How can I get more of my students to read enough Mark Twain Nominees to vote each spring? How do I better transfer my enthusiasm for a book onto my students? And how do I better track who has read each of the nominees?
There were some fantastic books in this year’s Mark Twain Nominees list. I tried but did not totally complete reading every one of this year’s nominees. I started doing those one minute book reviews here on the blog as an accountability piece to hopefully get through all of them, but didn’t. My students didn’t read as many as I had hoped either.
Other titles and topics drew my interest away, and I need to get back on track in reviewing those as well. We voted on our favorite Mark Twain Nominees, and I let students share their compelling reasons why they favored some over others.
Next year I need a more systematic approach to having students share and discuss their favorite books and teach minilessons on book talks without giving away endings, and then possibly use a tool like SeeSaw to have students post some kind of a book response or review after completing any of the Twain Nominees.
I’m open to other suggestions, but as a classroom teacher, I never liked the quizzes that some librarians required my students to pass prior to voting. I know some kids were going to have better comprehension and recall skills than others, and if they can talk about favorite parts of the book with enthusiasm, or make a solid character connection, then I can believe they read the book well enough to vote.
What I Tried
For this year, I printed color images of the book covers and bought fun card stock stickers at Dollar Tree and if a student read a book and talks to me about it, then they can write their name on one of the stickers and put it next to the book they read.
By the end of the year, the stickers were falling off in places, I ran out and used post it notes for a while, and it took forever to go through all of those names to determine who had actually read enough books to vote. So I need a new system but I’m not sure what just yet.
The student’s favorites were Pack of Dorks, Loot, Space Case, and Missing Pieces of Me. My personal favorite was Zane and the Hurricane, which very few students read. I tried to talk it up and read some experts from it, but I know the race discussions surrounding post-Katrina New Orleans is a little heavy for most 3rd-5th graders.
While this is only my second year as a librarian, I was still disappointed with the number of kids who read all four of the Twain Nominees. Last year I believe I had even less, so improvement is still good. I know some of the teachers had lit sets of the nominees, and I did book clubs for some, but still, getting students through to the end of some of these books was a real challenge.
Later this spring I’m planning on writing a Foundation Grant to get lit sets and PlayAways to accompany the 2017-2018 Twain Nominees, and come up with a better incentive / accountability measure to hopefully increase the number of students who are able to vote in March.