Friday, May 31, 2013

Science and Society Lit Circles

Every once in a while, I get a wild hare to be a language arts teacher... I'm the big science nerd teacher, and there is SO MUCH incredible science non-fiction out there that I want to share with my students.  I have a handful of back years of Best American Science Writing as well as Best American Science And Nature Writing that I pull out now and then for articles - either individual choice read-and-report or whole-class readings.

I have an idea for a bigger "science lit circles" project for next year... One of my dears lent me The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and I just *have* to share it with more kids.  So I've got an idea of picking a whole bunch of science non-fiction and letting kids choose books in groups of three or four to read, discuss, and ultimately share with the other groups.  Of course, I've already found a TON of options, both books I've already read and books I'll need to read this summer to evaluate.  (See below for my working list)

But - while I'm a pretty kick-ass science teacher and can put together awesome projects investigating science phenomena - my non-fiction reading skills development and literature analysis pedagogy is pretty close to non-existent.  I read Nancie Atwell's In The Middle back when I first started teaching, and have run a few readers' workshops... poorly.

So... what resources are the best for setting up lit circles, especially with *non-fiction*?  What are the best new graphic organizers, journaling techniques, asynchronous conversation formats for lit circles?  I'd love to catch up a little on the latest and greatest progress in readers' workshop, non-fiction reading skills development, and lit circles and book groups!

Science Lit Circles Options: Working List

(I teach a "gifted" population, so many of these are quite above-grade-level books.  But I DO have below-grade-level readers, and just 'cause some test as "past high school" doesn't mean they'll be able to fluently interpret all the concepts in these books... So I need to figure out how to guide them as they read!)

Books I've read, loved, would totally include:

  • Stiff, by Mary Roach
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot
  • Collapse, by Jared Diamond
  • The Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan
  • Mutants, by Armand Marie Leroi
  • Where The Wild Things Were, by William Stolzenburg
Books I need to read (or re-read) to evaluate for middle schoolers:

  • The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, by Anne Fadiman
  • Crazy, by Pete Earley
  • The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, by Siddhartha Mukherjee
  • Hallucinations, by Oliver Sacks
  • The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat, by Oliver Sacks
  • Oxygen: The Molecule that Made the World, by Nick Lane
  • The Panda's Thumb, by Steven J Gould
  • My Beloved Brontosaurus: On the Road with Old Bones, New Science, and Our Favorite Dinosaurs, by Brian Switek
  • Brain Rules, by John Medina
  • What's Going On In There, by Lise Eliot
Any other book suggestions?