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We decided to mix it up and put a new twist on it by incorporating elements of the “musical chairs peer review” activity that Sarah Rust and I adapted last semester from our colleagues in New Jersey.The basic organization included having 35 seats and assigning a book to each “seat.” We used the same open square seating arrangement that we used for the activity with Sarah and made “placemats” of different colors with numbers to help the students clearly see where to sit when the music stopped.
We kept a healthy supply of “replenishment” books on a cart nearby so that we could replace any books that were checked out (we observed that at least ten books were picked by students for checkout with each class; others might have noted a book from the session for future reading if they were already engaged with another book for Independent Reading (held in most Language Arts classes each Wednesday) time.
The first effort at this version of book tasting involved five sections of college-prep classes that varied in size from roughly 25-35 students per period.
The first three classes in the morning seemed generally receptive to the activity though the playful nature of what we were doing seemed a little unfamiliar to some; however, most students seemed to enjoy it and several showed excitement about the books they had discovered.
While this version of book tasting does not have the degree of choice as the other interpretations of the activity, we felt this version would hopefully expose students to different authors and types of books they might not normally choose.
Once students had placed their bookbags out of the way, we gathered at the “square” and reviewed the procedures for the activity; we also explained the modified book tasting “ticket out the door” we designed to help them make notes and assess the books they would explore.
Please let us know if you try it out and how your students respond to it!