RL.5.3 is just a fabulous standard. The kids are naturally drawn toward characters in books and my objective is to offer choice in how they practice the skill of comparing and contrasting two of the characters they're reading about as they use details from the text.
I write FAVORITE BOOKS on the Smart Board and ask the kids to volunteer titles that appeal to them (Smart Board image of Warm Up). As I write the names of the books, I underline the title of each. The reinforcing of this grammatical rule is important, because it's ignored too often in their writing. By seeing a collection of these book titles, all underlined, I'm hoping it will resonate with the kids who need reinforcement with how to distinguish books.
With the list of favorite books overwhelming the board, the kids have lots of book ideas right in front of them!
Now that everyone's revved up about picking a favorite book, I redirect them to an important aspect of their selection: A book that includes two characters they'll enjoy comparing with one another, and characters they find interesting. Some of the kids may make different choices when given this detail of activity.
I then pass out the worksheet and we go over the entire page (Favorite Books worksheet). Reviewing both sides is a great idea because it lets them know what's coming. This is especially significant with this activity because it may aid them in deciding on which book they'd like to use when they notice one question in particular: "What character would you want to play if this book was turned into a movie?" It really grabs them. Once they've seen it, they look forward to getting to that part and the question that follows (Determining and Writing About Favorite Book). It contributes to their writing in a unique way as they think of themselves in that role. They complete the worksheets (Current Popular Title, DIVERGENT).
They work on the two pages independently. If they still have difficulty deciding on a topic, I refer them to the Smart Board to look for choices or have them browse through our class library.
The next part is "partnering off." Instead of assigning kids to work together, or even letting them choose, it's fun to mix it up a bit (The next person finished will be her partner). They know that once they're finished with the worksheets, they come to the front of the room and wait for a classmate to finish (And here he is!). I monitor this carefully, and if I notice someone sitting in their seat, not working, it's an indication they're stealthily waiting for a friend to finish. Although this isn't the end of the world, I'd like it to be more random, so I check out their paper, which usually results in their trip to the front of the room to wait for a partner. Once one is found, the two pair off to read the information they've written about their favorite books to each other. If there's time, I also give them the opportunity to share a few with the class.
Discussing Favorite Books is a good way to get kids talking about books. After the partner share, I ask them to come up and give a PR plug for their book. My hope is that on our next trip to the library, some of these suggestions will be embraced!