Confession: I have never been speed dating.
I just love the idea of it.
In 2012 I wrote about an activity we did in my AP English class that got everyone talking as we prepared for the AP exam. I hadn’t even thought about that, until I started to write about our latest foray into the talkative world of speed dating with books.
I know many teachers have tried some version of this activity. I want to add my voice to theirs: this is a F.U.N. way to get students talking about what they have read and what they might want to read — both important factors in helping students of all ages develop their identities as readers.
How to Speed Date with a Book
As students entered my classroom, I asked them to
1) find a book from the shelves that they had read and liked enough to share with another person,
2) find a second book that they thought they might like to read — maybe they liked the cover or the title; maybe they had heard someone talk about this book. Didn’t matter.
Everyone needed two book.
Then, we tried this “speed dating” thing.
First, we formed two circles, one inside the other. One circle faced outward. The other faced inward.
Students stood in front of one another, and I with the easy job stood with the timer and the camera.
“One minute,” I said, “You’ve got to stay on topic, and talk about one or both of the books in your hand for one minute. Your goal is to ‘sell’ the other person on why they want to read these books.”
We talked books for as many minutes as it took for every student to talk one-on-one with every other student. It was exhausting. And wonderful.
After we completed all our rounds, we set all of the books out on one table, and students picked up their writer’s notebooks and turned to their “What Shall I Read Next?” lists, adding any titles they might want to read during the last two months of school. Every student wrote down at least one book. Some wrote down several.
Why Talking About Books Must Be a Constant
I teach juniors in high school. Before this year, most of my students did not consider themselves readers. They have had to learn what it means to
a. like books,
b. like to read books,
c. like to talk about books,
d. know how to find books they like.
The moment I stop holding up books at the beginning of class, reading a bit, and encouraging them to give it a try, many they stop reading.
They are one year and a couple of months away from graduating high school, and they are Baby Readers, fledglings not ready to leave the roost and fly off on their own. (In more ways than one, I know.)
I don’t know if my readers will be strong enough to keep reading when they leave me the first week in June.
I hope so.
In the mean time, I will keep up the talk and keep up the expectations:
You must read if you are a student in my class.
You are a reader who reads every single day.
What are some activities you do to keep your babies reading?
©Amy Rasmussen, 2011 – 2015