Monday, February 12, 2018

Your Story Is Worth Telling

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. It was an exciting experience for many reasons. It was my first time to travel out of state to deliver a keynote and also my first visit to Iowa. In this blog article, I want to reflect on the experience and the excitement I witnessed that was generated in a room full of 58 Iowa teacher librarians.

During the fall of 2017, my friend and colleague, Lynn Kleinmeyer (@THLibrariZen), began telling me about a full day of professional development she was planning. Lynn is a Digital Learning Consultant at Grant Wood Area Education Agency in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She wanted the experience to motivate local teacher librarians to utilize the Future Ready Librarian Framework and also be stronger advocates for their programs. When she asked me to consider traveling to Iowa to deliver a keynote and breakout sessions, I quickly accepted! It is always an honor to visit another state to share best practices and learn together. Lynn and I first met in a Twitter Education chat in 2015, and we met in person (while my wife and I were traveling through her state) during the summer of 2016. She is a wonderful educator, teacher librarian, and a powerful advocate for our profession. She and her husband, Nathan (@NKleinmeyer), are exactly the type of forward-thinking educators I want to be around. I couldn't wait to visit with them in person again! As the months went on, Lynn shared her specific plans for the day, and I began to prepare my presentations.

Cloudy start to the flight from Little Rock, Arkansas
Flying to Iowa

After enjoyable connecting flights to Chicago and Cedar Rapids, it was great to see Lynn and her family again after nearly two years. They were wonderful hosts that gave me a taste of local history with a visit to the Amana Colonies and surrounding areas. I enjoyed it so much, I plan on returning there to take my wife for a visit of the remarkable location.

Full room of teacher librarians!
Your Story Is Worth Telling

The day started off with me presenting a keynote to the teacher librarians in attendance. Lynn specifically wanted me to share about my experiences with social media, blogging, and library collaborations. I also added in some student stories to illustrate how school libraries can change lives. It is always good to remind ourselves why we are in education; we are there for the learners.

I called the keynote, "Your Story Is Worth Telling" because if we don't share our library stories, who will? Also during the presentation, I shared
Elizabeth Hutchinson connects from Guernsey
how connecting to other schools via Skype and Google Hangouts had been so transformative for our learning community. My friend, Elizabeth Hutchinson (@Elizabethhutch), visited with us for a few moments from the Island of Guernsey via Google Hangouts to talk about the power of being a connected educator and librarian. Everyone seemed very inspired by Elizabeth and her stories as we modeled the possibilities together.


After the keynote, Lynn presented about the Future Ready Librarian Frameworks and the new AASL Standards. Participants were asked to change to different groups and visualize what a Future Ready Student actually looks like. They did this by drawing a Future Ready "student " on large paper pads with markers. They took time to discuss and share their interpretations and how we can best serve learners from the school library.
Teacher librarians draw a "Future Ready Student"

Conversation Strands

Lynn Kleinmeyer leads the discussion
In the afternoon, teacher librarians had options of several breakout sessions in the form of 25-minute conversation strands. Some of the topics included OER, Makerspaces, Expanding Your PLN via Twitter, and Making The Most of Your Space. Facilitators would share highlights of their experiences and share resources, then all in attendance could share and discuss together. It was a great time of learning for everyone. To finish up the day, Lynn asked everyone to reflect and give feedback on a survey. At the conclusion, everyone said their goodbyes and departed.



Stephan started a blog!
Outcomes

I don't recall ever seeing so many excited teacher librarians in a room for professional development. I strongly believe all 58 educators that attended wanted to improve for their students. During the conversations and group activities, the idea sharing was continuous and productive. They were all happy to see each other and learn together!

A few days after I got back home, I received some very exciting Tweets from teacher librarians. One had started a blog. Another had committed to seeking teachers that would be willing to collaborate. I was super excited to see that Michelle Kruse had connected her classes via Skype for World Read Aloud Day (see her Tweet below)! She was so motivated that she even led a school-wide Skype read aloud a day later. Imagine the excitement in Michelle's school as she became the great connector in the building. She changed her school by virtually knocking down the walls for her learners and teachers!

Michelle hosted several Skype sessions at her school!


Conclusion

Thank you Lynn, Nathan, and Grant Wood AEA!
I firmly believe that teacher librarians must continue reaching students with literacy promotion and information search techniques. I also know that we must prepare students to be Future Ready by aspiring to achieve the many components of the Future Ready Librarians Framework. It is not enough to quietly work in our spaces. We have to get out of the library and build relationships and collaborations. We must share our library stories in every way possible and connect those stories to the standards. These are important points to change the perception of our profession and build strong advocacy among library stakeholders.

I hope that more teacher librarians can experience professional development like what I witnessed in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Such experiences pave the paths of change and advocacy for our profession.
I want to express thanks to Lynn Kleinmeyer for inviting me to visit Iowa and providing me an opportunity to share library stories. Thank you to the Grant Wood AEA for allowing me to come. Finally, thank you to all the teacher librarians that attended. I will never forget this experience! Let us all take steps out of our comfort zones for those we serve and share the countless stories from the school library.

Other links that may interest you:
My table of contents for the blog is here!

Keeping Things In Focus





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Saturday, January 13, 2018

Keeping Things In Focus

It is always exciting to return from a break and begin a new semester. One of the things I always try to do when I return is to create a list of goals for myself and the library program. To illustrate this, I want to share my current goals. Making such goals helps me keep myself in focus for those I serve.

Goals for this Semester
  • Read and preview more books:
I struggle to keep up with new YA fiction titles. One of the things that Kaitlyn Price (the co-librarian I work with here at Lakeside) and I have done each month is making a priority to handle each new book that comes in the library. We started a Google Doc to record the title and brief information about each title. This gives us a resource we can share with students and teachers. It also makes us review each title as they come into our collection. With all the activities going on in the library, it is so easy to get behind on this task. By doing this since fall, we have been able to book talk to students much more effectively. I don't want this practice to stop!
  • New collaborations
Our many immersive collaboration programs have grown over the years. This year we have let some of the old ones go and are planning new ones to replace them. It is good to change up the norm to get out of our comfort zones. I always worry about getting too comfortable and complacent. In order to grow, we have to keep pushing forward. In addition, I want to connect with teachers that haven't collaborated with us before. Science, mathematics, and business classes are all on our radar. Anything is possible as we move into a new semester and realizing this is exciting!
  • Visit administrators
I know there are missed opportunities to reach teachers by not talking with administrators often. This semester I want to reach out to administrators more. They are in high gear with their classroom evaluations and they know which teachers could benefit from library resources and/ or educational technology. While those teachers may not always accept such an offer, the opportunity is there to reach out to visit and inquire about their classroom needs. Any chance to visit with educators in the building and build relationships is good for all involved.
  • Visit teachers
Making the effort to visit teachers during their preparation periods has been a great new practice this school year. It has already made it possible for us to collaborate with teachers we have not worked with in the past. The practice has been transformative! I can't wait to continue this practice. We love going to visit and listen to teachers share their concerns and goals. There are always opportunities to offer library space, resources, and technology during such visits. Because of our schedules, we will never be able to get to everyone more than a few times this year, but it will continue to be our goal to reach as many as possible.
  • Vlog and/ or podcast
I started a YouTube channel several years ago called the Library Guyz. On the channel, we used to periodically make informative videos and promotional ads. Kaitlyn and I have been thinking of trying a video blog / vlog to informally share our weekly happenings, celebrations, and challenges. This is finally happening during the new semester. Take a look at our first vlog and see what you think? In addition, I may lift the audio and create a podcast after we try this for a few weeks. This will serve as another way for us to share and build community! We want to improve professionally and share what is happening in the library. We will keep you posted on our progress. Below is a link to our first vlog!



Other links that may interest you:
My table of contents for the blog is here!

3 Ways to Shatter the School Librarian Stereotype





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Monday, January 1, 2018

My Top 5 Blog Posts Of 2017








This is a list of my top 5 most read blog articles of 2017 on Library Media Tech Talk:
Thank you for a great year. More content coming in 2018!
My table of contents for the blog is here!





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Sunday, December 17, 2017

3 Ways To Shatter The School Librarian Stereotype

I've been thinking about how our school library program is different from the programs I experienced as a student. I've also been wondering how many other programs are moving away from the traditional "old school" library stereotype of yesteryear. How many movies have you seen where librarians are portrayed as people whose main mission seems to be stamping books and shushing patrons? How can we change this perception?

I wonder how many school librarians are moving out of their comfort zones for students but aren't telling anyone about it. What might happen if these teacher librarians told their stories?  I'll share three methods that could change everything if we adopt them.

1. Embrace and Practice the Future Ready Librarians Framework

I've written about this previously, and I still think the Future Ready Librarians Framework is a key component to librarians/ libraries staying relevant. (I'm also beginning to dig into the new AASL Standards- more on that later.) I love how the Future Ready Librarians Framework has personalized student learning at the center of the entire piece! Each wedge features many different components for the librarian to work toward, from "Designing Collaborative Spaces" to "Building Instructional Partnerships". The framework is a very high standard for all of us to work toward achieving. Consider using it, and sharing it with your stakeholders.

2. Take Photos and Share 

When I started posting photos and video clips of library events and collaborative programming back in 2012-2013, everything changed. My local learning community began to view the library differently through Facebook; they began to view it as an extension of the classroom and more than just a storehouse of books. Our administrators saw value in the library in new ways, and they wanted to invest more in collaborative programming.

My wife started using Instagram during the 2016-2017 school year, and she has experienced similar results in her K-6 library program. Both of us have enjoyed connecting with other passionate teacher librarians and educators (both national and international) through social media networks over the past few years. These teacher librarians and educators have teamed up with us for collaborative programs and helped us improve our learning communities through connecting. Such photo sharing helps change the way stakeholders view the library and teacher librarian. It tells the story of the journey!

3. Start a Blog or a Video Blog (Vlog)

Administrators and parents can't always make it to library events. A blog or video blog can serve as a different way of sharing your library learning events. Don't feel that a blog post has to be lengthy; sometimes just writing a brief overview of an event or program with photos is more than enough for your audience. Check out Blogger, Wordpress, and Weebly for free blogging options.

A vlog might be for those of you that feel more comfortable creating videos rather than writing. Taking a moment to use a camera or phone to capture video for a few moments of a library event can be a great advertisement for your program. Also, a vlog might be a great way to share your reflections (or student/ teacher reflections) of library learning events. Remember to allow for student and teacher voice whenever possible. I have found this to be invaluable. When we share these voices, our library users realize that the program is about them, not us!

Final Thoughts

I hope these points have you thinking about finding innovative ways to share about your Future Ready Library antics. We all have the power to change perceptions of our school library profession. We all have unlimited potential to help change the education profession. Through such actions, we can help our students, teachers, and learning communities be Future Ready lifelong learners. The future is exciting! What stories will you tell?

Other Posts That Might Interest You: 

Relationships and Reading

Our First Skype With a Scientist

My table of contents for the blog is here!





I have a monthly email newsletter for the subscribers of the Library Media Tech Talk blog. If you are interested in exclusive content not appearing on the blog, be sure to subscribe by submitting your email address! Subscribe here!

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Saturday, November 18, 2017

Relationships and Reading


One of the most important parts of the teacher librarian's job is to engage students with literature. Recently, I have been thinking about a teacher that made an important literacy connection with me while I was still in high school. At that time in my life, I didn't realize how crucial professional relationships are for teachers and students. But now, so many years later, I understand the impact relationships can have on reading. To illustrate this, I will share a story from my 10th grade year.

A Step Into the Past

Mr. Gerald Cox was my biology teacher when I was in high school. He was also my bus driver when I was in elementary school. His daughter and I were classmates all through school at Bismarck Public Schools in Bismarck, Arkansas. Mr. Cox also served as one of my taekwondo instructors while I was in high school. Several years later after high school, I worked with him when I took my first job as a band director at Bismarck Middle School. By that time he had transitioned to director of technology on campus. We have always had a love of technology in common. But in high school, it was taekwondo that we shared.

What Made Him Stand Out

I remember that Mr. Cox was genuinely interested in me and my friends in high school. (He still is to this day.) He would actually sit with us at lunch when I was a sophomore and listen to what was important to us. If you think back to the teachers that have made an impression on you, this is probably a common theme. When they care about us as individuals, it shows. This is such an important fact for all educators to remember.

An Unlikely Book Suggestion

One day while sitting in Mr. Cox's class, he handed me a book. I recall that he told me he wanted me to read this book. It was The Secret of Inner Strength by Chuck Norris. The book was, of course, about Chuck Norris, martial arts superstar. At the time, I was super interested in taekwondo. I remember thinking, "I don't like to read. I don't want this book." There was no way I could tell my teacher this. It would have been impossible for me to let him down. He had thought of me while he was reading it, and now he had shared the book with me.

The Struggle

I was in a dilemma. Reading comic books was no problem for the 10th grade version of me. Reading a work of non-fiction outside of normal school work was way out of my comfort zone. I couldn't let Mr. Cox down. I had to read the book. I recall putting this off until the last moment late in the evening. The night I finally started reading his biography was transformative for me.

When You Can't Put it Down

The book gave me a glimpse into the life of a martial arts and television/ movie star. I remember flying through the pages at night during the first week of reading. I couldn't wait to see what happened next. I am sure that I enjoyed visiting with Mr. Cox about the book before class and during lunch. Reflecting back, it wasn't the book content that drew me in to read. It was the relationship with Mr. Cox. It was a fear of letting him down. It took years for me to realize the power of relationships after becoming an educator.

An example book suggestion note.
A Phone Visit With Mr. Cox

During August of 2017, I called Mr. Cox for a quick visit. This is something I try to do every few years with teachers that had an impact on me as a student. During that phone call, I reminded him about the book he had handed me so many years before and how it had impacted me then and now. In addition, I shared with him how it had inspired us to try something similar in the library. This fall, we have been working hard to have students tell us what they like. As a result, we then look for books for those students based on their interests. When we present the potential books to the student(s), we stick Post-It Notes to the book with a personal message. We tried this for a few weeks with some good results. Most students seemed to like getting a message from us indicating that we had thought of them. After a few days of this, a male student came in between classes and said he had heard we were making book suggestions. He also said he hadn't read in a long time, and he wondered if we could suggest a book to him. Apparently, word had gotten out and students were talking about our operation!


Another Visit With Mr. Cox

I actually ran into Mr. Cox at a local restaurant one evening while having dinner with my wife. We had a chance to visit for a few minutes, and I was able to tell him about our book note program. He seemed pleased that his suggestion from so many years prior had inspired our library team. We decided to meet again the following Saturday at his house. While visiting, he presented me with a copy of The Secret of Inner Strength, which is now out of print. This meant so much to me since the book represents the importance of relationships. You can see a photo of us with the book on the left.

Takeaways

Not all students will respond to this approach, but some will. Almost every student will share their interests when we interact with them. I've had to learn to listen intently when they do this. When I have made a regular practice of this, students come to me to initiate discussion (even the quiet students). This is important since many students may not have an adult to encourage them. These relationships can open the door to library book and resource suggestions. They may even change students lives!

Next Steps

We plan to do this again during the school year since it brought success. I would like to get students to share how it personally impacts them when we make book/ resource suggestions. Between genrefication (read about this project here) and programs like this, we have noticed a significant increase in circulation this year. We can't wait to see what the cumulative totals look like at the end of the year. A library is much like a business with the students being our customers. How can we reach them better with our products? Relationship building is one way. Hopefully, our students feel like the valued customers they are!


Other Posts That Might Interest You: 

Our First Skype With a Scientist

3 things I've learned about Breakout EDU.

My table of contents for the blog is here!





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Monday, October 23, 2017

Our First Skype With a Scientist


I have written several times in the past about how connecting has made a difference in my practice and development as a teacher librarian. If you haven't read about my Skype in the Classroom adventures, you might want to check out this article. This school year, Kaitlyn Price (co-librarian) and I have made it a priority to visit teachers in our building during their prep periods. We typically will ask them how things are going and also check to see how their classroom technology is working for them. We have found that this typically leads to opportunities to inform teachers about new technology tools and/ or library resources. Sometimes we discover that teachers might want to collaborate with us through these visits.

Recently, I visited Mrs. Mary French (8th-grade science) during her prep period. I was able to check on her technology and have some time to listen to her tell me about things she was doing in her classroom. I told her about Skype in the Classroom and that I would be happy to help her connect with professionals outside our school if she was interested. She was immediately interested! Mrs. French told me she wanted to connect with an astronomer since her students were learning about galaxies and planets.

I sent a Tweet to Skype Classroom (@SkypeClassroom) asking if they could help. They replied with a link to their "Skype a Scientist" program. They have a program that allows teachers to fill out a form to connect with various experts in the field of science for Q & A sessions via Skype! It was perfect. I visited her classroom again in a few days, and we filled out the form together to ensure she would get the expert best suited for her students' needs. 
Our test connection with Joe

How We Set It Up

We completed the form that Skype Classroom Tweeted to me. After a few weeks, I was contacted by Joe Serigano, an astronomer and Ph.D candidate at Johns Hopkins University. He requested that I send a list of questions from the students so he could prepare ahead of time. I was able to confirm the scheduled time with him for the upcoming session with Mrs. French's class. We also set up a test session for the morning before. The test session went perfectly! In addition, we invited Mr. Matt Balcom, also a science teacher at Lakeside, to join us for the test session. It went so well, he planned to bring his class on the day of the Skype session. 

Joe visits us via Skype!
The Big Day 

The students were super excited to connect with Joe. The connection was flawless, and they enjoyed coming up to my Microsoft Surface to ask their questions. Joe was able to answer the questions and add additional content as appropriate. He shared his screen and showed them photos and other data that pertained to the curriculum. It was a great experience!

Teacher Reflection (Mrs. Mary French)

When Mr. Evans first approached me about Skype, I really did not know what to expect.  I am always willing to try new things and use new technology to help my students, but I was not sure how a Skype would work for my students.  I was nervous and excited about it.  Mr. Evans and I met to plan a good time (to connect) and waited to hear from our “scientist”.  I was still very unsure how this would be beneficial or how my students would respond.  I knew nothing about setting it up.  A match for a scientist was made with my class time and topic (Space Science).  After several e-mails, I found out it would be an actual discussion, and my students would actually be asking the questions that would lead the direction of the Skype. This made me concerned because I was still unsure of the type of questions that would be expected.  I found some background information about Saturn and its moons for my students, and they developed a list of questions they wanted to ask.  I was still not sure about this process.  

Joe shared his screen to illustrate specific information

The day before the Skype with the students, we met via Skype our assigned scientist, Mr. Joe Serigano from
Johns Hopkins University, Dept of Earth and Planetary Science.  After meeting him and getting a few more ideas, I was at ease about the upcoming Skype.  Mr. Serigano told us that he would welcome questions about his typical day as a scientist, his education, as well as his knowledge of Saturn and Saturn’s moons.  I believe the Skype was a huge success.  I loved seeing my students interact with an expert in the field of science and know that they were welcome to ask questions.  I had students ask questions about Saturn, Saturn’s moons, his background, and even science fiction movies to see if the ideas presented were possible.  Afterwards, my students wrote a reflection of the Skype, and I was blown away by their responses.  They really enjoyed getting to ask questions and have someone take time to answer their questions.  I feel that this broke barriers for some students and changed their perspective about scientists.  Most were happy to have this opportunity and even wanted to do this more. I am so glad that I took this chance for my students to have this opportunity.  


We loved seeing students ask questions via webcam
Student Voices

"This experience impacted me in a positive way. Mr. Serigano was a smart scientist and helped our science class to learn in a new way. I would strongly suggest that this type of learning be in all classes. Learning from a specialist is a great thing for kids to experience." - Ronni

"Today we did a Skype call with Joe Serigano. He is well-educated over what Saturn is. I liked the information he gave us, and the way he explained it. I hope we can get to do another one of these." -Jamison

"This was a very fun activity we did with Joe Serigano. It was awesome that he took the time out of his day to answer some of our questions we had for him. If we had a question, he would answer it with the best of his ability. We talked and learned about the moons of Saturn. We all thought this was very neat to be talking to a scientist." - Annelise

"This impacted me by changing my view on scientists. By experiencing this I thought all scientists were nerdy, and he wasn't at all. I think I might be interested in being a scientist. I learned a lot of interesting facts... and I want to learn more about Saturn and Jupiter." - Hannah

"I really liked this because you can talk to a person and not just ask Siri or look it up on Google." - Hailee

Next Steps

We are already planning another Skype with a Scientist with Mrs. French's other classes so they all have the experience of connecting. In addition, Mrs. French and Mr. Balcom are planning on an immersive collaboration with us in the library. We are looking at NASA simulations for Global Warming and climate change. As I reflect back on this opportunity, a few things come to mind. First, we have many opportunities waiting for us in the school that can come to the surface from simple classroom visits. Secondly, many teachers are nervous about stepping out of their comfort zones. As teacher librarians, we can go on that journey with them and take risks together. When we have successes as a team, it creates friendships and trust that can lead to additional collaborations. Now is a great time to boldly go where no classroom and library have gone before. The students are the ones that ultimately benefit! Growth must take place away from the area of comfort. Why not take these journeys in the school library?

Other Posts That Might Interest You: 

How we helped geography classes Skype with national parks in the library.

3 things I've learned about Breakout EDU.

My table of contents for the blog is here!





I have a monthly email newsletter for the subscribers of the Library Media Tech Talk blog. If you are interested in exclusive content not appearing on the blog, be sure to subscribe by submitting your email address! Subscribe here!

Contact Me/ Follow Me


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Saturday, September 30, 2017

Our First Book Tasting Event

I have been seeing many teacher librarians talk about book tasting activities on social media over the past several months. With our specialized student focus on increasing interest in reading this year, book tasting is something I've wanted to try with our high school students. Just a few days ago, we attempted our first such event. It was a great success, and I will share the journey of its development in the paragraphs below.



Brainstorming

During lunch, we have been sharing the idea of a book tasting event with students for the past few weeks. I've been surprised at how many of them liked the idea. We began thinking that this could be an excellent service to provide teachers in their classrooms. Such book "catering" events could be a creative way to advertise our newly genrefied fiction section to teachers and students. For information on our genrefication process, please read Kaitlyn Price's (my teacher librarian colleague) blog article here.

Planning

There are always opportunities to reach teachers with library services. We merely have to actively seek such chances. That opportunity happened one afternoon when Mrs. Michelle Davis, one of our 10th grade ELA teachers, came to the library. We had just been talking about book tasting, and we told her about it. She was immediately interested in having us come to her class. We found a date and began talking about what it could look like.

Room Layout
The Event

Mrs. Davis decided to use 6 tables in her classroom set with a restaurant theme. We had battery powered candles, tablecloths, and a "Book Pass" form that my teacher library colleague, Kaitlyn Price, had previously used.   Mrs. Davis would greet students outside her door and hand them a "Book Pass" form (you can find this form on Kaitlyn's blog here). She also took time to describe the expectations of the day. The students spent 7 minutes at each table. We had at least 10 titles at each location. The genres she selected were Sci-Fi/ Fantasy, Action/ Adventure, Realistic Fiction/ Historical Fiction, Romance/ Biographies, Sports, and Mystery/ Suspense. The "Book Pass" form required students to list the Title/ Author, list their comments, list the genre, and provide a rating. This form also served as their exit ticket for class.

The "Chef" Makes a Visit
Kaitlyn and I would roll in a cart with the books after her introduction. We both wore aprons and carried the books to the tables as if we were servers in a restaurant. I used phrases like "Careful, these are hot", "I believe this table ordered Sci-Fi/ Fiction... excellent", and "This book is cooked medium rare for you, sir." The students seemed to enjoy the role play we provided. In the middle of the sessions, Ray Borel, one of our library assistants, would visit the class dressed as a chef. He used a French accent to interact and check on the students. During the last 6 minutes of class, we would return to check out books "to go." On the next day, all her classes came to the library to respond to a Google Form survey we created. You can view some of their responses in the Student Voice portion of this article below.

Teacher Reflection (Mrs. Michelle Davis)


The book tasting may be one of the most successful activities I have ever had in my classes.  Though I have worked to create a reading-friendly culture or mindset in my classes this year by spending the first ten minutes of every class each day reading, this helped to convince me that even my reluctant readers are willing with the right approach.  I cannot thank our media specialists enough for coming to me with an idea and working together to form a plan that kept 5 classes of sophomores engaged and reading for full 50 minutes (or more) class periods.  


The formal dining ambiance of the event created a sense of curiosity and excitement in my students. Students were intrigued by the formality of a maitre d’  greeting them as they approached the door and were in awe of candlelit tables as they entered.  The interest didn’t stop with seating either. Students remained engaged throughout the periods, sampling from six different genres.  


Candlelight Book "Dining"
It was thrilling to watch my students browsing through the many choices they had been served, choosing the “dish” they believed to be most favorable to their appetites, and devouring the stories. The positive reaction that I both saw and received was rewarding.   There were several students who, though pretending to be uninterested, checked out books for “to go” orders when they believed no one was looking or paying attention.  Additionally, I had students thank me (surprising, right?) and even request future book tastings. Many students anxiously asked if they would get their book passes returned so that they had the list to refer to in the future.  


The whole event was a success.  There was very little redirecting students.  Most of the students stayed focused and willingingly engaged for the entire event. I am anxious to see how my students respond in their official feedback forms following the event.

I will absolutely be doing this again with my classes.  The event allowed the students time to sample books that they may have never willingly chosen otherwise and find gems beyond my limited classroom library.  

Student Voices

"I thought it was an interesting way to get people to get a taste of some reading genres that might not appeal to certain people."

"At first I thought it was going to be boring but it turned out to be pretty fun."

"I thought it was pretty cool but I feel like we should have had more time to actually read the books and get a good taste."

"It was cool and interesting and helped me find out what kind of books I like."

"I really liked it. I ended up finding a book that I like. I would have never found this book if I would have not done this."

Takeaways

It always surprises me how simple changes to a classroom space can alter the dynamic in a dramatic way. Mrs. Davis' students were extremely engaged in this activity. It was a wonderful opportunity for us to get out into a classroom. Teachers and students saw us in the hallways as we went to and fro in our costumes. This advertised the event in a great way! Teachers and administrators visited the event. In addition, several ELA teachers now want us to bring our "book catering" to their classrooms. One has even made reservations for these services for early next week. I think we have a great recipe for literacy success in the building. Think about launching your own book tasting event soon. Be sure to share your book tasting stories in the comments below.

Other Posts That Might Interest You: 

How we helped geography classes Skype with national parks in the library.

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