Tag Archives: Calkins Classroom Libraries

How to Plan for Book Clubs in Middle School

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The following is an excerpt from pages 74-75 of A Guide to the Teachers
College Reading and Writing Project Classroom Libraries, Grades 6–8
by Lucy Calkins and Mary Ehrenworth

What is a book club?

Simply put, a book club is a group of readers, usually three or four, who read books roughly in sync with each other. Usually clubs read the same book, but sometimes clubs may read books by the same author, or read a series of books together that share a common genre—mystery, historical fiction, fantasy—or they may read a collection of disparate books with a common lens—thinking about interpretation, learning about shared social issues across the book.

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What Does Research Say Adolescent Readers Need?

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A Preview from A Guide to the Reading Workshop: Middle Grades

by Lucy Calkins and Mary Ehrenworth

Over decades of research (1977, 2002), Richard Allington has returned often to the three key conditions readers need to thrive:

  1. time to read,
  2. access to books they find fascinating, and
  3. expert instruction.

The first condition, time to read, means examining middle school schedules to make sure students get time to practice. Allington argued, and many other researchers have argued, that above all, students need time to engage in reading in order to get better at reading. Arguing for time for independent reading in schools, Donalyn Miller (2015) likens the situation of students needing to read in order to get better at reading to learning a sport or an instrument. No one ever asks the coach why his players are practicing on the field, and no one asks the music teacher why students are playing instruments during practice times. The only way to get better at doing something is to practice doing it. 

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We are Readers and Writers! Setting Up a Literacy-Rich Summer

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by Anna Gratz Cockerille

For many teachers and students, the summer months are a chance to change pace, to dig into projects of personal interest, and just…breathe. But for many kids, summer is also a time when learning grinds to a halt. Students in lower socio-economic households in particular have little opportunity to practice the academic skills that began to take root and gel by the end of the year. One particular area of well-documented summer decline is in reading. When students don’t read during the months of summer, the effects on their academic progress are disastrous. 

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Engaging Readers: Lucy Calkins discusses the TCRWP Classroom Libraries

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In the first two installments of this blog series, we discussed why particularly chosen books matter and how the TCRWP Classroom Libraries were selected. In this final part of the series, we will explore additional, innovative ways that the team focused on driving reading engagement.

One such way is through the tools and resources that accompany the libraries. A vast collection of brightly colored, attractive book bin labels and book level labels lure kids to bins with irresistible topics. Additionally, student sticky-note pads help promote close, active reading. Students can identify “Must-Reads” and “Watch Out!” sections for others by leaving these helpful sticky notes in the book. Watch the video below to check out these amazing resources:

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Cultivating a Love for Reading Through Fantasy Book Clubs

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by Anna Gratz Cockerille  

I have come to love fantasy novels, particularly young adult fantasy. There’s no doubt that the Harry Potter series stirred this love. Who couldn’t adore a book that got millions of children to read? The teen fascination with Twilight and The Hunger Games did the same thing—literally millions of teens are reading and talking about these books. They join blogs, they dress up like the characters, they attend the film releases, they compare the books to the movies. Fantasy has been a force for good in literacy.

Mary Ehrenworth, in Learning from the Elves: A Genre Study of the Complexities and Themes of Fantasy

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