The book club is back! Last year, I facilitated a Socratic Book Club for homeschooled 5th and 6th graders. We studied seven great works of literature based on the method presented in Teaching the Classics by Adam and Missy Andrews. This year, because my kids are older, we'll be continuing the club with 6th through 8th graders. I learned a great deal last year and have made a few changes.
This year, our group will study only five books total, rather than seven, four novels and a Shakespeare play. Given the breadth and depth of the works studied, seven was just a few too many. Also, I've condensed the study into a shorter time period, beginning in October, a month later, and ending in March, a month earlier. These are not only less busy times for my family, but six of the most unfavorable months to be out of doors in WI. There is nothing like snuggling in with a cup of hot chocolate and a great classic novel during those pesky winter months.
Another change this year is the addition of a Shakespeare play. I've never studied Shakespeare with a group before, but thought it was a fabulous idea. I've read several posts written by Nancy Kelly and Mystie Winckler regarding their Shakespeare teaching experience and this year decided to take the plunge. My current plan is to meet five consecutive weeks in March, studying one Act of Julius Caesar per week. I'm looking forward to group discussion and possibly acting out the scenes each week within the group.
Lastly, I'm adding a writing component to the group. I'm requiring each student to write a narration either of the entire story or of a particular chapter/scene of interest. We currently have seven participants and if time permits, I will ask each student to share their narration with the group. The students will also be required to keep a Commonplace Book. I'm asking them to choose at least two passages from each book to commonplace. Again, they will be asked to share their passage choices with the group. I will not be critiquing any of the writing or assigning grades, but rather encouraging the students to deeper engage with the story.
The books we will study are scheduled as follows...
October 2016 – The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
November 2016 – Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
January 2017 – Oliver Twist by CharlesDickens
February 2017 – The Call of the Wild by Jack LondonMarch 2017 – Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
In addition to narration and commonplacing, throughout the club study, we will discuss the five elements of fiction including, conflict, plot, setting, character, and theme using the Socratic method of discussion, again based on Teaching the Classics as mentioned above. Overall, I think it's going to be a great year. Ruben is already blowing through Huck Finn. I'm pleased with the number of participants and look forward to each of the prospective books being studied. I intend to write a follow-up post after each meeting with a book review.