What I Learned from My Students

Book clubs are one of my favorite things as a teacher.  There is something invigorating about having students sprawled all around the classroom, books propped up willy-nilly, and that silence when a group is sucked into the story.  Don’t get me wrong, the mechanics of getting a book club for 14 different books (fiction and nonfiction) working on a manageable scale is daunting.  Yet, after a month of group interactions, students dove into the stories with passion and discussed what was happening on the page with peers regularly.  The clubs taught me to be patient with the process.

Each student read independently but was accountable to the group for a job weekly.  These jobs ranged from leading discussions, creating playlists for the book that week, or imagining a twitter conversation between characters.  Additionally, each student worked to analyze the literary devices in the book.  Eavesdropping on each group’s interactions teaches me how much a book gives to a student and how much the students give to peers.  The validation of ideas and emotions shows me the risks my students will take.

Blackbird Girls: drawing radioactive clouds

The final project was a collaborative educational guide each group intentionally crafted.  The Padlet below showcases the slide presentations of each group.  Highlights were the group-led whole class activities:  a group choreographed a dance for James Swanson’s Catching King’s Killer, making felt stuffed jellyfish teaching students about the dramatic novel The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin, and even an adaptation of the popular game “Among Us” as a black-market fake id sales game.  The video below makes me smile and reinforces the idea of reader/creator: roles my students own now.

Check out the photos and click on the links to slideshows in the Padlet.  Leave a comment for us with your reactions to our book club group project finale.

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