Happy February teachers! We, here in the Midwest, are experiencing unusually warm temperatures this weekend and I'm beginning to think it's Spring. So... I'm wearing shorts today, but tomorrow I have to wear socks and long pants again? Hmm.. I'm confused.
Now, enough of the weather talk! During our reading block, we are rockin' and rollin' with our historical fiction book clubs. A few years ago, I posted about my first try with historical fiction + Dear America + Prezi. You can read about that unit here. This year, with help and collaboration with a fellow 5th grade teacher we gave our historical fiction unit a HUGE boost.
Let me start from the beginning....
This quarter, we are focusing on students reading informational text (specially RI 5.3.. anyone else struggle with this standard? Whew - it's a big one!) While brainstorming how to tie in this standard to our instruction, my colleague and I thought this was a great opportunity to start book clubs for the quarter. Using historical fiction books during our informational text unit gave us an opportunity to bridge together informational text and fictional reading. The overarching goal of the book clubs is for the students to analyze how an author uses fictional details to tell a "true" historical story. Throughout the study, students are actively researching the time period (reading information text) and actively engaged in a book club of their choice. Emphasis on the word choice.
Last week, I started gathering multiple copies of historical fiction chapter books. The piles started to grow around my classroom and the questions started to flood in...
"Ms. Furnell, why are those books in a pile right there?
"Are we starting book clubs again?"
"Can I read this book?"
"When do we get to read these books?"
....You get the idea.
Finally, it was time to introduce our book clubs. I placed stacks of books around the room and instructed my class to walk around the room and read the backs of as many books as they could. Eventually, students started to gravitate towards the books they really wanted to read and some even starting claiming them before time was up! Once everyone had enough time to read through several books, small reading groups began to form around the room. Sure, some of them came together because their BFF was reading the book... but the majority of my groups were formed by a shared interest in the subject matter (SCORE!)
Within seconds of groups forming, students were finding cozy spots around the room and reading immediately. A teacher's dream! I am 100% confident in saying that I know the enthusiasm for this project has so much to do with their choice in the book selection and partners. It's a risky gamble as a teacher to loosen the reigns and let kids make their choices but for this unit it's paying off big time.
Check back over the next few days and I'll share different mini lessons and activities associated with our book clubs!