I am sure that many students are busily working on their book talk presentations tonight. I hope that they are not just writing their book talk but also practicing so that they can feel comfortable with their presentation for tomorrow.
I had a talk with some of the students today about why reading is so important and how I really am not trying to make them do something that I don’t think will be useless in the future. My goal is to help prepare them for their future, whether that is going to college, playing professional sports or going to trade school, reading will help them in life.
We talked about how professional sports players, such as LeBron James, is a reader because he says it relaxes him before the games. In fact, he was photographed reading the Hunger Games before the championship game because it takes his mind off the pressure and allows him to relax.
I also talked to them about how the tests for college, such as the ACT and SAT, are all really reading tests. They may say it is a math test or a science test, however the math test is mostly word problems and the science test is usually a big experiment with lots of graphs and data. They have to be able to read all of that information to perform well which then determines the college they are accepted at. I always let the kids know that I find it funny as a Language Arts teacher that I actually tested highest in science on the ACT. It was simply because the test was really lots of reading and charts and graphs. I was great at nonfiction!
Part of what I really like about reading workshop is that the students are selecting their own books. I want to help guide them to select books that are going to enhance their vocabulary and not be too easy for them, however I also want them to select a book that they enjoy. I am trying to give them time in class to read because a lot of my students complain that they have sports, club activities, chores, etc. after school and don’t have a lot of time to read.
I really hope that they understand the importance of reading and why it will help them reach their potential no matter what field they choose to enter in the future.
A few students have asked about the nonfiction genre for the month of December. I am open to any nonfiction books, even if it is only 30 pages long. Nonfiction is just as important for students to read and learn about because it continues to build their vocabulary as well as teach them about real-world issues, events, people, etc. For the nonfiction genre there are so many great books, such as A Child Called It, We Beat the Street, The Diary of Anne Frank, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, etc. that will teach them about someone else’s life and experiences. They could also choose to read about animals, such as Unlikely Friendships, Marley & Me, etc. Maybe they just want to learn more about the Yellow Fever epidemic or read a book about The Black Plague. I am open to any books for December so long as it is nonfiction. Page limit does not matter, however I would like for it to continue to challenge them and not be too easy.
I have asked the advanced students to try to aim for 300 pages for this month (instead of the 500) since they only have 3 weeks. That means they can read a fiction book, if they would like, after they have read their nonfiction book for their presentation.
The American Library Association (ALA) has a list of the notable nonfiction books for 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and the current 2013 year at this website: http://www.ala.org/rusa/awards/notablebooks Just scroll down to “nonfiction” and you will see several award-winning books. The public library has almost all of these available and our school library has a few as well.
Today we also continued to identify character traits in our book and gave evidence to show how characters are alike and how they are different with examples from the text. I also asked the students to connect to a character in their book and give me a specific example of how they were alike.
Prepare for your book talk presentation tomorrow.