This year, after reading Winger, my book club conducted a Skype interview with author Andrew Smith. All of my students prepared questions to ask, and they had an extremely engaging conversation about books and the writing process.
This year, I began utilizing our school's broadcasting program to book talk on a segment called "Book Dish." Every few weeks, I would book talk a different title I had read, and it never failed that students would come check out copies of the title after the episode had aired.
In my high school, classes do not regularly visit the library, so this gave me an opportunity to address the entire student population and promote literacy.
I began Open Mic to give all students, even ones who are not necessarily in Fine Arts programs, an opportunity to express themselves and share their creativity with their peers. Our first Open Mic event was in October 2015, and I host the event every third Wednesday of every month. Students share poetry, original or borrowed, music, and ideas. It is inspiring to see students evolve from merely attending to sharing their favorite poem to sharing an original poem, or to see students who have never played an instrument or sung in front of an audience to find the courage to perform for their peers. I am constantly impressed by, not only the daring of our performers, but by the decorum and support of the audience. Open Mic has always been a safe place for our students to express themselves, and the student-audience has only ever reacted with support and encouragement. Open Mic has provided our students with a vital outlet for their artistic expression outside of the restraints of classroom curriculum, and the fact that we have always had strong attendance proves that we our filling a void for some or our teens. The event has also given us a chance to build a sense of community, with classroom teachers also promoting Open Mic and some offering extra credit to students who attend or participate. The sharing of ideas, poetry, and music allows our students to examine alternate viewpoints, interpret meanings, and ultimately learn about themselves in the process. Open Mic provides our students with a kind of education and appreciation of the arts that they may not necessarily be exposed to within the classroom.
Banned Books Week
Banned Books Week is near and dear to my heart because, though, as a librarian, I get to promote and advocate for intellectual freedom daily, Banned Books Weeks gives me a designated time-frame that allows me to pointedly engage in conversations with people about the freedom to read and the freedom to learn - the freedom to engage with information and the arts without the taint of censorship.
Since I've become a librarian, I have created Banned Books displays to evoke conversations. Locking up the top 10 most challenged books of the year is an effectual conversation starter. Students come to ask me questions, and that usually turns into a conversation about intellectual freedom and the arts. I also create a timeline of censorship, where students can scan QR codes and learn more about the evolution of censorship and intellectual freedom throughout the decades.
I usually send an email to the entire staff, inviting classes down to view and discuss the exhibit. This year, I also collaborated with a Pre-AP World History teacher and created a lesson around censorship and world religion.
Book speed Dating
Book Speed Dating is a quick and fun way to engage students in the process of finding an independent reading book. I set up several tables with different books; depending on the teacher's preferences, each table may be a different genre (fiction, nonfiction, graphic novels, poetry) or each table may be a different sub-genre of fiction (sci-fi, realistic, horror). I, first, engage the students in a conversation about speed dating to make sure they have a frame of reference, then we discuss different genres. We also discuss cover art and how much emphasis we place on the book's cover.
I then split the students up at the different tables and give them 5 minutes to find book covers they like, read the inside of the dust jackets, and rate a book or two on their handout (attached below). They continue this process until they've visited all the tables. At the end, they go back to whichever book they were most interested in and check it out.
Infographics are a fantastic way for students to create visually appealing projects to present information. If students are unclear about what infographics are, The Best American Infographics 2015 is a great collection of infographics and the varying ways in which they are used to display information. Below, I have provided two different lessons I've created using Piktochart.
This is a science lesson that I led with one of our anatomy teachers; the lesson covers epidemiology and how it relates to anatomy/physiology.
I collaborated with Forensics on an independent reading project. I pulled mysteries and crime-related books, and students had the opportunity to choose what they wanted to read. The project was based on the following rubric:
Book vlogging is an excellent way to engage students with their independent reading. Vlogging allows students time to process their thoughts about the literature, gives them a chance to showcase their personality through the comfort of a private recording, and provides them with the opportunity to engage in 21st-century learner skills through the use of programs like YouTube.