Friday, February 3, 2012

Organizing Book Clubs--Round 1

   So as I posted before, when we were planning book clubs to begin after February Break with the 6th grade.  There are 3 sections of 6th grade with about 22 students in each.  Which translates to a lot of kids.  Here's what concerns we were originally faced with.

1: General organization (teachers, rooms, groupings--management/behavior/etc)
2: Books
3: Responsibility
4: Planning Stress
5: ...and of course, what to plan?

There were probably more but we slowly tackled each of these together.

The first thing we did was think of what teachers we have available and when.  Each day for one part of the ELA block (about 35 minutes) we have 6 teachers on hand.  The three Gen Ed teachers, 2 SPED teachers, and the AIS reading teacher.  When you divide this up, you have each teacher managing about 10 kids.  So we decided we will only run book clubs during this part of the period

Availability can be an issue.  5 out of every 6 days we will have enough space for everyone to meet with their 12 kids in their own room.  On the 6th day the AIS reading teacher will have to meet elsewhere, possibly the hallway or library.

This was a headache.  There can be a lot of drama.  Plus, when groupings get too large kids tend to slack off.  So we decided on groups of 4 and some with 5 if necessary.  Each Gen Ed teacher and one of the SPED teachers will have 3 groups in their rooms.  The other SPED teacher and the AIS Reading teacher have smaller rooms so they will only have 2 groups.  We planned these groups/rooms out like drafting for the NFL.

We are limited on funds and materials.  Therefore, we decided that all rooms (and thus groups) will read books around the theme of Medieval Times.  (We get to go to the dinner theater in NJ in May with the kiddos too as our big trip--woo hoo!)  Anyway, it correlates with our SS unit too (and if this goes smoothly then we will also be doing World War Book Clubs).  Anyway, we have a limited number of books.  Most of our collections were purchased through the Scholastic Book Clubs.  I was able to use my points this year to get enough books so each room has a title.  Two rooms will actually share the one Avi book because we have a lot of copies, but it works.  Here are the titles.

The Whipping Boy-Sid Fleischman
The Door in the Wall- Marguerite de Angeli
Crispin -Avi
The Castle in the Attic -Elizabeth Winthrop
Midnight Magic  -Avi
((photos from

So--do you see how this works much better on a tight number of resources?  We only need 12-15 of each title, and in the case of Castle and Whipping Boy we only had 8 each so we gave that to the AIS and one SPED room with only 2 groups of 4.  The class set of Midnight Magic was divided into two sets of 15 for the two classrooms with three groups.  We had 15 of Door which my group will be reading (3 groups of 5), and the Crispin books I was able to buy more through Scholastic with the bonus points so we scrounged up enough for that room.

While we were all on board, I can see where teachers may be reluctant.  But there are so many reasons NOT to be...besides that this is beneficial to students and that it aligns with the Common Core.  You get to work with smaller groups (yay!) and employ ALL of your resources so no support teacher is just standing there bored.  Then, the way we worked it, teachers don't have to worry about reading 10 million books and having them all going at once.  So that argument is de-bunked.  You can focus on one text and do a good job.  Plus, if you need a large group activity you have 12-15 kids there to work on one in your room, and they all have read the same book for large group discussions (or regular ELA class has double that amount!)  Then, if you want to expand further, we are all reading around the same theme so activities can be done that way too.

We haven't conquered this one fully just yet. We're still trying to plan Assigned reading is a must, as well as bringing your book (literally because we don't have any more).  We are somehow planning on counting and managing it into the children's grade for Book Clubs.  We haven't planned anything yet but are looking to combine skills across all of the books to make sure all students learn the same foundations.  We are also looking to make them interesting, so if anyone has any ideas I would love to hear them!!!  Feel free to comment away!

Anyway, that's where we are right now for the Medieval Book Clubs!  Stay tuned!  They launch at the end of the month!

Happy Weekend!


Katie said...

This is such a great recap! I ran into problems with the accountability part of it too! I am in the same boat with you as funding too. I have actually spent quite a bit of my own money buying some sets of 6, but I do not mind since I know those books will go with me now no matter where I might be.

Miss Klohn
Adventures of a 6th Grade Teacher

Emmy de Greslan said...

Thank you so much Ms. D for your reply. You are the sweetest.
I wonder what happened to the comment I left! Haha. Technology and I have our moments.
Cannot wait to hear how your Book Club goes xx

Kim said...

Hi Ms. D:
I love this summary. I am trying to get Book Clubs going in my room. I have to make it super-structured or they just get off task...

I always learn so much when I visit your site. It's so encouraging to see how others respond to the same challenges... and find success!

AND Thanks so much for your comment on my blog. I'm not excited about 40 kids. But I guess we just do the best we can.

I'll check back soon...

Finding JOY in 6th Grade

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