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Friday, May 24, 2013

Spark Student Motivation Saturdays (power of CHOICE!)

Happy extra long weekend Saturday!  I am linking up a Student Motivation strategy with the amazing Joanne at Head Over Heels for Teaching.  I just love this gal and she has the best ideas for motivating students!  I have found that weekly linky parties have really challenged me to blog about topics that I might not have thought to mention.  It has helped me stay focused.  I might not always link up with all my BBB's but I try to as often as possible:)  I also love the networking that linky parties generate!
I didn't have any idea what I would be blogging about this Saturday until Thursday in my ELA class when THIS happened:
I know it is difficult to see their expressions completely but I think you can see the students' overall excitement!  You might be wondering, "What is in the black and white box?"
Answer:  BOOKS for our new book clubs starting next week!
A few months ago, I purchased Laura Candler's Classroom Book Clubs resource.  I really liked how this resource gave me printables and a video guide for introducing the concept of book clubs step-by-step.  This is not your traditional "literature circles" with student roles.  We haven't started officially yet but I think this will be a great activity for the end of the year and really get the students motivated to read even more!

We began a unit called "Animals are Characters Too" in ELA last week and read a nonfiction piece about wild horses while working on the skill cause and effect.
Last year we read a whole class novel, Misty of Chincoteague.  I LOVE this book.  Although I would love to have every student read it again this year, I decided to try book clubs with five different animal themed novels.  
I chose novels with animal characters from what we had available in our multi-copy room:
For those of you who don't know, my grade switches by ability grouping for ELA and I have the top readers in the grade.   The longest novel, White Fang, was actually the top pick in the class.  The students who were chosen to read White Fang have all earned over 250 Accelerated Reading points individually this year from independent reading.  

Anyway...the students filled out a survey of their top picks after I talked about each book.  Beforehand, I warned them to not make any gestures or hints to their "buddies" about their top picks.  If they did, they would be sure not to be placed with that buddy for their book club group.  Some of the 4th graders are very clicky this year.  
Then, I took the surveys and made the groups.  It worked out beautifully because I split the students up, separating behavior problems and all the students were able TO GET ONE OF THEIR NUMBER ONE CHOICES (I told them to pick two possibilities)!
On the day of the reveal, I placed the students in their assigned groups and gave each group a box that they were not allowed to open until I gave the okay.  They were SO excited! 
Here are some more pics before opening the boxes.  Check out their body language!!

Next, I told them that their group could start reading the novel (no more than 20 pages!) over the four day Memorial Day weekend or wait until next week to start.
Guess what?  EVERY group decided to start reading!!  I know my class loves to read in general but I thought there would be a couple groups that would wait!  Boy, was I wrong!
There was only one boy who was reluctant because his group chose to read to page 20 and his teammate told him, "You only have to read five pages a day."  
I was thinking, "Hallelujah!"  The students are going to encourage each other to read to stay caught up with the book club and I don't need to say a thing!
I think I am really going to love this method to motivate my students!
I will blog more about it after it gets underway next week.  I plan on finishing these books in two weeks.  Next week we only have ELA three days because of Memorial Day and the NYS science performance test.
Have you ever used Book Clubs and did you find them motivating for your students?
I would love to hear your thoughts!


  1. Thanks for the reminder about Laura Candler's Book Club project. I am going to look into that for next year. Isn't it amazing the effect students have on each other's reading habits -- I love to have students read together because they set more ambitious goals than I might and feel incredibly accountable to each other. (They don't want to let their friends down!) I agree that linky parties challenge me to think about my teaching in new ways. I can always count on you to share some great tips and ideas! Have a great weekend!

    Mrs. Laffin's Laughings

  2. OMG Holly! I love the "reveal" of their book choice in a box! Must do this! I do literature circles/book clubs too and have them write their top 3 choices, but the "reveal" is the best! I also love "animals are characters too"! Have you read Poppy? You will love it! Thanks for linking up and being a great BBB!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

  3. As soon as we are done our testing we are moving on to book club so thank you for the wonderful idea for "The Big Reveal". We just did a quick book club with very short chapter books and I had to be careful with the selection as well because of "clicky" students. Glad to hear I am not the only one. Have a great long weekend Holly!

  4. oh my goodness! I {LOVE} the idea of the "book reveal!" Haha, that would even get ME motivated. Isn't it amazing when peer pressure works in a positive way? I love that you are embracing this! Enjoy this fun with your kiddos and way to be so motivating! :)


  5. I love the book reveal idea. I am going to use this next year. My kids love when they get to "choose" their own book. It is so wonderful how your kiddos are encouraging each other. What a great way to end the year.

    Hunter's Tales from Teaching

  6. I love everything about this! The mystery and surprise alone was probably very motivating! :) I also love how you creatively controlled the grouping situation. AND, I love that the kids are already motivating each other! AWESOME IDEA and AWESOME POST! I can't wait to hear how it's going. :)
    Brandee @ Creating Lifelong Learners

  7. This is an amazing way to begin book clubs. The excitement and mystery of it all is so motivating. I love that they were excited to get started right away. I will definitely use this in my classroom next year! Thank you for sharing.

    Foreman Teaches

  8. You say you "wish you could have every kid read Misty again this year" why did you do book groups? Just to give kids more choice? Do you usually do whole group novel studies? I do these and really find that they help me focus on learning points as well as incorporate content areas such as social studies. However, I am always wanting to improve learning and am very open to the pros and cons you have for whole group novel study versus small group book clubs. I would love some input :) Thanks!