Monday, January 12, 2015

Book Clubs: Accountability & Freebies!

There have been several teachers inquiring about my book clubs and how I use them in my classroom. I'm going to try and add in some different posts as part of my "Book Club" series. Hopefully, it'll answer some questions and offer some insights into my favorite part of my day! Our current book club is so popular, I have students on waiting lists for books and asking for more books by that author! So, I added a collection of additional "free choice" books that students may want to pick up.

Today, let's talk student accountability. You can't read EVERY book. AR quizzes are really, really not so hot {not even luke warm} for testing and monitoring true comprehension.  

So how to do you hold students accountable for what they read?!

First, give students choice but make sure you know the books they will be reading. My teaching partner and I usually split up the books so we don't have to read them ALL the first year. That gives us some time (especially in the summer) to get caught up and read books that we'll be using. We try to have at least 8-10 choices so students have lots of options. Plus, with our "book previews" we really talk up these picks! Our general rule is that students must choose at least two of our books to read during book clubs and then can move on to free choice books.

Here's a sample list from our character book club:
I don't have time to do individual conferences. I've tried it and it's nearly impossible for me. I know many teachers are total reading conference rock stars - but it's a struggle to get it all in.  Between running a small reading group for my struggling readers and keeping up with the day to day of workshop, I never seem to have enough time. Group conferences have really helped me touch base and hold readers accountable. Here are some questions I pinned a while back... (I wish I could find the original owner & give them credit). Click the image to grab a free copy from m Google Drive!
I also hold regular notebook checks or will sit-in with a group of students while they're working on an activity. Typically, students only work together on Fridays so that most of the work is independent with some support from friends reading the same book if they get stuck. I NEVER take notebooks home. Even my biggest Vera would never fit nearly 60 notebooks. So, I call on tables or student numbers and I do a check of an activity or two looking for understanding. Most of the time these checks are not "graded" but a way for me to check-in on students and their reading progress. I always give students a fair warning before a check and then I create smaller groups, make notes,  or pull students that needed additional help.

Here's an example activity that my students completed today... 
 For this activity, I'd be checking that students can identify a theme in a novel (this is review) so I'm looking for mastery of this concept using our class read aloud and their book club novels.
Last, for a grade and a more formal form of check-in, I like to give quick general quizzes. We discuss in class that students are PROVING that they are reading the books by using character names and giving specific details. These quick quizzes are easy to grade by also hold students accountable for their reading during class. The idea behind these quizzes were a wonderful teacher in my wing {Shout out to Miss Sheets!} and then I adapted it to fit my teaching points and book club theme. I usually give a quiz in the middle of book club and a final quiz at the end.

What do you use to hold students accountable for reading in your classroom?


  1. Where I work, all students read (or should read) each night. They are encouraged to meet goals each nine weeks, with incentives being awarded upon completion of the goals met. However, this does not always occur...the meeting of the goals. I love this idea you shared!


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