Ever cover a class for another teacher at the last minute? End of the day, no lesson plans, no activities, no term projects coming up, no notice, just suddenly a large number of teens in the library with nothing to do and who are tired of working all day? What do you do?
You and I are readers. We’d consider a half hour at the end of the day in the library to be heaven. We could read. Yes, read. But what about these teens that seem to have had their DNA altered to be "magnetically" attracted to computers? How about giving them a purpose and helping you at the same time?
I asked the tweens and teens to visit two web sites to gather ideas for programming and collection development. Since we already have a well used system for submitting ideas for the library, it was time to get to work. I sent them to teenreads.com and teensreadtoo.com and said "Explore."
Soon the girls were demanding more paper and frantically writing down names of books they wanted to read. The girls were gathered in little groups talking about titles. Sometimes one of them would have a title and would offer to share it. Other times they could agree they all wanted a certain book and they’d notate with extra stars on each other’s papers.
The boy behavior was different. As they became more involved in the activity, they became quieter and stopped working together. They submitted fewer titles per piece of paper, but they also went to the school web site and started sending me suggestions anonymously through the simple page we have.
It was a simple activity, but thanks to the variety of content on those two sites for teen readers, my students were exposed to new titles. The next time you are caught at the last minute, you might try this, too.