#SOL19: Really?

I blew it! What was I thinking?

Twitter Chats are easy. A few questions. A few responses. Let’s talk. And then taking my turn on writing a summative blog post.  Predictable patterns.

Book clubs . . . What’s the format?  What’s the end goal?  What’s my role?  More questions than answers. And each club . . . renegotiating the roles and the expectations.

Check. Deadlines met.

Check. Responses entered.

Check. Make no waves. Agree with the participants

Check. Check. Check.

I was focused on the product and got lost in FEAR!

I was worried if it was good enough and was frozen in time!

I rushed to task completing and forgot it was about the thinking!

This was the format for my early book club participation and it has followed me around worse than the groundhog’s shadow ever since.  Book clubs were a place of similar thinking; thinking outside the box resulted in social ostracism.

I went underground as a reader as I have had a LOVE/HATE relationship with book clubs.  Some have been fun. Some have been tedious. All have provided learning. But what was that learning?

I love talking about books. Mary Howard and I talk about a tweet, a blog post, or a book on a regular basis.  Her reading is also voracious! At CCIRA, Regie Routman handed me a book, I thumbed through it, and I had to order it. Penny Kittle told me about a book and I forwarded the title also to my sister and a niece.  I hadn’t even left Maria Walther’s session and I was forwarding the book list. Reading and talking about books is fun!

And then last night I watched this video of Penny Kittle and Kelly Gallagher. You can watch it too if you are a member of the Summer Book Love Club 2019.  What do you notice?  What would you name as the key points of the video?


Screenshot 2019-04-16 at 7.15.00 AM

A photo clipped from the video

And because the link does NOT work if you are NOT a member, here are the TOP 10 REASONS you should join Summer Book Love 19 from the Nerdy Book Club here.

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Elementary Book Club Books July 2019

Here’s what Penny said about the FB Live session:

“From Concord, CA… I’m here with Kelly Gallagher, my co-author and friend, to talk about the importance of book clubs in his professional life.”

The importance of book clubs in his professional life.

The sheer joy.

The number of books he has read as a part of a book club.

The fact that he, a good reader, learns something from every book club meeting and that they celebrate the different ideas everyone brings to the book club.




I lost the sheer joy of talking about books in a book club.

The book club became about the process of my notes, my annotations or my writing about reading.

The book club became more about compliance than learning!

I became that “kid” who completed the work but maybe didn’t invest very much of myself.

It’s book club season. I will be in several this summer. I will be watching my own learning.  And just as I detailed the process for “Professional Learning” in the last 5 posts about Repeated Reading, so will I also monitor my own learning, processes and products.  I think it will be critical to be brutally honest with myself.

And I can do that personally with a process that is also set up for bigger systems work.

How will I find the gold and the JOY in book clubs?

What is the process for professional learning?

  1. Set a Goal – Participate productively in book clubs
  2. Selection of Content which includes Checking the Research – Talk about the books
  3. Design a Process for Professional Development/Learning – Check the schedule and allow plenty of time. Refusing to allow lack of time to be an excuse.
  4. Teaching / Learning Opportunities – Checking in. What do teachers need to learn?           How will they learn it?  How can we set some measurable targets? – Pay attention to my “joy” meter.  When does it stop being fun?
  5. Collaboration / Implementation  Reading and Participating
  6. Ongoing Data Collection including Listen to the Students – Consider my responses to students with actions similar to mine
  7. Program Evaluation – Going back to the teacher data: Has there been growth? How do we know? Plan ahead – what will I do if  when I get stuck?
  8. Collecting / Analyzing Student Data – Is the gap closing? Are students growing          more capable?  Are students more independent?  Balancing “habits” of reading, attitudes, processes and products
  9. (WHY would I use a different process?)

I will be a part of at least three book clubs this summer and as the summer wanes, I will let you know if I was successful and how and when I will be celebrating the continuous JOY in reading and talking about books!

What is your experience with book clubs? 

What motivates you to continue to learn and grow as a reader? 

What learning targets would you consider?

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.

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Coming Soon

8 responses

  1. Ha- I have the same mixed feelings about book clubs! I look forward to the Book Love one and #cyberpd- not sure I will add a third to my summer. I happily finished the book for my in person book club Thursday morning before school. Book clubs are so awesome when done right!

    1. Erika,
      You said it so perfectly. “Book clubs are so awesome when done right!” So true!
      (And has a title been chosen for #cyberpd?)

  2. Fran
    I love your honesty. I do think you are going to learn so much about yourself as a reader and thinker as you study book clubs through your own participation.

    As I read: “Agree with the participants…..I was focused on the product and got lost in FEAR! I was worried if it was good enough and was frozen in time!” I was reminded of my HS APEnglish class. I had to say something to get the teacher’s check for participation. But so worried about that caused me to never actually think.

    I recall hearing at TC that the purpose of book clubs is to change your thinking. EIther you share an idea and through talk, that idea is deepen or it gets changed. Somehow going into book club knowing first I have to bring my own ideas and then knowing the goal is to either deepen it or be open to a difference perspective has helped me to not focus on the worry or fear. Instead I focus on reading and thinking and sharing.

    Keep me posted on your book club growth. I’m up for another virtual book club too. Just haven’t made a plan but your post is a good push foe me to start getting my summer organized.

    1. Thanks for your encouragement, Sally.

      It’s that part that is “freeing” yet also anxiety-producing. I so understand the many fears of students when the rules and expectations change from teacher to teacher with no apparent consistency. That coupled with “normal” angst from the teen-aged years makes it tough for so many kids!

      Summer – so many books! ❤

  3. I think that in so many aspects of our lives we get bogged down by the process of what we are doing that we forget about the joy of why we are doing it. So many of our students are so busy trying to figure out what they think we want as teachers and trying to get all of the mechanics of writing correct that they forget to just enjoy the words they are putting down on paper.

    1. YES! Exactly. It’s so many levels, the reading, writing, talk AND then trying to guess what they are doing! It’s a ton of work and coordinating the thinking that connects it is the VERY last thing on anyone’s mind. Students or Teachers. And the whole WHY gets lost!

  4. Book clubs have helped me grow as a teacher. As much as reading the assigned chapters, the conversations have been beneficial as the different perspectives and responses have helped me comprehend the books better. We are now reading, ‘Being the Change ‘ and our discussions have helped us really open up and share deeply about our identities and the many stories about our experiences that continue to shape us. This should hopefully help us transfer our learning to our relationships and encounters with the students at our (International) school. Interestingly the chapters are helping us build relationships amongst each other through the talk and the annotations made from the chapters. My students are in Social Book Clubs and I cannot say their conversations are as authentic although their notes seem to help them join in the discussion.

  5. […] yet convinced?  I wrote about #BookLove19 here. So many changes in our lives this summer so I don’t yet know how many book clubs I will […]

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