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Honourable Minister of Education, Tara Rivers, and Acting Chief Officer, Christen Suckoo, pictured with representatives from each participating class.

Published 16th April 2015, 1:49pm

On Wednesday 1 April, Minister of Education, Honourable Tara Rivers, along with Acting Chief Officer, Christen Suckoo, joined 110 Year 3 students from five classes in four different schools to share their love of classroom Book Clubs, to celebrate student success, and to rejoice in the joy of reading.

At the beginning of March, Year 3 teachers, Ms. Bernadine Mills (East End Primary), Ms. Dionne Clarke (Bodden Town Primary), Ms. Annie Briggs (Savannah Primary), Ms. Emma Deeney (Prospect Primary) and Ms. Jayme Farrell (Prospect Primary), embarked on the implementation of Book Clubs in their classrooms. Book Clubs, a teaching and learning strategy used intermittently throughout the academic year, are groups of students (with the same independent reading level) who read the same text and meet together to discuss and share their thoughts, feelings and observations about the book.

The initiative was spearheaded and led by Literacy Coach, Ms. Jessica Jackson. “I attended the Reading for the Love of It conference earlier this year and was inspired to implement this instructional approach in the infant classrooms of the Government Schools,” stated Ms. Jackson.

“Book Clubs provide students with an authentic, meaningful, reading experience while also providing opportunities to build essential accountable talk and discussion skills. The use of a framing question, like ‘What can we learn from fictional characters?’ which our students investigated, sets a purpose for reading and helps to stimulate higher reading engagement and deeper comprehension.”

Over a four week period, the teachers and Ms. Jackson met after school to collaborate on lesson plans, text selection and instructional resources and reflect on the effectiveness of Book Clubs. After each collaboration session, teachers returned to their respective schools and executed the planned lessons.

Teacher Ms. Jayme Farrell of Prospect Primary, reported, “The opportunity to engage in an authentic reading programme has been a rewarding and empowering experience for both students and teachers. Collaborating with other teachers and schools across the island has been beneficial to developing my practice.

The results of the first Book Club Unit were very positive. Ms. Annie Briggs of Savannah Primary noted several successes of Book Clubs in her classroom, including making students feel more empowered by giving them the opportunity to be in charge of their own learning and higher engagement in the reading process.

Student reaction and feedback to Book Clubs was equally as positive. “I like Book Clubs because I like to have the chance to talk about books,” said an East End Primary student. Another student from Bodden Town Primary said, “I like Book Clubs because you can always learn a lesson from every book you read.”

The celebratory Breakfast Meeting event provided students with a forum to present and share their answers and insights into the framing question while meeting other students who participated in the project. Students were also treated to a video showcasing all classes engaged in various stages of Book Clubs. The students valued the opportunity to share with and talk to the Minister and Acting Chief Officer about their love of Book Clubs.

Hon. Tara Rivers was impressed by the conversations she had with the students. She said, “It was a pleasure being here with our students this morning learning about their classroom Book Clubs. It is evident Book Clubs have a positive effect on student motivation and engagement in reading and I look forward to seeing greater implementation of this instructional strategy.”

Acting Chief Officer Mr. Christen Suckoo was equally impressed and stated, “I would like to thank Ms. Jackson and all the teachers involved in this excellent initiative that brings excitement to reading for our students and that allows them to build relationships with their peers at other schools.”