Saturday, 10 December 2011

Book Club Excitement Motivates Homework Reading

Part of the challenge of being an educator is constantly pulling out new ideas to keep students motivated about learning. This week I hit the jackpot with an idea to meet the needs of all learners, get parents involved, and manage a simple concept. It's one of those ideas I'm sure tons of teachers are already doing. It is so basic, I can't believe I haven't thought of it before . . . drum roll please . . . Book Club Homework! The tricky part of this idea is ensuring students are still reading at their own levels in addition to the participation in the book club. Because if I'm going to allow students to pick their own book based on interest and popularity, chances are many of the students who pick will need support from parents. What's so amazing about it though is the choices reflect an extension of the content study going on in the classroom. It brings a deep, rich level of discussion during the lesson when several of the book club choices support the social studies curriculum.

So this week, students picked these books to read for book club:
Little House in the Big Woods, Laura Ingalls Wilder
Where The Sidewalk Ends, Shel Silverstein
Fairy Books, Daisy Meadows
Frog and Toad Together, Arnold Lobel
Magic Treehouse: Dinosaurs Before Dark, Mary Pope Osborne
The Little Red Hen
Bear's Bargain, Frank Asch
Country Mouse City Mouse, Aesop

I provided time for the kids to meet together and chat a little bit about their reading. Even though they are still learning how to talk to each other, just giving them enough time to sit down and have one focus questions was enough for the first week. They took some time to plan what they would read for the next meeting.

It was brilliant! This, in addition to reading from their book boxes with very controlled levels, and the common text we share for mentor text or district program materials seems like the magic ingredients to keep the kids moving forward at a rigorous pace. I'm eager to shape and mold this over time into a very student-led aspect of my entire learning program.

I think the next step for next week is going to be developing some guiding questions for their discussions. . .

I would love to hear any thoughts from teachers about management recommendations.

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