Shepard students engage in speed book dating

  • Written by Bob McParland

Decorated in red and pink, each of the eight page-9-2-col-speedShepard High School LRC coordinator Kim Borgia (standing, left) and literacy coach Meghan Sisk talk with freshmen as the peruse books during the speed dating literary event. Submitted photo.small tables creating a ring in the Shepard High School library overflowed with books.
They invited sampling, sort of a box of chocolates for book lovers. Indeed, with Valentine’s Day approaching that was the point of the ‘speed dating’ literary event.
As they walked into the library, the freshmen in teacher Ryan McGuire’s sixth period health education class soon learned what would happen.
The tables, with seating for four students, featured books with a specific theme. For three minutes -- the speed-dating aspect -- students would read the back covers of books.
After the three minutes, a group would move to the next table and repeat the quick-fire absorption of a new group of books. Then they checked out as many as they wanted at the end of the period.
“We thought the timing perfect, just before Valentine’s Day,” said LRC coordinator Kim Borgia.
The concept: Just like a box of chocolates, students will find something they like when presented with a selection of books with interesting, relevant, and timely themes.
The books explored health-related themes of bullying, self -image, mental illness, suicide, addiction, obesity, and others. Once students chose their books, literacy coach Meghan Sisk explained the expectations for completing the readings.
Students approached the speed-dating concept earnestly. Without exception, they perused the books thoughtfully as Borgia, Sisk, and McGuire walked among the tables talking with them.
While fun, the activity pursued serious goals. Borgia and Sisk took the idea from a workshop at Waubonsie Valley High School.
“I’m borrowing the enduring understanding and essential question they used,” Sisk said.
The project seeks to promote understanding of how “personal choices impact current and long term outcomes on individuals, family, and society,” Sisk added.
The essential question: In a culture where we are bombarded by other people trying to define us, how do we make decisions for ourselves?
“The themes common in young adult literature naturally lend themselves to opening up discussions about the health issues being covered in class,” Sisk said.