I love surprises and over the years I have encountered both positive and negative surprises. But as the saying goes, we don’t learn unless we make mistakes. Our new approach to host the 8th grade book club has been a welcome endeavor. In the past our 8th grade reading participation has declined in comparison to our eager 6th and 7th graders. That being the problem we embraced strategies to come up with a solution. For those in middle school know that 6th and 7th graders are always eager to participate but as students prepare for high school they start to find less and less time to read for pleasure. I spent 16 years as a high school librarian and I know first hand the problem continues. The strategy is simple - we handed the book club over to our 8th graders.
The group decide to begin the discussion with a quick Plickers activity with five rather easy questions. This gave the club some focus, settle down to eat, and introduced them to a new tool that could be modeled in the classrooms. I believe if the students are comfortable with a tool that may ease the teacher’s anxiety of introducing a tool. I actually pulled up the account and let the students drive the questions and answers.
Our principal was so impressed with the success and participation he asked for feedback from some of the participants on what can be done to continued this enthusiasm school-wide. If you want to know something about your school, just ask the students. They were very honest with their responses and I was honored to hear one of their answers was that I had been the librarian since their 6th grade year and they knew me. Did that student just say relationships matter? WOW!
The concept sounds so simple but we need to realize sometimes it’s the simple things we do as librarians that make the most impact. In the future I will continue to empower the students to take charge of more programming. Next stop - virtual book club!