To incorporate social studies into our reading time, the first mini-lesson I do is on the elements of historical fiction. I draw a large venn diagram on an anchor chart during this lesson and have students identify the elements of nonfiction on one side of the venn diagram (facts; real events/people/animals; text features; compare/contrast or causes/effects organizational structure; photographs; etc.) and elements of fiction on the other side of the venn diagram (made up characters, events, settings; story elements; conflict; theme; etc.). In the middle of the venn diagram I write historical fiction and then we discuss how you find elements of both nonfiction and fiction in historical fiction (true facts/characters/events/settings but with additional made up characters/events/settings along with conflicts (often true) and themes.)
After this mini lesson, I begin to expose my students to some historical fiction texts through picture books set in the time periods they have studied in social studies class. The time period I chose was "America" during the 1700s. I discuss with students that authors of historical fiction texts give many clues about the setting so readers can infer the tone of that time period. The two picture books we used to analyze the setting/time period clues were Katie's Trunk by Ann Turner and Redcoats and Petticoats by Katherine Kirkpatrick. In both books we focused on paying careful attention to the author's clues that set up the tone of the 1700s in "America."
Next, I explain to students that they will continue to investigate the tone of the 1700s in America through analyzing further historical fiction literature in books clubs with their peers. We do book clubs a lot in our classroom so my students are familiar with the procedures and expectations. I use the lesson plans found in my Complete Guide to Book Clubs in the Upper Elementary and Middle School Classroom in the beginning of the year to set this groundwork.
By this time, my students are really excited to see which book club books they'll get to choose from. Here are the selections we used this year, plus a few more of my favorite Revolutionary War books. I chose books at a variety of reading levels to target all of my readers.
Are you thinking of trying this out? If so, here's a quick run down on how we do book clubs in our classroom:
After the students choose their books, using the Top 3 Choices sheet from my Complete Guide to Book Clubs for the Upper Elementary and Middle School Classroom, I place them into their groups.
Throughout book clubs you can cover so many ELA common core standards with your students while reviewing social content as well.
Even the Speaking and Listening standards are covered with book clubs. Students will learn what good book club discussions look and sound like through watching "fish bowl" discussions. I pull a random stick and that group conducts their meeting in front of the class while we watch and "grade" their discussion. We look for good listening skills, preparedness, taking turns, clearing up confusions, piggy-backing off each other's ideas, deep thinking about the texts and citing evidence for support. You will find a "fish bowl" grading sheet in my Book Club product above. After the "fish bowl" group is finished we discuss what went well and what could be improved. Then the rest of the clubs meet and model their discussions off what they just witnessed.
Team captains start off the discussion and keep the groups on task. I number all my book club books and team captains are simply the member who has the number book that I spin. The team captains keep track of who is contributing to the discussion and who is not prepared or off task during the meeting. At the end of club meetings I collect team captain recording sheets (found in the Complete Guide to Book Clubs) so I can assess student behavior.
Throughout a round of books clubs, I give 3-4 comprehension quizzes (found in the Complete Guide to Book Clubs). I model the skills on each quiz (story elements, citing evidence, predicting, wondering, theme, character change, etc.) through our classroom read aloud and encourage students to talk about the skills during club meetings before they take each quiz.
Have you ever tried book clubs before? Are you integrating you social studies concepts into your reading block? I'd love to hear how you're fitting it all in too!!