Another students was drawing a link code to show that they could share a connection with how their character felt in that part of the story.
During discussions, students understood how to take turns and respond to student comments and questions correctly because we had practiced and modeled. Many of the students were using their sticky notes to start discussions of important parts of the text. More students were able to share page numbers so that they whole group could refer to that page. They were re-reading, making predictions, clearing up confusions. They did not need graphic organizers, numerous questions or guides, they were doing it on their own. After the discussions this week, I made sure we took time to reflect on how the group did. I praised all the groups, but sometimes students shared that maybe next time they thought they could have more questions prepared, or next time they wanted to write down interesting words like another member of their group did. I was able to see every students reflection thoughts when they collected them on their reflection log after meeting:
They were being innovative and learning from each other. It was a successful first meeting!