Hot Mess Turned Hot Stuff

Tuesday, January 14, 2014
a confession by Suzanne

I'm so excited to be linking up with Tried it Tuesday for the first time!  Thanks for joining me.

Okay fine.  I'll admit it.  I hated taking my kids to the library!  I'll pin a scarlet 'L' to my chest for penitence.  It just seemed really unstructured and...dare I say...a waste of time.  Students were roaming around the library aimlessly, goofing off, and then selecting a collection of Shakespeare's most beloved plays when I called that it was time to check out.  Don't get me wrong- I love my boy, Will, but for English Language Learner- not so much.  Students would promptly lose or misplace their book, so I would spend the remainder of the year handing out fine notices. What a hot mess!!

I could totally live a happy, productive life with library time cut out of it.  But then there are people like Donalyn Miller, Chris Tovani, and Kyleen Beers that go and mess everything up!  Yeah, students need choice in what they read.  Yeah, it's my job to provide for those that don't have resources (books) at home. Sure, library time should be celebrated.  So, I strategized. 

After a failed attempt at regular library time during the first semester, I sat down with my blank calendar for the new year and scheduled library time for every month.  (If you're thinking, "Once a month isn't nearly enough!"- baby steps, my friend.)  I now had the time, but I needed to do something to add structure.

(Enter Speed Dating)
Yesterday, I took my students down to the library and we engaged in book speed dating.  I gave everyone 5 minutes to choose a book that they might be interested in.  My co-teacher and I were ready to guide kids in the right direction- mysteries, girly books, dystopian lit, etc.  At the end of the time, they brought their book back to their table.  We flipped over to one of the last pages in their interactive notebooks and labeled it "Hot Books".  

Here's the gist: Students had 2-3 minutes to date a book and see if there was any connection.  I encouraged them to flip to the middle to peruse as it's difficult to be sold on something based on the first page.  After the timer went off, they would add books they could see a future with to their Hot Books page (recording the title and author's last name).  They would pass their book to the left and we would repeat the process.  You can hold as many rounds as you have time for.  We were pressed for time so students passed 3-4 times.  At the end, they chose a book that had potential to be their own.  

I'm a library convert!  It was an activity that had high engagement (Who can't do something for 3 minutes?!), and students left with a self-selected book that was more likely to be read.  You also have a list that students can use on return trips to cut down on the drama.  That's what I call hot stuff!

You know you're lame when you italicize to make sure everyone picks up on how punny you are.  Thanks for still being my friend!


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  2. I love the idea of the speed dating a book and making a connection. Absolutely perfect! Amazon has a feature called "Shelfari" that is a virtual bookshelf. You can log on and add a book by selecting "I want to read", "Reading now", "I have read". I really like the idea of the Hot Stuff list also.
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

    1. I love the idea of incorporating Shelfari! It reminds me of Goodreads.

  3. This is an awesome idea! It is an engaging activity that takes very little time! I will have to try this soon. Thanks so much for linking up. :)
    Fourth Grade Flipper

  4. I love this idea. I have some who take forever to pick books. This would be a great way to get them going.

  5. That's what I love about it to! It is low prep-high yield. Sounds like a win-win to me!

  6. This is such a great idea!! My kids do the same thing...wandering around the frustrating! This is great for engagement and being exposed to different genres they may not normally try! Love it!
    Collaboration Cuties

  7. This is an amazing idea!!! My school doesn't have a library, and I'm still building up my measly library, but I do require my students to do silent reading once a week. This might be a fun activity to do once a month prior to our silent reading.