Monday, October 15, 2012

Slice of Life - Book Club

Slice of Life is sponsored every Tuesday by Stacey and Ruth from Two Writing Teachers.

There’s lots of talk about authentic work in our classrooms, student engagement, choice. (See yesterday’s blog post HERE.) I thought of all of these ideas tonight.

See about six months ago I posted on Facebook about having a summer reading group for students. I had several friends tell me I needed to begin an adult reading club. Since grad school was in its final weeks I thought, why not?

I picked the first book, date, and meeting spot so we’d have a starting spot and we were off. Over the last five months we’ve read some great books, had hilarious conversations, and laughed more then I have in forever.

As I looked around the room tonight I was so grateful for this group of ladies and wondered – how can we get this feeling in our classrooms? I honestly think mine is pretty close, but getting those reading conversations to flow, to delve into discussion about the book, is tough at times.

But then another thought came to me. Sometimes I’m so worried about my students staying “on topic” in their conversations about books and writing. But in the hour plus we spent at book group, I’d guess half of that time was about the book and half on other topics. We’d be talking about the book and it would remind us of something in our own lives. Nicki would tell a story about teaching English to High School students. Benjie talked about how she connected to the mother in the book and how it made her rethink a conversation she had with one of her children. Jennifer and Polly chimed in that they had had the same reaction. I wiped away tears of laughter after another story.

So yes, we got off topic many times, but many of those “other” discussions led to deeper thinking about the book. And the snacks and drinks sure didn’t hurt either.

I’m still pondering how I might add some of this feeling into my class. I’m thinking of bringing in some food once a month and just encouraging a day of sharing about what you are reading, but I think it needs to be more than that. What I know is this – I am a reader. But, when I read I love getting the chance to talk to others about what I’m reading. Not for a grade but just because I want to share my reaction to a book and see if anyone else loves it too. This is something I want to teach/ share with my students.

And, in case you’d like to see some great titles – this is what we’ve read since beginning in May:

·      May: The Knife of Never Letting Go
·      June: The Fault in Our Stars
·      July: Beauty Queens
·      August: Shine
·      September: Liar & Spy
·      October: The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things
·      November: (coming up) The Raven Boys