"I have always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library." ~ Jorge Luis Borges

Monday, April 16, 2018

Cook Prize Voters

My third graders have been reading thoughtfully for the past four weeks. They've been participating in the Cook Prize,  a STEM book award designed for third and fourth graders. Participating in this award empowers students and encourages critical thinking about what they are reading.   
We started by learning about the Cook Prize and reviewing the criteria. The criteria is a lot for third graders to digest, so I gave tangible examples in alternate language to broaden their understanding. If I had more time with them, I would have them use electronic and print resources to define the words themselves, but in the absence of that time, I try to ensure the vocabulary is accessible for all learners. I use the questions below to help the students in their discussions after we read each book.

The finalists this year are:

Here's a look at our four weeks:

Prior to casting their votes, I review the criteria and the students share their thinking about the books making sure to include the language of the criteria. They go through two discussion rounds - one with like minded people and one with a diverse group of voters (in the hopes to potentially sway another voter).
With their thinking cemented by their conversations, they head off to cast their votes:

I get to open the ballot box and tally the votes and read their comments! I love this part.

This is my third year doing this with my third grade students and I think this is the most interesting year yet. In the past, my students have chosen a clear winner (winner as in the book that best meets the criteria).  For instance, here's last year's vote count:

This year, the votes were a bit closer. The votes this year are:

Beauty and the Beak - 19
Karl, Get Out of the Garden - 21
Hidden Life of a Toad - 24
Grand Canyon - 31

Here's are some examples of their thinking. 

Karl, Get Out of the Garden!

Beauty and the Beak

Hidden Life of a Toad

Grand Canyon

My students and I are looking forward to seeing how the other third- and fourth-grade participants across the country voted! 


  1. I hadn't heard of this award before! Glad to know of it now...

    Do you have an award that 5th graders participate in? What about Kinders?


    1. I haven't done any book awards with kindergarten students. My fifth graders have sometimes participated in a Mock Caldecott.