Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Fantasy Update

We are swimming in fantasy reading and writing and we all are LOVING it! Even some of our reluctant readers are in love with their chosen series. 

Book Club units can be tough to manage and organize. If you aren't careful, all parties involved can start to feel like you are "drowning", instead of "swimming!" I thought I'd take today to layout how we organized our fantasy unit and a few of the day-to-day activities/tools that we have found to be super helpful. We have found this process to be really effective and hope it will help others!

As mentioned in our previous FANTASY POST, we launched the unit with a "Book Tour" of the series options for our kids. Our students could also bring up their own series suggestions, but only one group did that. Everyone else found something of interest from our "Book Tour." Click on the image below to see the full "tour" Google Presentation Show:

Following the book tour, students voted on their top 3 choices. They were guaranteed one of their top 3 picks.  We then got into our groups and set our "norms" for book club:

Each student got a general "Fantasy Book Club Packet" (available in our TpT store), to house their discussion notes, sticky notes, and other ideas about their series. The packet was aligned to the general mini-lessons that we would cover for the unit. We built other lessons in on an as-needed basis, or as kid needs arose. We also tailored our book club lessons to each individual group and their individual needs.

The next part that really made a difference in our Reader's Workshop block was a scheduled time for each book club to meet. We set up a rotation model. Our literacy block now looked like this for this unit:

Each book club gets 15 minutes per day to meet. The other 30 minutes are "independent time." They can choose to continue their book club work during this time, or they can choose to tackle other reading work that meets their interests or individual needs. 

We, as teachers, meet with our most struggling readers, daily, in whatever groups they are in. We meet with all other students/groups twice per week. We also have the support of our amazing ELL teacher, Niki, during this time. She meets with her students for two rotations, due to their literacy needs. We also currently have a truly amazing student teacher, which definitely helps out for 11 book club groups! We created a Google Presentation that includes a slide for each day of the week. It also includes a digital timer in the corner to count down and keep us on track (or we would stay in book clubs ALL afternoon! :) Student Group Letters that are colored RED, are those that are meeting with an adult that day. It has been an organizational life-saver!
Another way to help keep us organized was a collaborative conference log! We needed a way to document the different things we were working on and discussing with our groups. We created a shared Google Spreadsheet that had tabs at the bottom for all 11 groups. Each member of our teaching team has access to this document. This ensures that no matter which group we meet with, we can document our great work and conversations. And if we have spontaneous learning or discussions with groups that we are not "assigned" to, we can still document what went on! It has been an amazing tool!
We have about 2 weeks left in our unit! Then...it will be on to Fantasy Learning Models as part of their personalized assessment! We will definitely post examples when they are done! 

How do you organize book clubs? What strategies have worked for you that help everyone "keep their heads above water"? Feel free to sound off below! :)

Happy Teaching,


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