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March 19, 2010

Dear LPEY Teacher,

This week's topic was raised at a "Going Deeper with LPEY" session. After reviewing the components of the LPEY resources, the Grade 3 teachers asked: What is a Book Club?

A Book Club is a supported independent reading experience that promotes and enriches comprehension through social exchange. As students read texts independently, talk about their understandings in group discussions, and then respond to the reading and discussion, they take control over the reading process and apply strategies learned during explicit instruction. Book Clubs are powerful opportunities for students to "flex their opinions, to listen to others' viewpoints, to refine their own thinking, and to change their ideas based on what they hear" (Brailsford and Coles). The real beauty of the Book Club experience is that all students are reading texts of the same type and on the same topic. This enables powerful group and class discussions about 'big ideas'.

In Grade 3, the big idea explored is 'Overcoming Challenges'. There are four different levels of text provided on this theme: below level (Level L), approaching level (Level M), on level (Level N), and above level (Level P). Since students are expected to read the texts independently, remember that the text difficulty should be at an independent level (above 95% accuracy rate and 90% comprehension).

Throughout the Book Club unit, there is an instructional flow that moves from teacher demonstration to students trying out strategies on their own. Using a Read Aloud and Shared Reading text, you introduce the theme and model comprehension and group interaction strategies. Students talk and respond to these texts prior to reading book club texts. Implementing the following helpful hints will ensure that Book Club experiences are effective for both you and your students:

  • post the theme and inquiry question so students can continually think about how their book fits with the theme
  • create an anchor chart of the key strategies for group interactions and dialogue
  • role play and model each of the key strategies
  • model how to respond to a prompt using the Before, During, and After Reading Spinners
  • appoint a leader each day in each Book Club who is responsible for managing the group
  • create a class sample of the final literature response
  • monitor student progress using the assessment tools provided

Happy teaching,
Sue Jackson signature
Sue Jackson
National Literacy Consultant
Scholastic Education Canada