We are rapidly coming down the home stretch with only six weeks left in the school year!  We returned from our spring break last week with a two-day book tasting of six nonfiction books, selections we made as a grade level based on the Lucy Calkins nonfiction and literary nonfiction units of study:

  • March Forward, Girl: From Young Warrior to Little Rock Nine
  • I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives
  • Bomb: The Race to Build–and Steal–the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon
  • Chasing Lincoln’s Killer
  • Doable: The Girls’ Guide to Accomplishing Just About Anything
  • Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts

My setup was relatively simple and straightforward:  I placed copies of book at each table group and treated the book tasting like a station rotation with 10 minute sampling segments and a couple of minutes for students to jot notes on the graphic organizer below.

On Day 2, we ended class with students completing a Google form filling in their top three book choices and a short explanation for their first choice book.  The Google form made it easy to compile the results in an Google Sheets/Excel spreadsheet to see how many books I needed for each class as I gave every student his/her first choice.   In addition, I ran a Mail Merge with a Word document I created and the Excel version of the Google Sheets to print the student responses for their literacy portfolios.

Because all Language Arts teachers in my building have a set of 10 Chromebooks with an in-classroom charging cabinet, I was able to have a set of 5 Chromebooks at each table area thanks to Mandy Briscoe (8th Language Arts) and Jamie Laster (7th Language Arts) loaning me their sets on Day 2 of the book tasting.  Thanks to an infusion of Title I money, we were able to purchase enough books earlier this year for all of my students to have a copy to take home and carry around at school so that they can annotate their own books.

Below is a breakdown of the votes from all four classes:

Students were extremely interested in the book selections, and several expressed they hope to read their top choices between now and the end of the school year.

Students will get at least two days a week to read, reflect, and discuss their books in class; on days where they may finish their poetry or EOC review work early, they may read their books on those days as well.  I have been impressed by the positive response to the books, and students are begging for any additional reading time whenever possible!  Over the years, I’m finding that a simple version of book tasting with strategic choices for genre study or book clubs is quite powerful.  In my next post, I’ll share how we began our first reading day with a review of Notice and Note signposts strategies for simple annotation that will be incorporated into written reflections as well as book club discussions.