Getting Ready for Book Clubs

Hello Darlings!  I've had a lot of questions about how to start Book Club Groups.  Here are a few tips to help you get started.

Decide on your Book Club groups by reading level.  I group them by DRA level.  I also use Running Records from The Reading and Writing Project here. Ex.  All my 28 M’s might be reading Magic Tree House and all my 38 P’s might be reading Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing.

I would not recommend more than 6 groups.  You may need to combine some levels.  For example if you have 3 kids at a level 28 M and 3 at a level 30 N, put them all in the 28 level.  It is ok to take kiddos down a level to do the work,  just not up.

If you have not already had your students in Book Clubs, you need to spend a day or two explaining your expectations and explaining  how to participate in Book Clubs.  Use the following anchor charts to help you. 

Your main goal here is to get students to realize that each member has a responsibility to the group.  Each member will also have new or similar ideas to share.  How will they share those ideas with their group?  Will they be a hog and hog the conversation and be the only one who talks?  Will they be a log, and just sit there like a bump on a log and not participate?  How will they be respectful?

I spend usually two-three days just talking about what I expect in clubs.  This is not SHOW and TELL or a sharing circle.  Kiddos need to work on RESPONDING to each others’ comments or asking a clarifying question.  This is where the Conversation Starter Bookmarks come in handy.  Practice using these during a Read Aloud so that you can model your expectations. You can get the Conversation Starter Bookmarks free here. 

Show students how to fill out their Book Log to record the amount of pages read.  Students should be able to read about 15 pages in 20 minutes or 30 pages in 40 minutes.  This also depends on how much you are asking them to Stop and Jot their thinking.  Stop and Jots can be done in a journal or composition notebook or written on sticky notes and placed in the book. If you need something more formal, you can find response log sheets in this pack.   

Scheduling Clubs

Depending on the makeup of your class, you could have all of your clubs occuring at the same time or you could create a schedule of when students meet.  With classes who could handle it, I usually did my lesson and then students met right after for ten minutes.  They then had their conversations and I made my way around to listen in to each group.  I would choose one group a day to meet with for more formal observations.

For classes who had more difficulty staying on task or self monitoring, I created a schedule to where I would meet with two clubs a day at two different times.  Students would have the rest of the reading time to read for their club and the entire next day to read.  They would have between 10-20 minutes the day before their meeting to read as well.  

This free editable schedule in my free resource library sign up.

Teacher’s Role in Book Clubs

During Book Clubs each day, you will be actively monitoring your students.  This means you will listen in on their conversations and record your observations in your Conference Sheet.  You will then be able to keep track of how far along students are in their books.  You need to be prepared to have a new set of books on hand for their group when they are ready.  Your lower groups will obviously get through more books than your higher groups. 

Through your observations, you will notice which groups are successful and which groups, or certain students, need extra support.  Groups that need extra support may need small group teaching and modeling from you.  You will not need to read each book as in Guided Reading Groups because you will be able to talk to your students about the general reading strategies.

You may also need to confer with students individually. The following is a suggestion for conferring.

Research Phase: try to understand what a child is already doing, trying to do, and cannot quite do as a reader.  Ask yourself “What is the most important lesson for this child on this day?”

Decision Phase: make a choice on what you will focus on today.  What skill will the reader be able to use today that will help him in the future to become a stronger reader?  This is done in your head.  You haven’t said anything to the child yet.

Compliment: Ask yourself, “What can I gush over?”  Pick something to compliment the child on.  They are vulnerable to you right now and your words will stick with them and affect how they approach reading.   Ex. Sally, I love how you have recorded your thinking in your reading journal.  I can look through here and see tracks of your thinking.  I see you had a question here and you thought this part here was really funny.  Good readers track their thinking!”

Teaching Point: Explicitly teach what you want the child to do either through guided practice, demonstration, or giving an example.

Link/Goal: Link what was learned in this conference to students’ ongoing work.  You want them to understand that everything they just learned here can be used for the rest of their lives in different subjects.

To get the general conferring Sheets I use click here.  The ones below are for my Mystery Book Club Unit.  

I hope this was helpful!

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