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Besides talking about books at my #yalit seminars, I also share real-world examples of student success stories, classroom activities, and how I incorporate and promote reading during the school day.


I can talk about the importance of CHOICE reading ad nauseum, and could probably write a dissertation on the topic at this point. So instead, I thought I would focus this post on student responses to reading. One of the questions I get asked frequently is "how do you know if they've read the book?" I'm going to be honest, READING is the point of the class for me and what I consider the most important. But you're right, schools require us to grade something, and since I hate reading logs, here are some ideas that I do throughout the year.


1) Free Read Friday: Barring assemblies, field days, or standardized testing, our Fridays are spent READING! As long as students are on task, we spend the 45-ish minutes of class "silent" reading. (All of us...teacher included). First of all, I will fight any administrator that says this is a waste of time. Luckily I don't have to at my school. Now, before you think that I've cracked the code to keep a class full of teenagers silent, on task, and reading for 45 minutes, I haven't. Fridays are days where I have reading conversations with students, do formal and informal booktalks as needed, give students the opportunity to write book reviews and tell other students about what they're reading, and more. Of course, the majority of the time is spent reading, and I'll be honest, most of my students honor this time and their classmates by finding a place to relax and read. I think most of them appreciated the "break" from the stresses of other classes. Do students get off task? Sure. Are there students who don't read? Sometimes. But as with any classroom, you deal with that as necessary.


2) Reading Response Projects: Besides informal conversations, book reviews, and the occasional in-class on-demand writing prompt, students are required to complete a "project" after their reading. (Middle school and high school had different guidelines for number of books read vs projects completed but every one had to complete at least a few each semester). At the start of the year I offered students a list of choices for these projects as well as guidelines/rubrics. They included anything from one-pagers, book commercials, and poetry journals... to comic strips, quote posters, and Snapchat stories. Here are a few samples of my high school class' projects this spring:


Digital art representing Moxie by Jen Mathieu

One pager for Samurai Rising by Pamela S. Turner

One pager for The Girl Who Was Supposed To Die by April Henry

Comic strip for a poem in The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Quote poster for Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Playlist for The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Part of the script of a book commercial for The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang.

Comic Strip for Treasure Island

Persuasive presentation on why I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson is the "best book ever."

3) Student Created Projects: Besides giving them a list of acceptable project ideas, I invite students to come up with their own (teacher-approved) ideas for projects that demonstrate reading. This is how, for the last project of the year, I was convinced by my seniors to let them bring in food that represented their book (because yes, they wanted a class party and we weren't technically allowed to have one). Let me tell you, the level of thought that went into these food choices was TERRIFIC and definitely showed their comprehension of the books.


4) Volunteering at Literacy Events: True, it's voluntary and not graded, but I encourage my students to volunteer at our monthly Feed n Read events. This is a great opportunity for younger students in our community to interact with teens and tweens and to have positive, shared reading experiences. It has the added benefit of being an enjoyable experience for my students as well. I always offer the option to trade out one "assignment" per semester in exchange for volunteering at one event. Let's be real, life gets busy, and there are a myriad of reasons why students may not be able to complete an assignment. But our Feed n Reads always need volunteers and the younger kids LOVE reading with the teens so it's actually a win for more than just me. And most of my students that volunteer come each month, not just the one time...proof that they secretly enjoy reading with the kids.


5) Book Character TED Talk: We did TED Talk Tuesday in our classroom each week. You can read more about that here. As a final project, I had my Contemporary Lit students choose a book character (from a book they read this year) that they would want to give a TED Talk, and then outline the key points or message that would be included. Again, WOW! I received some amazing responses. Definitely an assignment I'm keeping in the rotation.


What are some of your favorite reading-related classroom activities?



#classroom #contemporarylit #studentchoice #choicereading #TEDTalk #FeednRead #studentwork #highschool #middleschool #reading #freereadfriday


This week’s #makerspace highlight was Easter Egg themed. Here are some of our successes!

I challenged students to choose one of the following: 1) make a parachute, with plastic egg attached, that would float the longest (supply options: coffee filters, pipe cleaners, tape, yarn)

2) use 15 pipe cleaners to build a structure that would hold 3 plastic eggs.


3) the tallest free-standing tower that incorporates plastic eggs (using pipe cleaners and/or K'Nex)


Most students chose the parachute option. I love that many ended up with version 4.0 of their parachute design. It was truly a maker mindset class!


#makerspace #makermonday #middleschool #growthmindset #stemchallenge #building


When you hit the high school teaching trifecta and your class of seniors meets:

1) the last period of the school day +

2) the day before what is basically a 5 day weekend for them +

3) on Valentine’s Day =


...yep, definitely time to ditch formal lesson plans and go for Anti-Valentine’s Day activities!


Does it make me a bad person that the homework to prep for Thursday’s class was to “think of a book you didn’t enjoy reading. And bring your snark...”?! 🤣 What can I say, that’s just who we are as a class.


So, the assignment on Valentine’s Day was to “break up with a book you didn’t like.” Text, tweet, Dear John-esque letter, poster, whatever they felt could best convey their (school-appropriate) opinions. One young woman did a FIVE SLIDE POWERPOINT PRESENTATION!


Let‘s be honest, we all have books that we didn’t like. Or memories of having to read that one book in high school that just made us miserable every day we had to sit in class and discuss it. For whatever reason, the book(s) just didn’t “click” with us...we weren’t a good match. Giving my students the chance to acknowledge this was actually a positive experience for all involved.


Yes, I did give them some initial guidelines (no, you can’t just say, “you suck”), and I encouraged them to compare it to a book or genre they do like. Here‘s what we learned:


1) it really is okay not to like a book. Even if others in the class, or your friends, or even your teacher liked the book.

2) they really enjoyed talking about the books both good and bad and comparing reading experiences.

3) understanding what they didn’t like has helped them pinpoint what they do like to read...and why.


(In addition to all of these, this teacher learned that all of them took the same World Lit class as Freshmen and had to read Tolstoy. And, not surprisingly, they all say that was the worst book they read that year. Excuse me while I check on the required reading lists for all classes...)


Some examples of their breakups: (I tried my best to protect the title of the book being dumped. Except for Tolstoy).



“...reading you was the visual equivalent of chewing on tin foil...”


”I had such high hopes for you because the first book was amazing...”


”The cliche setup and predictability brought down a fastastic story idea.”


“We need to break up. Your personality is as boring as unseasoned steak.”


”I fell in love with the Matched Trilogy by Ally instead because it was everything I wanted from a series.”


And, because I was inspired by Tracee Orman’s Rejected Candy Hearts assignment (available on TPT), after they were done dumping their book, they could write some (SCHOOL APPROPRIATE!) rejected candy hearts. Some of them are pretty funny.


Do you have any good middle school or high school Valentine’s activities?


Or books that you want to break up with?

#highschool #contemporarylit #yalit #reading #books #valentinesday #activities #letterstoabook #fridayfunny

WHAT YOUR COLLEAGUES ARE SAYING:

Guadelupe, Teacher, CA

The knowledge and passion for books for EVERY reader  has hooked me! She is in the classroom and just gets readers.

Dee, Teacher-Librarian, CA

Wowza! One of the best, packed workshops, filled with RELEVANT content, delivered in a well organized, engagingly paced seminar. HIGHLY RECOMMEND to librarians and lovers of literature.

Lindsey, English Teacher, TX

Excellent content, EXCEPTIONAL presenter! The entire presentation was engaging and meaningful. I am excited to have the opportunity to take all of these amazing titles and introduce my students to them.

Laurie, Librarian, IL

GREAT SEMINAR! Shauna was fantastic. My booklist is overflowing and I can't wait to share these books with students, and educate my teachers.

Julia, School Librarian, PA

I can't wait to get these books into the hands of my students!

Chad, LA Teacher, IL

Shauna reinforces the idea that there are two types of students: those who like to read and those who haven't found the right book yet. She offers a plethora of resources and titles for both!

Guadelupe, Teacher, CA

The knowledge and passion for books for EVERY reader  has hooked me! She is in the classroom and just gets readers.

Dee, Teacher-Librarian, CA

Wowza! One of the best, packed workshops, filled with RELEVANT content, delivered in a well organized, engagingly paced seminar. HIGHLY RECOMMEND to librarians and lovers of literature.

Lindsey, English Teacher, TX

Excellent content, EXCEPTIONAL presenter! The entire presentation was engaging and meaningful. I am excited to have the opportunity to take all of these amazing titles and introduce my students to them.

Guadelupe, Teacher, CA

The knowledge and passion for books for EVERY reader  has hooked me! She is in the classroom and just gets readers.

Dee, Teacher-Librarian, CA

Wowza! One of the best, packed workshops, filled with RELEVANT content, delivered in a well organized, engagingly paced seminar. HIGHLY RECOMMEND to librarians and lovers of literature.

Lindsey, English Teacher, TX

Excellent content, EXCEPTIONAL presenter! The entire presentation was engaging and meaningful. I am excited to have the opportunity to take all of these amazing titles and introduce my students to them.

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