Monday, July 18, 2011

Book is what?

Over the years I have always had this awkward moment when students finish a book club book or when the whole class would finish a read aloud novel.  It was the phrase, "now what?", repeating in my head.  The book is done.  Do we hurry and pick another book?  Do the students pick an extension that I created?  I never had the time to fully ponder this one because tomorrow was a new day and we had to keep moving.  I was always uncomfortable with this.  What would be the best way to celebrate the end of a book club book?  How do I make sure the book is not closed and forgotten but seen as having an impact on our reading life?  If I believe in authentic reading experiences and choice, how do I support students in seeing what is meaningful in their reading life and begin to inquire about future reading possibilities?  I think I have found the answer toward beginning to make those beliefs evident in my classroom.

I came across four lingering questions that Harvey Daniels and Stephanie Harvey recommend in, Comprehension and Collaboration: Inquiry Circles in Action (pg. 203), to support the change in us that occurs after reading a book, no matter how slight the change might be.  They suggest asking four lingering questions that encourage readers to dig dipper into their thinking and see where the book's impact, no matter how small, takes them next.

The predictable structure in which I am going to utilize these questions appears in two places.  The first one is during independent reading conferences.  I have decided to use the four questions as the heart of my conferences when students share they have completed a book.  I want to support the students in seeing how one book can impact your next choice and should not be viewed as another "check mark"of things completed.  It will also give students "permission" to leave their next stack of books and follow the journey this book urges them to take.

The second structure in which I will use the four questions is after a book club is complete.  I will have each student independently answer the four questions and then meet to discuss the book's impact on their reading life.   Then, I am going to support the students on the journey they have chosen.  I want students to hear others' responses and listen for similarities, differences, or a common theme that could encourage collaboration.  I tried this last year with a group of third graders who were reading the book, Who Stole the Wizard of Oz, by Avi.  The students surprised me, don't they always, with how this simple mystery book had impacted them.  Two of the students wanted to rush to the library to see what other books Avi had written and wanted to read a different one by this author right away since they had never heard of this author before.  Another student did not like the ending of the book and wanted to rewrite it. A different student was surprised by the ending and wanted to reread it and look for clues that they felt they had missed during the first read.  And yes...two students felt stumped by the questions.  Right there I knew the focus of my next individual reading conference!

So what are the four lingering questions?  All credit goes to page 203 of Comprehension and Collaboration: Inquiry Circles in Action.  Check it out on this example I am going to use this year.
The four lingering questions

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