Preparing Our Reader’s Notebooks for Book Clubs

Today we began our preparations for our historical fiction book clubs!  We have practiced our discussion skills and now are ready to try with some “just right” level of challenge books!
In order to keep 5 book clubs running without driving myself insane, I plan to structure all the groups the same way…we are going to track our thinking in our notebooks the same way–but with different levels of support and/or independence.  
Here’s what we did today!
First I collected post its in enough colors to divide the next part of our reader’s notebooks into useful sections based on what I am going to really focus on in this round of book clubs. 
Here are the categories!  See below for what is happening in each one… (ignore my messy writing…we had a late start and I was rushed to get it done.  Oops.)
1.  The Era:  This is where students are going to record information tomorrow when they research the era that their story takes place.  We have a book set during the Mexican revolution…one on the prairie…two during World War II and one during the late 1800’s in Chicago.  We need to learn a little about these before we start the books so we can better understand the text.  I talked to them about the time I read “The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” and really didn’t understand much about the Japanese internment camps that were a key part of the story.  I explained that I stopped reading to do some research–and it greatly enhanced my understanding of the story.
2.  Character webs:  This is where the students are going to track the information they learn about key characters…their internal and external traits as well as other important details.
3.  Character quotes:  We have been talking about how the words characters say can sometimes really help us understand the story, help us understand the characters, and can give us information in a far more meaningful way than if the author simply told us.  We will be on the hunt for really important quotations and will record them in this section.
4. Setting clues: Since these books take place in other times and places, we are going to track the information in the text that helps clue us in to the setting.
5.  Track the story:  We are going to track key events along the way.  After we finish these book clubs, we are going to be doing an event and character study, so we want to make sure we are remembering key events along the way.
6.  My reactions:  We have been talking a lot about what authors do to make us “react” to a text.  They use description language…they leave us at cliff hangers…they make characters do and say things that make us “feel”.  This section of the book is for us to jot down our ideas when something in the text affects us.
So…after we chatted it was time to do the work!
I taught the students how to place the post it part way on the page and then… 
…to fold it over leaving a little tab to label.
Ta da!  We are ready to record our thinking and use our notes to fuel our discussions!
I was SO impressed with how efficiently they got their post its in the book and how they helped each other!  The whole process took less than 15 minutes.  Stay tuned over the next weeks to see how it goes!


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