Friday, January 13, 2017

3 Ways NOT to FAIL When Introducing Book Clubs

Participating in a book club CAN and SHOULD be an amazing experience for ALL kids. I have read all about it, watched videos, and consulted with colleagues, BUT they were never successful in my classroom. I struggled with how to get students involved in their book without ME. I couldn't figure out how to get students to dive into their "roles" and take ownership of their club. I am ELATED that after spending YEARS of failing, or we can call it "experimenting," I finally have book clubs that have turned into collaborative groups where ALL students are engaged, on task, and EAGER to share their thinking!!! Here are three tips I've learned along the way that helped me NOT FAIL when introducing book clubs.

#1 COLLABORATION!! What I think made a HUGE difference was having students work through
their understanding of working collaboratively together. Let's be serious, a book club is a collaborative group, so it's really important for students to know and understand what one is. I put students in their clubs and on easel paper I wrote out the following 5 questions (each group had their own):

  • What does the word “collaborate”mean? 
  • What makes a discussion collaborative?
  • What does it mean to “build on others’ ideas”? 
  • What words or phrases can you use to link your ideas to your classmates’ ideas in collaborative discussion? 
  • What are some positive way to contribute to a meaningful discussion? 

Once each group completed the questions, they spent time sharing their ideas. We discussed each question in depth and came to the realization... Building on others' ideas helps create collaborative groups. We watched a video of a collaborative group (I found one online) and we discussed and charted how each member was contributing to the collaborative group. This was important for students to see what it actually looked like too.

# 2 ROLES! ROLES! ROLES! Students LOVE to have a role. I created a bunch of different book club roles and then let each student pick their own role. Some of the roles were: Word Whiz, (this person kept track of words that they or others may find confusing) Summarizer, (this person summarizes the most important part of the chapter) Character Reporter, (this person reports on the character, anything knew they noticed, character traits, character change, etc.) and many more. I simply checked out Pinterest and created a bunch that would fit my classroom. I also picked ONE student from each group to be the teacher. I picked someone who I knew would be serious and help the group to remain I task. I also let my class know that the teacher can change, but you have to earn it. This was HUGE! Each student begged to be the teacher and therefore I noticed how many of my students who are usually off task, started to become engaged and participating in their group! WOOHOOO!!

#3 MODEL! MODEL! MODEL! Once my students were ready to dive into their book club, I made a
point to model as much as possible. I would share my thinking and how I was able to keep the conversation going by building on others' ideas (when I would pop in and out of different groups)! I was not only the model, but I let other groups model as well. I also videotaped each group, I simply grabbed my I-phone and while they were submerged in their groups, I videotaped their collaborative conversations. This was eye-opening to my students. When they were able to see themselves and critique one another, they were able to see how productive or unproductive their group was! This was a game changer!! After viewing themselves against other groups, they really uped their game and implemented things they noticed other groups were doing successfully! I felt like a ROCK STAR seeing how each student strived to be an active participant in their collaborative group!

Getting Book Clubs started is the hardest part. I went very VERY slow because I wanted to make sure they had the fundamentals. If I didn't ease into the clubs slowly, it would have been a disaster because students wouldn't truly understand the collaboration aspect and their expectations. I used to rush into clubs and then become frustrated because they weren't working collaboratively and were off task. I realized that SLOW and steady wins the RACE! Going slow made the world of difference! I'm honestly in awe when I sit back and simply listen to the discussions going on during club time.

#teachersuccess :)

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