I consider my number one priority as a librarian to acquire awesome books and help our students find books that they will love or find interesting. Many in the profession call this readers advisory. There are so many forms this can take from book trailers, book talks, personality quizzes (see my post about genre personalities here), having one on one conversations, and today I am sharing one of my favorite readers advisory activities: speed dating with a book!
What is speed dating with a book?
Students spend 3-5 minutes with a book of their choosing and rate the books they 'date' on their attractiveness, personality, and comprehension/compatibility. There are different variations on this activity all around the internet nowadays so feel free to do some Googling for different ideas.
You could hear a pin drop they were so engaged in their 'dates!'
Setting the Stage to Engage
I set out a variety of high interest books from different genres on 7 -8 different tables with 4 chairs each. My list changes each time I do this activity because new books come out and I get to know the students and their interests more. The number of books stays about the same as I want to have enough for students to choose from. With 6 books per table and 7 or 8 tables, plan to have 42-48 books on hand.
Find the table images I created for table signs here.
I like to go extra when decorating so of course I had tablecloths and decor on all the tables. There is a cheap option on Amazon for a pack of white tablecloths. The decor I have collected over the years, but since it is Valentine's Day, there are always good deals at Michaels, Target Dollar Spot, or Hobby Lobby.
One other thing I do is softly play cheesy love music in the background as a timer for each date round. Besides the books, this is what our teachers and students love the most! Check out the Spotify playlist I made just for them here.
How Do I Choose Books?
Choosing books depends on the age group that is coming in and the personality of the students I know are visiting the library. This honestly gets into a deep discussion about readers advisory, but I work with our Student Library Advisory Board throughout the year to know what books our students are loving along with circulation stats and new releases. I also read (A LOT) and generally know the books. This year, I tried something new by picking books based on their 'personalities' rather than just their genres. This has been a huge hit with the students!
The biggest consideration for me in choosing books beyond this is whether we have the digital version of the book on Sora-OverDrive so students can check the book out immediately. That instant gratification is crucial with our reluctant readers and OverDrive makes that possible while also helping me maintain organization for two weeks of speed dating.
The #MeToo movement has shed new light on the prevalence of gender-based harassment and violence. As national conversations about power, patriarchy, and oppression continue to expand, we have seen acknowledgement on a smaller scale (including through #MeTooK12) that schools and students are not immune to these issues. However, conversations about healthy relationships and dating, gender equality, sexism, and harassment are not easy, which has led to a longstanding culture of silence. Only about half of all states have requirements for teaching sex education, leaving the landscape around students' knowledge of these topics uneven.
How can we support our students in the wake of the #MeToo Movement?
Barbara Dee's timely exploration of this subject is the perfect starting point for conversations regarding the #MeToo Movement in our schools.
"For seventh-grader Mila, it starts with some boys giving her an unwanted hug on the school blacktop. A few days later, at recess, one of the boys (and fellow trumpet player) Callum tells Mila it’s his birthday, and asks her for a “birthday hug.” He’s just being friendly, isn’t he? And how can she say no? But Callum’s hug lasts a few seconds too long, and feels…weird. According to her friend, Zara, Mila is being immature and overreacting. Doesn’t she know what flirting looks like?
But the boys don’t leave Mila alone. On the bus. In the halls. During band practice—the one place Mila could always escape.
It doesn’t feel like flirting—so what is it? Thanks to a chance meeting, Mila begins to find solace in a new place: karate class. Slowly, with the help of a fellow classmate, Mila learns how to stand her ground and how to respect others—and herself."
Lesson and Resources
A fellow change-agent teacher friend of mine, Courtney Hagans, and I read this heartfelt novel and knew it would be the perfect starting ground for a deeper discussion regarding the #MeToo Movement for her 8th graders. There is nothing explicit in the novel, but it does bring up some deeper (and let's be honest, uncomfortable) conversations.
To introduce the novel, we introduced the idea of the #MeToo movement based on a lesson we found from the New York Times with a graffiti wall (thank you Padlet) answering a few intro questions.
(Padlet was copied over so that names are not listed to maintain the privacy of our students.)
We thought using Padlet would help our students open up more due to the anonymity of the posts. We used these points to guide our discussions in small groups with our girls.
From there, we began reading the novel. We used the following discussion questions to guide our book discussions in person.
We had the phenomenal opportunity to meet with Ms. Dee following the completion of the novel in which our girls spent their lunch having a conversation with her regarding the book and the #MeToo Movement in schools, specifically middle school. It was the most amazing experience to get first hand information and to be able to ask questions from the expert and author!
As the final project of this lesson, our 8th graders put together a Wakelet of resources for their classmates and teachers to learn more about the #MeTook12 movement to support our school community as well as to help the stigma of this subject becomes less controversial and more helpful.