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Structuring Student Book Clubs to Encourage Collaboration


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Demo lesson presented at Fordham University's Developing Digital Literacies Institute on July 29, 2014.

Using a variety of digital tools (e.g.,, Google forms, Google docs) allows students to make responsible choices, take ownership of their learning, and demonstrate their understanding in multiple modes.

This session will focus on reinventing independent reading to encourage more collaboration, both online and face-to-face.

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Structuring Student Book Clubs to Encourage Collaboration

  1. 1. Lauren Zucker English teacher, Northern Highlands Regional High School Doctoral candidate, Fordham University Email: Twitter: @LGZreader Structuring Student Books Clubs to Encourage Collaboration, Online and Face-to-Face
  2. 2. public, suburban high school in Allendale, New Jersey computer labs & laptop carts; no BYOD or cell phones Northern Highlands Regional H.S.
  3. 3. How can I structure independent reading to be more collaborative? Which digital tools can I use to… How much control should I give up? Or, how much autonomy and responsibility can my students handle?
  4. 4. What skills do they need? Collaborate, online and face-to-face Use social networks (and other digital resources) for personal and academic goals Develop autonomy and make responsible decisions Read, write, speak, listen & view in a variety of contexts
  5. 5. Research Influences Henry Jenkins (2009) - “participatory cultures” Kristen Turner and Troy Hicks (2013) - “No Longer a Luxury: Digital Literacy Can’t Wait” Kelly Gallagher (2009) Readicide - avoid under- & over- teaching; 50:50 ratio of choice to whole-class Cathy Davidson (2011) Now You See It - collaborative grading to increase student engagement (2014) - Rhonda Bondie’s collaborative rubric- making See “References” slide for full citations
  6. 6. Context Last school year’s experiment: independent reading and book clubs 9th grade, core English classes, general level Book clubs were the last unit of the school year I’m eager for suggestions to improve this new unit
  7. 7. Creating a Classroom of Readers Reserved weekly, in-class time for independent reading Developed profiles on; created virtual shelves (read and to-read), rated books Shared reviews informally through partner discussions and “book talks,” and formally, on Reader
  8. 8. Used recommended book lists ALA’s YALSA division’s “Outstanding Books for the College Bound” Students conducted research on choices (“search inside” feature) the school & local libraries (online catalogue, physical trips) Involved parents alerted parents of independent reading structure, asked them to assist students in making choices Selecting Books
  9. 9. Book Club Group & Book Selection Students indicated their top choices (of genre) through a brief, google forms survey Groups met in person to research books and determine a top choice Notified parents of the group’s potential choice I remained flexible! (e.g., Pluto, Introduction to Philosophy, The Watch that Ends The Night)
  10. 10. Assigned locations for each group & a folder location Students generated a reading schedule “Scribe” took notes on the discussion and kept the group on task (ABC’s) Homework: all group members wrote and shared a Q.Q.C. each day Students wrote individual “Reflections” at the end of the period; 10 minutes of writing (in lieu of reading quizzes) Next year: fishbowl activity to model discussion? Discussions: Clear Roles & Routines
  11. 11. Sample Reading Schedule
  12. 12. When a Discussion Stalls
  13. 13. QQC Instructions
  14. 14. Sample QQC Question: “What is my philosophy? From pages 114 to 116, Margreet de Heer asks the reader what his or her philosophy is: "What do YOU think...?" (116). My philosophy is live life to the fullest. Throughout the book, all of the philosophers have gone into extremely deep thoughts and ideas about reality, humans, and nature. This isn't necessary to me. My goal in life is to have fun, but be responsible at the same time. I don't have to understand everything about the universe to have fun. I just need to do whatever makes me happy, but I must take responsibility for all of the actions I take. Overall, I found this book very interesting, even though I did not agree with everything, and I am excited to see what answers we will find in the future.” Student response to Philosophy: A Discovery in Comics by Margreet de Heer
  15. 15. Sample QQC Quotation: “‘Sage just wanted to be herself. To be something that half the people on the planet become when they're born" (Katcher 319).’ This is a really strong passage for me. Most people know their gender when they are born because that's what the doctor tells them and that's what society knows. If you have this part, you are a boy and if you don't you are a girl. Why does what a doctor wrote on a piece of paper have to define who sage has to be for the rest of her life. Can't she act like who she wants to act like. So, she decided a little later in life that she was born the wrong gender. She is just being herself. Everybody else gets to be themselves, but just because who she is isn't accepted by society doesn't mean she shouldn't be allowed to live her own life.” Student response to Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher
  16. 16. Sample QQC Connection: “‘I've always been stubborn and self-willed’ (de Heer 52). I can relate to de Heer because I too was also very annoying and independent as a child. I never really wanted help with anything I did, even when i knew i would not be able to do it alone. Not only did this make me feel older, but it gave me a sense of confidence. However, unlike de Heer, when i needed to make a decision i always needed different insight and opinions in order to make sure i was doing the right thing. This connection makes me realize that i was not the only one who wanted to be more like an adult when i was young. In fact, I'm sure all kids at one point wanted to act more independent and mature then they really were.” Student response to Philosophy: A Discovery in Comics by Margreet de Heer
  17. 17. Sample Reflection Questions
  18. 18. Assessment & Feedback Final Project groups wrote proposals and pitched their projects to me groups were allotted up to 10 minutes to present Student-created rubrics groups worked collaboratively to develop rubrics for their projects brainstormed the kinds of skills I want them to develop (reading, writing, listening, speaking, viewing) Collaborative feedback and self-assessment groups shared their rubrics with the class groups graded all other groups and themselves; wrote explanations justifying each selection
  19. 19. Sample Final Projects blog on Katcher’s Almost Perfect with information for teens on transgender youth Prezi presentation on Wolfe’s The Watch that Ends the Night (historical fiction about the Titanic) poster presentation on the graphic novel Pluto, introducing characters and conflicts presentation on attempting to build a plastic toy car (inspired by Thwaites’ The Toaster Project) video book trailers
  20. 20. Bondie, R. (2014, May 19). Key Exercise: How to create a rubric. Key Exercise: How to create a rubric. Retrieved from http://www.all- Davidson, C. N. (2011). Now you see it: How the brain science of attention will transform the way we live, work, and learn. New York: Viking. Gallagher, K., & Allington, R. L. (2009). Readicide: How schools are killing reading and what you can do about it. Portland, ME.: Stenhouse Publishers. Goldberg [Zucker], L. (2014). Contemporary literacies beyond the english classroom: A teacher seeks out participatory culture. New Jersey English Journal, 29-34. Hicks, T., & Turner, K. H. (2013). No longer a luxury: Digital literacy can’t wait. English Journal, 102(6), 58–65. Jenkins, H., Purushatma, R., Weigel, M., Clinton, K., Robison, A. (2009). Confronting the challenges of a participatory culture: Media literacy for the 21st century. Retreived from nfronting_the_Challenges.pdf References
  21. 21. Goal-planning and Reflection Reflect in writing on ideas you might take away or adapt for your own practice Access this presentation on (search my username: LaurenZucker) Create a professional account on (mine is LGZreader) and start building your virtual shelves Play around with Google Forms on your Google Account (Create a “Form” in Google Drive) Browse YALSA’s “Outstanding Books for the College Bound” list at