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.
Students listen to each other more times than the listen to me as the teacher. I try and use this energy as a way for students to listen to each other to find books they would like to read. Today's lesson keeps that in mind with an emphasis on revising booktalks, which we started in this lesson. I truly believe that revision is the most important step in the writing process and for every writing piece I always try and offer various revision strategies.
Before students begin revising their booktalks, they need to narrow down from their rough drafts, which booktalk they would like to take through the process. They already have three ideas. I have them briefly share with their group members that I assigned based on where they are sitting information about their books. This sharing is brief and just serves as a way for students to get thoughts about what book their group members may be interested in hearing more about. Each student will make the decision to either keep this in mind or go with their first choice, regardless of what their group members say. This helps them to think about audience as they work on revising their booktalks and reaching your audience, whether it's a specific audience or the entire class, is crucial when creating booktalks.
The first step is to pull up the Revising Booktalks Smart Notebook file on the Smartboard (and here is the Revising Booktalks PDF version). With that open, I read though the first slide that asks students to think about different criteria about appealing booktalks. Students make this list in their notebooks as a group. Each group member jots down notes that their group came up with about what makes an appealing booktalk. This helps them to think about what they need to include in their language and wording, rather than mine. Since it is in their own wording, they are more likely to include these ideas as they work on revising their own booktalks. Students have had experience listening to booktalks that I gave earlier in the year and learning about the basics of a booktalk in this lesson.
Here you can see two groups discussing what make a booktalk interesting:
Since students already have a way into revising based on their own self-generated ideas, I try and support this thinking by giving them concrete strategies and tools to revise their booktalks. I think it's beneficial that students come up with their ideas first, which was the earlier part of today's lesson, and use those ideas as a way to bring up other revision strategies.
I keep up the Revising Booktalks Smart Notebook File (here's the Revising Booktalks PDF version) on the Smartboard. I read through each of the last two slides. These two slides focus on the passage that will be part of the booktalk and the writing of the booktalk itself. These are two important aspects of the booktalk and I want students to spend time really analyzing them so they can appeal to their audience.
The slide about the passage asks to evaluate which passage would be best to read to their audience and why. It's not always the passage that they like the best, but the passage that will get readers interested in the book. The questions on the slide ask students to do the work necessary to evaluate the effectiveness of the passage. The last slide asks students to think about the writing of the booktalk, specifically word choice and logical organization. As I read this slide, I remind students that they are, in theory, salespeople. Their job is to get their peers to want to read this book. By highlighting word choice and organization this gives them something tangible and specific to work on.
As I read each slide, students are following along and jotting down notes. Students will be, as with most writing assignments, at different stages in the process. Instead of making them do one strategy at a time, I show them the tools and then give them to practice based on their current need. At this time in year, it's important that students start working on this skills independently so they can internalize them more.
Students will have the rest of class to revise and work on their booktalks. It is so important to give students class time to write and revise so the teacher can offer guidance when needed. I always want to make sure that I can help students fix problems when needed rather than when it's too late.
The rest of class time is devoted to revising their booktalks. During this time I circulate around the classroom to make sure students are writing and revising independently and to offer assistance when needed. To offer this, I use any of the follow strategies.
Most of the problems that students run in to as they are revising are picking a passage and starting their booktalk. To assist students in picking out a passage, I ask them to think about what they would like to focus their booktalk on: character, plot, theme, or writing style. Once they narrow that down, I can think ask them to find passage that highlight that specific area. Once they can do that, they can start evaluating independently which passage will be the most effective.
To assist students in starting their booktalk, I pull up my The Impossible Knife Of Memory booktalk so students can see the basic structure of a booktalk. This gives them an example to follow and this is important early in the process so they can begin to write. Another strategy I offer students is to refer back to the Booktalk Section of my web-site. This serves as a review of earlier lessons so they can refresh their memory and begin to write.
Here is an example of a student's Nineteen Minutes BookTalk Rough Draft and the work from this lesson's revision strategies. I would offer her assistance in making sure this student looks as the area should would focus her booktalk on. I discuss this in this walkthrough of her rough draft.