Wednesday, March 4, 2015

March Book Madness

Day 4 of 31 posts for the Slice of Life Story Challenge hosted by the team at Two Writing TeachersStaceyTaraDanaBetsyAnna, and Beth.
Head over to the link up for seconds or to serve up your own slice!

A few weeks ago Katherine Sokolowski wrote about Tony Keefer's March Book Madness. Inspired I introduced the challenge to my tenth grade students last week. We are facing our first round of Florida Standards Assessment  Testing (FSA). There has been a lot of anxiety in the air over the new test--March Book Madness was a great way to lighten the mood and get us talking about something that is in kids best interests: books.

 I love listening to students talk about their favorite books. I printed the initial lists YA books from 2014 and Pre-2014 YA books. I gave the lists to each small group in class to use as "ballots." Nothing fancy. I printed off the lists from Keefer's site and gave them to small groups to discuss, share and use.

I love that students wanted to write in titles though I think the student who
wrote in Magic Tree House is confused about genre as a concept, maybe audience too.

Students talked and voted.

I heard a lot of:
"Oh! I've read that."
"Really? What's it about?"
"Well, there are two brothers and one of them has like Tourette's...."
"Did you like ..."
"Oh yeah, that books is awesome. It's about..."

Lots of book praise and book bragging. Book talking at every table upped the energy in the room. I have a few students who say they do not like young adult books (they brand them as too easy or too infantile) but I noticed even those few students leaned in to listen.

I was surprised by which titles students knew and which were new to them. My high school students were more familiar with books on the Pre-2014 list. Many of the 2014 books have been floating around in the classroom since NCTE and ALAN. Handfuls of students (six to eight depending on the title) had read from the 2014 list. Those that had became the table experts. I could see them sitting up a little straighter, smiling with a little sparkle in their eyes, pleased with themselves as readers.

I've also noticed that students are recommending more books to each in the weeks since we've looked at the lists to vote. Even books that are not on the list are getting passed hand to hand more.

Today  the first bracket is up for voting! Keefer's March Book Madness has done just what I wanted it to do in my classroom: get us talking more about books. Thanks, Katherine!

I am sure I could plan better for March Book Madness and have students
create a display board and official ballots using a web tool, but this worked just as well for
 my purposes and for our first foray into the voting. 


  1. I wanted to do March Book Madness w/ my students, but I'll be gone from the 18-31 and didn't see how I could make it happen. Talking about books is the best way to get kids interested in reading. Glad your students are enjoying the MBM experience.

  2. This is such a great idea! I've seen lots of talk on Facebook and Twitter about Tony's March Madness. I wish I had gotten myself together to participate, but alas, with snow days, testing, and gearing my students up for the Slice of Life Classroom Challenge, it was not to be. Next year, maybe?

  3. Our middle school is doing this as well. What a great thought on your part - keep them focused on the real reason we read! Good luck :)

  4. Such excitement over books! What fun to sit back and let your students lead the book talking and discussions. I'm glad that it energized your room!

  5. I saw this, too, and wanted to participate - but March is all about the SOLSC, and I just didn't get my act together in time. Next year!

  6. One of our media specialists does this and I love the idea! Of course, I know the work you do to make this work so successfully, but it is nice to be at the point where you can see the payoff. :).