Each day, I begin my ELA class with Reading Time. This is a time for students to access a range of texts. I use this time to conference with students, collect data on class patterns and trends with independent reading and to provide individualized support.
Since students will spend class time drafting their own booktalks, it's important to give them models. Modeling is the best tool I can use in my classroom. When students can see how something is written the pressure is taken off of them and they can really think about the writing itself. I spend the first part of class modeling for them the structure of a booktalk.
I pull up The Impossible Knife Of Memory booktalk that I wrote on the board. This helps them to see what a booktalk looks like so they can practice on their own. With any writing they do, it's important to give them models so they understand the expectations. As I go over this booktalk, there are moments where I stop and highlight different parts of the booktalk so students can see this in context. This helps them think about the qualities of a booktalk in practice. I stop at the points in the book talk that relate to the direct instruction we discussed in the previous lesson on how to booktalk. I stop so students can see exactly where each of the parts comes up. My booktalk focuses on the writing style of the author and how much I love her characters. I explain what the book is about and a target audience. I also discuss who may be interested in this book. I read a passage from the book so students can get a feel for the author's craft.
This video shows the booktalk for today's lesson.
As part of this section, not only are students seeing the writing of the booktalk but also the presentation of it. They are now able to look at booktalks differently than they have in the past. Earlier in the year it was merely as a way to find books that they might want to read. Now they are able to look at the booktalk as to what they will need to do in order to create their own. Some of the students will find my booktalk boring and that's expected. Those students are then able to see what didn't work for me and fix it for their own booktalk.
The rest of class is devoted to students working on their own booktalks. I think the biggest challange for my students is always the first word and the first sentence. Many of them get stuck with how to start. Allowing them to begin writing, no matter the assignment, in class helps me to offer assistance for those who need it. For some students, I can refer back to my own booktalk and they can use mine as a model. Some students I can have them think about themselves as an audience. They can think about what they would be interested in hearing and use that as a way to start.
Before students begin drafting, I review the requirements of a booktalk by reviewing the How To Booktalk Powerpoint. This reminds students what is expected of a booktalk. I also quickly review the Booktalk rubric so students understand the grading process. This Booktalk Rubric Questions shows a few questions to anticipate when reviewing the rubric. These resources are also available on my web-site for students to access.
Students spend the rest of the class time drafting rough drafts of a booktalk for three different books. I remind students that this merely a rough draft and we are focused on getting on our ideas down. The next step, in a later lesson, will be for students to meet in a group to get ideas about which draft they will take further to revise in order to create a final draft. I have students draft three different possible booktalks for two reasons. The first is that I want students to come up with a few so they can evaluate what would be the best for the audience they would like to go for. The audience may not be the entire class but more a certain group of readers. By having options they can narrow down to their strongest writing piece. I also will only allow one book to be booktalked. If a book is already chosen, they can go back to their drafts and pick a new one.
As students are drafting I circulate around the room to answer any questions they may have regarding their booktalks. These questions usually focus on how to start. I remind starts to think what a good hook would be for them and work from there.
Here is an example of draft of a students' booktalk.