Book of the Month Club

For the second year in a row, I attended the Model Schools Conference put on by ICLE. This year, there was one session that almost everyone from my building attended, which made the reading specialist in me very happy. It was a session on reading young adult literature across the curriculum. Teaching reading across the curriculum is one of the things I’m up on my soapbox about at school right now, so the enthusiasm of my colleagues was a welcome change.

Here’s the idea:
Each month there will be a title made available to check out of the library for one week. We’ll have 25 copies of the book, so access shouldn’t be too much of an issue. These titles selected will reflect what the content area teachers have said they’re teaching, as a way to supplement their curriculum. After reading, students will complete a short assignment (like a RAFT prompt — something it’s hard to plagiarize) that demonstrates that they did, in fact, read the book.

Upon successful completion of this assignment, they’ll receive a ticket from the grading teacher for extra credit in any one class. As much as I don’t like extrinsic motivators for reading, I am willing to concede that sometimes things like extra credit are motivators.

My hope is that they’ll realize that reading common texts both give them something to talk about with their peers and demonstrate how content areas, while taught in isolation, don’t actually exist in isolation. I’d love to see some of the conversations/arguments about books that happen with my students happen with students outside my classroom as well.

What’s required of the teachers
Here’s the kicker. You know how when you bring back new strategies or approaches teachers groan because whatever you’re proposing is just one more thing they have to do. I am confident that this time, the teachers in my school will have nothing to groan about. I will ask of them only two things (because the librarian is collecting the assignments and I’m “grading” them):

  1. 30sec – 1 min of class time each week for a book spot. Either the trailer or a talk or something to remind the kids that there is an activity they can participate in and when they have to have the assignment completed.
  2. Accept the extra credit slip for completing the assignment.

That’s not unreasonable, is it? It would be even better if some of the teachers read the month’s selection ahead of time, and then talked it up to their students. But I’m not willing to jeopardize the first year of implementation by asking for that. Maybe next year if it keeps.

How I hope this to go in my classroom
I already envision having my students help me create the book spots for the books of the month. If you didn’t know already, I teach the “remedial” reading class. My hope, because I have a few of these apparently, is that some of my students will be enticed to read the books for the opportunity to work with me on my YouTube videos.

As we get closer to started, I’ll give you updates. For the moment, what are your thoughts?

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