It probably comes as no surprise to you that I love reading. After all, I am an English Language Arts teacher. Although, come to think about it, I have known some ELA teachers who hated reading, and others who hated writing! And next year, I am being challenged by my Principal to really extend instilling that love of reading in a different group of students. I will be embarking on a new adventure as a Reading Interventionist for my 8th grade students who struggle with becoming scholars.
Now, I will admit that I am both excited and nervous about this adventure! The only other "reading intervention" that I have officially done was when I was taking my Foundations of Education at MTSU over a decade ago! Fortunately, I found that Lit Circles were definitely a great way to get reluctant readers into a GREAT book that interested them. Of course, I was only working with one group of 5 college students at the time, but Dean Koontz's Odd Thomas became the first book any of them had ever finished in their lives! And they all claimed to really enjoy it by the end.
Fortunately, I also have something north of 300 individual titles in my classroom library! These are books Suzanne and I own that we keep at school for the kids to read. Literally, any level from Captain Underpants to Shakespeare is represented! And, every year we replace those that "wander off" and become some student's favorite. James Patterson's I Funny and Middle School series seem to go the fastest, then the sports books!
Another fortunate thing for me is that I have a LOT of teacher support! Many of my colleagues have been reading interventionists in the past, so I have a lot of experience to call on for advice. The number one piece of advice that I have received over and over - Reading and Lit Circles (RLCs)! Happily, the school has a number of sets of Bluford High that I can begin with, but I don't know how many that number is...
I HOPE to have 16 or less students per class period this next year. Reality is probably going to be closer to 24. We have hiring and budget freezes in place, in part because of COVID-19, so we cannot bring in a second interventionist per grade level which is what we need.
Setting Up the Groups and Using "Book Clubs (How to and Organizers)" from TeacherSorce
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I also have another advantage that I want to share with you. We have access to Cortney Gaynes and her resources at TeacherSorce, specifically her PDF entitled "Book Clubs (How to, Organizers Grades 3-5)". Yes, I know. I teach 8th grade. One of the fantastic things about this particular resource is that it is easily adaptable to ANY grade level, from Kinder to College!
I have one complaint with the resource. It is 112 pages - which is not my complaint! My complaint is that there is not a table of contents giving page numbers for the steps. I know, I whine. It's not like my life is harder because of no table. It would be harder without the resource! And here's the thing...I told Cortney about the complaint, and her immediate response was that she is going to update the product resource with a Table of Contents! (NOTE to any Teacher-Author Entrepreneurs reading this - THIS is how you respond to a complaint! She just guaranteed a return customer!)
To begin her PDF, Cortney provides us with a couple of YouTube video overviews of working with her resource - very helpful, particularly for those new to RLCs. If you have done them and feel comfortable with them, then by all means, bypass these. But the refresher may be helpful!
She then gives us a step-by-step (and you know I like that!) of how to set up and run your RLCs in your classroom. Believe it or not, this was EXTREMELY helpful for me! I don't have to ask, "Where do I start?" Cortney tells me exactly where! And, shocker, it was NOT where I thought! I thought you started by putting together a selection of titles you "just know" your students will love! Wrong. You start with DATA. (I just heard Sarah Renish laugh at me...) You start with finding everyone's reading level (data point 1) and interest areas (data point 2). From here, you form your groups. She gives you advice on two methods, which I will not go into here.
Now, I am a Capturing Kids Hearts and PBIS teacher, so I LOVE Steps 2 and 3, which is how to set norms. Steps 4 gets to the true "meat and potatoes" of the dish (or potatoes and carrots for my vegetarian and vegan readers). Cortney takes you through a smorgasbord of book tasting, to allow for students to self-select.
She then goes into book club times and structures, and the how to make it look the way you want it to look. Then comes the different Graphic Organizers! These make up the bulk of your PDF package, and they include organizers for the teacher as well as for the students! Included in some of these are See-Saw, Google Slides, and CCSS links for your use, should you choose to do so. For my fellow Texas teachers, as well as those in VA and non-CCSS states, don't hate - appreciate. Cortney teaches in Chicago, so we can forgive her.😆 Seriously, I am also CCSS trained, and it is not difficult to correlate the standards.
The graphic organizers for your RLCs are broken into either Fiction or Nonfiction, so you are covered whichever way your classes go. You are also provided with a grade book and conferencing chart for your use in assessing student growth!
Suddenly, I am more excited than nervous about next year! I will provide you an update in December on how it works in my classroom - but don't wait until then to get yours! Supplies may be limited!
Now, How do I get the BOOKS I NEED?
Did you know that Scholastic has started doing a "Go Fund Me"/"Donors Choose" type of campaign? I had no idea until this morning when I (actually) read the email they sent me! Here's the way it works... you go to your Scholastic account and click on the new drop down tab, "Campaigns", next to "My Account". Now, complete the contact information, and fill out an information sheet with 3 - just 3 - sections. Determine how much MONEY you want, not what books. Here is the CRITICAL difference, and why Scholastic is better for books than Go Fund or DC in my humble-ish opinion. You DO NOT have to HIT the goal to get the money! If the goal is $1000, and you get only $999 on other sites - you do NOT get the funds! With Scholastic, as soon as my first donation came in, I could have spent it! It would still count on the Goal tracker, but the book(s) or supplies would be on their way to my school! So, guess what I would love to have you do?
Follow this link, and help me get ready to buy multiple copies of multiple titles...please.