Monday, November 7, 2016

Mock Caldecott and Mock Newbery with Middle School

One of my most recent reads and a title on my Mock Newbery list.
I've done "Mock" units for the last few years with my fifth graders - they are two of my favorite things of the school year. With the move to middle school, I figured these might have to go by the wayside. I have way less control of when I can have my students. Our units are tied to another classroom in seventh grade and I can't just pause and teach a unit that they aren't. So, I figured I was done. 

But, the books...

As always, I read more and more great books. I told my students it is like filling out a March Madness bracket for me. I sit and think which ones will be in the discussions. And I could just talk to my friends about this, but I love getting the reactions of kids. So I began to plan.

First, it was the Mock Caldecott. I talked to my friend Margie (or the brilliant @loveofxena on Twitter.) Could she pair with me again? We debated how to get a class of kids for each of my three classes. She had just moved back to Michigan, there were a few options, but it seemed tricky. And then it hit me, we'd make it a low key year and just pair up with Margie! Our plan is simple. We have 22 books (because we couldn't narrow it to 20) and I have an area dedicated to them in my room. I have a handout for my students that has a spot to evaluate each book. They will read them on their own, with friends, or a few with the whole class. Then they will evaluate them and leave a note on Padlet sharing their reactions with their classmates and Margie. In December I will have each of my sections vote, write up the reasoning for our winners and we will Skype with Margie (and her new puppy!). We will share our results, she will share hers. I cannot wait. 

Margie and I had a blast picking our list of 22 books. I have no idea how many Voxer messages went back and forth, but it was weeks worth. We agonized over what titles to include. Settling on 22 was difficult, but so much fun. It made me begin to have that desire for a Mock Newbery club. I'd always run it outside of class - before school or at lunch. I didn't have enough time, though, right? I shared my desire to try it with Margie and she - like always - encouraged me. 

I brainstormed a list with my friends and had 20 pretty quick. I threw the idea out to my students - if we had it before school - once in December, once in January, and then a party to watch the lifestream, would kids come? I was met with an enthusiastic yes, but a request to move it to lunch. Apparently the band meets before school. Who knew? So lunch it will be. The only other hurdle was that some kids that aren't in my rotation wanted to join in. I told their friends the more the merrier was my motto, so off we go. The students, like in previous years, won't have to read all 22. They need to read at least two titles to come in December, and two more for January. They get to argue for their title, or argue against it. They tend to be pretty passionate about them overall.

Trying the Mock units in the middle school setting has certainly not been without issue, but I have a feeling I'm going to love sharing and enjoying these texts with my students. When January 23rd's award announcements arrive, we will all be cheering for our favorite books. There isn't anything better than that. 

If you are curious about our book choices for this year's units, check out the lists below. 

**Disclaimer - there are so many worthy books that didn't make our lists. Please check out Mr. Schu's constantly updated lists of the "Best Books in 2016" for even more great titles. Find it HERE

Mock Caldecott
BrownThe Airport Book
CoreyRed Nose StudioThe Secret Subway
CuevasE. SteadUncorker of Bottles
EllisDuz is Talk
FanFanThe Night Gardener
FoglianoRaschkaOld Dog Baby Baby
GraffCastillo It Is Not Time For Sleeping
HendrixMiracle Man
KlassenWe Found a Hat
OrgilloVallejoJazz Day
PhelenSnow White
Pinkney JohnsonA Poem for Peter
RexRobinsonSchool's First Day of School
RuzzierThis Is Not A Picture Book
RylantRobinsonLittle Penguins
SidmanKrommesBefore Morning
P. SteadIdeas are all around
SteptoeRadiant Child
TonatiuhThe Princess and the Warrior
WeatherfordChristieFreedom In Congo Square

Mock Newbery
AndersonMiss Bixby's Last Day
AppeltMaybe A Fox
BarnhillThe Girl Who Drank the Moon
BeasleyGertie's Leap to Greatness
BrownWild Robot
BryanFreedom Over Me
DiCamilloRaymie Nightengale
FlemingPresenting Buffalo Bill
GidwitzInquisitor's Tale
HolmFull of Beans
LegendSome Kind of Happiness
LinWhen the Sea turned to Silver
MilfordLeft Handed Fate
PhelenSnow White
RexSchools First Day of School
ReynoldsAs Brave As You
SweetSome Writer! The Story of E.B. White