Friday, February 3, 2017

Week 17: The Bullying Unit and Our First Book Club Meeting (week of 02/03/2017)

This week we had two new experiences in class: we started the bullying unit (nonfiction and argumentative writing) and we also had our first book club meeting. This week's blog is going to focus on both more in-depth.
First up, the Independent Book Project saw its first book club meeting. Here's what a typical week will look like for the next four weeks (including this week):
Monday: Mini lesson on the week's topic. Notes and prep-paragraph prompt handed out; also available on Google Classroom. Some weeks have a short in-class activity while others do not. Students should read the fifth of the book their group decided on.
Tuesday-Thursday:  Students should continue read the fifth of the book the group decided on. Students should also be working on their prep-paragraph, due Friday morning by 8:15am.
Friday: Book Club meeting in class on the week's topic. Students will be completing a group note sheet and an in-class reflection. The reflection is the student's ticket out the door.

There were some tears and some frustrations today when some students found out just how serious I was when I said, "You're not leaving until you're done and you won't get a late pass." Students must have a good conversation with their groupmates in order to receive the note sheet. The note sheet must be 100% completed by everyone in the group in order to receive the reflection. Students complete the reflections individually and turn them in to me in order to be released for their next class. Because ample time is given to complete everything, I do not issue late passes. This means that students who don't use their time wisely, find themselves off task, or choose not to do their work may end up late to their next class. The first meeting is usually the week where students learn the ins and outs of the book club meetings, taking the frustrations of being late and applying them to appropriate book club behavior for next time.

On a positive note, the book clubs are always a great time in class because students really help each other to gain deeper insight into their stories. The conversations, prep-paragraphs, and note sheets will help the groups as they build their travelogue presentation in the upcoming weeks.
Lastly, we're moving on to a nonfiction and argumentative writing unit, looking through the lens of bullying. This unit has always been powerful and it's one of my favorites to teach. We begin with an anticipation guide where students take important terms from the unit and sort them into groups. Then, students make a prediction based on the groups they created. In an effort to gage my audience, I ask for their own experiences with bullying (both as a victim and as a bully). We don't go into great detail, but I need to make myself aware of any triggers that may come up in the unit so I can avoid them. On Wednesday, we watched a powerful video of slam-poet Shane Koyczan sharing his bullying experience ("To This Day"). The students then put their thoughts on paper in a stream-of-conscious, filling a "describing wheel" with their thoughts, feelings, questions, pictures, phrases, words, etc. about the video and on the topic of bullying. We ended the week by reading an article about bullying that introduces the true definition of bullying, its types, who bullies and why, and also what can be done about bullying. We'll be creating arguments around the question, "Is there a solution to bullying? Why or why not?". More on that next week.

Question for the dinner table/drive home:
1. What is the true definition of bullying? Which of the types of bullying do you think is the worst? Why?
2. How did book club go this week? What can you do in preparation for next week's meeting?
3. What point of view is your story told in? How do you know that? If someone else was telling the story would that change the story? How?

Warmest wishes,
Kevin Laffin

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