For the young tween that walked into our library today, asking in a shy and almost embarrassed voice so that none of the people around us could here...For the countless tweens and teens who are struggling, questioning, or embarrassed...For the proud and open who just want to read about someone like them...
These books are for you.
It's hard to find middle grades books focused on or including LGBTQ+ characters or themes. It seems as if most of these novels are in the YA Lit realm, which is fine for many of our middle schoolers, but we still need to be cognizant of the huge population of our students who do not want to read mature content yet still would like their characters to be representative of LGBTQ+. Luckily, we are living a modern age where publishing companies are recognizing this. Below you will find a list for my top favorite LGBTQ+ middle grades novels.
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!
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 flowers on all the tables. There is a cheap option on Amazon for a pack of white tablecloths. The flowers I have collected over the years, but since it is Valentine's Day, I am sure there are good deals at Michaels, Target Dollar Spot, or Hobby Lobby.
Intro to students:
Speed Dating Sheet:
Part 2: Sharing our new genre system with the students
Because my students have not been exposed to genres in depth before, I decided to start with the basics. I introduced what genrefication is, why it is important/why we decided to undergo this process, and what genres we decided on.
The Genre Personality Quiz
After I talked to students for about 10ish minutes about the genrefication process and which ones they can find in our library, I explained how important it is to not pigeon hole ourselves as one particular genre. Often times, books highlight several elements of different genres as you read. Just like people have layers of personalities, so do books. When students take the personality quiz, I ask them to pick the top three answers to narrow down which genres they may be interested in. Depending on what they get on the quiz, students get personalized book recommendations on a book mark. Students are usually shocked that they are more than one genre and often times include different aspects of genres they never would have thought about before. The discussions from this part of our lesson get to the heart of why I genrefied: personality, interests, and being able to offer more personalized readers advisory for 1,500 students.
For the quiz and images I used for the slides click here.
For the personalized bookmarks click here.
**Please keep in mind these genre personalities and book recommendations are geared towards middle schoolers/high schoolers. They do include young adult novel recommendations as our school promotes both middle grades and young adult novels to our students. This includes books like The Hate U Give, Dear Martin, etc.**
GooseChase Scavenger Hunt for Genres
After the personality quiz, students participated in a GooseChase scavenger hunt (a virtual scavenger hunt with missions that can include taking pictures, recording videos, typing, and more). Students were so engaged going through the missions on their teams! Students had to complete missions like acting out their favorite sport in the sports genre area or taking a bookface picture with a book from the historical genre area. The point of the scavenger hunt was to help students be able to locate all of the genres on their own. Not all of my classes got to this part due to time constraints and I believed the personality quiz was 100% more important to my goals for this project. However, I do think I will do this again next year with my 7th & 8th grade students during their beginning of the year library orientation (or at least a variation). I create one for each class period to make it easier to start/stop the game and locate the submissions after the end of the day.
You can find the GooseChase Scavenger Hunt (which is FREE) here.
**My school has one-to-one iPads so this was an easy way to complete this activity. I have printed clues and had students draw answers before. You could have students partner with devices if you have limited numbers. There is also a genre breakout out there!
**To learn more about GooseChase and how awesome this app is, visit my tutorial here.
Did you want to learn more about how I actually genrefied? Read Part 1 here.
Disclaimer: This is not going to be a post about why we need to genrefy or the epic debate among librarians across the world on the pros and cons. You do you. Only you know your students, your staff, your school improvement plan, etc. etc. etc. No judgement here!
This is a post about how I completed our genrefication project and how I prepared students for the new layout afterwards because it was a decisions that benefits our students and aligns directly to our school improvement plan.
Deciding on genres is hard. And easy. And hard. It's easy because there are so many others before me that have created genre lists already. It would be super simple just to copy and paste. It's hard because my brain jumps to subgenres and how important those are to nuances within genres...But at the end of the day, with help from my student advisory group and some awesome ELA teachers, here is what we came up with:
If you want the signs I created, those are located here. I used Canva to create the signs.
How to Label
Because most people are visual and I have a new media clerk (who has never been a media clerk before) and I have parent volunteers who come in to help shelve books, I decided to go with the genre stickers from Demco to make the genre as clear as possible. It makes it easier on all parties to see the sticker clearly. There is a part of me that genuinely does not like the visual sticker as it covers more of the spine. Not to mention cost is a concern for purchasing stickers for a large collection. I could have used colored book tape over the spine label to save on visual concerns and cost, but at the end of the day, I knew the stickers would work best for our needs.
Grouping & Moving the Books
This was the longest part of the process. I weeded books as I labeled books (as it had not been done in years with the previous media specialist) so I was able to see and count spaces as I was labeling. I decided to label and weed prior to moving anything. It made the journey much easier! Having a ton of book carts made this easier too. When I was ready to move the books, I was able to complete that in just one day.
I chose Classic Fiction to start with as it was one of our small genres and started by moving all of the books in that area to book carts. Then I added all of our books labeled Classic Fiction to that book shelf. After that, I grouped genres by theme (Classic Fiction went well with Historical Fiction, etc.). Once I started, it was like a snowball effect. People I've talked to say this sounds the most intimidating when they start the process, but this really was the least scary part to me.
Updating the Catalog System
I decided to not update our Destiny Catalog System by call number. Instead, I updated the sublocation and created categories for the genres to make this process a tad easier. Before you can do bulk updates, you need to create the sublocations and the categories.
To create sublocations
To create categories
To find out how I shared our new genre system with the students, visit Part 2 here!
On the twelfth day of Techmas: Bloxels, a hands on platform for kids to build, collaborate, and tell stories through video game creation
Bloxels has been the biggest hit in our MakerSpace!
Bloxels is a hands-on platform for kids to build, collaborate, and tell stories through video game creation. Students can use colored blocks to design their characters and settings to tell their own amazing stories! The game board is scanned using the free iPad app to make the creation come to life! This engaging classroom tool is transforming learning off the paper and putting it in the hands of students. Imagine designing a scientific process, a historical location, or even a story about yourself! The possibilities are endless!
If you create an educator account, you have access to the educator hub with lesson plans and activities. Also, for every kit you order, you receive student accounts so that students can login and save their work.
Check out the Bloxels EDU website for more information and how to purchase your own kit!
What is Google Spotlight Stories?
This app puts the reader in the middle of a growing number of virtual reality stories and demonstrates new possibilities for interactive storytelling. Each of the stories is a 360 video experience to be viewed within a VR viewer or on a device or screen. Users are prompted to download a story before reading for easy repeat access. Among the elementary stories are The Windy Day, Buggy Night and Duet. The reader focuses attention on the scene, with the story adjusting and presenting a personalized experience.
Don't have the ability to use this as an app? That's ok! It's on YouTube as well!
What is GooseChase?
GooseChase is an educational scavenger hunt for the 21st century! It blends the traditional approach of a scavenger hunt with mobile technology to create a fun and engaging learning experience.
What can you do in the game?
Start a game and add missions! Missions can be to take a photo/video, text an answer, or add a GPS location. Students complete the missions to earn points!
Once the GooseChase is active, participants are able to see the missions to be completed, view the leaderboard, and see what the other teams have submitted in the Activity Feed. After the game has been completed, submissions can be reviewed as a class or individually. The leaderboard keeps score so that the teacher can recognize the winners at the end if they choose to.
What can you do?
Ideas for the classroom: