Student “book clubs” expand literacy efforts

Link is excited to continue its strong focus on literacy by enhancing its ELA (English Language Arts) program with a new unit – Book Clubs – to occur in grades 5, 6, and 7 during the school year.  The unit, developed by the Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Program, Columbia University, is intended to develop more powerful readers by encouraging independent reading and conversation about books among peers, and to engender the love of reading in students. Book clubs are designed to motivate students to read more closely and to talk about books with enthusiasm.

In ELA class, students are assigned to groups of 3-5 based on their reading levels. The group, or book club, then chooses one book from a recommended list that they will read and discuss together. While teachers will introduce the book club process, the clubs themselves will be totally student-directed and student-centered. Students will participate in their book clubs at least twice a week.

Sixth graders will begin their unit this week, reading books from the “social issues” genre, books with plots that middle school students can relate to around relationships, school issues, identity, and larger societal issues. Some of the books include Addie on the Inside by James Howe, The Skin I’m In by Sharon G. Flake, The Crossover by Kwame Alexander, and Towers Falling by Jewell Rhodes. In early December. 7th grade scholars will begin their book club featuring books based on dystopia and the 5th grade will engage in their unit in the 4th marking period, exploring books on fantasy.

Before rolling out the new units at Link, several staff members attended a three- day training, funded by Link Education Partners, at the Teachers College.