I realized yesterday that my book clubs had finally started to work. Students were taking about the book, about what happened, about their predictions, and even what they liked and disliked about it. That last one, I think, is the biggest success, because that's what adults do a lot of in their book clubs.
Half of the class, unfortunetly, was still on the other side of the room finishing up the double-entry journals they were supposed to do for homework and are a prerequisite for book clubs.
So I've been thinking a lot about how to make book clubs / literature circles and writing workshop work in the mixed and remedial classroom. I think the empowerment that chioce gives is essential to creating life long readers and writers.
If you listened to my last podcast, you'll know that I'm thinking intense formulaic writing of numerous genres in the first semester could slowly stem into a more open writing workshop. I think for book clubs, perhaps if students get a choice in book first, (so that every student is reading exactly what they want) then the educator could work on building the groundwork of throughtful reading with talk alouds, retellings, and other comprehension building strategies individually.
This would require a well read instructor, but I think once the base is there, the class could move to short stories as a whole, then novels together, and finally literature circles in the second semester. A thought.