Well, here it is – that time of year when I’m ready for the relaxing days of summer and yet feel as if there’s just not enough time to get EVERYTHING done that needs to get done. Getting the ordering done so the purchase orders will paid before summer (and get paid from this year’s budget – not next year’s), inventory, getting ready for inventory (we do inventory twice a year because there’s a summer program here), putting all the videos, current fiction, research books and everything else that isn’t nailed down away in our Media Room and hope no one goes into that room over the summer. Finalizing projects, organizing everything and just rushing through to get it all done and ready for the next school year!
I know you all can relate!
In the meantime, there is my 9th period rotation class of 6th graders. These lovely students spent the first semester with me learning about Library Skills, research skills, how to access books, databases, etc. in the Library. How to find fiction and non-fiction books, learning how to evaluate a website and all they need for citations. Quite the grueling first semester with being new to the school as well.
So now I have the students for second semester and the last thing they want is a repeat of first semester. So what do I do with this group? What to do so that they will want to be in the Library and enjoy themselves. I spent a lot of time (and a few failures) and a couple of years before I hit upon the perfect solution that’s been successful. At least so far…
I know. Totally radical, right?
Here’s how we do it.
On the first day of rotation (I have them for 4 or 5 days), I talk about how I order all the books in the Library and what a great resource book reviews are to me. I then show them 2 books reviews, one professional and one written by a young adult. Then I tell them to go and get any book they want. There are some guidelines I try to have; it must be a book they haven’t read before, preferably a genre outside of their comfort zone, it can be a fiction or a non-fiction book. After they choose, we all (including me) sit down and read silently for the rest of the period. At the end of the period, they get a bookmark and put the book on a designated book truck. They cannot check out the book until the last day.
On day 2, the students open a word document and write the title, author, publisher and copyright date of the book, as well as a brief summary of what the book is about, at least so far in their reading. Then they read until the end of the period. Silently.
On day 3, their opinion of the book is added. However, I encourage them to explain and write with some details as to why they like or dislike the book. None of this “it was good, I liked it” or “this was bad, I didn’t like it”. When they are finished adding this information, they continue to read. Silently.
One day 4, they put all the information together, perhaps add information they have since they started reading and create a book review. No special embellishments, just a paragraph with the information and their opinion. The book reviews are printed out and placed on one of the display windows that has a sign that reads “Book Reviews, 9th period Rotation”. The books are displayed on the shelf, if the student chooses not to check it out. A lot of students stop by to read the book reviews. Some are former students and some are current 6th graders who are “showing off” their work. I’m happy that the display gets a lot of traffic.
There has been a lot of success with these book reviews. The students are meeting some of our Scope and Sequence goals; opening, saving and printing a Word Document, subject analysis and searching for information. I read each review before it’s printed out and make minor (or sometimes major) editorial comments to help them write more effectively. In addition, I get to hear things like “I didn’t like this book at first, but now I like it” and “why can’t I take it home, I want to continue reading?”. It’s great that the students sit and read, I’m not sure if they get time for that in their daily, busy lives. I also find that after the first day, they come to the class anxious to get their book and continue reading. In every class I have done this activity, every student reads and enjoys it. Sweet.
It doesn’t hurt that I get some silent reading time, either!