Continuing Our Battle of the Books with Even More Student Voices

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Each year we have a program called Battle of the Books in 3rd-5th grade.  This is a reading competition where teams of 5 students read a list of 10 books.  They work together to answer questions about the books in several rounds of competition in order to be crowned the Battle of the Books Champion.  Each year there are students who don’t participate in battle of the books for many reasons.  Sometimes they are unsure if they want to do it and by the time they decide it’s too late.  Sometimes they have too many other things going on that they can’t fit it in.  Whatever the reason, there are students who are left out. This year, one of our teachers, Ms. Mills, recognized that in 3rd grade and wanted to give these students a 2nd chance to participate.

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Since we are near the end of the year, reading the long chapter books that are on the regular list weren’t reasonable to consider, so she pulled several books that students could realistically finish, understand, and compete with.  Students read these books in small groups as well as during state testing when they finished their test.

Deciding to choose new books  meant that there weren’t questions written for these books, so she knew she would have to come up with every question asked.  I love what she decided to do.  She took the books to a 5th grade class and asked them if they would read the books and come up with questions to ask the 3rd graders.  The 5th grade students worked with their teacher to craft questions and they put their names on each question written.  During the competition, Ms. Mills or Ms. Garrett would say who a question was written by.

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We decided to broadcast the competition through Google Hangouts on Air so that all 3rd grade classes could watch and support their friends.  I setup the hangout and emailed the link to all of the teachers, and of course, we now have an archive of our competition for anyone else who wants to watch.  Students helped pull the questions from a basket of questions and the teachers asked them. Each team received 8 questions and the teachers kept track of which team got the most questions correct.  It was a tight competition because the students knew the books so well.

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I take no credit for any of this competition, but I just had to highlight what these teachers and students did.  Bravo to Ms. Mills and Ms. Garrett for giving even more of our students a voice in this fun competition during the busy end-of-the-year rush.  They all did an awesome job, represented our school well, and showed that they knew their books well!

2015 Barrow 5th Grade Battle of the Books

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Twenty two 5th graders have been busy since December reading a list of 10 books chosen to be a part of the 2015 Battle of the Books.  Students formed teams of 4-5 students.  Each student read at least 5 books and agreed to be an “expert” on at least 2 books.  Here are this year’s titles:

  • Deep and Dark and Dangerous by Mary Downing Hahn
  • Escaping the Giant Wave by Peg Kehret
  • Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea
  • One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams Garcia
  • The Giant Slayer by Ian Lawrence
  • Shooting Kabul by N H Senzai
  • Wonder by R J Palacio
  • Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson
  • A Nest for Celeste by Henry Cole
  • Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick

Students spent 2 days per week practicing during their lunch for about 30 minutes.  In Battle of the Books, a detail from one of the books is given in the form of a question.  For example, “In which book does a principal wink when a big surprise is coming up?”  On their team, students have 30 seconds to huddle and discuss.  The team captain gives the answer of the book title and author.  For example “Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea”.  If they get the question right, they get 5 points.  If they miss it, the next team has a chance to steal the question for 3 points.

Today, our 5th graders participated in 2 rounds of competition.  Their scores from each round were totaled and the two top teams competed in a final battle with 20 questions in the library.  The Reading Mustache Panthers and LJSG were our top 2 teams.

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As usual, the competition was fierce, but in the end the Reading Mustache Panters are the 2015 winners.

Each year, I think about how Battle of the Books fits within our library program.  It takes a lot of time, but each year I see students get involved in this competition that don’t get involved in other things the rest of the year.  I also see students who discover new favorite books and authors because they have to read from a list.  Even though some of the pieces of Battle of the Books don’t mesh with my own personal preferences, they do speak to what some students like.  For that reason, I think Battle of the Books is one piece of our library program that should stay.  I wouldn’t want our whole program to be based on reading lists and competition, but I’m so glad that a small part is.

Our winning team: Reading Mustache Panthers

Our winning team: Reading Mustache Panthers

Our runner-up: LJSG

Our runner-up: LJSG

Congratulations to this year’s winners.  Now, they will go on to the district competition and compete against the other 13 elementary schools in the district to defend our district title.

2014 Battle of the Books 3rd & 4th Grade

IMG_2860Today was our 3rd and 4th grade Battle of the Books.  Students in these grades read the same 10 books.  We build our battle of the books program in stages from 3rd through 5th grade.  Each year, we add a few layers to the competition.

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Natalie Hicks, spectrum teacher, leads our 3rd grade program.  In 3rd grade, students focus on reading the books for enjoyment and working together on a team.  We still hold a competition for them, but it is very low key.  All teams are in the final battle.  Each team gets 10 questions during the competition, but if they miss a question, the question does not get passed on to a new team.  The team with the most points at the end of this small competition is named the grade level winner.

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Heather Carlson, spectrum teacher, leads our 4th grade program.  In 4th grade, all teams compete with one another in the final battle.  However, if a team misses a question, the next team has a chance to answer the same question for a lower point value.  Teams can also challenge a question if they feel that their answer was actually correct.

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In 5th grade, we do the full battle of the books.  We have 2 rounds of competition with all of the teams.  The points from those 2 rounds are added together to decide who battles in the final battle.  The final battle has 20 questions and teams can steal questions from the other team as well as challenge questions.  The winning team from 5th grade moves on to the district competition.  There is no district competition for 3rd and 4th grade.

Many thanks to all of the classroom teachers, families, and students who make this annual program a success.  You can listen to today’s competition at the following 2 links:

 

Watch the 3rd grade battle

 

Watch the 4th grade battle

2014 Battle of the Books District Champions!

IMG_2765Today was our district battle of the books.  Our school level champions, the Rainbow Glitter Sweet Tooths, represented Barrow at this year’s district competition.

To get to this point, this team of 5 girls has spent time since December reading and rereading the 10 books for this year’s battle.  They competed against 5 other teams at the school level to become the school champions.  They spent hours upon hours practicing questions at school and at home to prepare for today.

At the district competition, the 14 elementary schools all brought their winning school team to compete against one another.  The girls participated in 2 rounds of 20 questions.  The points in those rounds were totaled and the top 2 scores moved on to the final battle.  Barrow batted against Timothy Road Elementary in the final.

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The 2 final teams had 20 new questions for the final battle.  It was an extremely close battle because both of these teams were strong.  The questions went back and forth with Barrow and Timothy both getting almost every question correct.  The points were so close, but Barrow came ahead with just a few points above Timothy.  Both of these teams should be extremely proud of their hard work.

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When we returned to school, the entire 5th grade lined the hallways and cheered on the team as they walked to the library for a pizza and cookie cake celebration.  We are all exhausted, but very proud.  The girls immediately checked out some new books in the library.  They have spent so much time with the 10 battle books that they are eager to move on to many new adventures in reading.

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Way to represent Barrow School Cate, Irene, Sophia, Italia, and Lauren, aka the Rainbow Glitter Sweet Tooths!  We are so very proud of you.

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Battle of the Books 2011 District Champions

Once again, Barrow Elementary 5th graders have won the Clarke County School District Battle of the Books.  The Fantastic Five has read books and practiced tirelessly since December.  As always, it was so much fun to have all 14 elementary schools in our district come together to celebrate reading with a fun competition.

When we returned to school, our superintendent, Dr. Lanoue, just happened to be hear and stopped by to speak to the team and praise them for their accomplishment.  Congratulations Jack, Katy, Gabby, Olivia, and Suvitha.  You earned it!

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Battle of the Books 2011

Congratulations to the Fantastic 5 for winning today’s school level 5th grade battle of the books competition.  It was a very close match and went into a tie-breaker round, so a huge congratulations is also in order for Dumbledore’s Army who came in 2nd.  The Fantastic 5 will compete against the other 13 elementary schools on April 14th.

 

 

 

 

1st Place Fantastic 5:  Jack, Suvitha, Katy, Gabby, and Olivia

2nd Place Dumbledore’s Army:  Suncana, Aneesa, Gabe, Zoe, and Mary Carroll