Tuesday, November 18, 2014

SoLSC Trying our hand at the Mocks this year! 11.18.14


Slice of Life is a weekly event hosted by Two Writing Teachers.

When you talk to the students at our school, there is a vague understanding of book awards.  They all know by the shiny sticker that the book won an award.  Knowing the different awards, what they stand for, the idea, much less the criteria, behind them remains an unknown.
I watched my first ALA Book Awards webcast live last year.  I was so excited, it felt like I was watching the Emmy's.  I want that excitement to be felt by students.
I've read and seen Mock Awards happen at other schools and bookstores.  This year we are going to dip our feet into the Mock arena!  Since this is new, not only for our school, but also our teachers, we're starting small.  My hope is teachers see the value in this and the kids have an understanding of the awards and will have been exposed to some amazing books that were published that year.
I work with another fantastic reading specialist, and she was quickly on board to try the Mock craziness!
We started with our 4th graders, which are the oldest kids at school.  Traditionally, Newbery Awards are given to more "lengthier" books, and we knew we needed to allow time for the kids to read the books.
In October, we announced to the 4th graders that they would have the opportunity to participate in the Mock Newbery.  We told them we would choose 4 books.  They would read 1 each month and then meet to discuss the book the following month.  The chosen books all have some Newbery "buzz" about them and are appropriate for 4th grade readers.  Here's our list:
October - Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff
November - The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier
December - The 14th Goldfish by Jennifer Holms
January - El Deafo by Cece Bell
The students who chose to read the first book, ordered their copies (or got them on their own) last month, and had the month to finish the book on their own.  It was exciting to see the kids start to get excited about the book and talk to each other about it.  
We met this past week for lunch to discuss the book.  I posted the Newbery Award criteria and after talking about the book, we went through the criteria and talked about how it was important and what Graff did in the story to develop that area.  The kids really wanted to talk about the characters and what was right/wrong.  We determined this book was really driven by the characters - they moved the story forward.  We had around 30 kids participate and I loved seeing the kids talk, discuss, argue and agree about so many discussion points.
We've passed out the order forms for our next book, The Night Gardener, and it's interesting to see who is ordering the book - there are some changes from the first go round.  Is it the fact that it's such a different story or is it they saw their peers reading and talking about a book and they want to join in?  Whatever it may be, we have had a great start and I can't wait to see where this goes!
I will post again in February to sum up our journey and the kids' reactions when the awards are handed out.
Our Kg-3rd graders are also participating in Mock rounds.  But I'll save that for another post!
I know there are many ways to run Mock awards, and this is just a start for us.  After we've completed year 1, it will be interesting to see what we change for the next year.  I'll keep reading what other people are doing and tweak ours where and when it's needed. I'm excited for our journey!


  1. Oh I want to do this with my students!! I hope you blog more about it so I can see your progress!!! :) Best of luck!!

  2. Exciting listening to your story about students enjoying reading.

  3. Love reading about your system here! I did a very modified Mock Caldecott in my Children's Lit for the first time last January--we don't have more than 2 weeks of class before the actual awards are announced, so we don't have a lot of time to read and prep and discuss. But students were still excited about the announcements and really thrilled to have read all the honor books!

  4. Glad to know what you're doing, Michele. I'm not in it this year, but our librarians are running a lunch club with those who signed up, & I hear they're enjoying it immensely. It's so fun to go the whole route and then watch the awards!