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FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Battle of the Books (BOB)?

Kenosha’s Battle of the Books (BOB) began in 1986.  It is academic extracurricular reading program for fourth and fifth grade students in public, charter, private, or parochial schools and homeschooled/independent teams (must have an adult coach/advisor) that enjoy reading challenges and competition.  The purpose of Battle of the Books is the encouragement of reading high quality challenging books and coming together in friendly competition with teams from participating schools.  The emphasis throughout the battles is focused on the challenge of learning and the fun of collaborating and competing.  Kenosha’s Battle of the Books is a collaborative program between the Kenosha Unified School District, Carthage College, the Kenosha Public Library, the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, and the Kenosha News.  Carthage College students moderate the tournament battles.

Who can participate in Battle of the Books?

Any fourth or fifth grade student who enjoys reading and attends a Kenosha public, charter, private, or parochial school participating in Battle of the Books can join a school team.  Homeschooled and independent teams may participate providing there is at least one adult coach or advisor working with the team.

What are the requirements for participating in Battle of the Books?

Student participation requirements for Battle of the Books are:

·       be a fourth or fifth grade student,

·       enjoy books and love reading,

·       read eight books or more from the booklist (number determined by each team),

·       write questions for books on the booklist,

·       attend team meetings and practices,

·       battle against other teams during the March Battle of the Books Tournament (two Fridays), and

·       practice good “readermanship” (sportsmanship).

How does it work?

Schools participating in Battle of the Books announce and recruit interested fourth and fifth grade students.  Teams are formed and members read books from a list of approximately thirty-five nonfiction, fiction, poetry, biography, and picture books.  Coaches and students meet at least weekly (before school, at lunch, or after school) at school to read and discuss books on the BOB list.  As books are read and discussed, questions are written for practice.  A team culls and selects the “best of the best” questions and submits them for the Battle of the Books Tournament.  Students continue to read and discuss the books through-out the five or six months of preparation time.  Before the March tournament battles, coaches will select the final ten school team members that will compete – six key players and four alternate players.  On two Friday afternoons and early evenings in March, school teams meet to battle at a determined site.  On each tournament Friday, school teams (no more than ten members) participate in a number of battles against different teams to earn points.  During the battles, each team is asked ten questions about the books in a quiz bowl format.  Accumulative scores are kept during the two nights of battle.   All readers are recognized and awards are presented with a Parade of Teams and a Celebration following the battles on the second Friday evening.  Emphasis is placed on the reading of quality books, team work, and good “readermanship.”   Everyone is a winner in Battle of the Books.  On the second Friday, teams are served a snack after the last battle and before the Parade of Teams.

Over the years, there have been times when an unequal number of teams register and/or a team drops-out.  When there are an unequal number of teams, it is necessary to form an alternate team (All Star Team) at the last minute.  The All Star Team consists of six to ten members.  The Team Member Sign-In form is divided into two sections.  The first section will list the team’s six key players and the second section will list the team’s four alternate players.  If an All Star Team is needed, please volunteer an alternate team member to participate.  To ensure equity, All Star Team members will participate on the alternate team throughout all five battles of the afternoon/evening.  Switching members between battles will not be permitted.  Should an alternate team be needed on the second night of the battles, another All Star Team will be needed.  An alternate coach will accompany the All Star Team.  Numerous adults will be present to ensure the safety of all participating children.  All Star Team members and coaches will join their school teams during the Parade of Teams and the Celebration.  They will be recognized for their exceptional service at the Celebration.    In the past, team members who have volunteered for the All Star Team enjoy the opportunity to participate in most battles and meet new friends.  In addition, students who serve on the All Star Team provide a community service and experience the value of contributing to a cause. Thank you for your understanding.

Due primarily to space issues, families are not permitted to observe the team battles on the two tournament Friday afternoons and evenings.  Families are invited to attend the Parade of Teams and the Celebration activities.  Only team members, coaches, moderators, school officials, committee members, and honored guests are permitted in the battles.  No exceptions will be made except by the decision of the Battle of the Books Committee.

Transportation to and from the Battle of the Books Tournament is arranged by the school team coaches.

Who can be a coach?

Any librarian, teacher, staff member, parent/guardian, community member, or college student who has some time, likes to read, and likes working with fourth and fifth grade students can be a coach. 

If a non-employee coach works independently with individual team members, the school principal must approve and the form called "Non-Employee Chaperone Policy Acknowledgement" must be completed.

A coach facilitates who reads what book, goal setting, teaching the rules, book discussions, question asking, and practice battles.  He/she models good “readermanship.”

How much time is needed to be a coach?

In addition to meetings and practice sessions (usually an hour weekly plus additional time before the tournament), time is needed for reading the books and writing quality practice and tournament questions. Battle of the Books is an extracurricular activity, therefore, meetings and practice sessions should occur before, during (lunch), and after school and not during instruction time.  The tournament takes place on two Friday afternoons and evenings. 

Who creates the BOB booklist and who writes the questions?

Thoughtful and inclusive are two words that best describe the book selection process.  After the theme for Battle of the Books is announced, school coaches and representatives from Kenosha Unified School District, Carthage College, University of Wisconsin-Parkside, and the Kenosha Public Library are asked to recommend books for each genre.   The selection committee reviews, researches, discusses, and selects books for the list using a set criteria.  The criteria is as follows:  theme, documented grade level, reading complexity (easy, at/average, and challenging), interest, gender focus, cultural/ethnic emphasis, format of the book, and if the book is new, enduring, or has been on the list in prior years.  In addition, award winning and recommended books are always considered.  Books are checked for availability in the school and public libraries and for purchase.  The booklist consists of approximately thirty-five books in seven different genres - non-fiction, fiction, poetry, biography and picture books.  The Library of Congress records are used to create the book list titles/authors/illustrators to be recited during the tournament.  Books are based on a theme.

Questions for the Battles of the Books Tournament are written by the team coaches/adults and students.  Questions are submitted to the BOB Committee for culling and selection.  Each team is required to submit five to eight quality questions per book.  Questions should focus on the setting, characters, problems, events, details, and solutions. 

Sample question format:           

Question:           In which book does a girl study the Wall Street Journal?

Answer:              Page: ____         The Westing Game          Raskin (Last name is sufficient)

If the book is a picture book, the name of the illustrator as well as the author needs to be included even if the author is also the illustrator.

Where are the books on the Battle of the Books list located?

Books on the 2015 – 2016 Battle of the Books list are located in school and public libraries (most books) and can be purchased online or in book stores.  Some books may be available as an eBook.  The current booklist will be available in September this year.

Do coaches and team members need to read and write questions for each book?

Both coaches and team members write questions for each book read.  Quality questions (top 5, more if neccessary) need to be submitted for each book on the list.  Not every coach or team member needs to read and write questions for each book on the list.  However, the more books coaches and team members read, the better chance a team has at answering questions about books.  There are no rules on how to decide who will read what books or how many books.  Each team can decide how to divide up the books on the list.  However, it is suggested that at least two team members read each book.  Coaches often ask other teachers, librarians, staff members, and parents/guardians to read books and write quality questions for practice and for the tournament.  Questions should focus on the story elements (plot, setting. characters, events, problems, solutions and details).  All questions need to be factual since the answers are the titles of the books.  Please cull and select questions (“best of the best”) to submit.  Questions will be submitted online.  See directions for writing and submitting questions. 

Can books on the Battle of the Books list be read as part of the regular curriculum?  

No, Battle of the Books is an academic extracurricular activity. The books on the BOB list should NOT be read to a 4th – 5th grade class solely for the purpose of getting more practice time in or helping student to get familiar with the books.  If one of the books on the current list fits directly in with a lesson a teacher or librarian needs to teach because it follows the regular curriculum, the book from the library should not used by the teacher for more than one day. Please keep in mind that the library books are purchased for the BOB tournament and using the book for a classroom activity restricts access to BOB students. Once the BOB tournament is over in March, all BOB books are available to everyone for the regular circulation period. 

How can team members prepare for the Battle of the Books Tournament?

Team members should take notes on each book read using a notebook, note cards, a log, or graphic organizer.  In addition, team members should write quality questions based on the story elements (setting, characters, plot, events, problems, solutions, and details) for practice battles and the Battle of the Books Tournament.  Book discussions and talks promote understanding and remembering.  Some teams appoint a team member to memorize all of the titles, authors, and illustrators of picture books.  Some teams have mock battles within the team and others set-up practice battles with teams from other schools. Each team develops its own strategies for preparing members for the tournaments.  Do you have a  successful preparation strategy to share?  Contact Christine O’Regan at coregan@kusd.edu. to add to the list.

Can schools share questions and participate in mock battles?

Yes!  These are great strategies for preparing for battle.

How are teams scheduled to battle?

The battle schedule tiers teams for competition.  Using the last three to five years’ score data, teams are divided into two tiers for battles.  This approach provides equity in the competition.  The same questions are used for each tier and battle totals are used to determine the winners.  In Battle of the Books, everyone is a winner.  Great books are read and teams come together in friendly competition testing their knowledge and understanding of the books.

Who provides money for the tee-shirts?

Often, the school parent organization pays for the tee-shirts.  Please see rule 13 when designing tee-shirts.

What are some strategies for narrowing down to a team of ten? 

Some teams determine the final ten players by who has read the most books, participates in book discussions, answers the most questions, attends meetings and practices, does well on quizzes, practices good “readermanship”/sportsmanship, and has passion and desire.  Do you have a strategy to share for how to narrow down to a team of ten?  Contact Christine O’Regan at coregan@kusd.edu to add to the list.

Note:  The purpose of Battle of the Books is to foster the reading of high quality literature and come together in friendly competition.  To accomplish this goal, the Battle of the Books Committee recommends that the final selection of the ten team members takes place in mid-January or later so that interested readers continue to read and discuss great books.  If possible, after the final team selection, keep the readers who did not make the team involved in reading and in team meetings and practices.  These readers can help final team members prepare for competition as reading and study buddies.  Coaches have the final decision on when and how to determine the final ten team members and if readers who do not make the final team can continue to participate.

Do you have to have a team of ten members?

Team membership is made-up of six key players and four alternate players.  However, teams of less than ten are encouraged to participate.  If the team is less than ten players, the same guidelines apply – six key players and the remaining players will be alternates.  If a team has less than six players, all six players will be considered key players.

What will happen if an alternate team (All Star Team) is needed?

In the event that an unequal number of teams register and/or a team drops-out, it will be necessary to form an alternate team (All Star Team) at the last minute.  The All Star Team consists of six to ten members.  The Team Member Sign-In form is divided into two sections.  The first section will list the team’s six key players and the second section will list the team’s four alternate players.  If an All Star Team is needed, please volunteer an alternate team member to participate.  To ensure equity, All Star Team members will participate on the alternate team throughout all five battles of the afternoon/evening.  Switching members between battles will not be permitted.  Should an alternate team be needed on the second night of the battles, another All Star Team will be needed.  An alternate coach will accompany the All Star Team.  Numerous adults will be present to ensure the safety of all children.  Parade of Teams and the Celebration.  They will be recognized for their exceptional service at the Celebration.    Thank you for your understanding.

Can a new set of team members participate on the second week of battles?

The same team members compete on both nights of the tournament.  Only the members listed on the Team Member List will be allowed to compete during the two nights of the tournament battles.  No exceptions will be made without the permission of the Battle of the Books Committee.

Can a school have more than one team?

At this time, schools may only have one team in Battle of the Books.

How are students transported to the Battle of the Books Tournament?

Each school team arranges for transportation.  Some schools ask parents/guardians to drop-off and pick-up students at the tournament site.  Some coaches transport team members.  If coaches are transporting or parents/guardians are transporting team members other than their own child, drivers must follow the Kenosha Unified School District’s requirements and procedures.  

How are the battles in the tournament scored?

Each team will have 30 seconds to answer a question. Five points will be scored for each correct answer (book title and author). To receive 5 points, both title and author must be correct.  Only the last name of the author is required.  An additional point will be scored for each correct illustrator of a picture book. Students only need to know the illustrators for picture books.  If the correct title and author is given for a picture book but the illustrator’s name is incorrect, the team will still earn 5 points.   Six points will be earned for a picture book when the correct title, author and illustrator are given.  Complete titles as stated on the booklist are the final answer and must be given to score points.  If the spokesperson asks for a question to be repeated, the clock stops until the question in read.  

Opposing team members will have 15 seconds to rebound by answering a missed question and will be given 2 points for a correct answer (title/author/illustrator).  The moderator will read the question again, but teams cannot ask for the question to be repeated during a rebound. 

Can coaches find out their team’s scores?

Scores and totals are recorded on the Team Score Sheet at the end of each Friday nights’ battles.   Coaches can certainly keep track of their team’s scores and totals by viewing the Team Score Sheets.  Please remember that Team Score Sheets must be turned into the office immediately after each night’s battles.   Failure to turn in the Team Score Sheet to the office will result in a zero score for that night’s battles.  If a team would like to know their total score after the second night, the coach can contact Susan Sheard at ssheard@kusd.edu.

 Why aren’t families allowed to watch the battles?

Families are invited to attend the Parade of Teams and the Celebration after the last battle on the second Friday of the tournament.  Primarily due to space, only team members, coaches (3 per team), principals, Battle of the Books committee members and staff, media technicians, news reporters, and distinguished dignitaries are allowed to observe the battles.  Families are not permitted in the classrooms to watch the battles.

 Can we see what a battle looks like?

Yes, see the link to the YouTube – KUSD Elementary Battleof the Books.

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