How much can you say about your BEST book of Grade 5 in 15 words? Our book club experimented with just that this week, as we were tasked with summarising our favourite book of the year in exactly 15 words -- no more, no less.* We talked last week about how we often 'waste' words, and that this task both supports us in being concise and mindful about the language that we use, and also makes it accessible to everybody, no matter what your reading and writing level!
Anyway, you're probably here because you are interested in hearing everyone's 15 words! Here they are. Please feel free to leave us a comment with feedback or thoughts about what we shared today!
Christina's 15 words on When You Reach Me.
Yotam's 15 words on When You Reach Me.
Brady's 15 words on the Alex Ryder series.
Sophia's 15 words on The Doll People.
Raquel's 15 words on The War That Saved My Life.
Elyse's 15 words on The Boy Who Grew Flowers.
Will's 15 words on All Stand For The Honourable Perry T Cook.
*This project was inspired by the work of Pernille Ripp, a literacy guru and 7th grade teacher who I was lucky enough to listen to at a conference recently.
We can't believe there are only two more weeks of Book Club before the end of the year. There are mixed feelings about this, and they were all expressed when we met today...!
While this means that we won't have enough time to start a new book (and do it justice), it does give us some time to revisit our individual reading identities and dig deep into why we are who we are when it comes to reading.
Over the next two weeks, the students (and I) will have two tasks, as outlined below. I continue to be amazed at the growth and dedication our group has shown towards developing their abilities and identities as readers. I couldn't be more proud to be their Book Club Teacher!
- Pick your Best Book of Grade 5 (Yes, we know it's easier said than done. Some of the students said it was unfair to do this, kind of like picking a favourite child!) The book can be from Book Club, Battle of the Books, or any of the reading you have done on your own this school year.
- Come up with a 15-word Summary of your chosen book. You can either choose to read it in front of the group, or make it visual.
Attached is an example that I did for Home of the Brave.
Personal Narrative on our Reading Identity. Instructions and some sample ideas and paragraphs in the slideshow below:
Photo from Ms Tanja's instagram @temgaletti
Last Friday was our favourite kind of Friday. You guessed it, it was New Book Friday! Over the course of the year, we have read realistic fiction (Sahara Special), fantasy (Amulet), historical fiction (Journey to Jo'burg), and mystery (When You Reach Me). We decided this round, that instead of putting together a stack of books grouped by genre, we would put together a stack based on theme. And what better theme than that of identity, and how we maintain our identity as we navigate seasons of change. Each of the books that Ms Tanja selected for us is a gem, so it was a tough choice. (Luckily, these books are all available in the Library!)
Each part of the book begins with an African proverb, for example,
"When elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers."
We talked about how this means that when people have fight, whether it be on a smaller scale, like a fight between friends, or a larger scale, like war, it is usually the people around them who suffer.
We will be collecting proverbs as we read Home of the Brave. We know that each culture has its own set of proverbs that tell the values of that culture. Do you know any proverbs from your culture? What do they mean?
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
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 started our fifth book of the year, Katherine Applegate's novel in verse, Home of the Brave. We selected this book from a stack of texts based around the theme of identity, and how we maintain this through seasons of change.
Our fourth book was 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.