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The Book Clubs are so much fun.  Every student is reading, talking about their book, or writing about it for the entire Book Club time.  It's such a great use of reading time – no one is waiting!  I have three groups.  In the below-grade-level group there are six kids reading Shoeshine Girl, and in the above grade level there are six reading How To Steal A Dog.  The other 13 students are close to grade level and are reading Because of Winn-Dixie. All three groups are enjoying the books.  I don't know how Sarah figured this out, but the amount of reading each day is just right.  The kids in Shoeshine Girl have more opportunities to re-read, and the kids in How To Steal A Dog are thrilled to have enough to keep on reading!  Every student has a reading partner, and this is working out better than I could have imagined.  The kids go to their partner when they have a question, and I've only had one pair sign up for a conference with me.

One cool thing is that the schedule has allowed me to meet with partners in  the Shoeshine Girl group, and provide the extra support they needed at the beginning of the book.  One student in particular has not been able to stick with a book – any book – for more than a day or two.  Through my conversations with him and his partner, I learned a lot about why this is so – the beginning of the book “didn't make sense” to him.  He wasn't able to make inferences about characters and setting.  After he and his partner read the first chapter out loud, with me, it began to make sense to him.  Since then, he and his partner go to the round table during the reading time, and work together to read, understand, and respond to the reading in whatever way is assigned for that day.  I get to check in with them pretty much daily – and they are needing less and less support.

Another of my reluctant readers is in that highest group – but she hasn't be able to stick with a book either.  The structure of book club, the assigned amount of reading, and the accountability to her partner and the required responding has helped her to keep her focus and stay connected with the story.

The kids will finish the first quadrant of their books and write their retell summaries this week.  I'm excited that they'll have this opportunity to apply the skills they learned in Shiloh (looking back at notes about events, characters, and setting, and using a writing frame) to do the retell summary independently.

Book Club Read-In

Today was the read-in for our first round of Book Club books, and it was the best!  Earlier in the week, each book club met and talked about the turning point of their book, as well as what they felt the author’s message was.  We talked about how we’d written about the turning point in Shiloh, and I think that was helpful.  The next day they wrote their own Turning Point writing, and they really did so well on them.  I love the authentic writing the kids get to do in Read Side By Side.

Today the kids came back from lunch, grabbed a pillow or special spot, and settled in to finish their book.  As they finished, kids would come up to me with that glow of having finished a really great story.  I can’t even describe it!  Every student in my class read a chapter book, thought deeply about it, and finished it independently.  I really wish I could express the beauty of it.  And then, since the books were also AR books, many kids took an AR test on their book as well, and the scores were without exception 90 – 100%.

My students are already asking about their next Book Club books!


Written by Janet Erickson --- 4th Grade Teacher