Thursday, July 30, 2020

Running Book Clubs in a Virtual Learning Scenario

Hi! Of course it's been quite a while (story of my life), but I wanted to get on here and provide a little support for those of you who will be doing virtual learning this fall (like me). I know that it's a totally new way of approaching teaching, and I am FAR from an expert with it, but one thing that I found successful in the spring was the way I ran my book clubs.

I've been doing book clubs with my students for a long time, and it's one of my favorite things! I have collected many sets so that students have a lot of choice, and I just wasn't ready to let that go when we had to shut down the buildings in March. Here are my suggestions:

Preparing for Virtual Book Clubs

  • If you have access to your classroom, select the books and get them to students. I know this varies from school to school, but some of you may have the ability for students to either pick up materials OR deliver them to homes. I'm hoping this will be an option for me in the fall, and, since we only rotate through books every few weeks, I wouldn't need to worry about driving around to all of those houses ALL the time.
  • If you can't get them physical books, make good use of online library resources. For the spring, I didn't have the option to use my books, so I went to Epic! (Teachers can get free access, AND they have expanded free access to students). First, I spent a LONG time browsing their website and jotting down any titles that I thought would be engaging for the students and would also provide good discussion. Another resource that could be helpful here is Hoopla, but it does require the family to have a library card. Talk to your librarians as well because you may have access to ebooks through the school library or your district may have other resources as well (Tumblebooks, etc).
  • Select a few titles and either assign or have students pick. I always give my students a google form to select their top choices and then work from there. Since I could let as many kids as I wanted read each of these books at a time, I just created a google sheet and listed each title. Then students added their name under whatever book they wanted without worrying about the number. Of course, in the spring book clubs were optional for my county, so I didn't have quite as many students doing them. You may have to set a cap on the numbers or split a group in two. You decide what works best for you.
  • Make a schedule for assigned readings AND virtual meeting times. I did 30 minute increments just to see how things went in the spring, and we never spent that long talking about the book (although sometimes we spent that long just talking and catching up)! With my fall schedule, it will be much more structured, and I'm going with 15-20 minute clubs.
If you're looking for an easy resource for students to be held accountable for their reading and also keep them on track, I have been using an SPQC format for a few years. It takes practice and training for students to know what to do, but I find it very effective! Instead of each student having a different job (and some students not doing their job or whatever other problems I've run into), everyone write a short Summary, Prediction, Question, and Connection. These 4 square sheets stay in their notebooks (when we're at school), and students can refer back to them throughout the book to remember what happened. You can access this sheet to print (or just have students recreate in their notebooks (it's super easy) OR find the digital version to share with students for these virtual book clubs! Click here or on the picture below to access.

I also allow students to use these sheets and their book when we take our final assessments on the book at the end of the unit. For those interested, stay tuned for more about that assessment because it has made my life SO much easier and it's more meaningful to the students!

What great books have you found that your students can access virtually? I'd love to collect some amazing titles for the different grade levels and share them out in another post! Comment below with some ideas!