And the nominees are…

Gentle reader, I need to thank you for your patience. Being a full-time middle school teacher and full-time doctoral student does not afford me lots of free time. While I fully intended to post a new blog discussing my students’ nominations for their book awards, the end of April was wrought with deadlines. And now I find myself in mid-May, wondering where does the time go?

As you know, my seventh-grade students have nominated books for their book awards. I have two groups of seventh-graders, so I have two different awards: The Spectacular Sevie Award and the The Ms. Schmidt’s B3 Class Award for Outstanding Achievements in the Field of Excellent Writing (MSB3CAOAIFEW). The next step was nominating books. Each student nominated one book. I was a bit concerned. Would every student nominate a title? After all, no matter how much I rave, I do have some students who don’t read a lot outside of class. As one of my boys mentioned to me the other day, “The Hunger Games was the first book I read outside of DEAR, Ms. Schmidt.” (He’s now reading Catching Fire and not happy with it because, “They’re just on the train.”) The nominations came flooding in. My fears were unfounded. All the students nominated a book, and some wanted to nominate multiple books. Then I had to figure out how to group books and form “committees.” I didn’t have to figure this out; I just asked the kids how they wanted to handle it.

One class decided they wanted to break the books by genres.
The final list:
Mystery
Scat by Carl Hiassen

Teen, Inc. by Stefan Petrucha

Blue Is for Nightmares by Laurie Faria Stolarz

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

Skeleton Creek by Patrick Carmen

Dystopian Worlds
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Gone by Michael Grant

Low Fantasy
Beastly by Alex Flinn

Impossible by Nancy Werlin

Kingdom Keepers: Disney after Dark by Ridley Pearson

Airborn by Kenneth Oppel (Steampunk)
High Fantasy
The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima

Secret of the Sirens by Julia Golding

Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke

The Familiars by Adam J. Epstien and Andrew Jacobson

My other class decided they wanted to read by length, and each group contains a short, medium, and long book. This was a bit harder to figure out, but thanks to Goodreads, I was able to get page numbers for all the nominated books. The final list:
Group One:
Short: Mockingbird by Katherine Erksine
Medium: Pretties by Scott Westerfield
Long: Dark Secrets 2: No Time to Die & The Deep End by Elizabeth Chandler
Group Two:
Short: Cirque du Freak: Killers of the Dawn by Darren Shan
Medium: The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Long: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
Group Three:
Short: Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz
Medium: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Long: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
Group Four:

Short: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Medium: The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan
Long: The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
Group Five:
Short: Midnighters: The Secret Hour by Scott Westerfeld
Medium: Fang by James Patterson
Long: The Sorceress by Michael Scott
Group Six:
Short: The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
Medium: The Silenced by James Devita
Long: The Alchemyst by Michael Scott

Over spring vacation, the students began reading. When we returned to school the last week of April, I found that all the students had read at least one book from their category, and many had read two of the books from their categories.

I spent Spring Vacation gathering copies of the titles I didn’t have in my class library. Many of the books, I have not read. And yes, I do have my favorites – the ones I’m rooting for – on both lists. However, the students don’t know what I like.

Shortly after returning from Spring Vacation, I had the committees convene. I gave them between 10 and 15 minutes of class time to talk about what they’ve read. The students not only started a loud and lively discussion about what books they liked and what they didn’t. They also started passing books back and forth to each other. Each week, I give them time to meet in committees to talk about the books, which will hopefully help them narrow down the selections and choose a finalist. May 25 and 26 the classes will have their list of honor books. We’ll be voting on our winners the beginning of June (luckily we’re in school until June 23, so there’s lots of time).

The interesting things I’ve noticed about this process. First, I don’t have to worry about the books. I pulled the books that were nominated out of the class library, and set them in a special spot in the room by my desk (which is to keep the eighth-graders away from them). The seventh-graders have been great about reading and returning books to the pile. I feared they’d be in lockers or under beds, but the kids have been really respectful of their fellow committee members. I’ve also had kids bring in their copies of nominated books to share with their classmates. Wow! How amazing are they! Their cooperation and respect really blows me away. The final thing I’ve noticed is that the groups set up a reading schedule, and they’ve been sticking to who’s reading what when and who gets the book next. I see kids passing books between their peers in homeroom and in the hallways. And as an added benefit, I’ve heard kids who don’t normally talk to each other strike up conversations with their group members about their shared books. And even though my seventh-graders are getting silly (it’s that time of the year), it’s nice to see them so focused on a project that involves reading.

Until next time, See YA….

Posted in Independent Reading/SSR/Reader's Workshop | Tagged as: , , , ,

One Response to And the nominees are…

  1. bonny says:

    How I wish I could have been there to see this! I remember the excitement of students coming to the library looking for a book that had been recommended to them, and really miss the students that I used to think of as “my readers”. It’s wonderful to hear that they’ve been respectful of the books and fellow committee members.

    I’m interested to see how few nominees the classes have in common; I thought both lists might be dominated by Suzanne Collins and Rick Riordan. I have favorites that I’m rooting for and will look forward to reading about the winners. Keep creating and nurturing readers!

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