Not Your Average Book Club

A recent visit to Room 208 revealed Grade 5 students all geared up for engaging literature circles. Mrs. Fumarola expertly integrated technology throughout the process of forming and managing the book groups all the while enhancing the essential soft skills that students need to successfully thrive in the digital world.

After previewing the book options, students were invited to complete a Book Club Preference Form where they were greeted with a picture of the books and asked to rate their first, second, and third choices. Mrs. Fumarola used the survey results gathered in the Google Sheet to place students into groups. Students then teamed up to read, reflect upon, and discuss their novels using technology to facilitate their interactions with the teacher and with each other.

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Selection from Book Preference Form

Once students broke the book down into reading assignments, they read independently according to their schedules. At the end of each chapter, each student was required to complete a Thinkmark to stimulate critical thinking and metacognition. A Thinkmark is an interactive bookmark that prompts students to engage in critical thinking as they read. Traditionally students turned in a paper-based Thinkmark, which, as you might imagine, resulted in an onslaught of papers for the teacher to wade through. This time around, Mrs. Fumarola created a Google Form and collected student thoughts on group-based spreadsheet pages. She was thrilled with the paperless solution and the ability to easily see the progression of students’ work  throughout the novel. Students overwhelmingly appreciated completing their work online versus on paper.

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In addition to communicating with the teacher through Thinkmarks, students met with each other to discuss their weekly reading. Armed with a couple of talking points, students gathered for their meeting. Mrs. Fumarola kicked off each gathering with a recap of whom finished their reading and showed up with their talking points as she initiated the Quick Voice recorder app on an iPod. Recording discussions helped keep the team on track as well as let Mrs. Fumarola evaluate how effectively students were communicating their understanding of the text.

Lastly, students took to the Internet once again to answer a teacher-directed question. Using a discussion wall on Padlet.com created specifically for their group, students posted orginal answers to the teacher question. They also replied to their peers’ posts, generating thoughtful discourse.

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Book Discussion on Padlet.com

While book clubs or literature circles are not new to the classroom scene, Mrs. Fumarola was able to put a new spin on them and reach her students in the comfort of their technology laden realm. Throughout the three-week period, students were engaged far beyond the task of reading a novel. The artfully planned lesson challenged students to think critically, collaborate, and communicate in meaningful ways.  As a result, Mrs. Fumarola was rewarded with insight into students’ thinking and evidence of their interactions that would have been difficult to capture within the limited dimensions of the analog classroom.

By: Stephanie Doty

 

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