Getting Ready for Sarah, Plain and Tall Discussion Groups

We are coming to the end our our feature article unit and I am digging in to all my historical fiction resources, articles, picture books, novels, and the like to get myself ready for this integrated reading and writing unit. I LOVE historical fiction, and this is a perfect time of year to really start to make some connections with the history concepts we have been learning in social studies.
In addition to some work early in the unit with clearly defining historical fiction concepts and characteristics, I like to share some different picture books to start to build interest in the genre and really showcase how different settings can really impact a story.
This unit is also one of the two times in a year that I do a whole-class novel…highly guided, of course, for those who aren’t quite at the reading level to tackle it independently.  We use this book (Sarah, Plain and Tall) to really work on our discussion and summarizing skills–and I do it in mixed ability groups.  So often, reading groups ARE made by ability or interest so I really try to make these very diverse discussion groups!
I will be posting more about my historical fiction unit over the next weeks, but I wanted to share an idea that my students always seem to like.  When I make groups that are going to last more than one work time, I like to give them group names.  Now…sometimes the students choose names, but sometimes I like to get them thinking based on what I picked.  
I made our group “name tags” today, and before I introduce the book, I will share the tags and see if they can predict what the book we are going to read will be about!  Each “team” then will have four students in it for the duration of our book study.  Can’t wait!

UPDATE:  Had some people ask what we do with this book study…lots of my “stuff” comes from this resource.