The tables are covered with red checkered tablecloths, enticing books are neatly stacked in each basket, flameless candles add just the right lighting, enjoyable music plays and the classroom hums with excitement! Sixth graders are serving up five engaging books for a book tasting.This is definitely one of my favorite parts of my job as a literacy coach, sharing the wonderful learning experiences that teachers provide for their students.
Mrs. Hayes’ sixth-grade class has invited me in to take part in their book tasting. Fortunate for me there was an open space at one of the tables so I was able to join in on the fun. The students are starting a fiction book club and they are having an opportunity to preview the five new titles before making their top three choices.
The students sat in groups of five each with their Chromebooks open to their Google Classroom. In the center of the table was a basket with five copies of the same title and a small polished stone next to one of the students. The festivities began when students were directed to each take a book from their basket and the student closest to the polished stone read aloud the summary on the back of the book as the other students listened in carefully.
Next, the students directed their attention to the Reading Café board (smart board). Mrs. Hayes had organized interactive book reviews for the students to gain additional information on each title. It began with Fish in a Tree, by Lynda Mullaly Hunt with an interactive book trailer that had been created by a sixth-grade student. After that, students read the review for Fish in a Tree located in their Google Classroom.
Then, the students rotated baskets and started the process again with their new text. An interview with the author was then shared from The Thing About Jellyfish, by Ali Benjamin. Students were reminded that they will be recording their top choices into a Google form when they are done. The third book trailer for One for the Murphys, by Lynda Mullaly Hunt, is shared and it is evident that students are starting to make choices already as the excitement in the classroom builds. Engagement, choice and reading enjoyment the main ingredients for a perfect book tasting!
The fourth text, Ugly, by Robert Hoge was introduced by sharing a very powerful TED talk with the author. The last book trailer the students viewed summarized the story, Tangerine, by Edward Bloor. In the middle of discussing the new titles a student, at my table, gave me a book suggestion from his last book club. I was happy to add it to my reading stack!
The last part of the process as they ate their snacks was to add their top three choices to the form. Mrs. Hayes said, “Students often ask to read one of the other choices after a round of book clubs are completed after they have heard their classmates get excited about their club choices.” Each child was engaged as they transitioned into 20 minutes of independent reading time.
Next steps for the sixth graders will be creating their “reading space” for their club to meet each day. They have the opportunity to use the flexible learning space with a variety of tech tools, comfortable seating, and writing opportunities. Stay tuned for part 2 as we follow these amazing readers!