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  • Writer's pictureKeshia McIntosh

Get them reading...and talking!

Updated: Jul 19, 2021

If you are interested in conducting BOOK TALKS in your classroom this year and are interested in a) learning more about them and/or b) finding out what's included in my BOOK TALK product...please, read on!

Firstly, Book Talks make an amazing substitute for Book Reports. Lets be honest, Book Reports are quick and fairly easy but provide little opportunity for cross-curricular assessment. The students fill in a report, turn it into you, you read it (or skim it), and that's about as far as that will get. Don't get me wrong, I'm not entirely against them. I created two Book Report FLIPBOOKS in my TpT store as a means to better engage the students and ask for slightly more information that a one-pager would allow. If you're interested in checking these out, click HERE for grades 1-2 and HERE for grades 3-6.

Now, lets get to the good stuff.


1) They offer cross-curricular assessment: The very fact that the word "Talk" is in the term gives some indication that an Oral Communication component is involved. As a French Immersion teacher, it's extremely important that I provide rich and meaningful opportunities for my students to converse in French. Forcing them to speak to each other in French during classtime will only take you so far, and will expose the students to limited new vocabulary. To assess my students during Book Talks, I jot down anecdotal notes on an observation sheet as I circulate around the classroom. I've added a template for you!

There are several written components to these activities as well. I've mentioned in various posts on Facebook or Instagram that I follow the Writing Process with my students, all the way from brainstorming to publishing a good, revised/edited copy. The same goes for the speech bubbles included in this new product. A few examples are provided for students to see and understand what is expected of them before being expected to come up with their own opinions/recommendations. I would most definitely do a Read Aloud story and work with the students to fill in a couple bubbles based on our shared opinions of the book before sending them off to fill in a few of their own.

2) They hold the students accountable for their independent reading: I've been using the Daily 5 in my classroom for a few years now and I love it (another post for another day). Although, I'll be the first to admit that Read-to-Self and Read-to-a-Friend aren't always the most productive stations. It's sometimes tricky for students to find books at their level, or books they're interested in, and the craftiest of students will make it appear as though they've been reading and reading when really, they're dreaming of more interesting things.

The "Coder mon texte" activity holds students accountable for what they're reading, helps prepare them for a Book Talk with a partner, and most importantly, lets them use sticky notes (and even pens, if you're so generous). It is absolutely imperative that you review with your students WHY they're talking about what they've read and HOW to have a conversation post-reading. Review these anchor charts with your students (or make shared ones together) and practice having conversations about books.

Give each student a pack of post it notes to use during their Read to Self, or Read to a Friend stations. When they come accross something they think is important, surprising, confusing...something that made them think of a connection, something they loved...they slap a post it note on that page with the symbol that best describes their feelings and they jot a quick note about it. Coder mon texte works incredibly well for cross-curricular texts. I've used them for note taking during science and social studies texts! This helps the students better retain what they've read so that they're better prepared for a Book Talk with the class or with a partner.

Model, model, model...practice, practice, practice THEN send them off to do it on their own. Pick your favourite, most engaging read aloud story - the one that has them at the edge of their seat and "awwing" when you stop at the end of a chapter to pick up again another day. Post the Book Talk Sentence Starters somewhere in your classroom - somewhere that is easily accessible and available for quick reference. Practice them during Read Alouds and have the students using the language they will need when chatting with a partner later on when they're finally ready.

Print, cut, laminate, and post them somewhere accessible

P.S. The adorable "LECTURE" letters are also included!

Once your students have coded their text and become comfortable with how to start a conversation, you can send your students off with Book Talk prompt cards to chat with a partner about what they've read. Put these in a ziploc bag (or in a travel soap container from Dollarama for durability and organization) and have the students take turns selecting a card. It's up to you if you'd like to allow them to refer to their sticky notes in their books to help jog their memory!

3) They're super fun and super engaging! Now that your students have practiced through note taking and using sentence starters and prompts, they're now ready to decide whether or not they would recommend a book to a friend or not. It is, after all, important to have all of the necessary information and to have thoroughly read a book before being "authorised" to make a recommendation. There are several ways that the students can make a recommendation based on their books:

a) Fill in an Opinion Sheet that has the students share their opinion of the book in a line or two, rate it out of 5 starts, and decide whether or not they would like to recommend the book to someone else. This is great, particularly for early finishers and for YOU to take a peak at when they're done. It isn't necessarily the best way to engage other students in determining whether they'd like to read the same book or not.

b) Fill in an Emoji Bookmark that the students will tuck into the front of the book, and place back into your Classroom Library. I LOVE this one for exposing your students to your classroom library, having them better explore the books you've got, and discovering what their fellow classmates thought about the book they just picked up. Printing them on brightly coloured cardstock or paper will make it more obvious when they are tucked inside a book cover (and lets be honest, writing ANYTHING on coloured paper is just way better...amirite??)

c) Last but not least, SPEECH BUBBLES!! So cute, so fun, so creative. I've included 4 examples in this pack so that your students can see what type of information can be included on their bubbles. I recommend reviewing the Sentence Starters once again, and encouraging your students to refer to them when filling in their Speech Bubbles. Several styles of bubbles are included with lines and without lines. Also feel free to white-out the heading before photocopying and leave it blank so that your students come up with a creative heading for their bubble. Again, practice these with your students through shared texts that you explore so that they have a hand at it before going on their own. This will be the first year that I am using the speech bubbles to promote Book Talks and I am incredibly excited. To display them in the classroom, I intend to print out a picture of the cover of the books the students read, and then affix their speech bubble to the picture before displaying it. I will put it somewhere that the other students can see and read them, so that they can get excited (or not!) about reading the same books as their classmates. I've already posted this picture but here it is again!

Et voila! If you'd like to purchase this product, please click HERE!

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