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Saturday, January 14, 2017

Host a Book Tasting in Your Classroom!


January is rolling along and my kids (both my school and actual kids) are finally readjusted to our routine after winter break. While in real life, I find January-March the three most difficult months to endure because the weather hurts my face, at school it's a different story. January-March are, I think, the BEST months of teaching! By this point, students are well-acclimated to the schedule and expectations, and there is no looming break to look forward to. The weather, as I already mentioned, hurts your face, and the end of the year is still a long way away!! I feel like each and every day I have a captive audience. And that makes me HAPPY (despite the hurt-your-face weather!).

This week, we are getting ready to start our first round of literature circles. Our book choices are Wonder, Among the Hidden, Freak the Mighty, Al Capone Does My Shirts, and Running Out of Time. Gah! Don't you just love those books?!? I am so excited and can't wait to get started!

I've written before about how I make Literature Circles work in my classroom, but today I wanted to share how I get them started. It's one of my FAVORITE classroom activities that I stole borrowed from my friend, Janice Malone at ELA Seminars, LLC. It's called a Book Tasting and it's a hoot!


After I have the books picked, I make a "menu" for each one that features the book's synopsis and some reviews. Next, I set up my room with some super-cheap checkered tablecloths, paper place mats, and battery-operated votive candles (all from Amazon). A copy of each book is laid on the place mat. I stream some Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, put my favorite roaring fireplace video on the big screen, and set out a basket of after-dinner mints.

When the kids come in, they are grouped into a "party" and led to their table. Once everyone is seated, they get about 10 minutes to read and discuss the title at their table. Then, each party moves to a new table and "tastes" the choice there.



At the end of the tasting, after each party has sampled all the books, the kids rank their choices - "1" being the book they are most excited to read, "5" being the least - and give their sheets to me. Then, I group them into their Literature Circles. (Usually, I am able to give most kids one of the books in their top three slots!)



When I do activities like this with my 7th graders, I am reminded that even though their bodies are big and their mouths can sometimes be bigger, they are still just kids! They get so into the "pretending." When I was doing this with them the other day, after each party was seated, I overheard one kid saying to another, "Get your elbows off the table! You can't have your elbows on the table at a fancy restaurant!" And a bit later I heard someone telling a party-member to remember to "cover your mouth when you cough in a restaurant because you don't want your germs in the air to land on people's food!" Even after the book tasting was over, they insisted that I not remove the tablecloths and candles for writing class because it made the room a lot more fun :)

So, if you are getting ready to jump into a round of literature circles, or you just want to get your students to "taste" some different titles, give this a try!

Ever host a book tasting? Think you might want to? I'd love to hear from you!

Happy Teaching!!

27 comments:

  1. I love this idea! Can't wait to try it with my 7th graders!

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  2. I like your blog. I found it through Pinterest.

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  3. Love this! Definitely going to be trying it out with my middle schoolers!

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  4. I just finished a round of book clubs yesterday! Darnit! Next time I'm so doing this, thanks for the fun idea. ��

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  5. I'm thinking of how to do this with my 3rd graders and I think I've come up with something. This was awesome. Thank you so much for showing us how you do book clubs. I've already started ordering on Amazon.

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    1. May I ask what you "came up with" that is different than described for 7th grade? I also teach 3rd grade and would love to do this, but am curious of what changes you would make? I level my kiddos, so letting them choose 3 favorite books would make it difficult to group by book interest alone...
      Thanks!

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    2. You pick the books out for the kids and send them with their "party" to their book's table. Then, do the same thing! Just don't have kids move around... instead have them look at the cover, read the back, read the about the author, check to see how many pages/chapters the book is, etc. Then, with their table, they can make predictions about what they think will happen :)

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    3. Thank you Jenna for this awesome idea and information. Also, for answering my question for lower grades without me asking.

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  6. I would love to do something like this for just one book as a way to introduce it. Any suggestions?

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    1. Do the same thing! Just don't have kids move around... instead have them look at the cover, read the back, read the about the author, check to see how many pages/chapters the book is, etc. Then, with their table, they can make predictions about what they think will happen :)

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  7. Do you have any up-close pictures of the menus? I'd be interested to see how you formatted those. Also if you had a template or something that you could share, that would be great! This is such a fantastic idea! I was just going through some books in our classroom library that I think the kids would love but overlook too often. This would be a wonderful way to expose them to titles they would likely pass by.

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    1. I'm interested in this as well :)

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    2. Hi! So, all I did was copy and paste the synopsis from Amazon into a Word document and inserted a picture of the cover... super lo-tech!! When I do a Tasting of the genres, I put the definition of the genre and a few examples of stories from that genre inside... nothing fancy! I find they just add to the "mood." Hope that helps!

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  8. I did it! It turned out wonderful! My choices were The Giver, The Lightning Thief, Jacob Have I Loved, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, and Gifts for my Honors and True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, Number the Stars, Tuck Everlasting, Red Kayak, and The Watsons go to Birmingham for my general English. The students absolutely loved being given choices. My menu had the synopsis and then were given 5 minutes with each "menu" item. They had to fill out a handout as they went through the rotations and were asked to take notes on setting, time period, characters, plot, tone, mood, and anything they thought about the book. Then I asked them to rank the books. Because I have blocks of 84 minutes, I was able to give them time with technology to do their own research on the book such as reviews and A.R. point values. This was such a valuable lesson. Thank you so much for sharing!

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  9. I do a book tasting in the fall of each year to discuss genres and expose my middle school students to some of the new books I have gotten recently. I usually choose 18-20 books and make a menu. Then, they get 2-3 minutes to 'taste' each book before passing it on. Then, they rate it for future use. This year, I also put a section on the menu with suggestions for 'if you liked book x, try book y.' The kids really liked it and they clamor for some of the books. I've even had to put waiting lists together!

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  10. Love the idea! How can I do it with my 4th nad 5th graders?Any suggestions?

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  11. Love this activity, will do it soon

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  12. Do you have a editable Menu Handout? I would love to not start from scratch...Thank you!

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  13. I love this idea, thank you so much for sharing...I can even envision having out a basket of some bread sticks or something cheap for the app... I just did a week unit of Lunch Around the World story for my 6th graders and themed all sorts of food stuff, this would fit in with my activities. I appreciate ideas like these that just further enhance my connection with my students, the further I go for them the further they go for themselves (technically for me) in their grades and effort.

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  14. I love the idea,bt i hve a much matured audience to attend to...any ideas on how to mk it work with age range of 18 to 24

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  15. Can you share some of the novel choices you have given your class? Thanks!

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  16. Man! I saw this one day too late!!!
    My 5th graders are always excited to start a new novel, but this would make it legendary...

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  17. Would you please email me at milena.dambelli@sbs.com.au or call 02 9430 3688 - it would be great to speak with you!!

    สูตรบาคาร่า
    gclub

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  18. Hi Jenna!
    Thanks for sharing this amazing idea. Do you have any suggestions on how to implement a book tasting in a resource room with students who have a variety of reading abilities?
    -Alyssa

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  19. Thank you for sharing this idea! I really liked the tablecloths and candles--I'm sure the students liked the special set-up. How did you group students for the tasting and then for the actual book? Also, do you try to have an equal number of students read each book? I really would like to try this activity in a high school classroom. It looks so fun!

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