Nonfiction Unit Study: Topic based book clubs

We wrapped up our nonfiction partner reads early last week, and each set of partners got together to chart their learning, and here is what it looked like, broken down by the CCSS:
(CCSS: RI.6.1, 6.2 and 6.3) :
What was the “big idea” of their text? 
What were the most important  details that they could pull from their research? 
(CCSS: R.I.6.7, 6.8):
What nonfiction conventions did the author use in the text?
What information did we learn from these conventions?
How could we connect new learning with existing schema? What questions are we left with?

I think that my kids were pretty much exhausted by the process – this was a nonfiction reading stamina building week.  From the conversations we had all week, it was clear that we would need to build upon what we began.  I found it really interesting that kids who breeze through a whole period of fiction reading when given the chance, really struggled to maintain the same level of focus on our nonfiction reading days.   This was also great practice for efficient note taking – how much is too much? how to really decode what is important information and what are simply interesting details?  I relied on Stephanie Harvey’s classic Nonfiction Matters  for minilesson ideas in these lesson plans, it is such a wonderful resource!
Now we are on to our topic based book clubs. Each group of four or five has their own book (subtopics to the main book club topic), and the aim is to read, determine new and important information about your book, and then share this knowledge with the group to see if larger themes and connections can be discovered.

Our first round on Friday was more successful than I thought it would be…there was so much enthusiasm to share and discover!  Here, for instance, is one group discussing their topic: Civil Rights:

I was so impressed with the way in which everyone contributed, and everyone extrapolated from their own schema: other books read, movies they’d seen, things they’d heard about.  The goal is to finish our reading next week, and then each group will devise a way in which to teach the rest of the class about their topic.  Let’s see how it goes!

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3 thoughts on “Nonfiction Unit Study: Topic based book clubs

  1. I am starting NF book clubs on Monday. After reading your post, I think we need to learn to build stamina. I like how you had the focus questions and were asking your students to read with purpose. Totally borrowing your idea and also I like your NF icon. You might just find that on my blog someday

  2. They sound good, Tara. The stamina problem is interesting. Unless it's non-fiction narrative, they can't read it like a story, so they're so much slower. I like your button too. I'm going to my state IRA conference this coming weekend & am focusing on non-fiction in almost all my sessions. I'll let you know if there's anything good for you.

  3. I'd've your post- thanks for sharing. I'm currently looking for some nonfiction groups/topics/themes for my students. So you min sharing what your topics were? I'm trying to gather lots of nonfiction picture books for them !

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