Sunday, May 19, 2019

Revamping Mock Newbery

Even the best laid plans can go awry. 
This year despite my best intentions we didn't have the Mock Book Club I was hoping for. We Skyped with zero authors. We barely met once a month. We never seemed to have copies of the novels checked in. Why? We had continuous scheduling conflicts along with a shortage of books. We had a never ending wait lists for many of our titles as many of my readers just didn't have the stamina at the start of the year to read some of our selections at a pace for sharing. We also had a lot of scheduling conflicts out of our control that didn't allow for our us to meet as a full book club. After debating how I could handle some of these problems,  I looked to other successful book club models like Project Lit and to other teachers in my school. 

We're going back to the basics. 
My teaching partner and I agreed that for next year, we're going to focus on getting back to the "fun" of being in a book club. Even though we had so many great titles this past year, it was hard to find kids that had read the same books at the same time in order to talk about the books together. Therefore, for this upcoming year we are only selecting four required reads for Mock Newbery. Can students read additional 2019 published texts? Of course! But we felt we could get more copies and make better use of our time if we narrowed our selection to four choices. We also made sure that all of our book club choices have audiobooks available - giving all our readers the stamina to read through our list! We are going to continue to host our Mock meetings during the school day but this upcoming school year we are going to hold meetings during lunch. This will give us 40 minutes to eat and talk books without any schedule interruptions. This also allows us to bring in some treats for book clubbers as well as order pizza for one of last meetings of the year. We're hopeful this new time will give us some freedom as to what meetings look like without having to have our partners cover students not attending our book club. 

We also hope to borrow from the Project Lit model next year for our meetings. Kicking off our meetings by playing a game/trivia, discussing that month's title and then planning for our next meeting. We would also love to be able to invite parents to our Mock Book Club too if they are reading along with their children. Our goal is to make this a commUNITY book club that extends beyond our school walls. I'll keep you posted as we try out this new endeavor. 

So what books did we select?
As always we try and pick our books before summer. This way, we can order books over the summer as well as send home information right away with our Open House information. This lets kids and parents start reading (if they want) before school even starts! After lots of reading and narrowing, I think we've picked four stellar middle grade titles. 

We have a school wide author visit with Jerry Craft in the works - so we're starting the year off with his graphic novel, New Kid. Our first in class read aloud is Rules by Cynthia Lord and we felt that Song for a Whale is a nice pairing as it also highlights the struggles of wanting to fit in and find your voice in middle school. The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise was one of my favorite books of the year so far - heartfelt, relevant and fresh this story takes readers on a cross country journey with Coyote and and her father Rodeo as they try and mend broken tires and hearts. Lastly, I'm eager to discuss tough topics like homelessness and abuse with our readers while taking them on a trip across the global with The Bridge Home.

Are you thinking of trying Mock Newbery for the first time? 
Check out my past posts. It's an incredible reading experience to share with your students! 

Hosting again this year? 
What titles on your list? What 2020 books are you must looking forward to read? 

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