I'm linking up with Holly today to tell you about my new Teacher Tip about student book recommendations.
I think it's true of all ELA teachers that sharing book recommendations with students gives us that warm fuzzy feeling we all love. But what do we do to motivate those reluctant readers in our classrooms?
I pride myself on winning over my reluctant readers with a multitude of strategies I've implemented in my classroom, one of which being today's tip: a Novel Recommendation Binder. This tip seriously took me about 15 minutes to throw together but has made a lasting impression in my classroom.
In my classroom, I keep a binder in my classroom library for all of my students to access at their leisure. Inside, I keep a stack of blank Novel Recommendation forms.
On the top half of the form, students write the title of the book, author, genre, short summary, and a brief description of who they think would enjoy it. The bottom half of the form is left blank with the subtitle "Recommended By" above the space. Any student who also recommends that book can simply sign their name on the page, which is sorted alphabetically by the student who completes the form (you can use alphabet binder tabs to help here). If a student needs to choose a new book, he or she will often grab the binder and see what their friends recommend instead of asking me. Peer recommendations weigh much more heavily among middle school students, after all.
In my classroom, this binder has cultivated a positive peer pressure to read. In fact, the year I started this, I had specific titles I simply couldn't keep on my bookshelf (despite the fact that I had four copies of each title) because students couldn't wait to get their hands on whatever their peers were reading.
My top readers are usually the ones to start the recommendation pages, and sometimes it becomes a friendly competition to see who can finish a book first (my only requirement) so they can fill out the form. It's a great early finisher activity as well.
My reluctant readers also enjoy being able to add their signatures to pages when they finished books. I think, in a way, it's like a brag book for my students to show off what they were reading.
An additional bonus for the middle school classrooms is that this binder allows students to share their recommendations with peers in other classes as well.
As a teacher, I've used this binder to help me see which books I need to add to my classroom library as well as which titles I need to add to my summer reading list so I can stay current with what my students read.