Thursday, May 2, 2013

CREATE-ing time to build theories and thinking in book clubs...

It seemed that April was filled with many professional discussions around creating book clubs.  Book clubs created around genres, around authors, and around one character.  The conversations were not just about creating book choices for the clubs, but the conversations were focused more on creating structures for the clubs that encouraged thoughtful conversation, accountability, listening, and being open to new theories.  And... poof!  You have Anchor 1 of the Common Core Speaking and Listening Standards.

Anchor 1:  Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on other's ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.  

For first grade this includes following agreed upon rules for discussions, building on conversations by responding to comments in multiple exchanges, and asking questions to clear up confusion.

For third grade this includes coming to discussion prepared, ready to explicitly draw on that preparation to explore ideas under discussion, and explaining ideas and understanding in light of discussion.

All the way to fifth grade...a continuation of third grade along with reviewing key ideas expressed and conclusions that were drawn from knowledge gained from the discussions.

There is a graphic organizer that I created during my Master's research project that has been the backbone to many conversations and has been tweaked, retweaked, and many teachers. 

This sheet is focused around one specific open-ended question that needed evidence to explain their thinking.   The question anchored our next discussion, but it also anchored their thinking while annotating while reading.  It pushed the students to think beyond the text.  After reading, students would answer the question/take notes/list evidence and color the stoplight to the right (green= good to go  yellow=anxious to talk because I am not sure  red=this was difficult and need to hear more from others).  When the students returned to their next book club, we would use this question to begin our conversation and use the writing as helpful hints to participate in the discussion.  The question would not be the only thing we would started the conversation with my teaching point.  Before the students would leave the group, each student would then add more thinking in writing that would combine their original thoughts with the conversation.  Then, after conversation, the students would color their level of confidence with the focus topic now.  This focused sheet helped to guide the readers through conversation and reading.  It provided me with each child's thinking...did the student demonstrate understanding prior to conversation when they were reading independently?  Did the student need conversation to further understanding?  And now...I had evidence of their thinking WHILE reading, AFTER reading, and AFTER discussion.  This tool provided an opportunity to notice, listen, and to determine what to support next.

Some examples of questions could be:

What kind of person is our main character?
Which event or character has impacted our main character's actions the most?
Who has the power in our story?
Evaluate a decision our character made.
Why is the character feeling the way they are?  Is this how you would feel?
What lesson did our character learn about __________?
How is the setting impacting our main character?
Using what you know about our character, how do you think the problem will be solved?
How does our character's situation mirror situations in your life or other character's lives?

What was your reading mostly about?
What caused ___________?
What was the purpose of our reading?
Why is this topic important?

CREATE-ing a structure to bring our book club together...that was April!

Check out other OLWs:


  1. Perfect in every way-great job making all the connections and love the stop light idea especially for older students who are hesitant to let us know. Just shared the link with my staff. Also thanks for continuing on with your OLW with me.

  2. I love this form- as you said, I have tweaked it a couple times- but we've used it for reading group discussion several times. It really helps kids come prepared and raises the level of discussion because they are ready to talk.