Thursday, August 4, 2016

New Year, New Opportunities... and a New Battle Club!

Happy August everyone!  It's that time of year when school is about to start and families are busy doing final summer activities.  Meanwhile I am back from a trip to Mexico City and prepping for the school year.  If you're like me you always start the year with a million great ideas... and then do about half of them.  Once school starts the chaos ensues and we easily get swept away with the usual routine.  This happened last year with my two clubs.  To hopefully combat this trend, I have done some prep work and am going to share it with you!

Last year I ended up doing a Battle of the Books Club because it would be a great item to write about in my dossier.  Another teacher (that had done the club before) was going to run it so I offered to help her out every week.  Fast forward a few weeks and the teacher had moved to a new school which meant I, the Battle newbie, was in charge!  I had never done Battle of the Books before and didn't know much about it so the year was a bit chaotic.  I had students that did not read the books, some that dropped out after Winter Break, and some that were loving it and stuck it out with me.  In the end the three students we took to our local competition won their age division!  If you are a librarian or a teacher that loves reading, this is a great club for you to host.  The kids get to read great titles and the Battle was a lot of fun to attend.  My kids enjoyed showing off their knowledge of the books they had read.

This year I am going to be doing things a bit differently.  I am going to require more from my students from the beginning so they understand that it is not just a club to come hang out in after school.  Here are some changes I am making.  If you are wanting to start your own Battle of the Books club take a look and see if you think these ideas might help you!

1.  Goal Setting
I had students set goals over breaks for reading, but this year I am going to have them make weekly goals and track their progress.  Each student will decide how many pages they want to read every week, and we will discuss their progress for the first few weeks to see if they need to change their goal.  I have a graph page for them to chart the amount they read each week so they can visually see their progress.

2.  Reading Records
Last year if a student finished a book they put a sticker on a chart to let me know they had completed another book.  This year they will be filling out a Reading Record for each book they read.  It is a single page where they write down characters, the setting, a few main events, and 8 Battle questions that we can use during our practice battles.  I am hoping this will make some of them more conscious of what they are reading and also be a good study aid for them before the competition.  It also prevents them from saying they have read the book when they haven't!

3.  Two Book Presentations
Last year I did not set a time for students to finish ten books and I had several that did not finish before the competition.  This year my students must finish ten books by February 10th.  This will give us time to review and practice for the competition.  I will also have them give a short presentation on two of the books they read.  I had them do one last year and they could use PowerPoint, create a brochure, or have a Battle-style quiz show.  This will include information on plot, characters, setting, and more Battle questions.  I have made it clear in my beginning of the year letter that students will complete the work for their presentation during club time, so students will not have to do it as homework.  The presentations will help students review books they have read or introduce them to ones they have not gotten to yet.

This year I have also made a little notebook for my students to keep track of everything.  Last year we wrote Battle questions on loose paper and I was losing my mind with all the scraps of paper around my library!  As my gift to you, I am giving you the notebook for free!  You can download it by clicking on the link below and print it out for your students.  The graphics, if you want more of them, are from  I love using her stuff on my papers!

I hope this helps you as you begin the school year.  If you have more ideas for Battle of the Books let us know in the comments below!  Until next time, happy reading.

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