February 23, 2013

Using a Book Pass to Support Student Choice

Next week we're starting our annual Family Book Club. Each of my students will take home 2 copies of a book, one for themselves and one for an adult. The students and families will be organized into book clubs of 3-4 students. You can read more about how I use Family Book Club in my post, Parents In The Classroom - Oh My!

The big question at the start of the Book Club process is, How do I assign books so that the students actually enjoy reading them?

I use a Book Pass to get my students psyched up about Family Book Club and to determine student interest.  If students are reading books that are really engrossing, their discussions will be more rich and valuable. Sometimes I use book talks to spike their interest in a text, but I find that a Book Pass gets them even more invested and provides me with more information.

I first encountered this idea from Mini-Lessons for Literature Circles by Harvey Daniels and Nancy Steineke. In their version, students literally pass books to one another. I've adapted the Book Pass so that there's more movement and engagement. Here's how it works:

1. Set up a station for each book. Provide multiple copies. I had 8 stations with 4 or more copies at each.

2. Hand out Book Pass recording sheets. Here's the one I made. You can also find a generic page in Mini-Lessons for Literature Circles.

3. The students get 4 minutes with each book - 3 for reading and 1 for writing their thoughts on the Book Pass Record Sheet. During the Book Pass, the students simply rotate to the next station every 4 minutes.

4. Once the students have previewed each title, have them rank their interests using the circles - their first choice should be numbered 1, the second choice is number 2, and so on.

My favorite thing about a Book Pass is how how excited the students are afterward. They want to talk about which books were their favorite and what they just can't wait to read!

I do my best to give the students one of their top 3 choices, and I'm always happy to give them access to the remaining books for their personal reading.

~ Amanda

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