Each year with my new class of Preps I love to read The Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen.
It’s great for teaching them the rules of the library and they always jump when I do the lion’s roar. After reading the book we use the electronic whiteboard to match images from the book to the emotion the characters are feeling.
Then we finish by making our own lion mask. My assistant made a template which we photocopy onto yellow paper and pre-cut for them. They then decorate it. We tried tying it around their heads with elastic but the paper kept tearing. We decided to get the kids to tape a paddle pop stick to the back to create a hand-held mask instead.
I decided to try book speed dating with my Year 8 classes this week. Too often when they come for wide reading they grab a magazine and just flick through the pictures without actually doing much reading. I wanted them to engage with a number of books and read for a focused amount of time.
I arranged the tables and chairs into groups of four, and made it look special by adding tablecloths and a box of artificial flowers to each. (We found about two dozen artificial flower arrangements sitting in a cupboard a couple of years ago. No idea where they came from but we claimed them and they’ve been great for displays on Spring, Valentine’s Day etc). I then created a response sheet where students could give a quick opinion of the books. I put together a trolley of suitable books which would appeal to both genders, aiming for a mix of genres. Each place setting at the tables had a book, a response sheet and a pencil.
When the students arrived there was much speculation about what was going on with the new look of the library. I explained what speed dating was and how it related to our activity. I discussed how, just as we form first impressions of people, we get an impression of a book by looking at its cover, font, use of white space and blurb. We also discussed the etiquette of speed dating – giving people/books your full attention for the allotted time, not ignoring your date/book or passing them over for another.
Students then had three minutes to get to know their “date” by reading solidly. When I was planning this I thought three minutes might be too short a time, but some students struggled to focus for that long and had to be reminded that they were being rude to their date. At the end of the three minutes I played some music to signal the time to move – poppy, romantic music such as Taylor Swift worked best. Students filled in their sheet and moved to the next table.
Overall it was a successful lesson and something that got the kids talking – when my second class arrived they’d been prepped by the earlier class and were eager to try it. The response sheet was a bit of a distraction for some students – they tended to doodle rather than read – so I might rethink that next time.