Thank you Two Writing Teachers for creating this space for me to share my corner of the world.
My students recently completed their first round of student-led book clubs. Overall, I think they were a big success, but I still have questions and kinks to work out.
Here was my basic process:
- Students had a book pass where students looked at all book choices.
- Students ranked three books in order of preference.
- I put groups together according to book preferences and book availability.
- Students read books outside and inside of class.
- Students recorded questions, thoughts, and wonders on a bookmark or sticky notes.
- Three discussion days were scheduled with reading assigned.
- Students completed a self-assessment.
Keep books in sets of 6 - I wanted to give my students many choices, and I have worked diligently on acquiring book sets to accommodate five periods and over 100 students. Because I had some popular titles such as Crossover, Circus Miarandus, and The Walk On, I divided my six copies into two sets of three so they could be offered in two periods. Dividing the books up did not work, because some of the groups were too small, and I had more students who preferred the book than the number of books I had available.
Groups vs. Choice - This first round I had students rank their top three book choices. Then I put the students into groups according to their choices. The feedback I received mentioned that they wanted to be placed in groups first and then choose books as a group. I have never tried this because I always thought that the choice in books should be the most important factor. Since middle school is such a social time, I am rethinking that maybe next round I will try groups first, then let them choose a book.
Focus on Discussion - My students enjoyed the discussion days, and many students asked to have more discussion time. I had them write questions, thoughts and wonders on a bookmark so they would have specific points to discuss. I learned I need to model what these discussions should look like. Many groups answered their questions, but did not know where or how to lead the discussion deeper.
Questions I Still Have
Here are some questions that I still need to answer and research. Feel free to add your advice, expertise, and wisdom in the comment section.
- Do you let students read ahead or keep to the assigned reading schedule?
- Do you require a certain amount of response or questions for discussion?
- Do you put choice first and then groups, or groups first and then choice?
- How long do you spend in each group?
- Do you organize book club selections according to subject/theme/topic? For example, social justice.
- If so, what are they?
I do know that I want to continue with book clubs. Middle school students are social, and talking about books makes reading them even more enjoyable. Creating those experiences is always my ultimate goal.