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therigorousowl

How to Grow Your Classroom Library for FREE!

We've got a FREEBIE for you that will help you grow your classroom library without costing you a dime!

Classroom Libraries are the Heart of a Classroom

Classroom libraries are where new friends are made, new places are explored, and where smiles are plentiful. As teachers, we often struggle with how to grow our classroom library without going broke. Books are expensive and getting enough books to satisfy the needs of your students can take time! This blog post will show you how to grow your classroom library 120 books each year without costing you a dime!

Taking the time to grow your classroom library is the greatest gift you can give to your students! Why Have a Classroom Library?

All teachers should aim to have a robust classroom library. Classroom libraries should be diverse in genre, characters, authors, and topics. Teachers want students to have easy access to books in every genre imaginable. Having an impressive classroom library sends the message to students that reading is essential for learning.

Become a librarian with this FREEBIE!

Growing your classroom library has never been so easy!

Happy Birthday to… Our Classroom Library???????

One idea that we absolutely love is the idea of having students donate a book to the classroom library for their birthday. It sounds like a strange idea, but here’s what we have seen. Our students love doing this. Often, their parents take them to Barnes and Noble, or other book store, and the child gets to pick out any book they want to give to the class on their birthday. They come into the classroom and show it off with pride to their classmates. Their smile shows us that they have definitely learned that giving is one of the best gifts anyone can get. If it’s a picture book, we usually read it right then and there, and if it’s a chapter book, we feature it in our library as a “Top Pick.” Watch how fast it flies off the shelf! All the students thank the child whose birthday it is and we sing Happy Birthday. Smiles are the order of the day and our classroom library just grew a little larger, one book at a time… x32 students in our case!

You’ve Read It? We Haven’t!

The number one way that we have grown our classroom over the year is by asking our students to donate books that they have at home that they have already read. We have them fill out a slip of paper and glue it to the inside cover of the book they donate. We might bribe them with some classroom money too! Whatever works! It’s worth it!

Growing your classroom library has never been so easy!

Using this FREEBIE

This FREEBIE will save YOU a ton of money and will grow your classroom library! We pass this flier out at Back-to-School Night to the parents of our students. If each child turns in books for the coupons, you will get a MINIMUM of 4 books per child (often, the stack of donated books is much larger). If you have 32 students, like we do, that’s 128 books each year! In five years, you just gained 640 books!

Growing your classroom library has never been so easy! GRAB THIS FREEBIE NOW!

CLICK ON THE IMAGE ABOVE TO GRAB YOUR FREEBIE!

 

Reading Partnerships in Upper Elementary

Educators are constantly on the hunt to find ways to engage their students and foster a love for reading in their classrooms.

Reading Partnerships are the answer!

Reading Partnerships allow students to read with their friends, while they also make new friends between the pages!

Reading Partnerships bring friends together and make new friends between the pages!

Find out what Reading Partnerships are HERE!

What is a Reading Partnership?

A Reading Partnership is when two students, at the same reading level, read the same text together and share about their reading. Reading Partnerships allow students to monitor comprehension and it also holds students accountable for their reading. A bonus for teachers is that Reading Partnerships motivates students to read!

How to Implement Reading Partnerships

How to effectively implement Reading Partnerships in YOUR classroom!

Choosing a Reading Partner

The overall goal of reading partnerships is to allow students to enjoy a book together. The most important step of reading partnerships is step number one: the selection of a partner. It is crucial that a student is paired with another student that is at the same reading level. Both students need to be able to access the text and it can be counterproductive if one student is always helping the other. One idea is to guide students during this step. Another idea is to create “cohorts” for students to choose from.

Reading BFFs! An easy way to track reading partners!

Choosing a Text

The next step is to have the pair of students select a just-right text. The text should be one that is both interesting and at the appropriate reading level. Again, the teacher can either guide during this step or can provide a book bin of texts that are appropriate for each reading level.

Find out all about Reading Partnerships in the upper elementary classroom!

Setting a Reading Goal & Reading!

Reading Partners should then agree on an amount of reading that they will do on a daily basis. Students should never read ahead of the other student. They wouldn’t want to ruin it for the other student… can we say, “SPOILER ALERT!” We always recommend that our students should have a “side book” so that if they finish their amount of pages, they still have something else to read. As far as reading goes, the teacher has a few choices here, depending on what works for you and your classroom. Students can either be given time to read the text together in class, or they can read it independently and then come together to share. See the image below with some of the different ideas.

Find out all about the different ways to read during Reading Partnerships HERE!

Sharing

Students should always come together to share about their reading on a daily basis. This step monitors comprehension and adds to the excitement of reading the text. Students want to talk about their reading! The teacher can list questions for the students to answer during this time or the students can generate a list of ideas while they are reading that they want to share with their partner. Either way, the sharing is where the magic of Reading Partnerships happens!

Reading Partnerships bring friends and books together! What could be better?

Reading Partnerships… The Rigorous Owl’s Way

We have done Reading Partnership Book Clubs in our classroom for many years and we have made reading partnerships a bit magical and extremely successful by making it friendship themed! We want to share our 8 quick and easy steps to making Reading Partnership Book Clubs work for you. Get Ready to kick back, and watch your students read with excitement and joy!

How to implement Reading Partnerships in 8 easy steps!

Step 1: Students take a reading survey that asks them about their reading interests. Then, our students “shop” for a buddy with similar interests. Note: as mentioned before, this is the most important step, so the teacher needs to be involved! Students need to be paired with students that are at, or close to, the same reading level. We will watch our students and offer suggestions during this step to ensure that students are paired with appropriate partners.

Step 2: Partners look through our book basket of paired texts and choose one that is interesting. Students then preview the text and fill out a preview form to make sure that it is the right text for them.

Step 3: Students grab a bookmark where they record their daily reading goals. Students take the number of pages and divide them into the amount of days they have to complete the text. The partners agree that they will each do their part on a daily basis.

How to set reading goals in Reading Partnerships

Step 4: Our students choose a focus for the day’s reading. This is how we get the standards covered at the same time! Our students choose between setting, theme, making connections, plot, characters, or social media. (The social media is just a fun prompt that is engaging for students, while we check for comprehension.) As the students are reading, they write down everything they can think of on the focus they chose. This also serves as an accountability piece.Determining a focus and sharing during Reading Partnerships

Step 5: Students bring their focus cards and share what they wrote. Students can discuss similarities and differences and add to their notes during this time.

Step 6: After their discussion, our students get to choose between a variety of frames that match their focus. Let’s say that the students chose Plot. Each plot frame has a different plot question at the top. The reading partners would choose the frame that best matches their discussion. Students then answer the question and fill in the frame.

Cover your standards while using Reading Partnerships!

Step 7: We love to have everything themed in our rooms and always look for more ways to engage our students. We love the idea of having Reading Partnerships friendship themed! Students are reading books with their friends and making new friends between the pages! Why not make friendship bracelets?! We thought it would be a good idea to color code each focus. As students complete the frame for the focus, the students earn a bead for their friendship bracelet that matches the focus’ color. Let’s say the students chose setting. Setting is yellow. As the students collected information about setting and shared with each other, they would fill out a frame for setting. When that was done, they would both earn a yellow bead for their bracelets. The friendship bracelets are easy for the teacher and motivating for students. They can’t wait to add to their bracelets! Win-Win!Provide motivation during Reading Partnerships!

Step 8: We love having a cumulative project that our students can walk away with in the end. For Reading Partnerships, our students add each fame to a lapbook that documents their book and allows them to take pride and ownership in the book that they read together. We love to display the students’ lapbooks at Open House and other parent nights.

Foster a Reading Community with Reading Partnerships!

Reading Partnerships… Another Way to Foster a Reading Community

The goal of every educator should be to foster a reading community and grow their students into lifelong readers. To us, Reading Partnerships is the perfect activity to engage students as a reader. We all know that reading is the number one way to improve students’ abilities in all other academic areas. We should go out of our way to search for meaningful activities and to find the perfect books to place into our students’ hands. There is no better way to spend your time as a teacher!

Provide the Type of Reading Classroom You Needed as a Child

In finishing this post, we must stand on our soapbox for a moment. Please bear with us. It really is very simple. Reading is meant for enjoyment. Some educators find it necessary to require reports or assignments for every book that a child reads in order to prove that they actually read the book. Our thought is… Isn’t there a better way to find this out? What about Reading Conferences and conferring with your students? What about just talking to them about their reading? How about masking an assignment  into a a fun and engaging activity that doesn’t kill the joy of reading? Stop punishing kids for reading. Make it fun. Make it engaging. Turn your students on to reading in a way that only you can! Show your passion and you will see that your passion for reading is contagious!

Allow students to share in the joy of reading together using Reading Partnerships!

Reading Partnership SUCCESS!

 

Reading Partnership Activity Bundle GIVEAWAY!

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Reading Partnerships Ready-to-Use Resource!

Do You Love Teaching Reading As Much As We Do?

You will LOVE….

Reading Conferences Made Easy with a TWIST!

All about Reading Strategy Groups… The Missing Piece!

Reading Standards Brochure Resource!

Engaging Reading Challenge!

Book Clubs for the Upper Elementary Classroom

Create Lifelong Readers HERE!!!!!!

Reading Strategy Groups… The Missing Piece!

Let’s Get This Reading Strategy Group Party Started! Are you excited to learn about Reading Strategy Groups? We truly believe that Reading Strategy Groups are the missing piece in most reading programs! Sometimes, your readers just need that one missing piece to make all the difference in their Reading Comprehension!

Give Your Students the Missing Piece for Reading Comprehension with Strategy Groups!

What to do when students lack in comprehension!

Reading Comprehension and Reading Strategy Groups

Have you ever read with a student and they couldn’t tell you what they were reading? Of course you have! We’re teachers! This happens way too often! There are many strategies that good readers use while they are reading. After reading with a student, or having a Reading Conference (Psst… we’ve got a blog post on Reading Conferences! Click HERE if you haven’t checked it out!), maybe you notice that a student is just reading the words and not actually picturing, or visualizing, what the author is really saying. This student would be placed in your Visualizing Reading Strategy Group! Check out the image below to see the Reading Strategies that we focus on in our classrooms.

Skills of a reader taught through Strategy Groups!

 

Learn all about Reading Strategy Groups HERE!

What Are Reading Strategy Groups?

A Reading Strategy Group is one type of small group instruction, and in our opinion, one of the easiest! Students are placed into a Reading Strategy Group when the teacher has found that they have a common strategy that needs improvement. Reading Strategy Groups should be anywhere from 4-6 students and they last anywhere from 5-10 minutes. The groups can meet 1-3 times a week, depending on the needs of your students. Reading Strategy Groups differ from Guided Reading Groups because each student brings their own book and is reading at their own level. The strategy itself is the focus of the group, not the reading level of the students.

Strategy Groups EXPLAINED!

 

The Teacher's Role in Reading Strategy Groups

The Teacher’s Role in Reading Strategy Groups

The teacher’s role in Reading Strategy Groups is to bring a group of students together that share a common strategy that needs improvement. Teachers are responsible for identifying the weakness, creating the group and bringing together the materials and students.

Reading Strategy Groups Materials

We identify weak strategies during Reading Conferences and record the students’ names under each strategy on a recording sheet. Once we have 4-6 students that have been identified, we start the next step. The next step is gathering the materials. We select a text (usually a class read aloud book), copy our strategy booklets that walks us though the strategy, and copy bookmarks that have the strategy’s definition, visuals and thinking stems. Finally, we call students to meet together and the students bring their own text.

Once we are in our Reading Strategy Group, it’s as easy as 1-2-3.

3 Steps to Reading Strategy Groups

We start by modeling the strategy by using a think aloud. We read part of our passage aloud and model how to use the reading strategy. Next, we have students read part of their text and practice using the same strategy in the way that we modeled. Depending on the size of your group and the amount of time, you can have students take turns and read their text out loud and then model the strategy one at a time, or you can have them read silently and then share. Finally, if students have shown their understanding, they will leave the group and practice independently. If there is a students that still does not show understanding of the strategy, we will ask them to stay and go over it with them one-on-one.

Find out what to do AFTER Reading Strategy Groups!

What to do After a Reading Strategy Group

After a Reading Strategy Group is over, we want to provide time for our students to practice the strategy with their independent reading book. Again, we love to provide our students with a bookmark that gives the definition, visuals and thinking stems that they can use as a reminder when reading. At their next conference, we will check in again to see how they are doing with the strategy that we worked on together. If the student has shown mastery, they will no longer need to be in the group. If they are still weak in the strategy, their name can go back on the list and can meet again with a new group of students. Groups should be seen as flexible and can meet throughout the year as needed.

Real Reading from Strategy Groups!

The Reward of Reading Strategy Groups

Not all teachers do Reading Strategy Groups in their classrooms. The reward for doing them is that you will truly see your students grow as readers. Reading Strategy Groups are quick and easy and do not require a lot of work on the teacher’s part. Pick your strategy, run copies, gather your students, model, guide and watch your readers blossom! The real reward is seeing your students smile when you say, “Get out your books! It’s time for reading!”

Want Reading Strategy Groups to be even easier?

Grab our Reading Strategy Group Bundle by clicking HERE or on the image below!

Reading Strategy Groups No Prep Ready to Use Materials

Ready to Use Strategy Group Materials

 

 

 

 

Reading Strategy Groups GIVEAWAY!

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If You are a Reading Teacher, Be Sure to Check Out:

Reading Conferences

Small Group Instruction Using Picture Books!

Interactive Notebooks… A Love-Hate Relationship

The Reading Challenge that will Create Life-Long Readers

Reading Conferences Made Easy with a TWIST!

We are so happy that you found our blog on Reading Conferences!

We love it when amazing educators, like you, find us! Before we begin we want to tell you that YOU ARE AMAZING! How do we know? We know you’re amazing because not all educators are out there scouring the web to find new ways to reach their students.

Not all educators see the value in Reading Conferences, but YOU do!

Otherwise, you wouldn’t be here!

We can’t wait to share with you the #1 way to grow a Reading Community!

Reading Conferences are the Number ONE Way to Grow a Reading Community! Find out HOW HERE!

What are Reading Conferences? Find out HERE!

What are Independent Reading Conferences?

You may have heard of Reading Conferences before, but maybe you’re not clear on what they actually are. Reading Conferences are simply a time that a teacher and student can come together and connect over a book. Reading Conferences last anywhere from 5-10 minutes. During this time, students share their thoughts and ideas about their independent reading. While students are independently reading, teachers plop down next to a student where they are, listen to them read a page and then have a conversation about the text they are reading. Teachers should listen to a page read aloud to check for fluency and to guarantee that the book is at an appropriate reading level for the student. The conversation afterwards ensures comprehension and also lets students know that the teacher values both them as a reader and reading itself.

What are the Types of Reading Conferences? Find out HERE!

The Types of Reading Conferences

Formal Reading Conferences

There are two types of Reading Conferences that we use in our classrooms… Formal and Informal. Formal conferences happen on a set date. Both the teacher and student know about this date and come prepared. Students come prepared with the materials required, such as their book, conference forms, or assignments, and the teacher comes prepared with their formal notes.

Informal Reading Conferences

Informal conferences are a spur of the moment meeting where the teachers plops down next to a student and starts a conversation about the book the student is reading. The observations during this type of conference can be written down if the teachers learns about anything profound, or these observations can just go into the teacher’s mental bank for the child.

How Often Should Reading Conferences Occur?

The goal of Reading Conferences is to meet with each student on a weekly basis, either formally or informally. We find this very manageable in a class size of 20 students. We, however, have 32 students. Meeting with every student on a weekly basis sounds a little overwhelming, right? Here’s what we do. In our classrooms, we plan to formally confer with each student once every two weeks. That means that, on average, we meet with 3-4 students each day. Since conferences are 5-10 minutes, we spend no more than 30 minutes conferring with our students. This is the perfect amount of time for their Independent Reading time! When we finish early, we pop around and do a few informal conferences when we can. We guarantee that our students will have a Reading Conference once every other week, and they will usually have an informal conference too. Therefore, for every two weeks, each student is getting one formal and one informal Reading Conference.  To us, this is very manageable and, trust us… YOU WILL SEE THE EFFECT IT WILL HAVE IN YOUR CLASSROOM!

Reading Conferences with a TWIST!

Reading Conferences with a TWIST!

And now, the moment you have all been waiting for… THE TWIST! Here is how our Reading Conferences are different from all the other Reading Conferences you have seen out there. Our Formal Reading Conferences are STUDENT LED! Student Led Formal Reading Conferences make all the difference! Let your students choose the standard they want to discuss with you! In our classrooms, we have Standards Based Reading Conference forms that each child fills out before their formal conference. Students have a choice between 22 versions. Just so you have an idea, some examples of these are plot, point of view, genre, and theme. When we sit down with a student, we allow students to take the reigns and lead the conference. Our students already have the talking points on their formal Reading Conference form. We sit back and listen to them be the expert on the standard they chose. While we are listening, we take notes on the student as a reader. If you need to keep the conference going, we have a set of question cards that have a list of questions for each standard. We simply turn to the card, pick a question and keep the conference going. If you notice, there was a whole lot of teacher listening and student talking. Teachers need to be an active listener. Be their “equal” during a Reading Conference. Hold back from talking at them and just listen to the reader. You will learn a lot more this way!

Reading Conferences are for EVERY Teacher, Yes, EVEN YOU! Avoid the Top Teacher Excuses for Not Conferring!

Top Teacher Excuses for NOT Conferring About Reading

  1. Reading Conferences are too much work.
  2. I don’t have time in my day for Reading Conferences
  3. I don’t know what to do during a Reading Conference

Did you agree with any of these Top Teacher Excuses? After reading this blog post, we hope that we have helped you with these “excuses.” Here is our advise to you. Reading Conferences sound like a scary topic, but to us, the only thing that is scary is a teacher who does not conduct Reading Conferences. Here is our plea to teachers. Try it. Try Reading Conferences. Start small and watch how good you get! Meet with a student about their Independent Reading. You will discover that you have never known your students better, both personally and as a reader. You will implement an individualized learning plan without even realizing it. Your students will see how much you care about them, along with reading. Your students will be pushed to the next level as a reader.

You will create a Reading Community that loves reading!

 

Let The Rigorous Owl Help!

Find out about the Benefits of Reading Conferences HERE!

Reading Conferences are the HEARTBEAT of a Reading Classroom! Find out more HERE!

Want to do Reading Conferences

The Rigorous Owl’s Way?
Reading Conferences in 6 Easy Steps

Click on the Image Above or HERE!

Teachers Who Love Reading Would Also Love These Blog Posts…

The Reading Challenge that will Create Lifelong Readers

Small Group Instruction Using Picture Books!

Interactive Notebooks: A Love-Hate Relationship

Book Clubs for the Upper Elementary Classroom

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Small Group Instruction Using Picture Books!

Welcome to our blog post on how to make small group instruction less stressful for you, more engaging for your students and more meaningful throughout the year! Let’s get started!

No Small Group Instruction Stress Here!

Small Group Instruction Stress

We’ve all been there. We know we should be pulling small focus groups for students that are struggling to meet the standards on a daily basis.  It sounds so easy, but scrounging around and stressing about what to do with your students during small group instruction can deter a teacher from even pulling these important focus groups. Have we caught your attention? Does this sound familiar? This past year, we decided to do something about it to make our small group instruction less stressful! We can’t wait to share our solution with you!

Find out about the perfect resource for small group instruction here!

Standards Based Brochures for Small Group Instruction

Our solution to the stress associated with small group instruction was to create a standards based brochure (or tri-fold) for our standards. Our entire year of small group instruction would be done in one easy step! Standards based brochures are a ready-to-use resource that we can simply grab and use! They are seriously as simple as that. We copy the brochures and have them ready to use in our small group instruction. Students bring a book and we are ready for small group instruction success!

Choose your standard and teach! It's that simple!

Materials for Small Group Instruction

The materials required for our small group instruction consist of brochures relating to the standard, pencils and picture books! Here’s why we love using picture books. Picture books hardly get any recognition in the upper grade classroom. We want our students reading chapter books, chapter books and more chapter books. But what about picture books? Picture books are an amazing way to get an entire story in a short amount of time! You can quickly touch on author’s craft, parts of the plot, and then focus in on your targeted standard. The most important reason that we love to read picture books during small group instruction is that they are engaging!

Standards based brochures are perfect for picture books!

Standards Based Brochures Will Save Your Sanity

Small group instruction is not the only way to use our standards based brochures… it just happens to be our favorite! Standards based brochures have other uses inside of the classroom. Have you ever had a hand go up and a student say, “Teacher, I’m done. Now what?” BWAHAHAHAHA… of course you have! You’re a teacher! Well, this question can have a teacher losing their mind on a daily basis and multiple times a day! Standards based brochures have been a life-saver in our classrooms and we know they will be a life-saver in your classroom too!

The answer to, "Teacher, I'm Done! Now What?"

Students love standards based brochures because it allows them to have choice in the standard that they want to focus on. As we teach a standard, we add the choice to our display in the back of our room. Students know that they can choose anything in the display. They choose a brochure, grab a book and get to work! Students are able to practice the standard five times with five different books!

A Ready-to-Use Resource Perfect for Early Finishers

An Added Bonus

Don’t you just love the parents that ask, “How can I help my child master the standards you are teaching in the classroom at home?” We love parents that want to get involved and help their child, but we don’t always have an easy answer for them. Standards based brochures have been our saving grace! We hand these amazing and wonderful parents our brochure and they are sent off to practice exactly what we are doing in the classroom at home with their child! These are great for Parent-Teacher Conferences! We also love to send home brochures attached to progress reports or tests that were not proficient. Your parents will think you’ve got it all figured out!

School to Home Connection SUCCESS!

The Many Possibilities of Standards Based Brochures

Standards based brochures are the perfect solution to many problems that teachers have in the classroom. Small group instruction, centers, early finishers, intervention, and school-to-home connections can leave teachers feeling overwhelmed and stressed out. We have found that having these brochures have solved many problems.

A Resource Perfect for Centers, Enrichment, Small Groups or Intervention

The main reason why we love these brochures is that our students love them.

They are perfect for practicing and reviewing standards all year long and they keep our students engaged!

What more could a teacher ask for?

An engaging way to practice your standards all year long!

Interested in Grabbing this for Yourself?

Click the image below!

Standards Based Brochures

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Looking for other ways to lessen the stress in your classroom?

Secrets to Interactive Notebooks Revealed!

Book Clubs in the Upper Elementary Classroom

Engaging Reading Challenge!

Interactive Notebook Secrets That Make YOUR Life Easier!

Interactive Notebook Secrets GUARANTEED to Make YOUR Life Easier!

PSSST… Wanna Know a Secret?

Interactive Notebooks Can Be Time Consuming for the Teacher!

Not really a secret? You’re right! We know Interactive Notebooks can be time consuming and you do too, but we are here to share three interactive notebook secrets that we have discovered over the years that are guaranteed to make YOUR life easier!

Hello and Welcome to our third blog post in our Interactive Notebook Series! ‘

If you missed the first two posts, we went over How to Start Interactive Notebooks and How to Effectively and Efficiently Grade Interactive Notebooks. You can check them out below! (You’ll grab some freebies too!)

Click Here for Post #1

Click Here for Post #2

Now that you’re caught up, check out these Interactive Notebook Secrets GUARANTEED to Make YOUR Life Easier!

How to use Parent Communication with Interactive Notebooks

Interactive Notebook Secret #1: Getting Parents Involved Will Make YOUR Life Easier

If you’ve ever looked at or graded an Interactive Notebook, you know that there are two types of students. You have the organized, neat and thorough student, and then you have the HOT MESS student. The HOT MESS student has incomplete assignments, organization issues, pages falling out of their notebooks and sloppy work. Teachers do what they can in the classroom, but there is only so much time in our day, right?!

When we first started Interactive Notebooks in our classrooms, we never thought to involve parents. We thought that it would be too much work for them and that they wouldn’t truly know what the assignments were. After dealing with these HOT MESS students for a few years in a row, we decided it was time to get parents involved.

How to use Parent Communication with Interactive Notebooks

In order to get parents involved, we decided to start off with a parent letter explaining what Interactive Notebooks were and how they could help their child. We also created notices that stated when their child’s notebook would be graded. We followed these notices up with reminders when their due dates were approaching. The result was that more students were prepared to turn in their Interactive Notebooks on their due dates and they were also more likely to have their assignments completed. ( This is also because of the checklists that we use, as we stated in Post #2 ) We have found that parents want to help… they just don’t know how to most of the time.

How to use Parent Communication with Interactive Notebooks

How to Create a System for Interactive Notebooks

Interactive Notebook Secret #2: Implementing a System to Grade Interactive Notebooks Will Make YOUR Life Easier

As with everything in life, having a regular routine and system in place makes everything that much easier. Here are some of the routines that we have put into place with Interactive Notebooks. Our students know that before they turn in their Interactive Notebook, they have to get a peer to check their work! Peer checks create motivation to get their work done! Another system that we have in place is that after Interactive Notebooks are checked, students reflect on their work and examine what they did well and what they would like to improve before the next Interactive Notebook due date.

How to Create a System for Interactive Notebooks

One Interactive Notebook Secret that we simply could not live without is having a Interactive Notebook Collector! Since we grade Interactive Notebooks on a daily basis, there were COUNTLESS days where we forgot to collect the notebooks that we needed to grade. Forgetting this, even one day, caused us to fall behind on our grading. Students love helping! Let them!

How to Create a System for Interactive Notebooks

Learn how to give students recognition with Interactive Notebooks!

Interactive Notebook Secret #3: Recognizing Students Will Make YOUR Life Easier

We saved the best Interactive Notebook Secret for last. Student Recognition is the most powerful tool that you have to make your life easier when using Interactive Notebooks!

Learn how to give students recognition with Interactive Notebooks!

The first way that we use this Interactive Notebook secret is that we created these colorful stickers to place throughout a student’s Interactive Notebook while we are grading. We love watching them flip through their notebooks when they get them back to find the stickers!

Learn how to give students recognition with Interactive Notebooks!

Another way that we use this Interactive Notebook secret is that we will sometimes reward them with an Interactive Notebook Incentive Coupon! These are no cost rewards that students can use at any time. THEY LOVE GETTING THESE!!!!!

Learn how to give students recognition with Interactive Notebooks!

The last way that we use this Interactive Notebook secret is that we have an Interactive Notebook Hall of Fame posted in our classroom. When we notice that a student has consistently done a thorough job in their notebooks, their name, or number, gets posted on a Hall of Fame star. They are also awarded a “Ask Me! I’m an Interactive Notebook EXPERT!” badge. They become the Interactive Notebook experts and help students who may have questions (which also makes your job easier!)

 

We hope these Interactive Notebook Secrets will help to make your life a little easier. We applaud you for using Interactive Notebooks in your classroom… and your students do too!

 

Interested in grabbing this life-saving

Interactive Notebook Management System?

Click the image below!

Grading Interactive Notebooks Effectively & Efficiently

They’ve Finished their Interactive Notebook Assignments… NOW WHAT?

My students have finished their Interactive Notebook Assignments... NOW WHAT?

 

You’ve made the decision to use Interactive Notebooks in your classroom and now you have questions…

“Do I really have to grade all of that?”

“How will I find the time?”

“How do I get my students to turn in quality work?”

“What do I grade and when?”

Well, friends, you’ve come to the right place!

We are going to answer these four questions for you,

so let’s jump right in!

Top Mistakes Teachers Make When Grading Interactive Notebooks

Top Mistakes When Grading Interactive Notebooks

One of the greatest concerns of teachers when using Interactive Notebooks in their classrooms is the amount of time that it takes to grade the assignments. We have watched many teachers set out on the journey of implementing Interactive Notebooks in their classrooms, only to see them burn out and complain about the amount of work it is to keep up with grading the assignments. Teachers will give an assignment, collect all of the notebooks, flip through multiple pages, grade a few assignments and then pass back the notebooks. Pretty soon, teachers fall behind and the amount of grading gets so overwhelming that they stop grading Interactive Notebooks altogether.

Another mistake that teachers make when using Interactive Notebooks in their classrooms is that they don’t grade assignments. Interactive Notebooks are called “INTERACTIVE” for a reason. Yes, Interactive Notebooks are a way for students to “Interact” with their content, but they are also meant to be “Interactive” between the student and teacher. This interaction is the key to making Interactive Notebooks successful! Students want you to see the work that they have done. You should want to see their understanding of the content you are teaching! If teachers do not check their students’ work, they will get lazy and they won’t give the assignments the attention that they need to master a concept. Don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity to get to know your students!

3 Ways to Not Pull Your Hair Out When Grading Interactive Notebooks

There’s Another Way to Grade Interactive Notebooks!

What if we told you that grading Interactive Notebooks could be low stress and manageable? What if we told you that all it takes is 15-20 each day when grading Interactive Notebooks? It’s true! Are you ready to learn how? We are going to help you with three ways to make grading Interactive Notebooks less stressful and manageable for you!

Before we begin, we are going to ask that you erase the idea that you have to check all of your students’ assignments on the same day. For example, if a teacher assigns a journal, most teachers think that they should grade all of the journals on the same day. We are suggesting the complete opposite. Give students time! If you want quality work, give students time to put their best effort into their assignment! Give yourself the gift of time and push this idea out of your mind. It’s simply impossible and it will lead to burn out if you don’t!

First, we are going to give you two images that might help you visualize when we grade. Look at the images. Notice that we teach an entire unit before we grade an Interactive Notebook. (Our units are a month long.)

Learn When to Grade Interactive Notebooks HERE!

Learn When to Grade Interactive Notebooks HERE!

We teach a unit, give a list of assignments that will be graded to the students, and then check those assignments while we are teaching the next unit. We conference and set goals based off of this grading for the next unit.

Informal Grading… “Spot Checking”

For us, there are two steps to grading Interactive Notebooks. There is the formal grading with the checklists and feedback forms, and there is also informal grading that we call Spot Checking. We definitely “Spot Check” on a daily basis. We will circle missing assignments and give suggestions to students informally. To “Spot Check”, we  simply have all of our students open up to an assignment and glance over the work to offer suggestions and note any incomplete work. We will document this on our homework checklist to catch it right away, rather than let it pile up on a student.

Formally Grading Interactive Notebooks

After a unit is over, we will pick the top 10-12 assignments that we want our students to complete with excellence in their Interactive Notebooks. Did you catch that? We only pick 10-12 assignments that we will grade. You do not need to grade EVERYTHING! Time Saver Alert! Teachers can glance at an assignment to check for completion, but all assignments do not have to be graded. If you graded every assignment, you would be overwhelmed… not to mention, your students would be overwhelmed trying to complete all of the assignments to the level of quality that you expect. Let them focus on the most important assignments that you have identified. We always have students glue in a checklist of these assignments at the end of a unit, along with our Teacher Feedback forms. Assignment checklists are also great for parents so that they know which assignments will be graded. Students can use the checklists to focus in on the assignments that will be formally graded by the teacher.

A Schedule for Grading Interactive Notebooks

In our classroom, we have between 30 and 32 students. In order to make grading Interactive Notebooks manageable, we grade three Interactive Notebooks each day over the course of two weeks. The first concern that a lot of teachers might have is: “Wait, you’re telling me that some students will have their work graded on day 1, while other students will have a week more to complete their assignments? That’s not fair!” Our answer: It might not be fair this month, but it will be the next month. (And plus… All of your students have already had a month to perfect their assignments!) Notice in the image below that we shuffle everyone’s number and spread them randomly across two weeks. It’s not fair if you grade #1-4 first every single month and have a set schedule. Mix it up!

 That’s a wrap, everyone!

We hope that this blog post has helped you to see that grading Interactive Notebooks is worth your time, can be manageable, and will make a difference in your classroom!

This blog post is a series of blog posts that we hope you will follow along with!

If you missed our first blog post about Interactive Notebooks,

Check it out here! (Psst… there’s FREEBIES!)

Next up in our Interactive Notebook Series:

-3 Ways to Make Interactive Notebooks EVEN Better

-Setting Goals through Interactive Notebooks

-Conferences after Grading Interactive Notebooks

Need resources to support you when grading Interactive Notebooks? We’ve got you covered!

Here is a toolkit with everything you need AND it’s Editable!!!!

CLICK the image below!

Interactive Notebooks... A Classroom Management System!

If you ever have any questions, we are here to help you out!

Leave a question in the comments below or you can always email us at therigorousowl@yahoo.com

 

Interactive Notebooks… A Love-Hate Relationship


Interactive Notebooks... A Love-Hate Relationship. Read all about our journey here!

Interactive Notebooks… A Love-Hate Relationship

Interactive Notebooks: Scary. Intimidating. Overwhelming. Problematic. Unmanageable. The list of words that come to mind can keep going. Are we right? This is where we started out seven years ago. Seven years ago, we were used to using the basal reader, doing the worksheet pages and calling it a day. Easy. Turn the page and do it. No sweat off my back. No fingers pointing at us if it didn’t work. BORING.

When we discussed the possibility of switching over to Interactive Notebooks, the thought was overwhelming. Many questions came up: Are we allowed to do that? What will we do in these Interactive Notebooks? Will the students like them? Will we like them? It was scary. We will be the first to admit it.

Once we made the decision to switch over to Interactive Notebooks, our Interactive Notebooks took on a life all of their own. We started out scouring Pinterest for ideas of what we could do with our students inside of our Interactive Notebooks. We would plan these ideas out together as a team and then go do them with our students. This didn’t last long. Once we started, it just became part of what we did. We would come up with ideas right on the spot. Students would come up with ideas. It was fun. It was engaging. We fell in love with Interactive Notebooks.

Here are the Top 3 Reasons that We Fell in Love with Interactive Notebooks
Interactive Notebooks build student relationships. Find out how here!

Interactive Notebooks Build Student Relationships

Building student relationships is the number one reason why we love Interactive Notebooks. Teachers get to know their students on a personal level and students look forward to their teacher reading what they have written. We always have a couple of students that insert little notes by their work or little illustrations for us to see. It is seriously the cutest thing ever! We really get to know our students through their writing responses to prompts, journals, free writes, and art work. We love writing notes in the margins of their journal prompts to show that we value what they have to say. With this comment, we know that we have just turned a lot of teachers off. “You mean I have to read everything they write?” Yes! If Interactive Notebooks are not “interactive,” students will quickly see that their work does not matter and it is not valued.

Now, with this being said, how can you manage reading through a whole class set of Interactive Notebooks? We have found that the easiest way is to have due dates for each student. We read through three notebooks each day, and with a class size of thirty, we get to each notebook two times a month… each every two weeks. Going through three Interactive Notebooks takes us around fifteen minutes each day (five minutes per notebook). The time that is spent on grading is time that is well invested, and you will see results. We have a lot more to share about grading and checking Interactive Notebooks, but we will go into this more in depth in a later blog post.

Interactive Notebooks have your year's worth of learning in one ready to reference place! Read all about it here!

 

Interactive Notebooks Have Your Year’s Worth of Learning in One Ready-to-Reference Place!

The beauty of Interactive Notebooks is that your entire year’s worth of learning is documented in one easy to find resource. These notebooks become EVERYTHING to your students. If they have questions about a topic, they can just look back at lesson notes, foldables or prompts. The notebooks become their reference source for their year. We love having students glue in lists of character traits or lists of common themes that they can refer back to for other assignments. Students learn to treasure their Interactive Notebooks and see their value. We had one student come back to us to tell us that she still used her notebook… and she was in the eighth grade!

Not only are Interactive Notebooks valued by students, but they are also valued by parents! We want you to imagine for a moment that you have a child in fourth grade. They come home from school and you ask them what they learned about. This common question is usually answered with one simple thoughtless word… Nothing. Now, in a classroom that has worksheets that are turned in after every lesson, the parents would never truly know what their child actually learned throughout the day, and in turn, you, the teacher, lose credibility. But wait!!!! You don’t have this kind of classroom (phew!) You have a classroom that uses Interactive Notebooks (applause inserted here)! The parents of the students in your class can grab hold of their child’s Interactive Notebook and be AMAZED at what their child is actually learning. And it gets even better! “What?” you say,  “How can this be?” If the parents of your students have questions about homework, they have the answers!!!!! That’s right, take a bow… you’ve earned it!

Interactive Notebooks are useful to more than just students and parents…. they are invaluable to YOU! Let’s say that parent-teacher conferences are coming up. Some teachers would need to spend all of their time gathering work samples and data to show parents, but not you! You simply grab the child’s Interactive Notebooks and you are good to go! Imagine your administrator walking into your classroom and browsing through a student’s Interactive Notebook… BAM… YOU ARE AMAZING! Imagine going to an IEP or other Intervention meeting and you need to show a student’s progress. Grab their Interactive Notebooks and mission accomplished!

Interactive Notebooks are the Perfect Goal Setting Tool... Find out how here!

Interactive Notebooks are the PERFECT Goal Setting Tool

Many teachers aim to set goals for their students and also want their students to set goals for themselves. Interactive Notebooks are the perfect tool to make this dream a reality. After grading each notebook, make a note at the end that states something that you noticed while reading their work. Maybe they used run-on sentences or maybe they aren’t giving enough details when they write. Maybe it’s a capitalization issue. Whatever you notice, write a quick goal for them to achieve by the next time you check their notebooks. Then, the next time you check their notebook, take a look at the goal you set for them and let them know if they reached it or not. If they did, set a new goal. If they didn’t reach their goal, keep the same one until it is accomplished.

Students can set their own goals in their Interactive Notebooks also! Students can evaluate their work right before you check it and tell you something they are proud of and one thing they want to improve for the next time. If you set a goal for them, they can also evaluate if they think they have achieved it or not. They can do this on a checklist, in a letter to you or just by using symbols. Interactive Notebooks provide a short span of work that can be measured and evaluated.

Interactive Notebooks... A Love-Hate Relationship. Which will win? Find out here!

Interactive Notebooks… Start TODAY!

If we have done our job in this post, we hope that you can see the value of using Interactive Notebooks in your classroom. Interactive Notebooks have been our answer to effectively teaching our students. You might be thinking, “Yes, I want to do Interactive Notebooks, but I don’t know where to start.” We are here to help you with this common thought. Our advice to you is to start small. Find what works for you and go in that direction. We have created five activities for you to use with your class TODAY that will help you get started down the amazing path of Interactive Notebooks. The best part is that these activities are FREE! ENJOY!

If you enjoyed this post, please let us know in the comments below! We would love to help you out however we can. Stick with us and we will walk you through how to make Interactive Notebooks successful in your classroom! Until our next post, Bye!

CLICK THE IMAGE TO GRAB YOUR FREEBIES!

CLICK THE IMAGES BELOW TO GET STARTED WITH INTERACTIVE NOTEBOOKS!Key Ideas and Details Interactive Notebook Lessons and Practice

Language Interactive Notebook Lessons and Practice

Language YEAR LONG Interactive Notebook Bundles

ARE YOU READY FOR THE NEXT STEP IN USING INTERACTIVE NOTEBOOKS IN YOUR CLASSROOM? FIND OUT ALL ABOUT GRADING INTERACTIVE NOTEBOOKS HERE!

GRADING INTERACTIVE NOTEBOOKS MADE EASY!Interactive Notebooks- Find out about how to grade interactive notebooks here!

The Reading Challenge that will Create Lifelong Readers!

Discover the key to getting your students to love reading!

Hello, Friends!

Welcome to our blog post on one of our most absolute favorite topics… READING!

Big Dreams, Disappointing Results

When we started teaching, we couldn’t wait to share our love for reading with our students. We set up our classroom library, had 30 minutes devoted to silent reading each day and assigned reading for homework with students writing a summary of what they read. We even took our students to the school library every week so that students could find books they would enjoy. Here’s what we quickly discovered… our students did not enjoy reading!  Looking back now, we don’t blame them!

A reading class is a happy class. Find out how to get your students talking about their reading!

What was Happening in Our Classrooms

Our students did not enjoy reading because it was boring! Yes, our students “read” every day, but it was simply, “Okay class, take out your books. Now we are going to read for 30 minutes. Ready? Begin.” Insert half of our class doing real reading and half of our class fake reading for 30 minutes with the occasional nose blowing or trip to the restroom. Finally…  “Okay class, time is up. Put your books away and take out your language arts book.” End of reading time. And then, at the end of the day, we would say, “Be sure to read for 20 minutes at home and write a half page summary of what you read. Fill out your reading logs and we will check them tomorrow.”

Ahhhhh!!!! Looking back now, we could scream!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Students will beg for more time to read with this Instagram Reading Challenge

What We Were Doing to our Students

Our little readers were basically having reading ruined for them! We had the best intentions, but we went about it all the wrong way. Students had their reading time confined to a 30 minute block of time with no purpose, follow up, sharing, discussion, etc… It was simply: open book, read, close book. Go home. Open book, read for 20 minutes (maybe) and then write a half page summary. Go to the library, return books that they might not have even finished, and get a new book that they may or may not actually read. YUCK! TORTURE!

Reading routines create healthy reading habits for life!

What Readers Need:

Readers need excitement! Students need to be able to talk about their reading and share their reading with others! Readers need a contagious reading environment that fosters a love for reading, makes reading fun and makes reading a part of who they are! Reading should not be an activity that only exists in a 30 minute block of time at school. Readers need to be able to read throughout the day and should be encouraged to squeeze in extra reading time whenever they can!

What TEACHERS Need:

Are you ready for the cold, hard truth? Brace yourselves. YOU are where the problem stems from. We’re sorry, but it’s true, and we can only say this because it was our problem too. We say this with love! Here’s what a lot of teachers think about reading: “I know I should have my students silent read, but it’s so hard to monitor. I have to have some proof that they actually read the book they said they read. I know… I’ll have them write a summary, or do a book report, or do some form of assessment (like AR) for every book they ever read. That should do it.”

NOOOO!!!!!  You are torturing your students and giving them anxiety about reading! Students view this type of reading as a long period of time that they have to sit still for, a way they could get into trouble if they don’t write a summary or book report, and a time of the day that brings anxiety! What teachers “need” is the part of reading that students dread the most!

Accountability teaches students to be responsible for their reading

How to Foster a Love for Reading

Readers bloom in an environment where the teacher is excited about reading themselves! Show your students that you love reading too by reading yourself! Talk about your reading with your students and always be ready to give recommendations to students! Show your readers that reading continues even outside of the classroom!

Readers should always choose books that interest them! Students should look for recommendations from you and other students in the classroom. They need time to discuss their reading with each other and create a Books to Read List! The buzz in the classroom should be about what they are reading or what they are going to read next.

Accountability is Key!

This is the piece that should perk your little ears right up. Accountability. This is the part that teachers are looking for in their classrooms. Accountability is the proof that students actually read the book they said they did. This accountability piece should be the most fun part! There are so many ways for students to prove they read! One way is just through a discussion! Students can discuss their reading with you, peers, or family! If you take the time to listen, you can quickly see if a child has actually read a book or not. The accountability piece should be short, fun and meaningful in order to foster a love for reading in your students.

Your students love social media. Why not use this to foster their love for reading?

Our Social Media Reading Challenge Idea

What do students enjoy more than anything else? If you answered social media, you are correct. We strongly believe in capitalizing on students’ interests and bringing them into the classroom to “trick” them into loving whatever it is we are teaching. To us, reading is our number one priority, so we saved our students’ top interest just for reading!

Students love Instagram. They love posting pictures and selfies, using hashtags, creating fun usernames, following their friends, commenting on posts and scrolling through other accounts. If we told you that students could do all of this with their reading, would you believe us? Our Instagram Reading Challenge is the answer!

When you hear the term Reading Challenge, it can turn a lot of teachers off. Here is our Challenge to our students: “How many books can you read this year?” That’s it! It’s that simple! There are no rewards, there are no prizes, there are no fancy awards. The reward for students is that they get time to spend inside books and then the opportunity to share their reading with their peers in a fun and engaging way. As educators, we all really know that the real prize is reading… and being turned into a lifelong reader!

Find out how students assemble their Instagram Reading Challenge Accounts!

Social Media, Classroom Edition

Students start the fun process of their Instagram Reading Challenge by setting up their accounts. Students use file folders and glue in the template that they will use throughout the year. There are sections for directions, followers, posts, books to read lists, and even a graffiti wall for awesome quotes! These file folders are a working document that students will use all year long to collect their reading memories in your classroom.

See how students post to their Instagram Reading Challenge

How Students Post to their Instagram Account

Students get to post to their Instagram Accounts when they finish a title. You can simply have students write the title, or they can gain some computer skills by copy/pasting their book’s cover into a Word Document. We used four computers for this. When students completed a book, they popped onto one of these computers and added their cover to the document. We printed out the covers once a month and students gathered their covers and glued them into their account. We loved this process because it created excitement and even another time when students got to share their completed books with each other.

Students also assign “Likes” to the title based on how much they enjoyed the book. We like to have them use a range of 1-100 for their “Likes.” This large range allows students some room to gauge their enjoyment of a book.

Check out how our students copy/ pasted their covers! Super quick and fun!

Where the Accountability Comes Into Play

In our classrooms, we choose to have students collect the titles they read over a month’s period of time. We have found that students usually will read four books in this amount of time. At the end of the month, we have students “share” the book that received the most likes that month. There are a variety of activities that we have students complete. They can post a picture of the main character, setting or most exciting part, create a commercial, describe emojis for the book, list hashtags for the book, make a sponsored ad,  or invent a series of comments between characters! All of these activities are high interest activities that will have students excited to complete. These engaging activities also serve as a way for you to see that students are actually reading in your class!

Students share their completed books and gain followers in this Instagram Reading Challenge

“Sharing” Books

This is our favorite part! Throughout the year, students will have multiple opportunities to share their reading with other students! Whenever we have a spare moment, we have our students grab their Instagram Reading Challenge file folder and walk around the room to gain followers! Students pair up and show their account to another student. Students look at each others’ accounts and ask questions about each book. If a book sounds like something they would want to read, they add it to their Books To Read List. If a student does this, the other student gains a follower! They write their user name on their Followers list. Their challenge is to recommend a book to every student in the class and gain every student as a “follower!”

Eye catching Instagram Reading Challenge Bulletin Board

Reading Challenge Classroom Display!

We love the idea of creating a huge Instagram Reading Challenge bulletin board to add to the excitement! We post our Class Read Aloud books to our account and have students vote on the amount of likes for each book. This is a great conversation piece when parents come into the room and a great way to look back at our loved books throughout the year!

#SelfieParty

To celebrate our reading and to have some social media/ reading fun, we throw a Selfie Party for all of our readers. You can have this be an incentive to reach a certain number of books, or just a fun time to capture your students’ love for reading. We love using props, books, and smiles to show off the fact that we are a reading classroom full of lifelong readers!

We Love Spoiling our Subscribers!

Get this fun Instagram Posting Activity for FREE! It is the perfect activity to go along with this engaging theme!

Click here to get this engaging Instagram Reading Challenge!

Click here for this Instagram Reading Challenge!

If you love reading, you will also love:

Book Clubs for Upper Grades
End of the Year Reading Yearbook Project

End of the Year Book Awards

In Closing…

Whether or not you think this Reading Challenge would be a good fit for your classroom, our hope is that you have gained some tools and tips to use in your classroom that will create a positive reading environment for your students. Students need a reading role model, a plethora of high interest books, time to read, and meaningful ways to share their reading.

We would love to hear about how you foster a love for reading in your classroom!

Comment below!

Book Clubs for the Upper Elementary Classroom

Find out How to Implement Book Clubs Effectively in the Upper Elementary Classroom.

Book Clubs… Every Teacher’s Dream Come True

It’s every teacher’s dream. We all want our students to work well together, to be motivated to work, and to be passionate about reading. We are here to tell you that this is not just a dream. Book Clubs make this dream come true. Book Clubs earn a check mark for each of these things on your list. We are here to help you add some tools to your teacher toolkit in order to become effective at managing Book Clubs in your classroom.

Click here for some FABULOUS Book Club FREEBIES!

Oh, and we’ve got some FREEBIES just for you!

Your passion and excitement about reading is contagious! Find out one way to spread this to your students!

Getting Started with Book Clubs

First of all, what are Book Clubs? Book Clubs are an opportunity for students to form partnerships in reading. Students read a book together, collaborate to get a job done, and share in the joy of exploring a book together.

So Where does a Teacher Begin?

Before anything else, teachers need to launch their Book Clubs by sharing their excitement and passion for reading with their students. It starts with YOU. If YOU aren’t passionate and excited to read, why should your students be passionate about reading? We love the idea of gathering up the titles that you have available for Book Clubs and SELLING them to your students. That’s right! Get up there and give each title a “commercial,” of course, leaving out the “Spoiler Alerts.”

One word of advice is to be sure you have read the books they are reading! We know… we know… but we promise, your Book Clubs will be more successful if you do! Did we scare you off? Okay, okay, how about this… Let’s say that you have six titles. How about read half this year and the other half next year? Audiobook? Summer Goals? No matter how you decide to get the job done, find a way… any way… make it happen!

How to organize your book clubs and watch your students succeed!

Create student-led Book Clubs with just two easy steps! Find out here!

The power of choice and responsibilities in Book Clubs! Let us help you!

The Goal: STUDENT-LED BOOK CLUBS

STUDENT-LED. This is the goal, but HOW?

#1

The first way to achieve student-led Book Clubs is by empowering your students with the gift of choice.  Students need to choose the books that they are reading. Get up there and sell each book with a commercial. Let students know how amazing each book is and then let them choose. We love the idea of posting Sign-Up Sheets around the room with the book titles. We have found that four to a group is the perfect number, but you can always do what works best for the amount of titles that you have available. Students walk around and “shop” for their books.

Common Teacher Concerns

Now, many teachers might say, “Well, how do I make sure that students choose a book at their level?” Well, hopefully, they already know how to do this because you have taught them how to choose books that are just right for them. Let them try! Let go of the control. If they don’t make the right decision, guide them. Maybe let them choose between two books that are at their level. A student should never be forced to read a book they don’t want to read.

Another concern that teachers have is, “What if they just pair up with their friends?” So what! Wouldn’t you want to read a book that your friends are reading? Trust us, they won’t have time to misbehave with the schedule you’ve got set up for them. They will be busy. If students are busy and engaged, there’s no time for misbehavior. Oh, and if there is misbehavior, separate them from the group for a day… what’s more punishment than being separated from your friends that are having fun?????

If students choose their book titles and groups, they will be more likely to read, fulfill their roles and lead each other during Book Clubs.


Book Club FREEBIE! Organize your Book Clubs with this FREEBIE!

How to EMPOWER your students during Book Clubs

#2

The second way to encourage Student-Led Book Clubs in your classroom is by giving students responsibilities. They need something to do! They need a common goal that they are all working towards! If students are busy with a job in front of them, they have no choice but to lead each other. Students have no one to blame but themselves if the timer goes off and the work isn’t done!

In Our Classrooms

The common goal in our classrooms is for students to complete their Book Club Booklet and to follow the schedule of tasks in a given amount of time. We highly recommend using a timer.

We always start out by discussing the reading from the previous day. In the students’ Book Club Booklet, they each have a different job to do each day. One might collect vocabulary, while the other might focus on figurative language. The point is, each student has a job that they, individually, need to accomplish. They discuss their findings with each other and share what they produced.

Along with these jobs, students prepare, what we call, “Discussion Seeds,” Discussion Seeds are ideas that popped into their head while reading and are something that they want to discuss with their group. When the time is right in the discussion, they plant their “seed” and watch it “grow” into a conversation. A sample Discussion Seed could be, “What if the antagonist was our teacher?” or “What if we changed the genre from fantasy to realistic fiction, what would have to change?” or as simple as, “What did you think when _____ happened?” Discussion Seeds can be anything! A Discussion Seed’s purpose is to keep the conversation going and to keep a group of students from saying, “We’re done. Now what?”

The next item on our schedule is that we display a menu of questions on the board that students answer. Again, we believe in student choice. Students take turns choosing a question that their group will answer. Each person  has a chance to share their answer verbally in the group. They choose a different question each day, over the course of your Book Clubs.

Students need to be held accountable during Book Clubs. Find out how we do it here!

Why Some Book Clubs Fail

Book Clubs tend to fall apart when students do not read and do not fulfill their role in the group. Sometimes, these students will try to sink into the background and let the others do the work for them. We have all seen this happen. Maybe you were in this group growing up! Know what we mean?

Over the years, we have found the cure to this problematic disease. Our cure is that we have our students come prepared with, what we call, a “Ticket to Discussion.” Our Tickets to Discussion are very basic. They might ask for vocabulary words with page numbers or to write a few sentences about their favorite part. The point is that they had to have read to fill them out. If the ticket is filled out, students get the privilege of participating with the group and if not, they are asked to sit out and complete the reading or work that they did not accomplish. Hopefully, the student learns their lesson and comes prepared the following day. If not, this student may lose the opportunity to be in a group. Peer pressure is a wonderful thing! We have found that we very seldom have this problem because students want to interact with each other and they want to share in the excitement that Book Clubs create.

Students also need to be held accountable for their teamwork in a group. Having your students create norms for group work is critical. They need to know how to share their ideas and involve everyone in decisions and conversations. We post these norms around our room and even on their bookmarks as a constant reminder. Here are some bookmarks with some behaviors that are beneficial for Book Clubs. Enjoy!
FREEBIE to help students remember their role in Book Clubs!

Learn how students can reflect on their work during Book Clubs!

STUDENT Reflection in Book Clubs

The last major component to Book Clubs is SELF-reflection. The reflection needs to come from the students… not from you.  Students need to evaluate their own work along with their group’s teamwork.

We have found that the use of the Fish Bowl strategy helps with self-reflection tremendously. Around day three, we like to have one group sit in the middle, while the rest of the class circles around them and quietly observes. The group in the middle conducts their Book Club meeting as they normally would. The rest of the class watches. Have a class meeting after the group is done and have students list five things they really liked and one way the group could improve. This is where you can offer suggestions to guide the direction you would like your Book Clubs to go. The next day, do the same thing. You will notice the students using your words! Each day, the Book Clubs will get better and better. We like to do multiple rounds of Book Clubs, so you really only have to do this the first round. During the second or third round, you can do it a few times just to check in.

Another way to assist students with self-reflection is by having them write about it daily. Students get the chance to write about things they are proud of, team members that did a great job and also things that they wish to improve. By using this piece, students can lift each other up and work on improving on a daily basis. Enjoy!


Click here for a FREEBIE that helps students with Self-Reflection during Book Clubs!

 


Learn how to sit back and watch the magic happen during Book Clubs!

The Hardest Part of Book Clubs

Teachers like to be in control. The hardest part of Book Clubs, for a lot of teachers, is sitting back and watching the class take the reins. Your role is a facilitator, not the director.  Hold a class meeting if there is an issue and have the students come up with a solution to the problem. Hold as many meetings as necessary, but try not to jump into a group and lead the discussion. Enjoy popping around from group to group and taking notes and making observations of your little readers! You have worked hard at teaching them what they know, so enjoy watching them use it while reading and collaborating!

Check out this great display of Book Club Booklets!

Benefits of Book Club Booklets

Have Open House or an observation? Display these Booklets on your board! Fun, colorful, and full of student work!!!!

Another benefit to doing Book Clubs is that they make the perfect addition to an Author Study!  We always do these with our favorite author, Roald Dahl. First, we read about Roald Dahl, and then we learn more about him through all of his books! You could make a bulletin board just like the one below!

Find out why Book Clubs make a great addition to an Author Study!

In Closing,

Our hope is that we have added more tools to your teacher toolkit. We love spreading positive teaching ideas that inspire you to inspire your students. We would love to hear from you in the comments below! Ask any questions that you may have or share about Book Clubs in your room! We look forward to hearing from you!

Ready to Start Book Clubs?

What are You Waiting For??????

Everything mentioned in this blog post can be accomplished by purchasing our Book Clubs for Upper Elementary Bundle! You will get ready-to-use materials that will have your students begging for more!

We have done all of the work for you!

Click the image below to start this engaging activity

with your students today!

Book Club Booklets! A great activity to add to your classroom to use with ANY book!

We have all the tools you need to run Book Clubs in your room!

Take a look at what our students do in their Book Club Booklets!

EVERYTHING you NEED to run Book Clubs in your classroom!

Find out why YOU and YOUR STUDENTS will LOVE Book Clubs!!!!

Interested in doing an Author Study with your Book Clubs?

Click the image below!