S'More From The AP

Week Ending February 6, 2015

Book Clubs - by Mrs. Smith (And Her Students)!

Book Clubs and High Interest Reading

One of the toughest jobs we have as classroom teachers is getting unmotivated readers to read. How do we create that spark that makes kids want to read? Well, I have personally found that reading for pleasure is the key. Studies have even shown that reading for pleasure is more important to a child’s educational achievement than their gender, family’s wealth, or social class. When students are allowed to choose what they want to read, they find motivation to read. Of course, the more students read, the stronger their comprehension which results in better overall academic progress.

One fun way to increase reading skills and create a passion for reading in your classroom is to implement “Class Book Clubs.” Book Clubs are simply a more relaxed method of doing Lit. Circles. They can be student driven, informal and easily monitored by teachers. When organized in an informal manner, students are allowed to take control of their learning. They choose what they want to read, where they will read, and what activities they will complete to show their comprehension. This helps students develop a sense of responsibility and self-motivation.

What do Book Clubs look like?

Get started by gathering sets of books students are interested in and are very eager to read. Allow students to choose books they want to read and get in a group with others interested in the same book. I typically keep the groups on the smaller side, no larger than four in a group. Once book groups are formed and students are reading I encourage “group book discussions” along the way. I also have students choose a comprehension activity they will complete for their group.

Another simple way to keep students focused is to give them something to focus on while reading. For instance, “What is the main problem in the story?” Students can write this down in their journals and jot down their thoughts as they go along. As a final product, I like to have students put various comprehension activities together in a Book Portfolio. This portfolio is presented to the class when done and is put on display to excite and encourage other kids to read the book.

Meeting with friends and classmates to complete projects, web-based activities, or discuss books allows students to turn reading into a social activity and motivates them to read. So if you are looking for a “novel” approach to exciting your students to read, try Book Clubs! Feel free to drop by room 303 anytime and “check out“ the fun students are having while reading in Book Club.

Below is a video that was produced and recorded by my students, in which they discuss some of the different tools I use for Book Clubs. They will also give you an overview of how Book Clubs look in our classroom and some of the products that come out of them. I hope you enjoy it and please drop by if I can be of any assistance!

Book Clubs

The Principal Ponders

I love to read. Always have and always will. So when I hear kids say “I hate to read,” I just cringe. Do they know what they’re missing? Everyone should experience the joy of reading a book you just can’t put down, even when you realize it’s 2:00 in the morning and you know you have to get up at 5:00? As Mrs. Smith stated, it is our job as educators to instill this love of reading in our students. If you haven’t read The Book Whisperer by Donalynn Miller, I encourage you to do so, like yesterday. I promise you, it will change your classroom and it will transform your students and how they think and feel about reading.

One way to instill the love of reading in our students is by modeling, sharing our own personal stories about books we have read, and also by offering students choice in what they read. Literature Circles or Classroom Book Clubs are a great place to start – they offer students choice not only in what they read, but also in how they demonstrate their understanding of what they have read. There are many benefits to incorporating Literature Circles/Book Clubs in your classroom – keep reading to learn how independent reading through Literature Circles/Book Clubs can impact your students:

  • Cooperative learning/collaboration – through discussion, students help each other understand the text and make sense of it. They learn how to use their peers as resources on their path to becoming independent learners.
  • Student choice – Students are able to make choices about their learning from selecting what book to read to who will be in a group with them. Student choice increases student engagement and motivation.
  • Fun and social – Students are expected to talk and interact a lot to discuss their thoughts and ideas about what they are reading. They are encouraged to share their feelings and past experiences with the group.
  • Powerful experience for reluctant & struggling readers – Because students have choice, they have the freedom to pick books on their reading level, allowing for differentiation for individual student needs.

Stephen Krashen states in The Power of Reading that, “No single literacy activity has a more positive effect on students’ comprehension, vocabulary knowledge, spelling, writing ability, and overall academic achievement than free voluntary reading.” Think about that for just a minute…… by incorporating Literature Circles or a Book Club and allowing students the freedom to choose books and READ, you have the power to influence all those academic areas. Wow……I challenge you to take a leap and give it a try. What’s the worst thing that could happen? Improved comprehension? Vocabulary? Spelling and writing? Yeah, I’m good with that. :D

Worth Watching

Fourth Grade Literature Circle Discussions
Literature Circles

Worth Reading

Tech Corner

The link below will take you to Donalyn Miller's virtual "Nerdy Book Club" for teachers. Check it out!! I bet you fall in love with this group!

Tweet Of The Week

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Image above of Literature Response Questions courtesy of Laura Candlar, website linked above.