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Lesson Plan

No Teachers Allowed: Student-Led Book Clubs Using QAR

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No Teachers Allowed: Student-Led Book Clubs Using QAR

Grades 3 – 6
Lesson Plan Type Recurring Lesson
Estimated Time Eight to ten 30- to 40-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Emily Manning

Emily Manning

Denton, Texas


International Literacy Association


Materials and Technology






  • Books for student book clubs

  • Chart paper

  • Sticky notes

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1. You will spend three sessions practicing the QAR strategy with students before they participate in their book clubs (see Sessions 1 through 3). For each of these sessions, you will want a short informational text for students to read; you may find it helpful if these texts are on related topics. This lesson uses "Big Swim," "Robots in Class," and "The Little Mountain Climber Who Could" from the Scholastic News website, but you may choose other articles from this site or texts from a classroom anthology. You will want a copy of each of the texts you use for each student in the class or reserve lab time so that students can read the articles online.

2. If you will be using the articles listed in Step 1, print out and familiarize yourself with the "Big Swim" Sample Questions and the "Robots in Class" Sample Questions. If you will be using your own texts, you should develop some sample questions of your own to use for Sessions 1 and 2. If you are using selections from an anthology, the teacher's manual may have appropriate questions to ask during and after reading. Write all of the sample questions (but not the responses) on sticky notes.

3. Make one copy of the Student Question Chart for every two students in your class. Copy the blank Question Chart on a piece of chart paper. This should be big enough for students to see and to fit the sticky notes on. Depending on whether you want to leave the chart with the sticky notes up for students to view as you discuss texts, you may want to make three or four large copies.

4. Make a large copy of How to Have a Great Discussion on a piece of chart paper. You may want to add to this list based on what you think is appropriate for your class. The Literature Circles Resource Center - Teaching Students How to Discuss website is a helpful resource for this and might also be useful for other aspects of the lesson.

5. Make a chart that shows the different kinds of question prompts for each category. See QAR Question Prompts to help you get started. Note that you may want to add questions specific to the text you use during Session 3.

6. Copy the phrases from the Discussion Sorting Sentence Strips onto chart paper and cut them up into strips.

7. Students will be working in pairs and groups throughout this lesson; decide in advance if you would like to assign partners for the discussions during Sessions 1 through 3. When pairing students consider their needs. If you have ELL students or low-progress readers, pair them with more proficient peers or adult volunteers and closely monitor their comprehension throughout. In addition, you should create heterogeneous groups of four to five students for the discussion activity during Session 4.

8. Choose five or six books that would be good for book club discussions. Make sure that you have four or five copies of each book. For the initial discussion, you may want to choose high-interest picture books with challenging themes to meet the needs of all your readers. In doing this, the focus can be on writing the questions and the discussion and not on wading through a long book. In addition, challenging themes will allow your advanced readers to analyze the text at a higher level, but all students will be able to read or understand the book so that you can create heterogeneous discussion groups. Patricia Polacco, Jane Yolen, Patricia MacLachlan, Eve Bunting, and Patricia and Fred McKissack are just a few authors who write thought-provoking picture books.

You might also consider helping low-progress readers and ELL students by recording the book and allowing them to listen at their own pace, pairing them with a mentor for reading, or reading the book aloud to them.


Make two copies of the Literature Circles: Self-Assessment Form for each student in the class. Make two copies of the Literature Circles: Assessment Form for Discussion Groups for each group you have assigned in Step 8.

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