With the increasingly emphasized Common Core standards, teachers both in and outside of the English/Language Arts classroom are looking to incorporate more reading and writing in their curriculum. Wouldn’t a book club be a great way to accomplish this task?
Recently in my classes, I encountered an issue…I teach four sections of dual credit Social Studies classes in which only about half of the students (in each section) were required to complete a state mandated end of course exam. I’m sure many teachers are just like me..the weeks before the EOC become EOC review and “quick let’s talk about this because we didn’t get to it” time. My dilemma surrounded the students who didn’t have to take the EOC, and for whom the EOC was not part of the course curriculum.
Again, I’m sure many of you can relate to my decision to devote most of my teaching/instructional time to helping the students taking the EOC prepare for said EOC.
The question was…what in the world do I do with the students in the class who aren’t required to take the EOC? Have them prepare for a test that they don’t have to take? Nah. Allow them to use the 50 minute class period as a dual credit study hall every day? Nope.
Enter the book club!
As a Social Studies teacher, teaching dual credit Government and US History, I knew that this book club project would only be successful if I was able to find a book that would be relevant to the curriculum in both classes. I chose Thirteen Days by Robert Kennedy. It was perfect! The book was brief, informative, and told the story of the Cuban Missile Crisis from the perspective of someone inside the White House and obviously close to the president.
Since the students reading the book were in different class sections, and I wanted them to work collaboratively on the reading activities, I chose to use the “group” option in Doctopus to organize the groups and distribute the activities. This worked PERFECTLY! While the students were in class…and while I was reviewing with the students who needed to take the EOC, they either worked on a reading assignment, or on a “discussion board” through Google Drive.
It was so neat to see students run in the classroom to read how their classmates had responded to a question or one of their individual comments. As a teacher, it was also gratifying to hear conversations in the hall about what specific students picked up on, or whether or not they believed the United States should have used military action in Cuba during this time period.