Reading is social. We want to share. When we need help, those we trust can help us through the tough parts.
In my classroom, students are members of book clubs. Clubs have three to five members with like interests and abilities. More often than not, they are also friends. They choose books to read together, they plan their reading, they read aloud together, and they talk about their books.
Earlier in the month, I posted this about a book club tool called “game boards” or club houses.
This device is a tool to help reading clubs gather and talk in a focused, purposeful manner. The best kind of club would come to their discussion time brimming with thoughts posted in their books and naturally go from one idea in the book to the next, building on each other’s thinking. I have two or three groups that come close to this description. They flow. Clarifying, rethinking, seeing another member’s point of view, referring to pages in the text to prove their thinking.
The other five to six clubs need a tool to help them in their discussions. This tool isn’t fancy. It’s just a piece of tag board with places for students to place their jotted thought. The board is big enough for their post-its and small enough to get them close together.
When clubs meet, they bring a post-it they think they can talk “long” on, their books and their notebooks. Each member places their post it on their placeholder. The members then read the post-its and decide which one to start with. That one goes in the center.
Many clubs then use “pebbles” to talk. Each member gets three (an arbitrary number) to use. Every time they talk they put a stone in the middle. When they have used up their stones, they have to wait till all members have used their stones. Then all can get their stones back to start again. All clubs don’t need this tool. High-functioning clubs often choose not to use this tool. It can disrupt the natural flow of conversation. Some clubs start out with them and then find they don’t need the scaffold.
This video clip is a club meeting on One for the Murphys. You can see the way they use their stones to talk. I set up the iPad and walked away. Watching this afterschool, I can check on their thinking but also their use of the tool. Viewing their club talk lets students reflect on their work and set goals for future work.
In some ways, this group might not need them. There was a bit of natural conversation without the stone put in. You’ll notice one of the other students tapping her finger, telling her partner to put the stone in.
Book club talk is highly prized time in reading workshop. It gives them purpose for their reading and writing. Students are motivated to come with a valuable post-it. They enjoy the interaction and the “game” or club house board centers students on the text and talk without me hovering over them.
Thanks to Anna, Beth, Betsy, Dana, Stacey and Tara of Two Writing Teachers blog for hosting the Slice of Life March Story Challenge. Read other bloggers slices here.