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The Clubs

Written by Christopher Working
June 17, 2013

Being a literate person, in my opinion, is not about being able to read a text and then bubble in answers to a multiple choice test. Being literate means reading for real, and being able to discuss the reading. Keeping this in mind, reading instruction in my room looks different from my first years. With the help of Teacher Consultants from Red Cedar Writing Project at Michigan State, along with the Reading and Writing Project at Columbia College, I use the student-centered approach of reading workshop. My instruction is scaffolded in a way the leads to book clubs.

To follow the face-to-face book clubs unit in the classroom, I thought the next step would be taking these conversations online. One thing I learned from the social media project was that I was better able to see exactly what kind of conversations students were having. Another thing I learned from the social media project was the benefit of having a historical record of conversations. I could look at the conversation with kids and help them do work with it, whether celebrating a success, self-evaluating in a way to raise the quality, or as a way to debrief a conversation gone horribly, horribly wrong. I was also able to use mentor samples from our own class to help reinforce a teaching point.

I was really excited about trying book clubs in this way, and I was especially excited about the opportunity for parents to be able to experience the book conversation in written form. One thing we really trying to work for in book clubs is noticing common themes or big ideas across multiple texts. By moving these conversations online, I was falling in love with the idea of one club seeing a common theme that connects with the conversation of a different club. Cross-club conversations?! You bet’cha.

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