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Book Talk Tuesday (A Day Early!)

So, I'm a day early for Book Talk Tuesday… but I walked into my new classroom this morning and a box of books fell as I trying to move them, and they spilled over my feet.  It was my collection of beginning of the year read alouds, and they inspired me to start typing.  The topic of my book talk: Celebrating Individuality!!!  {and yes… this topic definitely called for me to make an inspirational quote image!}

I like to kick start my year with a big emphasis on celebrating differences and individuality.  My class of students is always very economically, culturally, ethnically, cognitively and linguistically diverse, which makes for an incredible teaching environment.  Honestly, sometimes I think that my students learn more from one another than they ever could from me!  

Although my student population inspires me, I think that building the foundation for a respectful and inclusive classroom environment would be at the top of my to-do list no matter where I taught!  Apart from my students themselves, picture books are my #1 resource for all social skills building.  Let's face it- It's far safer to talk about the experiences of a fictional character than your own!  Stories help students feel comfortable sharing their ideas about social conflicts/issues without feeling exposed.  

So, knowing that many teachers will be starting those first few weeks of school soon, I put together a list of my favorite pictures books to help start meaningful classroom discussions around individuality.

After reading a book a day for the first three weeks of school, I encourage my students to consolidate the specific lessons from each individual story and generalize them into major themes.  We try and come up with single words or phrases that we should use as the cornerstone of our classroom community.  Their ideas usually look something like this:
We do many activities throughout the year that build on these core ideas, but one of my favorites is one that I tried for my first time this past year.  It was incredibly powerful, and definitely one that I will be repeating this year!  

  1. As a group we generate a list of key words and phrases that we want to make up the fabric of our community. {as mentioned above}
  2. I write each word or phrase on a separate sheet of butcher paper.  
  3. I tape the sheets down on different tables {or desk clusters} so they almost resemble tablecloths.
  4. I put students in groups of 3 or 4 and have each group sit quietly at one of the tables.
  5. I give students the following directions:  "Write or draw any ideas that you have about the word/phrase in front of you.  You can discuss what that word/phrase looks like, sounds like or feels like.   You can create a comic that shows that word in action.  You can write about an experience of your own or of someone you know, but please do not use names.  If you are writing about these phrases and showing why they are important, then you are on the right track."
  6. Then, I pass out the markers {Don't pass them out before you give the directions!  You will just be asking students to put the caps back on and pay attention throughout your explanation if you do!}
  7. I ask students to work quietly, but I play music from our class playlist while they work.  I give students about 3 songs (or 10 minutes) at each table, and then have them quietly rotate.
  8. Finally, MY FAVORITE PART:  After the students have made it to each station, we do an "interactive museum walk."  I have my students take their markers with them, and let them walk around the classroom, reflecting on the ideas of their classmates.  What are the markers for?  Well, students are allowed to comment on one another's ideas as they walk around.  Since names were not included, students are writing and responding anonymously.  There are many ways for students to respond, but the big three are:
      • Put a check mark next to comments that you agree with
      • Share a connection to a comment
      • Ask a question
Here are some examples from this past year:

I'm excited to try it with a new group and a new grade level this year!  I'll let you know how it goes!

Check out these other great book talks blog posts that have linked up with Mrs. Deanna Jump!

1 comment:

  1. Love this! I am so pinning your book collage above so I can refer to it when I'm book shopping:) If you would like a chance to add a couple of new books to your collection (one that definitely helps celebrate individuality!), I would be honored if you visited my blog and entered my little contest to win them!