Adventures in Literacy Land: book recommendations

Showing posts with label book recommendations. Show all posts
Showing posts with label book recommendations. Show all posts

Booktalking Clubs - Increasing Enthusiasm and Excitement for Reading

Hi everyone! It is Bex here from Reading and Writing Redhead, coming to you to share about Booktalking and Booktalk Clubs! I recently did some professional development and went to a session on the topic and am inspired!

So before we do anything else, you are probably wondering, "Hmmm, is that a typo? Does she mean Book Club, not Booktalk Club?" Nope! Booktalks are a bit different than book clubs. Here is the scoop. Booktalks are 2-3 minute presentations someone gives to persuade others to read a book they  recommend. You know what I thought of? Reading Rainbow! Remember those kids would come on and give you a 1 minute spiel about a book they read and loved and then you would think, "Oh my gosh I need to read that"? Similar!

Booktalk Clubs are after school clubs that students join voluntarily. At some schools Booktalk Club is held before school, during lunch or during a free period. Students often get involved for one or more of the following reasons: They love reading, love writing, are social butterflies, or enjoy performing for others.  Booktalk Clubs rely a lot of peer assistance - more so than lessons during your reading block - and kids that join end up reading more  and recommending more books to others even outside of Booktalk Club. 

In my post I am not going to go into every step of how to run a Booktalk Club - that post would be extremely lengthy -  but at the end I will post some links for places you can get more specific information.

Let's talk about some basics though. Booktalk Clubs work best in 12 week cycles. Plan for 12 meetings, which may mean they go longer than 12 weeks because f vacations and holidays. How do you get students to join? Well, start with your own class and promote it to them, and get all the teachers at your school to do the same. Make up a flyer and encourage those students who already want to join to ask their friends to join. The Booktalk Club likely needs to be a coordinated effort across your school- your principal obviously needs to be on board to allow you to meet with students outside of class time, and the more your colleagues know about it and the more they discuss it with their classes, the better it will go! By the way, Booktalk Clubs can include students in different grade levels. It is up to you what range you pick. I will post some links with suggestions but I think 2nd grade-4th grade might be a good range, 3-5, 6-8 and so on. You don't want children to be so far apart in age that they no longer are really "peers". I think you also want the youngest students in your club to be able to read independently - not struggling. That's just my take!

How do you decide what books get picked? The element of choice is so important here. Students are volunteering to do this one their own time and need to have a lot of input in what book they read.  Grab a lot of books from your classroom library, the school library and town library and have them on display. Be sure to have a wide range of types and levels of books. As students sign up and give you their permission slips work with them to pick out a book (before the first meeting of the club). They need to have  their book read or almost read for the first meeting.  The first book choice is always the hardest. Try too encourage students to be realistic about book choice- for example a third grader choosing a 350 page Harry Potter book to complete if the first BookTalk Club meeting is in 5 days is probably not going to work! Sometimes students will realize their first book was too hard, too easy, too long, or too short and the next time around will adjust for it.

A big part of Booktalk Club is the presentation. It is encouraged that all booktalks be videotaped. Some clubs have a night where everyone's family is invited and all the students do  their booktalks live. Some clubs do both. Club members will make  decisions together  about what they want the culmination to look like.

To get an idea of what Booktalks look like as a finished product, check out these videos. I found 2 younger students and one older student. They did a super job!

This is a slightly different take on a booktalk - this older girl is recommending a book for younger children.

So have you ever done a Booktalk Club at your school? Might you try it? Let us know what you think and comment!

Scholastic's Booktalk Website

Waco ISD's Book Talk Update

Scholastic Reading Summit: Booktalk Update

Nancy Keane's Children's Literature Page

Reading Online Booktalk Resources

And thanks to Erin of I'm Lovin' Lit (and Adventures in Literacy Land!) for the terrific frames used above and KG Fonts for, well, the font!


So Many Picture Books...So Little Time

Summer is one of my favorite times because I have more time to read than I do during the school year.  Also, (please don't throw things at me) I like attending professional development opportunities provided in my area by the local educational cooperative.  My FAVORITE professional development every year is "So Many Picture Books...So Little Time" presented by Wendy Ellis, Director of the Reading program at Harding University.  She shares over 50 picture books during the PD that are current (published in the previous year).  It is the best way to keep current on all the great books being published.  Today, I am going to share some of my favorites with you.  Sit back, relax, and be prepared to add some books to your Amazon wishlist.

Simpson's Sheep Won't go to Sleep by Bruce Arant

Farmer Simpson wants to sleep, needs to sleep, but isn't getting any sleep because the sheep keep coming up with reasons why they aren't ready to go to bed.  What will he do?  How will he get the sheep to sleep?  As I read this book, I immediately made a text-to-text connection between the sheep (and all of their excuses) and to the pigeon in Mo Willem's Don't Let the Pigeon Stay up Late who continually made excuses why he should be allowed to stay up.


The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

Duncan wants to color, but his crayons have other plans.  Each crayon writes him a letter with their grievances.  What will Duncan do?  Will he ever get to color again?

This book has a FABULOUS book trailer that gives you hints about how each crayon is feeling.


Charlie Goes to School by Ree Drummond, illustrated by Diane deGroat

You probably know Ree Drummond better as the Pioneer Woman.  She also write books.  Charlie is her basset hound that lives with her on the ranch. The book starts with Charlie seeing the kids going to school (home school) and he decides that he can have his own school.  Find out what happens by reading this adorable book.

You can read more about the book on her blog HERE.  The book also has a recipe at the end for Strawberry Oatmeal Bars that look delicious.

Book Trailer:


Llama, Llama, and the Bully Goat by Anna Dewdney

My little girl loves her Llama Llama board book that we read every night as part of our going-to-bed ritual.  This Llama Llama book is a great read to help students understand what bullying is.  Llama Llama is learning a lot of new things at school, but Gilroy Goat is teasing him.  What is Llama Llama going to do?  What will happen to Gilroy?

Kid President has a video that would be a wonderful accompaniment to this book:  Kid President Pep Talk.  One of my favorite lines from the video:  "If we are on the same team, then we need to start acting like it."  Read the Llama Llama book, watch the video, and have students discuss what connections the video has to bullying.


The Little "Read" Hen by Dianne Las Casas

This spin on the classic "Little Red Hen" is great for introducing young writers to the writing process.  Little "Read" Hen wants to write a story, but none of her friends will help.  What will she do?

This book has phrases that keep you laughing and engaged throughout the story, like "busted her tail feathers."  At the end of the story, there is a "recipe" for a story that would make a marvelous bulletin board to showcase student writing pieces.  The author has a page on her website that has activities to go with the book:  educator guide and theater script.

Thanks for sticking with me through these recommendations.  Dr. Ellis did share over fifty books with us, so be on the look out for more posts here and at my blog.  I LOVE a great picture book!

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What Really Matters for Struggling Readers - Richard Allington

For the opening speaker at my district's big back-to-school kickoff, I was lucky enough to hear Dr. Richard Allington speak. If that wasn't enough, I was able to meet with him in a small group for discussion after the presentation! It was a very exciting and rewarding experience for me. I am a big fan of his work and really enjoyed speaking with him.

Dr. Allington is the author of several books, including his What Really Matters series. Some of his titles include:

As an intervention teacher, I find his work with struggling readers particularly inspiring. His presentation provided some important food for thought. Some of his major beliefs about working with struggling readers include:

1. Match readers with the appropriate text level and include choice

  • This might seem obvious. We are constantly running guided reading groups with leveled text, but he also means matching students to appropriate science, social studies, and math texts. This means doing away with the one textbook for the entire class. The struggling readers need to be able to access the information from another source. Students will also be more motivated to read if they are able to select among different texts.

2. 1-to-1 tutoring is ideal, but if that is not possible, groups of 3 or less

  • The smaller the group, the better! This can be difficult with school budgets, but the smaller the group, the more intensive the intervention.

3. Gradual Release of Responsibility Model

  • All lessons should gradually release independence towards the students. Lessons should begin with modeling by the teacher, move towards guided practice, and finish with independent practice. Many times we rush through the guided practice, or do not give students enough practice working with the skill independently.

4. Coordinate intervention with core curriculum

  • This can be especially difficult in large schools. The best interventions align with the core curriculum in the classroom. Students will get very confused if they are learning several different ways to write summaries. Teachers need to collaborate and teach consistently across the board.

5. MORE reading

  • It seems like common sense, but the more you read, the better you get! Dr. Allington compares reading to any other sport. You have to practice to get better. Unfortunately, he says many interventions or RTI centers focus too heavily on worksheets and paperwork. Dr. Allington says 2/3 of every day should be spent reading. This means that 2/3 of the intervention block should be spent reading, NOT doing worksheets.

6. Expert teachers

  • Dr. Allington truly believes in the power of the teacher. He believes schools should be investing in quality professional development for their teachers instead of purchasing packaged programs. He also believes that the most expert teachers should be working with the struggling readers. During his presentation he discussed how he is against the use of paraprofessionals to instruct the most struggling readers. 

7. Metacognition  and Meaning Making

  • Students should be taught to think about their own thinking when they are reading. They should be aware of the strategies they are using and what to do when they are struggling. Students should constantly be reflecting on their reading and pausing to make meaning. Dr. Allington believes the core of comprehension instruction is the teaching of strategies. 
Dr. Allington believes the key to RTI is the strengthening of Tier 1 classroom instruction.

How is RTI run in your school? What strengths do you see in your program? What weaknesses?


Notice & Note: Strategies for Close Reading

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter weekend!  I spent part of the long weekend reading Notice & Note: Strategies for Close Reading by Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst. I have a ton of thoughts running through my head now that I am finished.  I thought I would share two of them with you today to help me better understand what I have read.

Common Core Standards require students to closely read a variety of texts.  What does that mean exactly?  I have seen the posters everywhere on Pinterest and in the blogisphere that breaks close reading down to what you do each time you read the text (reading the text two to four times).  Many of those say that students should be annotating as they read.  My question has always been:  How are students supposed to know what they should be writing in the margins that is actually helpful in deeply understanding a text?  It seems too simple to just have them write a question mark next to a part where they have a question or an exclamation point next to something that was surprising.  If they are closely reading, there should be a transaction between the reader and the text.  Students should be thinking deeper about the questions they are having or why he or she finds the part surprising.  Beers and Probst give you six signposts that you can teach your students to help them dig deeper into the text and create meaning by transacting with the text at a deeper level.  What do you do to help your students dig deeper into a text without leading them to the meaning you derived from the text?

Another term that has risen to the top of discussion since the implementation of Common Core is 'text dependent questions."  In Notice & Note, the authors write, "We worry that a focus on text-dependent questions may create a nation of teacher-dependent kids...Text dependent questions usually suggest that a teacher has crafted the questions and the order of them to lead students to a predetermined meaning of a particular passage" (p. 43).   The authors suggest that teachers work with students to create their own text dependent questions.  They even provide a structure to help teachers do this with their students. (Clicking on the picture will bring you to Google Docs so you can download your own copy.)
I don't want my students to become dependent on me.  I want them to be independent readers.  Questions they create on their own are more engaging and authentic than any question I could ever write.  Students are trained that there is 'a right answer' when the teacher asks a question.  If I am the only one creating the questions, they will never fully engage in the text.

One sentence really stood out to me and I came back to it over and over again.

I would love to know:  What book has changed you?

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Engaging Reluctant Readers

Hello, Adventurers!  Jana, from Thinking Out Loud, here with you today to give you a few ideas on engaging reluctant students.  My post is inspired by Lauren's "Are You a Book Whisperer" book review over Donalyn Miller's fabulous book.  I read her book this summer as part of an online book study and still can't get it out of my head.  As I read the book, I kept nodding my head and saying "I am so glad that I am not the only one who thinks this way."

Before we delve into helping reluctant readers, let's define it so we are all on the same page.  Scholastic had a great definition:  "reluctant readers are those who, for a variety of reasons, do not like to read, do not like to expose themselves as readers, and have a hard time finding books they want to read."  I love this definition because reluctant readers aren't just those students who do not like to read.  This group also includes students who don't want others to know that they are readers and those who haven't found the right book yet to introduce them into the wonderful world of reading.  Donalyn Miller put a positive spin on reluctant in her book The Book Whisperer by calling them "DORMANT" readers because "they have a reader inside themselves somewhere" and "need the right conditions to let that reader loose" (p.28).

So many times we focus on the struggling reader:  the one who has trouble decoding, who has poor fluency, who struggles with comprehension.  With that as our only focus, the reluctant/dormant reader can fall through cracks.  These readers can read but don't.  As teachers, what can we do for the reluctant/dormant ones?  We need to wake them up and show them the wonderful worlds that await in books.

Student Choice
Donalyn Miller begins chapter 4 with a wonderful quote from Richard McKenna:  "Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him."  Student choice can be difficult for teachers because it is a time when we have to let go.  When Henry continually picks Captain Underpants books to read, I wanted to scream, "Pick something new!"  Instead I should be celebrating the fact that Henry is continuing to read, no matter what it is.  Giving students choice in what they read creates buy-in.

Be a Reader
Time to be honest.  How many of you read on a daily basis?  When I was teaching reading, I could have raised my hand.  Today, I cannot and that makes me sad.  However, I am working on bringing reading back into my life through on One Little Word, passion.  Books are a passion for me and I let everything else get in the way and push that passion to the side.  Teachers need to be role models for their students and that includes being a reader.  I could not stand in front of my seventh and eighth grade students every day and tell them that reading is important if I was not reading on a daily basis.  Why?  Because actions speak louder than words.  If they know that I am reading, if they see me read, if they see the stack of books I am reading and the stack that will be reading, then they will believe me when I tell them that reading is important and should be done every day.

Giving Honest Recommendations during Book Talks
Let students know that it is okay if they don't like a book.  Let students know that you don't like every book you have read.  Let students know if there are genres you do not read.  I was honest with my students when I gave book talks.  I would tell them if I liked or disliked the book and why.  Why would I book talk a book I disliked?  I knew that some of my students would like it.  It is also a good thing to let students know that you abandon books.  Even good readers don't finish every book that is started.  A book that I recently abandoned was the first City of Bones by Cassandra Clare.  One of my friends and my husband told me it was a good book, but I could not finish it.  I got bored and didn't care what happened to the characters.

Some Recommendations
Any of these books are fantastic read alouds to draw students in and have them complete the series on their own.  They are also great books to give book talks on to draw students interests.

Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
I was just going to put the first book, but I love the series so much that I have to include them all.  The first one is short compared to the rest and gives an introduction into a world different but the same as our own.  Students can relate to Harry, through his horrendous family life, going to a new school, making friends for the first time, and learning to find his way.

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (series:  Percy Jackson and the Olympians)
Riordan draws you into the books before you even start chapter one.  Reading through the table of contents will draw in any reluctant reader.  Chapter titles include:  "I Accidentally Vaporize My Pre-algebra Teacher" and "I Become Supreme Lord of the Bathroom."  The main character is a middle school boy who struggles in school, has ADHD, which makes it easy for kids to identify with him.  The story is filled with adventure and is fast paced so it keeps the reader's attention.

Skeleton Creek by Patrick Carman (first in the series)
The series is written in journal format from the viewpoint of one of the main characters Ryan, who is investigating the strange things that are happening in his town, Skeleton Creek.  What really draws in the reluctant reader?  The video component.  The other main character Sarah takes videos and emails them to Ryan, so you get the story from the journal and through the videos.  The videos are accessed online with the use of a password you get while reading.  The videos are creepy also.  Middle school students love that!

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney (first in a series)
Jeff Kinney writes his books through a journal format also, but it is different that Carman's.  Kinney's are written through a younger middle school student's eyes.  From Kinney's website:  "It's a new school year, and Greg Heffley finds himself thrust into middle school, where undersized weaklings share the hallways with kids who are taller, meaner, and already shaving. The hazards of growing up before you're ready are uniquely revealed through words and drawings as Greg records them in his diary."