Several years ago, I started doing an activity the two days before Thanksgiving break. We are usually finishing up a writing assignment and have students at different places of completion. It became the perfect two days for students to do book talks.
When I read In the Middle by Nancie Atwell, she mentions a time she and her husband sat around the dining room table with friends and "gossiped by candlelight" about a book. She compares her dining room table to a literate environment where people around it talk about literacy. She states, "We don't need assignments, lesson plans, lists, teacher's manuals, or handbooks. We only need another literate person."
That is when my idea for dinner table book talks was born.
Students are given a paper plate with the instructions that it is to become a prop for a book talk about a book they have read this school year. They need the title of the book, author, and a summary. They can decorate it however they want.
The Tuesday before break, I arrange the desks like long dinner tables with tablecloths and book centerpieces.
The students come in, give a book talk to those at their table and then mingle and go to another table. I try to complete three rounds, giving students an opportunity to hear several book talks and add to their want to read lists in their notebooks.
It has become my go-to activity for the week of Thanksgiving. It is very relaxed, lots of fun, and filled with creativity and wonderful books. What more could a language arts teacher ask for!
Here are some pictures of this year's plates.