Friday, October 5, 2018

Expository Nonfiction: Start Book Clubs & Inquiry Circles

Today, Marlene Correia will be discussing the third item on the 5 Ways to Share Expository Nonfiction with Students. Thanks so much for your thoughts on this topic, Marlene.

This week’s blog highlights sharing expository nonfiction with students through book clubs and inquiry circles. Incorporating methods such as these into the classroom allows students to socialize while learning. They also provide a forum for students to practice skills needed when working in a group such as turn-taking, expressing opinions, listening to others, and working collaboratively. Both book clubs and inquiry circles are perfect for sharing nonfiction.
Book Clubs
Classroom book clubs are successful because they mimic an authentic way adults talk about books in a social context. (Well… minus the wine). Teachers often think of fiction first for student book clubs, but don’t underestimate the power of book clubs with a nonfiction focus.

Try introducing nonfiction titles related to your social studies or science curriculum. After a brief book talk, ask students to select their first and second choices, and then entice them to join the club with these titles.
T.J. Shay's Morning Book Club at
North Tama High School in Traer, Iowa
During club time, students review their book, decide how many pages they will read each day or week, and then go off and read on their own. They meet regularly for peer-led discussions of the book in parts and, eventually, as a whole.

As a literacy coach, I once worked with a skeptical teacher who thought her third graders were too young to handle book clubs. We started by establishing book clubs with her advanced readers and then moved to incorporate all readers.

It was revealing to see the way these third graders took ownership of the club, and after some modeling, were engaging in meaningful conversations about the books on their own. The key to helping the striving readers was having books they could access, or putting supports in place (ex. audio) to assist them when they needed it.

In his book, Igniting a Passion for Reading (Scholastic, 2009), Steven Layne proposes a type of book club called the First Read Club. When the school or classroom library gets new books, student volunteers preview them and select one to read. They then report back to the teacher and/or class, sharing a little bit about the book and who they think might enjoy it. The books can then be marked with labels that say, “This book was first read by______________.”

Inquiry Circles
There are many variations of inquiry circles, but the idea is that small groups of students meet and identify a purpose for their reading, such as answering a question. Sometimes the questions emerge from the students’ own interests, and may be recorded on a Wonder Wall. Other times they are related to a unit of study.
For example, students might wonder, “Why is it that some people in the world don’t have access to clean drinking water?” The group engages in viewing and reading multiple nonfiction sources. After a discussion, the group summarizes its thinking and prepares to share what they’ve discovered with the rest of the class. They may decide to write an article on paper or on a classroom blog or create a poster or develop a slideshow or even make a call-to-action service announcement.

There are SO many literacy skills embedded in this process that students use without even realizing it! They also become experts on a topic and feel confident and excited sharing their new knowledge.

An excellent resource for implementing inquiry circles is Comprehension & Collaboration: Inquiry Circles for Curiosity, Engagement, and Understanding by Stephanie Harvey and Harvey “Smokey” Daniels (Heinemann, 2015).

Dr. Marlene Correia is the Director of Curriculum and Assessment for the Freetown-Lakeville Regional School District in Lakeville, MA. Marlene has 15 years of experience in K-8 education as a classroom teacher and special educator. Dr. Correia has also taught undergraduate and graduate education courses at Framingham State and Bridgewater State University. She is the co-author of Informational Texts in Pre-Kindergarten through Grade- Three Classrooms. Dr. Correia is a past-president of the Massachusetts Reading Association.

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