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Fairwood 5th Graders satisfy their hunger for reading with Book Feast

Fairwood’s multi-purpose room was transformed into “La Caffetteria” on Nov. 22 where students were treated as diners at a restaurant but rather than food on the menu, there were books to choose from!

Groups of students were welcomed and greeted by the “hostess” aka Instructional Coach Elizabeth Hernandez as they entered “La Caffetteria” before they were seated at their tables decorated with blue and red gingham tablecloths, a roaring fire projected on the screen above the stage, while music fitting the restaurant theme played in the background.

“Servers” teachers Joe Gabent and Yaelle Levine shared the “menu” options/chef’s specials, which were new texts for students to preview, jot down notes on, discuss with others in their “party”, and individually rank their preference from 1-6 as to which they were most/least interested in reading.

Students really got into it and provided many humorous comments. One student stated, “Please tell the chef that this book is a bit on the dry side and needs more seasoning.” Another student commented, “I think this novel is too heavy. Can you recommend something else?”

Through the “Book Feast”, students were provided time to get a sampling of what they will be reading and discussing soon in their upcoming book clubs. The teachers will look at student choices and try to group students according to their first, second, or third choice. The first theme for the book clubs will feature historical fiction books. Once that book club is completed in about 4-6 weeks, a new theme will be chosen.

The La Caffetteria idea was developed while thinking about book clubs, a context of the District’s adopted literacy curriculum, and how to build student excitement and engagement, while also providing students an opportunity to make informed choices about what they are interested in reading and discussing with peers during book club meetings.

“The idea of a Book Feast seemed to fit since we planned to launch close to Thanksgiving,” Instructional Coach Elizabeth Hernandez said. “It truly was a collaborative effort that seemed to grow over the past couple of weeks. The teachers, Joe Gabent and Yaelle Levine, were incredibly invested in the process and bringing book clubs to life for their students.”

The instructional focus in the book clubs will be for students to construct meaning through language and print. Initially, the teacher will provide support to students instructing them on how to discuss effectively, and then will let the students lead book discussions and focus on the content, messages, and themes of the shared text. Read on, Falcons!

Instructional Coach Elizabeth Hernandez contributed to this article. 

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