End of the Year Engagement with Book Clubs

With testing going for soooo long and soooo late in the year, it was hard for me and for my students to remember that we still have a month or so left of school. I had to think of a way to keep them engaged during our reading block while I also do more end of year assessments (As if state tests weren't enough, I still had to BAS each student to find their end of year level and complete district common assessments to judge our curriculum). We are supposed to end the year with book clubs on social justice topics. We don't have the resources for this however, so we tweaked it a bit and focused just on book clubs in general (although I as able to find some books that covered social justice issues for some of my groups). 

I found that book clubs, especially at the end of the year, are a new favorite of mine for the following reasons:
1) It promotes engagement and excitement through sharing about literature with others who've experienced it. Not to mention, accountability to get through books due to meeting with others.
2) It allows students to practice social and communication skills in real life situations.
3) It provides independence and problem solving skills.

For this round of book clubs, our main focus wasn't necessarily the content of our stories, but about how to effectively manage a book club with others and taking the level of talk to a higher level. Here's how I rolled it out.

First, I prepped for the clubs. Lower left: I gave this partner survey to get a sense of what my students want in their book clubs. It helped me organized fiction and non-fiction groups especially. Based on the survey, I put them into 5 groups. Upper right: I pulled books to fit my 5 groups based on type of book and level. Upper left: I gave each group their book, bookmark, and post-its. I color coded them and called them based on their colored group. Their bookmark is duel purpose- they keep track of their upcoming reading assignments on it as it goes. Lower right: I prepared for them to discuss their norms for their group. They met and discussed what they were looking for in their members and what they need to do before, during, and after meeting as well. 

Then, I had to prepare them for their book clubs. Upper left: I took their norms and put them all together in one central location so that I could easily remind them or what they expect from each other. Again, the colored post-its correspond with a particular group. Lower: I gave each group a file folder to old their book club materials. I gave them some times to decorate it using their color. This makes it easy to pass out each time for both them and me. Then, we talked about what feedback is, and that we will be using feedback to hold each other accountable, set goals, make plans, and create stronger book clubs. The dreaded slope happened while I was making this chart and it took every ounce within to not redo it. #realanchorchart That's what happens when you make them in the heat of the moment with the kids I guess!

Now it was time for them to meet and begin their independence. We added components to the folders as we go. Some groups have different things in them due to what their group needs, but they also all have some of the same components to help them be successful.

All groups have blue post-its with accountable talk prompts to help them add on to each other's ideas. That is one big struggle they all have... how do we have a conversation and not just share our ideas one after another. A baggie is included also where they keep all of their feedback post-its to one another (more on that in a moment). Also, groups have a sheet that they use to keep track of their goals. It's changed each time, as we learn more about goal setting and feedback. They started by just writing down a goal they had. Then they gave each other feedback in the form of 2 cheers (what are we doing well) and a 1 wish (what should we try to improve on). They then discussed all their cheers and wishes and used the wishes to set goals. They also write each time if they are going to keep a previous goal or if they achieved it. 

This group noticed a pattern in taking group time serious and staying on track in their group's wishes, so that is their main focus. It is appropriate also, as this group has some of my highest readers, so comprehension of the text isn't always an issue for them.
We then began to also make a plan to help us reach these goals we have. 
I met with each group to help facilitate this part. We talked about specific verbs that I can see them do to show they are working towards this goal so that everyone is contributing. 

Some groups still needed more structure for their group meeting times, so I whipped up some "talking tents" for them to set up and use during their group meetings. Also, some groups I did little strategy groups for and we added additional resources to their folder. This group is working on bringing questions to group, so we wrote question words on post-its and put them in their folder as well. We also drew which question starters  typically ask deeper, treasure questions than others so that they could pick ones that push their groups discussion. 

I've managed to get through all of my individual assessments, while having students engaged even during our wonky schedules with all of the fun end of year events and activities. They are getting through books, working together and communicating, and enjoying literature with one another!


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