Quick Tip Tuesday: Scheduling Reading Clubs

May 4th, 2010

Kathy Collins uses Reading Clubs in her classroom to allow kids to immerse themselves in topics and ideas to care about and to help them implement the reading skills and strategies they’ve learned in real-life ways. But how do you make time for Reading Clubs? In this week’s Quick Tip, Kathy shows how these flexible clubs fit into any schedule. Kathy is the author of Reading for Real: Teach Students to Read with Power, Intention, and Joy in K-3 Classrooms.

Within the large community of teachers who regularly implement reading clubs in their classrooms, I know at least a dozen different ways teachers have scheduled them throughout the year. In my own classroom, I’ve tended to spread out reading clubs across the year in the way illustrated by Figure 2.1.

Reading clubs are flexible because they can be condensed into a brief two-week cycle or stretched out into a four-week cycle. How long they last depends on a variety of factors, including the curricular unit in which we implement them and our students’ strengths, needs, and interests as readers. In my classroom, a cycle of nonfi ction reading clubs typically lasted about four weeks, which tended to be the longest cycle of any kind of reading clubs. My students always exhibited incredible energy for nonfiction reading, and there were many different ways that I could
approach nonfi ction clubs. In contrast, whenever my class engaged in author study clubs, they tended to last no longer than two weeks.

Although Figure 2.1 shows how I typically scheduled reading clubs in my classroom across the school year, I think it’s important to say that I would not hesitate to vary the kinds of clubs and the timing of them from year to year,  depending on the students in my class. For example, if I had a class full of strong fi rst-grade readers who were able to read books at high levels, I might implement character reading clubs earlier in the school year, perhaps in December, because my students would be reading books with a bit more character development, presumably. I would then consider doing a series books reading club cycle in March. During these series books reading clubs, I would guide my reading club partnerships toward series books at a level that is just right for them or slightly higher, especially if I scaffold their reading by providing a book introduction (Fountas and Pinnell 1996) and an introduction to the series itself.

If I had many students who were struggling readers, I could schedule a reading club cycle called Getting Stronger as Readers in place of, or in addition to, the other reading clubs listed in the chart. During this type of reading club cycle, my students would be part of clubs designed to work on what is challenging them most as readers, such as a Reading Like a Storyteller club to work on fl uency or a Building Reading Stamina and Focus club for those students who are beginning to read longer books that tend to have more characters and multiple story lines, or a Super Word-Solvers club for those students who need more work with word-solving strategies.

It’s important to make clear that if I had many students who were struggling as readers, these reading clubs would not be their only source of support or guidance. In conjunction with the Getting Stronger as Readers clubs, I would, of course, meet with my students in guided reading groups and provide strategy lessons. I would utilize everything at my disposal, including shared reading, interactive writing, one-to-one conferences, small-group instruction, and so on, to offer them the instruction they need to grow stronger as readers.

Entry Filed under: Quick Tip Tuesday,Reading

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