Welcome back! We've come back to school refreshed and recharged, and ready for this last sprint between Spring Break and Summer. We thought it was timely to take a week to reflect on how we have grown as readers, before we embarked on to our next reading adventure.
Today, our Book Club took turns to have conversations in pairs and trios about how we all felt we'd grown as readers. We talked about what books resonated with us (and which didn't) and the ways we have challenged ourselves to be even stronger readers than we were when we started Grade 5.
A focus for us today was to centre our conversation around one speaker. Contrary to how we usually chat in Book Club where we connect to each other's sharing, we practised asking questions that highlighted and amplified the thoughts of each individual Sharer. For example, if Yotam was sharing about his reading journey, we would choose questions that would ask him to clarify, explain, and delve deeper into his thinking, rather than adding our own thoughts or connections. This allows each student the time and space to reflect deeper into how we have grown.
We will also be updating our Shelfies over the course of the week. (For those of you who aren't familiar, you'll have to watch this space...) I can't wait to see how our group reflects their individual reading identities through the books that they choose for their shelfies!
Behold, the slightly blurry photo of our first ever Book Club lunch!
I loved having the time to talk more with you about the ending (and twist!) of When You Reach Me. There's nothing better than sinking your teeth into a book that gets your brain whirring and those pages flipping! Thank you for making the time for one last book chat before we head off to Spring Break. I am grateful for the energy and enthusiasm that you bring to our conversations, and look forward to more reading discussions in April. We won't go jumping into a new book straight away (I can already hear your collective "Ahhhwwww.....!!") as I do want to spend a bit of time reflecting on our first Friday back. With treats. Maybe...
Today was one of our most exciting and energising Book Club discussions all year! Planned for and led by Sophia R and Elyse, we talked through our most interesting characters as well as our theories for why and how they became the way they are in When You Reach Me. We got into pairs to discuss these and then shared out to the group some key ideas that we heard from our partners.
As we went on our "treasure hunt" to find clues, it seemed the more we searched, the more questions we came up with...
Who is writing Miranda the letters?
How are they delivering them to her?
Is there time travel involved?
Why? How? Can you be in the same place at the same time? (Ouch! My brain hurts!)
Are "Miranda's friend" (in the letters) and the letter writer the same person?
What other mistakes did Miranda's mother make?
Is Marcus' mother in jail?
Where is Miranda's father?
What about Annemarie?
Is Julia perhaps not has horrible as we were first led to believe?
WHAT ABOUT THE MEATBALLS?
Please feel free to post your (spoiler-free) theories below... Those of you who are interested in doing Book Club Lunch on Tuesday, I'll find a space for us to meet with our meals, and discuss further...
We learned about our main character, Miranda, and her family's unique situation, but more interesting is her mysterious encounters in her neighbourhood... Through the predictions that we made for homework, we had some hunches about what might happen as the book unfolds, and these became increasingly juicy as we read together... It's fantastic when you get stuck into a book so captivating that it's hard to put it down for your next class, and that's exactly what we experienced today!
Lastly, as you may know, something that is key to Grade 5, and our book group in particular, is the idea of student ownership. Our group believes that it's important for us to choose the books that we read, and that each of us (teacher included) has an equal voice in the group. So, in line with this, we've started to hand over the planning of our Book Club sessions to the students themselves! Each week, we will have a student (or two) plan and execute our meeting agenda. You'll see a couple below from Raquel and Will last week, and Christina and Brady this week.
We'll be doing a blog post soon about our recent (and very exciting) personal reading projects we have been doing... Watch this space!
When we met this week, we had read through over half of Beverley Naidoo's Journey to Jo'Burg. We used a Visual Thinking Routine called Connect Extend Challenge to share our ideas from last week's reading.
Through this routine, we found that most of us had some connections to the book and the events of the story, but most of us had several challenges. We were all extremely motivated by the questions that we had come up with. Over the course of this week, our readers will be generating even more questions and beginning to seek some answers from Beverley Naidoo's website. We may even have an opportunity to connect with the author, Beverley Naidoo, herself!
I sometimes use Twitter as a platform to share thinking about the work that we do in school with others (usually other teachers, authors, or education experts). I had posted a tweet about our lesson on Friday and, much to my surprise, she replied! I was extremely excited about this, and look forward to connecting with the author again soon. Check out our thread below...
One of my favourite things about book club is the start of a new cycle. As you may know, our goal is to read our way through as many genres of books together as possible during this fifth grade year. We have already read realistic fiction and a graphic novel, so we thought it was time to delve into some historical fiction!
Ms Tanja was kind enough to pull six titles for us to look at. Her book sells are both incredibly helpful and inspiring, and ever-so-slightly frustrating as we walk in not knowing which book to read and come out desperately wanting to read several! ;) We eventually voted on Journey to Jo'burg by Beverly Naidoo, which is a text set in South Africa during apartheid. We are excited to explore more as most of us have not read a book by a South African author.
This cycle will take us through not only discussions about the text, but an exploration of what life must have been like for young children like our protagonists, Tiro and Naledi.
We concluded our last session discussing Amulet by creating our own panel of a graphic novel, and experimenting with how the speech bubbles, onomatopoeia, and captions work together to give the story life beyond the pictures on the page. This was trickier than we had first thought it would be!
Our brief exploration of graphic novels through the first book from the Amulet series gave most of us a deeper appreciation of how much work goes into making a graphic novel successful, from the choice of the words, to the illustrations, to how it is all laid out.
Read some of our thoughts on the book by clicking on the names below:
Brady Christina . Elyse . Raquel . Sophia R Will Yotam
New Cycle, New Book, New Genre!
There are few things more exciting than getting your hands on a brand new book at Book Club! Something we know is that communities, groups, and families are bound together by rituals and traditions, and today, we started one of our own. In previous years, Book Clubs have celebrated the end of our time with a book, but in G5ren, we thought that was a little sad. Rather than celebrate endings, we hope to celebrate beginnings, and this Friday was no exception!
Hot drinks in hand, Amulet was our graphic novel for the year, and through today's activities, we realised that graphic novels aren't always what they appear to be on the cover! We realised that while some of us had read Amulet before, some of us had never heard of it, and a couple of us (teacher included) were trying it for a second time. One of the reasons graphic novels don't "stick" the first time around is that we neglect to take time for the pictures! We took turns looking through the Prologue (where things become very sad very quickly) and what the author and illustrator do with imagery alone. Powerful stuff.
In the weeks to come, you will see more student choice come through, not only in the books that we read, but in the assignments we do in and out of class. Our agenda (an example is below) is one example of where the kids will be taking more ownership. Watch this space.
Have you read any graphic novels before?
What are some highlights of reading graphic novels? What are some challenges?
Are there any that you might recommend?
Being Responsive Readers
Today, we wrapped up our work on Sahara Special by sharing our response projects. Last week, students were asked to generate some ideas on how they might show their understanding of the book. We decided that it would be important to show our understanding of:
This week, students will be spending some time updating their websites with all of our assignments related to Sahara Special. We will have a bonus Book Club meeting next week (time TBD) to begin working on our next book... Watch this space!
Readers are Writers.
Today, we finished up our Sahara Special reading! We each came to Book Club with moments that touched us as readers, as Sahara eventually found her place in her family, her class, and in herself. Taking a page from Ms Pointy's book, today, we shared out some of our favourite lines from the book so far. We wrote them on post-its and observed for patterns in the words, phrases, and sentences that we had selected. What were similar about them? How could we group or categorise these lines?
Some categories we came up with were:
What writing strategy is most effective for you as a reader?
Have you tried incorporating this into your own writing?
Ms Kim's Book Club...
Are you ready to be taken on the reading journey of a lifetime?
Brady, Christina, Elyse, Raquel, Sophia R, Will, Yotam, and Ms Kim are!
Join us as we explore our identities as readers through a variety of books and genres.
What are we reading?
We have just finished reading Rebecca Stead's mixed genre book, When You Reach Me. It is a mystery that we thoroughly enjoyed -- it might even have been our favourite of the year so far!
Our third book was Journey to Jo'burg by Beverley Naidoo. It is a historical fiction text set in South Africa during apartheid.
Our second book was Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi. It is a graphic novel, and the first of an eight part series.
Our first book, Sahara Special by Esme Raji Codell, was a realistic fiction book.