What We’re Doing Right

There are some reviews I need to write (Delirium, The Pull of GravityCinder, Heaven is for Real, an updated The Fault in Our Stars to name a few [okay, to name all of them]), but today was one of those truly magical days in my classroom that I need to write about. So here it is.

The magical moment was brief, yet lasting. A moment, yet eternal. And, of course, awesome. It came as a result of Book Talk Tuesday.

Book Talk Tuesday (BTT) is new in my classroom this calendar year. We did a lot of book talks last year during March is Reading Month, and we have been doing a lot of book reviews, but I realized that my students weren’t really sharing with each other what they were reading — they were just sharing with me. That wasn’t good enough.

So then I saw Kelly Butcher (@LemmeLibrary) post about Book Talk Tuesday (which she hosts on her blog), and I knew that would be how I would incorporate it into our classroom. Every Tuesday, we book talk at the start of class. Everyone is required to do one a month at a minimum, though they can do more.

Yesterday was the last of the rotation for January. Which meant that everyone had done at least one. Except that yesterday was a ridiculously short day of classes as we had an assembly and a school project related to Catholic Schools Week. So today, we had BTW (which, of course, stands for By The Way: Book Talk Tuesday is on Wednesday). The few who still needed to do their book talks did so.

Then came my question: “Who would like to give another book talk? There’s no extra credit, but if you want to share about something else you’re reading, go ahead.” I’m a pretty big believer in wait time. I’m pretty good at 6-10 seconds, which is an eternity in an 8th grade classroom.

I only had to wait about half a second.

There were 3 or 4 students eager to share what they were reading. They know they’ll have to give another book talk in the next couple weeks. This wasn’t about the grade [WOO!]; it was about the books. So they shared. We smiled. We laughed. We asked pointed questions about their books.

Then it came. The book talk that brought the house down.

“The book I’m reading is Algebra I. . .”

We were roaring. It was the best book talk I’ve ever heard. Of course, I have video, but I don’t have permission to share [yet]. We were loving it. And it was all about the books. They’ve arrived. They love sharing about their books — enough to make the jokes that need to be made.

We were still able to have my prepared lesson — a ranking of the skills needed to tell a good story which we’ll use to make a rubric on Friday — but the [positive] damage was done. They enjoyed class — the whole thing.

“This was the best [literature] class I’ve ever had” I heard as they exited the room. Mine, too; mine, too.

Okay, reviews are coming again soon. I promise.

4 thoughts on “What We’re Doing Right

  1. That was so awesome! I supervise the morning news and have only leveraged this spot once or twice. Now, I’m going to do Book Talk Tuesday – on air! Hopefully I’ll get students and teachers to participate too! Great idea!

  2. This post makes me so happy. And it just proves that when you create a community of readers, great things will happen. I get so bummed when my 6th graders leave my class and don’t read for pleasure anymore.

    We started Catholic Schools Week with a Drop Everything and Read period for the whole school. I had a whole gaggle of 8th graders come to me and ask me if they could borrow a book from my library. Don’t get me wrong, I love that they feel comfortable enough to come to my room and still borrow books from me. But the fact that so many of them didn’t have books for DEAR tells me that they’re not being encouraged to read for pleasure – unless it’s mandated by a school-wide requirement.

    • I can imagine the bittersweetness there. I had a former student come by today; she would have been in that 8th grade class, but she transferred to the public school across the road*. I asked her what she was reading. “I just read– well, no, I didn’t actually read that one.” It was sad.

      *This is in no way an indictment of public schools in general or this particular one. Most of what I do in my room comes from some great public school teachers and classrooms. This is just this one student’s experience with not reading.

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