you can picture speed dating in your head: two rows of people facing one another, talking in pairs. when a timer goes off, one row of people move down one person and begin talking to their new partner. and so it goes, until they’ve talked to everyone or time is up.
speed booking works the same way, except the conversation is focused on books rather than one another.
we first learned about speed booking many years ago at a tcrwp summer institute with brooke geller, a staff developer. during speed booking, students pair off to share about a favorite book and are given a short amount of time to share why they love the book so much. speed booking creates opportunities for students to practice synthesizing and summarizing texts and also gives classmates a chance to hear what their peers are reading. (so, add the appropriate standards to your lesson plan when you’re planning on speed booking! we wish we were joking.)
hearing what classmates are reading is valuable and time well spent for many reasons, but the biggest two in our minds are:
- it helps to build classroom community in that it helps our students learn who’s reading what and who likes to read what (so they might offer a finished book to a classmate that they know would enjoy it based on what they’ve seen or heard that classmate reading)
- it helps our students keep their “books on deck” list alive and growing with more book possibilities, and hopefully broadens students’ exposure to new books, series, and authors that they may not have found on their own since they’re being recommended by the diverse readers in our classroom.
speed booking is a great way to celebrate reading. it’s a perfect first reading celebration of the year, after students have worked to get to know themselves as readers – to build a reading life; they can share the books that matter the most to them, the ones that have made the biggest difference in their reading life.
speed booking also makes a great share at the end of workshop any time throughout the year. it will be smoothest during a share if it’s done when students are already familiar with how speed booking goes, so that they already know what’s expected of them. (helps keep that share short!)
here are some things to consider to help make speed booking run smoothly, especially when first introducing it to students:
- give students a few minutes to look over reading logs, goal sheets, or book club books read when planning for speed booking. this will help remind them of the books they’ve read recently, and they can choose the book they’ll be speed booking about from one of these places. at the end of our building a reading life unit of study – the reading unit of study we launch the year with – our students create a self-portrait in books, something we learned about from tcrwp. the self-portrait is a visual representation of the books that have mattered the most to us as people and readers so far. to add speed booking to our celebration, our students use their self-portrait in books to choose a book they’ll share about with classmates.
- have students practice talking about the book they’ve chosen first with their reading partner. this can be during the active engagement part of the mini-lesson on celebration day. during the teach part of the mini-lesson, we might model how this looks, and remind students of the retelling language we’ve learned this year, maybe even leaving some sentence starters with the retelling language up on the smart board for reference. another way to support students is to have them look at the eeg they created for a character in the book they’re speed booking to help them determine importance and choose what the focus of their speed booking will be. remind students that their goal is not to tell about the entire book – you rarely want to know about the entire book before reading, after all, and you won’t have time for that – so they’ll need to choose what feels most important, and what would be intriguing to someone if you were hoping to convince them to read the book.
when it’s time to do the actual speed booking:
- have students line up in two row facing one another (just as they would if they were speed dating) with their reader’s notebooks and a pencil in hand. have students open to a page for “books on deck” so that they can write down titles that they hear that they’d like to read.
- assign one row the letter A and the other row the letter B. this will be helpful for saying whose turn it is (“when the timer starts, A’s will share about the book they chose with B”) and also helping students move to the next partner (“A’s stay where you are, B’s shift one partner to the left”).
- post a timer for students to see or keep track yourself. you might give the same amount of time every time or for the first few rotations – 3 minutes is often enough, and can be adjusted if it’s too much time for most of your class – and then consider lessening the time after they’ve practiced a few rounds so that they have to do more synthesis work and determine what’s most important to share about their book. we might start with a few rounds of 3 minutes, and then go down to 2, and then to 1, for example. rotate partners and repeat as many times as you have time for.
- give students a chance to write down the title that they heard on their books on deck list before moving down the line to their next partner.
- at the end, have students return to their partner to share the books they added to their books on deck list as a result of speed booking. partners might even give recommendations to one another for books they heard about and thought their partner would love.
some ways you might modify speed booking to be more reflective of the work in different units of study:
- rather than have students do only a retelling of the book, you might think about the main work from the unit and have them include that in their speed booking. maybe the unit you’re currently in or are celebrating had a focus on characters, themes, or symbolism. providing some sentence starters for those different areas is one way to support students in weaving that thinking and work into their speed booking as they share about the book they’ve chosen.
- if you’ve just done a partner or book club unit, consider having club members choose the same book to speed book with classmates who haven’t read it yet. record the students’ different speed bookings – either the audio or video, depending on what devices you have available – so that book club members can listen to the way they can shared about the same book. especially after a unit that focused on perspective, have club members analyze the different perspective they had on the book – what did they choose to share and why did they focus on that?
- as you’re working on book reviews in writing workshop, or after you’ve done a book review unit, use your book review charts to improve your students’ speed booking. the language used and different angles that a book review takes on could strengthen the way students talk about their books during speed booking. in this way, speed booking could almost become a way to flash draft an oral book review or, at the very least, a chance to reinforce the work done within the book review unit.
these are some charts from our book review unit of study (a writing unit) that might inform our students thinking about what they’d share during speed booking.
how do you envision using speed booking in your classroom? we’d love to hear and try it out!