Forming the Groups
When I heard that there were going to be book clubs that partnered up with the CIA books, I was more than excited to have my students to have a similar experience with book clubs that I’ve had. I decided to begin the book clubs the second week after Spring Break. This gave me plenty of time to continue small group work, and it would be a fun way to end the school year.
The first step to forming was the book club groups. To do this, I looked at the student’s Independent Reading levels. I then used my teacher judgment. In some cases, I had students that I thought could be pushed a little bit with the support from myself, their book club partner, and their book club group. I then paired up my students. This was key! Their partner was going to be the first person that they were going to talk with if they were unsure of what they were being asked to do, or in comprehended what they were reading. It was important that I paired up students that could work with each other and that they felt comfortable going to when they had questions.
Book Clubs Begin!
My three groups read the books that Sara selected. They were: Marvin Redpost: Why Pick on me?, Jake Drake Bully Buster, and How to Eat Fried Worms. As suggested, we started each Book Club selection with a whole group discussion book club meeting about what we were all going to be working on during our reading that day. I think this helped the students realize that regardless of what book you might be reading that you can use and apply the same skills, but just a bit differently. After the book club meeting, we did our reading or writing for that day.
I loved the reading/collecting evidence days. It was an amazing opportunity to listen to my students read. I could listen for their fluency, as well as their intonation. I was also able to ask some quick questions about what they had read, or for a prediction about what they thought would happen next, or even what they would have done if they were in that situation. If the students got stuck or confused on what they were reading, they quickly went to ask their partner that was reading the same book as them. In most situations, the partner was able to provide the needed help. We always ended these days with a chance for students to share what they had read or written about that day.
Using the book club consumables we were fortunate to purchase, the students were able to collect information from the book they were reading using the same organizational tools such as the character lists and evidence collection boxes that they have been using all year with our CIA books. It was great to see the carry over of the skills that we used in books we worked on together into their book club work. I also think that the packet the students did during small group reading being so similar helped with the students being able to collect the information independently
The writing days were just as powerful. The students were able to take the skills and organizational tools such as the character lists and evidence collection boxes to collect information on their book club books in their book club notebook. It was great to see them applying the skills they had worked so hard in developing during our CIA books and applying them to their books. They also did the same writing that we had done with our CIA books. Again, it was great seeing them carry over the skills we have been working on this year independently.
Book Club Meetings
For the smaller book club meetings, Sara provided some great questions that would help to check the students’ understanding and thinking. I used those questions as a guide in that I looked them over before we started our meetings. When it came to the actual meetings though, I let the students’ comments, ideas and questions lead the discussion. This provided some of the best discussions we’ve had all year.
With my Frog and Toad group, we had a great discussion just about how the book was organized. As I shared before, it was the longest book that these students have read by themselves. They were amazed about the table of contents at the start of the book. We talked about how the table of contents helped you find the specific story you wanted quickly. One student made a comment that we were going to read a lot of stories!
My Jake Drake Bully Buster and Marvin Redpost: Why Pick on Me? had great discussions about how it would have felt to be Jake and Marvin being bullied. My Jake Drake group couldn’t believe that Link’s sister was picking on his sister. It got some of them upset.
My How to Eat Fried Worms group was very interesting. It was made up of 6 students, 4 were boys, and 2 girls. The boys were all about the eating of the worms and seemed to be excited by it. My girls, well they liked the book and seemed to connect with how Billy was being treated. I think the eating of the worms was just a bit gross for them.
I’ve seemed to be all about the connection across the books we’ve been reading as a part of CIA this year. During a book club meeting, a student went to the book and read a line about Jake Drake saying he didn't want to do all the work and Link was going to have to help. I asked her if she had ever heard the term, "standing up for yourself", she said no, so I explained it to her. She and the rest of her group got excited and said how Glory (from Glory Be our current CIA book) and her dad had stood up to Mr. Smith and Mrs. Simpson. I was expecting some connections to The War with Grandpa as that is the book that these stories were paired with, but it made me excited to see the students make this connection. To be honest, I didn’t see this connection at all when I read the book.
Book Clubs has been a great way to end the school year. It has been great to see and hear just how far my students have come with their reading skills this year. I’ve enjoyed seeing them practice the skills we’ve worked over the course of CIA in these books, and make the connections with all of the books we’ve read this year. As we were finishing up our 3rd book club meeting and I shared how the next day was going to be their read in for the book, I was asked what book we were going to read next by a large number of my students. I told them that we won’t be reading another book as we are almost done with school. They did NOT like this answer. In a weird way, it made me happy that they were disappointed. This showed me that they really enjoyed reading the books and sharing their ideas with others like I did with the book clubs that I was a part of.