where all things literacy come full circle…

Teacher Book Club

Wonder by R.J Palacio

Wonder by R.J Palacio

One of my goals as a staff developer is to have teachers read books that kids read. I think it’s important for teachers to know books that kids read and to be able to recommend and pair books up to kids. Basically, I want teachers to KNOW books that kids read. Two books were chosen for the year: Wonder and See You at Harry’s. Two realistic fiction books that display resilient characters.

The first book we read was Wonder.

Two teachers looking at the text while answering questions in the guide that I created.

Two teachers looking at the text while answering questions in the guide that I created.

First, I created a study guide for teachers. The study guide consisted of a reading calendar and questions that teachers could think about as they read. The questions were to promote thinking, reflection, and dialogue among other readers.

We then met a few times while reading to discuss the book. One thing that I wanted to do with teachers was to do some outside-the-box activities that they could do in their own classrooms.

I was inspired by Donalyn Miller’s idea of a graffiti wall for student response, so I made a graffiti wall. When they came into the library to meet, they were to write down their favorite quote from the chapters they read. This is a great activity that some teachers are doing with their classes now.

photo 3-1

A sign indicating what a graffiti wall is.

A sign indicating what a graffiti wall is.


One teacher's quote on the graffiti wall.

One teacher’s quote on the graffiti wall.

Another activity we did was to make Wordles. I had teachers write down words that matched a character in the book. They could choose any character they wanted. We then went into the computer lab and created a Wordle for the character they chose. The wordless were then displayed in the hallway outside my office.

I have seen several teachers use this book this year in their class. I have also seen some of these activities being done as well. The teachers that participated in reading this book LOVED the book.

The next book we read was See You at Harry’s.

See You at Harry's by Jo Knowles

See You at Harry’s by Jo Knowles

We read the book and then was able to do a Skype visit with the author Jo Knowles. She was awesome! The video feature didn’t work, but she still answered questions and talked to us about how she came up with the idea and how long it took her to write the book. The teachers that read this book loved it, but hated me for choosing it because it’s so sad!

I felt that this was extremely beneficial, built a community of readers, stretched the reading choices of teachers, and created dialogue around one book. The talk that happened in the hallways, the office, the teacher’s lounge around these books was awesome and infectious.

This is what we had done, what are some ideas of teacher book clubs that you have participated in?


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4 thoughts on “Teacher Book Club

  1. This is the kind of meaningful PD that I wish were more prevalent in our schools — going deep with books and then coming together for conversations about teaching and learning. And also, valuing the teacher as learner, too. Plus, great books. What a combo. I really love the Graffiti Wall concept of sharing. (diversionary comment sidenote: do you have words that every time you spell them, you spell them wrong? One of mine is ‘graffiti,’ which I always spell ‘grafitti’ for some reason. Thanks to the red squiggly line for keeping me in check. Accommodate is another one. I always forget to the two ‘m’s. What’s yours? Maybe you don’t have one.)
    I loved and adored Wonder and recommend it to everyone. Your other book? I have not yet read See You at Harry’s, but now am adding it into my Goodreads “want to read” column.
    PS — you are my third comment for my #nerdlution of 50 comments/ 50 blogs / 50 days. Thanks for writing and sharing and giving me space to connect with you.

  2. donalynm on said:

    It’s fun to see Reading Graffiti walls in other schools besides mine! Thank you for sharing your wonderful experiences with the rest of us, John.

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