I had the opportunity to visit Mountain View High School (MVHS) Library where they are having some of their freshman English classes come in for Mix ‘N Mingle book talks. Now, book talks themselves might sound boring for some, but not at MVHS where Teacher Librarian, Donna Layne is facilitating this project with two of her English teachers.
Here’s how it works:
- The class comes in divided up into 2 groups – A & B. The A group sits on one side of the table and the B group sits across on the other side so that every student is paired up.
- Every student comes with a visual aid (built from a template) depicting their book. This visual can be digital on the iPad, or it can be a poster created on paper. One of the interesting features on their visual is a rating of their book. They have to choose a symbol from the book for the rating. For example, a book about cars might be rated 4 cars out of 5.
- The students have 90 seconds to book talk their book. First, they have to introduce themselves. It might seem crazy, but some of the students don’t know each other! (Think BIG high school.) They then state the title and author of their book and then talk it up using their visual.
- Team A goes first, then team B. After both students have had a turn, then team A moves down 1 chair so that everyone is paired up with someone new. Then they get to talk up their books again. By the end of the period, each student has gotten to practice talking up their book multiple times to refine their delivery.
- Students also have a half sheet of paper (see below) that gives them talking prompts if they need it and also a place to write down titles that they are interested in reading after hearing the book talks.
- In between the talks, Donna gives the students a break by giving a vocab commercial. She introduces aword that is new to most students. They practice saying it, spelling it and defining it. These words are then used throughout the rest of the class period.
- The teacher has the opportunity to grade his/her students while they are speaking. Jody Mottern found that it worked best to grade their visuals first. Then by the time she started grading their presentations, they had time to practice multiple times.
- At the end, Donna asked the students 2 questions in the form of statements regarding the event:
- I liked (something positive they noticed or appreciated). . .
- Next time (a specific suggestion for an improvement). . .
- Attendance is up. Jody had a few classes with 100% attendance which has never happened before. She attributes it to students preferring to present one-on-one rather than to the whole class at once (the alternative if students missed this event).
- Students rated this event as fun and much better than they initially expected. Some were even wanting more time to speak!
- A student had the great idea of giving feedback to each other after each book talk. Donna agreed and started implementing this practice immediately.
- Teachers are seeing how this activity can be used/modified across the board for all subjects.
- A higher rate of students finished the assignment. Having an audience and no “out” helped.
- This event was enacted through a partnership between Teacher Librarian, Donna Layne, Media Manager, Mary Falkenstein, and teachers, Jody Mottern and Amy Neff.
- This event highlights 2 of the 4 C’s: Communication and Creativity
Remember that your librarian is a great idea person – a fabulous collaborator who is more than willing to work with you at any point in your curriculum! Partnerships like this will strengthen and positively impact your learning community.