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December 1, 2011 / Sarah Ludwig

The first book I’ve ever liked

The reading for pleasure project I mentioned in my last post is over, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the results. I spent two days visiting classrooms to watch the students’ presentations. Most selected Glogs, perhaps because they’re familiar with the medium, or because they’re easy to work on from home. A few chose to do book trailers — many of whom did a book trailer project with me last year — and one or two wrote songs or short stories.

A few things will be different next time, hopefully. We need to devote class time to teaching the students how to do book trailers, including how to find free and legal music online. Happily, the students who did the book trailer project with me last year automatically went to Jamendo to download their soundtracks. (AND, I was very excited to see the seventh graders going to Google’s advanced image search to find pictures for their Glogs, since I’ve been teaching them how to do this for a year and a half now.)

We also need to think about how to occupy the kids who finish their projects earlier than others. Some of the projects could be worked on from home, while others — most notably the book trailer — could not. So some students were scrambling on the second day of in-class work while others had “nothing to do.”

I also wonder about grading. When I asked one of the teachers if the students were being graded on these, she said: “yes. After all this hard work, I want them to be rewarded.” And I totally get that…. but I also wonder if sharing simply for the sake of sharing would work. After all, these kids are highly motivated by grades.

I’m only going to share Glogs, because they are easy for me to access and share. Unfortunately, I can’t embed using iFrame, so I have to share links with you instead. The students spent one class period sharing their projects with each other, with the goal of getting their classmates interested in reading it. I hope to get one video of a student rapping about The Hunger Games up on the blog later this week. PS: notice any themes in the books selected?

Matched

Divergent

Enclave

Catching Fire

Ship Breaker

And finally, the title of this post comes from a seventh grader, a boy who seems to struggle with technology every time I teach it in class. On Monday, I was looking at his Glog, about the book Enclave. (Side note, this was by FAR the most popular book, with at least three people in every class selecting it.) I asked him if he had finished the book — almost — and if he liked it. With a very serious look on his face, he told me that it was, in fact, the first book he’s ever liked. For a moment, I just stood there stunned, because no one has ever told me this before. In the end, trying not to freak him out, I just managed a quick “that’s awesome” and patted him on the shoulder. But the truth is, I wanted to cry. This feeling was amplified a few minutes later, when two girls who had finished their books each grabbed a copy of Speak off the shelf and started quietly reading it to each other, section by section.

So I guess the obvious morals of the story here are that 1) Booktalking works. 2) Librarians can help get the right books into the hands of kids. 3) Kids like to read. Period.

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