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).