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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Workshop Wednesday (Reading Response: Book Reviews!)

Since I wrote my Tried It Tuesday post early, I would like to begin this post by mentioning the tragic events in Oklahoma.  The families affected by this tragedy have been in my thoughts and prayers.  I can't even imagine a natural disaster of that magnitude hitting while little ones are in my care and feel helpless.  My heart just aches.  It makes me stop and look at all the blessings in my life in these awful times.

I am linking up a little late this Wednesday evening with my amazing BBB, Jivey,
for her weekly Workshop Wednesday.  
The topic this week is Response to Literature.
My first thought that came to mind is a reading response that the students really LOVE!  
So, I am going to cheat a little by revisiting a post from October and focus just on this one method.  It was originally inspired by The Writer's Notebook by Aimee Buckner.
From October:  I love the idea of having the students write book reviews and share them with the class.  I have a class of 24 students and we divided October into four book review days (usually on Friday) with six students sharing each time.  The students LOVED it and asked lots of questions.  We first wrote a book review together based on Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing that the whole class read.  I modeled sharing the review without giving away the ending (SO important!).  Here is a sample of a book review a student recently shared:

Students can add books to their "Books I Want to Read" list they keep in their folders as they listen to book reviews.  The students asked many questions and were really interested in so many of the reviews!  I am putting all the book reviews in a binder by our library for students' future reference.

I downloaded these editable binder covers from A Year of Many Firsts and they can be downloaded here for free!  I love them:)

You can download my book review rubric for FREE here at my TPT!

UPDATED INFOThis is the first year I have tried book reviews and we haven't done them every month.  However, I think this is one of the most meaningful responses to literature I have tried because it is so authentic and comes from the students' own observations and feelings about a chapter book. THEY chose the book because it was a GOOD FIT for them!  In this activity, they are not reading a book I chose and answering questions that I think they need to answer (even though we do have to practice that at times too but the idea is to break it up as much as I can).  

My class loves the days that we share book reviews.  Everyone is required to read at least four chapter books a month.  This was not easy at the beginning of the year even though my group has the "highest" 24 students in the 4th grade (although many are really in the "average" range).  Now, it is a piece of cake for most of them.  Not even an assignment really. 

Interesting fact:  Our library is running an accelerated reader contest for the month of May that ends tomorrow.  
We are competing against the 5th and 6th grades.  
Guess how many points the 5th and 6th grade had yesterday?  
One was in the 200 range and one was in the 400 range.  
Guess how many points the 4th grade had? 
A whooping 1596!!  (We have 62 students!).
None of the grades in the elementary are even CLOSE to 4th for that matter and often the 2nd grade will have more points than even the upper grades.  
Coincidence?  I don't think so but maybe.  
Am I doing anything differently to promote the AR contest? 
Not to "toot my own horn", but as many teachers believe, I also believe that providing a library of books in the classroom, promoting getting excited about books by having book talks and book reviews, by not making reading a "chore", and by providing meaningful reading response activities, students are naturally guided into loving reading and how they respond to their reading.  
I also believe that 4th grade is really a turning point for independent reading in many ways and it could be a turn in the right direction or the wrong one. 
I try to do everything in my power to make it a transition in the right direction.

Tomorrow is my Friday!! Yippee!  FOUR day weekend:)
Hush to those of you on summer vacay!!


  1. Wow! Congrats! I would love to be the teacher that gets your kiddos the following year after you've helped them adopt such a love of reading!

  2. I grabbed your Book Review rubric. This will be a great addition to my Book Talk time. :) Yay! Thanks for sharing. :)
    Brandee @ Creating Lifelong Learners

  3. Holly, I love this post- so full of great stuff! Thanks so much for linking up!
    ideas by jivey
    Follow Me On Facebook! :)

    PS did I tell you, the author of that book used to work in my district? In my old cluster in fact? It's so funny because pre-blog, I thought everyone I knew had Notebook Know-How because they worked "with" her (and it's a great book)- but I've seen a couple people blog about it now who, obviously, don't live here!! ;-) It's kind of neat actually! Maybe we should write books instead of blogs. LOL

  4. Congratulations! You are doing something wonderful in your classroom and it is rubbing off on your students. Thank you for sharing your rubric!

    Foreman Teaches

  5. Responding to their reading is SO valuable. My kids write response letters and they also present book commercials. I use Notebook Know How too. A must have for all teachers! Thanks for sharing!
    Beach Sand and Lesson Plans

  6. I am your newest follower!! I found you via Joy in the Journey's blog contest, and I can't wait to read future posts!

    Mind Sparks

  7. Such a great idea! I think I'll be borrowing this idea for next year. Don't you just love Aimee Buckner's work?
    Polka Dot Lesson Plans

  8. Isn't it amazing when you get kids authentically excited about reading? That's got to feel awesome! :)

    Luckeyfrog's Lilypad