Tag Archives: book trailers

Guest Post: Ways I Can Encourage More Students to Love Reading by Holly Dottarar

“People don’t realize how a man’s whole life can be changed by one book.”  -Malcolm X

At the beginning of each year, I spend close to a week talking about independent reading with my students.  To me, it’s worth investing the time because independent choice reading is the heart of my class.

MSDottararBookshelves

How I frame choice reading during the first week:

  • discussing how to find a just-right book and how that is different for every reader, different genres and their definitions,
  • setting a weekly reading rate (from Penny Kittle’s book Book Love),
  • speed dating a variety of books to find potential novels to read,
  • going over My Top-15 Reading List (adapted from Kelly Gallagher’s book In the Best Interest of Students),
  • discussing how book conferencing works, and how to keep track of books read.

Even though I check in with each student monthly, share my Top 15 List with my classes, and book talk new books bi-monthly, there’s always a small percentage of students who refuse to read, or read very little.  My avid readers love the freedom to choose books, but my non-readers, emerging readers, and the reading-is-okay-but-currently-I-have-no-time readers need more of a nudge.  

How can I help all students be successful in creating and cultivating a reading habit? How can I help them look forward to diving into their book, to truly enjoy reading? How can I keep up the momentum for those who love to read?  

I whole-heartedly believe in the reader’s workshop model, but it is hard.  

Keeping track of 150 students all reading different books, and all at different places in their books, requires commitment and organization.  It is a daily, conscious decision to sit beside a student and recommend book after book, hoping something sparks an interest, or to try to find a new book for a student who has read 50 books in the last two months and isn’t sure what to read next.  (Yes, I have about 10 of these voracious readers each year.)  Up and moving around the classroom, talking with kids about books when sometimes all I want to do is sit at my desk and read my book too doesn’t help.  (And there are days that I just read alongside students, but it is few and far between.)

While there are times I want to throw in the towel, I am reminded that the hard work pays off.  Those tough days are just a bump in the road.  Students deserve to be confident readers.  They deserve to learn to think critically. They deserve a teacher who will not give up on them.   

As a reflective teacher, I’ve been thinking a lot about the reader’s workshop:  what worked in my classroom and what I want to make better.  These are ideas that I am going to incorporate this fall to build upon the love and joy of reading for all students.

 

1. Be consistent about my Book Talk Wall and teacher What-to-read-next list.

BookTalkWall

I have a wall in the back of the classroom where I post the book jacket of every book I book talk.  My goal this past year was at least one book a week, usually on a Monday, but I was not consistent.  This year I plan to continue book talking books I’ve done in the past, but really play on the books I just read and books that are new.  

Which leads to my What-to-Read-Next list.  Two years ago, I had on the board these titles MsDottararReadingListswith books:  What I just read, What I am currently reading, and What I plan to read next.  Next to each phrase I had an arrow and a copy of the book jacket so students could see my book list.  I didn’t do that this year because I didn’t have white board space.  

However, after reading students’ end of the year reflections and seeing if they met their book goals, my students two years ago read more than my students last year.  While I don’t think that each group of students should be compared, as each year we have different groups of students, I can’t help but think sharing what I read and talking often about it made a difference.  I’ll collect the data on that this year and then draw a conclusion.  

 

2. Student recommendation share outs

Book Recommendation SheetTwice a year, right before Christmas Break and right before school is out, I have students fill out a recommendation form on books they enjoyed and think others might like.  It goes in a binder organized by genre.  However, students do not share these recommendations prior to turning them in.  Why have I not done that? Not sure.  It was kind-of like checking something off my to-do list.  In this area, I plan to have students share out books they wrote down on that sheet of paper before turning in.Recommendations Binder

 

Even though this binder sits on top of one of the bookshelves, SO MANY students didn’t even know it was there.  I plan on referencing it often so if students need a book and don’t have one in mind, they can go to the binder and see what others have recommended.  (As that was the whole point of this activity anyway.)

3. Theme Topic Books

Penny Kittle has inspired me in so many ways.  Six years ago, over the summer, I took 42 composition notebooks (because that was the number of students in each class that upcoming year—yikes!), scrapbooked the covers, and wrote on 3×5 cards the theme topics.  (You can find more information about this in her book.) One of my goals was for students to write in them three to four times a year, thinking about how their book connects in some way to the theme topic.  And how cool is it for students to see what others have written years prior?  However, this past year, they only wrote in it once.  My goal is to incorporate this at least once a trimester.

Theme-Topic Notebooks

The other goal was if a student wanted to read a book about that theme topic, say compassion, they could look in the notebook and read what books others have read dealing with that topic.  However, these notebooks were filed in a cabinet with other supplies.  Not an easy way for students to find.  So, in this area, I am thinking about a good space to display these topic notebooks so more students can read what others have said.

4. Creation of Book Trailers

I am growing in the area of technology.  When I started teaching 16 years ago, I had an overhead projector and a chalkboard.  Phones were installed in December, and I couldn’t wait to pick up the phone to call the office instead of pressing the intercom button when I needed something.  When we went to white boards a few years later, I jumped up and down.  I no longer had chalk marks along the side of my right palm or somewhere on my back.  When our school installed projectors, I begged a friend in the history department—as they received a grant for document cameras shortly thereafter—to loan me an extra one so I could teach writing through a step-by-step process.  In terms of technology, this is the extent of my expertise.  A coworker had to show me how to use Google Classroom last year.  

With so many of our students interacting with technology, why not use that to our advantage? There have been some really good book trailers lately.  My favorite still is with the novel Salt to the Sea.  The music is haunting, which fits the book perfectly.  (You can check it out here.)

If I show professional book trailers for students on novels I think they’d like, why can’t they create their own and share on Classroom?  Something I plan to look into more and try this next year.

5. Virtual Book Stacks

Students keep track of books they’ve read on a sheet of paper titled My Top 15, but why not have a visual book stack at the end of the year to share and celebrate growth? I thought of a real book stack, as I’ve seen them all over Instagram, but to have students try to find each book they read and stack it up felt daunting to me, especially if students checked out books from the public library and not mine or the school’s library.  I plan to use Padlet for students to share their books and maybe even categorize it by their favorites.

 

 

 

 

If you are interested in more reading on this topic, I suggest the following books:

Nancy Atwell’s The Reading Zone

Carol Jago’s The Book in Question

Donalyn Miller’s The Book Whisperer

Lisa Donohue’s Independent Reading Inside the Box, 2nd Ed.

Penny Kittle’s Book Love

Teri Lesesne’s Reading Ladders

 
Holly Morningstar Dottarar is an 8th grade English teacher in the Pacific Northwest.  While she spent her adolescence as a reluctant reader, once she read The Hobbit—in college—she became hooked.  Now, she carries a book wherever she goes.  When she’s not reading, teaching, or spending time with her family, she can be found in her kitchen baking.  She blogs at www.hollybakes.com and www.hollyteaches.com.

Wrapping up with book trailers

After a slew of snow days and an extended year that pushed the end of school into the second-to-last week of June, my students’ motivation lagged as we approached our final month together. They needed an engaging project that still proved to be challenging and fun. Inspired by Amy’s work, my students and I celebrated the end of the reader’s workshop with a final book trailer project.

The process was organic; students latched onto the idea of watching mentor texts and dissecting the craft to gain a firmer understanding of the writing genre. Over the course of a few days, we analyzed and discussed the differences between the book and movie trailers for John Green’s upcoming film Paper Towns, a class favorite. We combed through countless examples of professional book trailers, dissecting the craft of the films and looking at the cinematography, hook, pacing, script, music, and scene choices. Finally, after brainstorming and storyboarding, students used Stupeflix, WeVideo, Puppet Edu, or iMovie to generate stunning book trailers. The results blew me away.  Here is a small sample of some of the trailers I’ll be using to supplement my book talks next year.

**Make sure to unmute the video. In some cases, the sound doesn’t automatically play.

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown–Created by Matt

http://https://www.wevideo.com/hub#media/ci/410328553

Perfect by Ellen Hopkins–Created by Emily

Missing Pieces by Meredith Tate–Created by Alyssa

Looking for Alaska by John Green–Created by Tristan

A Book About Food?

IMG_20141216_210906You better believe that when Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey collide (behind the big screen) an emulsion of magic erupts.  The One Hundred Foot Journey written by Richard C. Morais turned film was two hours and four minutes of robust richness, immaculate vastness, and intense human connection.  So, no…this book is not solely about food.  Although food, most of the time, tends to be the main character.  I love when authors and film makers do that!

Immediately following my trip to the theatre, was (obviously!) a trip to the bookstore.  Yes, at 9 p.m.  I wasn’t worried about the bookstore not being open but I hadn’t even thought to think that they would be out of the book.  I should have!

An immediate login to Amazon.com and my book was on its way — to be delivered a quick two days later (Thank you, Amazon Prime).  And it wasn’t long into the book when I came across this:

But this you must know:  the violent murder of a mother – when a boy is at that tender age, when he isIMG_20141216_205952 just discovering girls – it is a terrible thing.  Confusingly mixed up with all things feminine, it leaves a charred residue on the soul, like the black marks found at the bottom of a burned pot.  No matter how much you scrub and scrub the pot bottom with steel wool and cleansers, the scars, they remain permanent.

Did anyone else just witness the intense power of Morais’s carefully chosen craft?  Imagery, word
choice, symbolism…shall I continue?  When students ask me what I’m reading or why I’m even reading it; I turn to this page and let them read it for themselves…it’s already tagged.  Most times students’ responses start with a sigh followed by a “Wow” or “Whoa”.  Then the conversation begins.  And, just like what Spielberg and Winfrey have created, our conversations chronicle the richness of this sentiment, immaculate precision and craft of Morais, and the intensity of this reality.

What books have you stumbled upon that have hidden gems in them that you love to share with your students?

Reel Reading for Real Readers: Going Bovine

ReelReading2There’s something about the cover that bothers me. Maybe I just don’t get it.

But as I pulled this book from the box of new ones, a student reached for it eagerly.

“Please read that book and tell me what all the fuss is about,” I said.

And off she went.

Here’s a cool trailer for Libba Bray’s Going Bovine.

Have you read it? What’s the deal with the cover?

Reel Reading for Real Readers: Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl

ReelReading2My students and I got to participate in World Book Night April 23. The book we gave away was Me, Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews. (I will write about that soon.)

This trailer gives a pretty good idea of why this book is so great:

I have several students reading it now. There’s not much better than students clamoring for the books you talk about at the beginning of class.

Reel Reading for Real Readers–The Orphan Master’s Son

ReelReading2My AP English students are in the middle of an end-of-year book project. In groups of three, they chose a book from the Pulitzer Prize or the Man-Booker Prize lists. They are reading and discussing these books and trying to determine what makes them award winners. They will create most of the parts of an AP English exam, based on the books they’ve read and discussed together.

Students are reading and discussing these complex, rich texts–literature at the top of the literary food chain. There are few things that make me more excited.

Here’s a glimpse into one of the books students chose for this project:

Reel Reading for Real Readers: Here There Be Dragons

ReelReading2A while back I had a problem. I had finally succeeded in getting some of my resistant sophomore boys to read. But they were stuck in the Ranger’s Apprentice series. Now, it’s not that I have a problem with those books. No, I love those stories– mostly because many boys who will not read another thing will read them, but. . . we are talking pre-AP 10th graders here. I knew I needed to get them moving up the ladder of complexity — at least a little bit.

I called on my PLN and tweeted out a plea for suggestions. The Chronicles of Imaginarium Geographica series lit up my screen.

Okay then.

I have no idea if this series is really more complex; I don’t care. If nothing else, my students have more choice.

Here There are Dragons by James A. Owen is the newest book for the fantasy shelf in my classroom library. I hope it never gets to sit there. Books are much more useful in a child’s hands.

This is a student-made trailer. I love that the description on Youtube says,

“This is the trailer for the best book I have ever read.”

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