#SOLC17: Book clubs then & now

The Slice of Life March Writing Challenge @ Two Writing Teachers – 31 days of  a writing community.

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Book Clubs…then:

We begin book clubs in late October, after weeks of independent reading and conferring. My sixth graders are excited to begin, and that excitement spills over into their meetings which are loud and chaotic, no matter how carefully we have prepared with mini lessons about discussion prompts and rules.  Our walls ring with chatter and laughter.  There is confusion,  and arguments break out: Wait, you said that already, it’s my turn now!  Hey, no one is letting me talk, this is SO unfair! We were supposed to read to chapter six, ’cause I only read to chapter 2?!  Wanna walk to town for pizza after school?  I race from group to group, assessing, redirecting, helping my kids to find their way.  By the time book clubs end, I am in serious need of a nap. I am also seriously wondering whether the endeavor is worth all the hassle.

Book Clubs now:

We meet briefly to discuss what we will discuss, and then my kiddos fan out to their favorite meeting spots, spread out their notebooks, and decide the direction they’d like to take.  The “famous” Smith Rice Krispie treats are distributed (home made by me, the night before), and a low rumble fills the classroom.  I make my way from group to group, listening and adding a few comments here and there.  Mostly, I find that although they politely make room for me to sit on the carpet beside them, my kids don’t need me.  So I make my way back to my little corner of the classroom, take a sip of my stone cold tea, and just enjoy the moment.  The book club endeavor is definitely worth that early hassle.

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21 thoughts on “#SOLC17: Book clubs then & now

  1. “By the time book clubs end, I am in serious need of a nap.” This line made me laugh out loud. I’m about to head into a new round of book clubs and hope that dividends pay as richly in my classroom as they did in yours!

  2. What a contrast with learning in silence, without student interaction and teacher monitoring. I think Mihael Rosenberg in Tel Aviv is dreaming about your classroom.

    I love too the layered preparation for the book groups now .

    Did you invite Betsy D to visit?

  3. I love the transformation you show in this before-after response. It is so nice when things work out the way you want them too. I love when book clubs are productive, and students are discussing without needing me.

  4. Yep, they love talking, and now talking about their books. You’ve described it well, though I never did the rice krispie treats.

  5. What accounts for The Difference–between the then and now? Is it the use of the notebook? I found that helping students to have some rehearsals prior to book clubs with ways of noticing and documenting thinking create a different dynamic. Then, my presence shifts. I don’t become unnnecessary, but rather more participant-observer. Curious what you note.

    • I think it’s a combination of factors: the notebook with specific talking points noted and thought through, and the fact that the book club routines of listening/responding have become habits. That, and they have also just matured since the Fall.

  6. This is what teaching is all about…making students independent. I can picture you sitting with your tea and a big smile on your face knowing that you took them to this level.

  7. I had a moment yesterday in my room where I thought I am purely an observer and the children are doing all of the work. We all know of course the together work it takes to get us all there. But I bet that tea – stone cold or not felt pretty darn great going down.

  8. Slowly book clubs evolve and become the wonder that they are. What a great way to reflect on the change over time. Sure wish I could get one of those Rice Krispie treats. 🙂

  9. The then and now is important to see because all too often we stop a good thing because “the kids can’t handle it.” You stick with it through the tough parts and see how worthwhile it all is.

  10. I just started a round of book slabs this week. My students love doing this because books are so much better when you talk about them!

  11. Just like good parenting, teachers reach for the moment when they don’t need us. You’ve done the prep work well, and now you can savor the moment of their growing independence.

  12. There is so much preparation and cold tea that goes into new things isn’t there. I had a paper mache moment this week with my year 3’s that I am still recovering from. But we know they appreciate us making their school life fun and interesting even if we wonder if it is worth the hassle at times. We couldn’t do it any other way.

  13. This is the time of year we start seeing in earnest our fall efforts w/ students pay off, provided we have those students all year, as I do my AP Lit and Comp students. Like you, I try to fade into the background and let the kids direct their discussions.

  14. I really like the then and now structure. Filing this away to borrow later this month for a slice. I am trying to expose my Children’s Lit pre-service teachers to book clubs but don’t think I’m doing enough to really instill a commitment. Ah well. I can tinker with it again next time!

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