Monday, April 21, 2014

Book Clubs

Funny Workplace Ecard: Yeah, I don't care what you do. I'm too busy counting down the days when this cardigan becomes a bikini and the chalk becomes a margarita!

Guess what! This week officially kicks off the 8 WEEK count-down until Summer vacation! End of the year activities are starting to pile up...class picnics, the talent show, photos for the yearbook, etc. Not gonna lie, sometimes it gets very overwhelming and I can't help but count down the days! Especially since my wedding is only 17 days after our last day of school :) Let's hope I can get my reports done on time! 

Still, there is still a lot of learning fun to be had, so I wanted to update you on our newest reading adventures!

This year, I spent a lot of time with my class practicing strategies to enhance the understanding of what we read. (Making connections, inferring, summarizing, finding the main idea, etc.) I have seen the kids use these strategies in whole-group lessons and in their independent reading responses, but now, it is time to really put their knowledge into action by participating in literature circles! Each group has 3-4 members. Since my class is a mixed age class, I decided to separate them by grade level, and further split them into groups based on reading level.

When I taught second grade, our book groups were leveled, and every day I would have a special lesson or activity in mind for the group that I would facilitate--fortunately, there were two teachers in the room so we could alternate working with the three reading groups. The learning specialist also took a group, so everyone was always taken care of.

Since I now teach third and fourth graders, I wanted the literature circles to be more independent. I think it is important for children at this stage to practice facilitating group discussions on their own. I also want them to be more independent in their application of the reading strategies. And of course, I want them to enjoy meeting to talk about a book together! My assistant teacher and I will continue to circulate around to the groups and observe their discussions, but it really is a time for the kids to show their stuff!

I decided to have roles for each member of the book group, so in each meeting, every child knows what he or she is supposed to be doing so they can contribute to the discussion.

Discussion Director- This person is responsible for writing down a few questions to pose to the group about the section(s) that were read that day. When it is time for the discussion, the director jots down the group's responses to their questions. The DD is also there to help monitor the discussion and make sure everyone stays on topic! 

Literary Luminary- This person is in charge of "illuminating" important or interesting parts of the story. They must choose 3-4 quotes from the assigned reading sections and explain why they thought this quote was worth highlighting. 

Word Wizard- This role involves looking up unfamiliar or interesting words. The student who is the WW needs to look up and record the definition of the word in the dictionary. Then, they need to use the new/unfamiliar word in a sentence. 

Stellar Summarizer- This person is in charge of writing a summary of the section(s) assigned. Using the strategy of ordering the events of "first, next, then, after that, finally", the SS shares a written sequencing of the reading for that day. 

Before groups met, we practiced these jobs using a chapter from our latest read aloud, The Mystery at Kill Devil Hills. I selected a mystery for our read aloud because each book group is reading a mystery book! I also picked this book because it takes place on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, one of my favorite vacation spots. My family and I have been going there every summer since 1989! 

A beautiful OBX view from last Summer! Can't wait to be back!

Anyway, I xeroxed a copy of the first chapter for each child. We spent the first day practicing the job of Literary Luminary and Word Wizard. The next day, we used the same chapter to practice being Stellar Summarizers. After everyone had completed the pages with those jobs in their packets (each child receives a packet with a recording sheet for each job, that they keep for the week), we met as a whole class, where I modeled the job of Discussion Director to show children how the book discussions should go. Various children shared their comments and notes from the jobs they worked on. The practice discussion went quite well, and I think the kids are ready!

Here is the list of the mystery books that the children will be reading in our first round of Literature Circles:

The Shadow Nose by Elizabeth Levy (high 3rd grade)
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg (high 4th grade)
The Clue in the Castle: A Woodlands Mystery by Irene Schultz (low-mid 3rd grade)
The Mystery of the Plumed Serpent by Barbara Brenner (mid 4th grade)
Encyclopedia Brown Shows by Way by Donald J. Sobol (mid 3rd grade)

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