I teach in a 5-8 middle school in Oklahoma City Oklahoma. Our community has been traditionally under-served; 95% of my students qualify for free and reduced lunch, and many of my students will be the first in their families to attend college.
Despite the many challenges my students face, they come to school with open hearts and minds, ready to take chances and dive creatively into whatever project we're currently working on.
They are curious, intuitive, and eager to learn. They work incredibly hard and love exploring the world around them through books and technology. My kids are truly an inspiration to me.
My class sizes are fairly large (about 30 students each), and my students come to me reading anywhere from a 4th-8th grade reading level. Due to these varied reading levels, it can sometimes be difficult to “meet kids where they’re at” and find a way to challenge every reader in the room.
Book clubs offer an ingenious solution to the age-old teacher problem—how do I support students at the level at which they’re ready to learn?
In a book club, students read novels of their choice with peers on a similar reading level. They meet 2-3 times a week to have a discussion over their book and the thinking they’ve done as they’ve read. Their time together is highly structured, while also allowing for a free flow of conversation and ideas. During book clubs, students learn not only how to talk about their reading, but also how to think about it and present those thoughts to others. Culturally relevant novels over topics interesting to today’s middle schoolers ensure that the discussion and thinking will be rich and varied. Ultimately, the skills learned in book clubs translate to other academic disciplines and will be used throughout the rest of my students’ lives.
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