We had a visit from our lovely reading consultant, Kirsten Widmer, last week, and we discussed the best methods for creating meaningful dialogue within a book club group and then, as the teacher, how to confer into that.
One of the great ideas that Kirsten brought to us was to create a post-it mat with squares where each club member comes to discussion with a post-it from their independent reading in mind that they will place on the mat to discuss further with the group.
I was SO excited when I went into Mrs. McCarthy’s fifth grade class today and saw that all her groups were in the midst of trying it out! The best part came at the end when Mrs. McCarthy asked for volunteers to give their feedback on the mat activity.
One student said that the post-its helped him focus on events that he hadn’t really thought about when he read, but once his club members brought it up in their post-it he looked at it more deeply. Another student said that they didn’t really go around sharing each post-it, but that it helped to guide the conversation when they felt they were running out of ideas.
It was great to see such a simple tool enhance the dialogue between teammates and helped them to stay on task!
The day of the workshop I sat with Mrs. Obrotka, a third grade teacher, and we discussed how you could scaffold the mats with more support as needed. In third grade, where they are still getting used to the format of how to speak with peers in a constructive way, we decided to create place cards in the middle of the mat with sentence stems that they could practice using when responding to each other. Stay tuned as I hope to see these in action in the next couple of weeks!
Please feel free to share other ideas of ways to implement the post-it mats into classroom instruction!