Wednesday, March 26, 2014

March Madness: Battle of the Books

Thanks to the power of Pinterest, I'm convinced that I will never have to come up with another cute, clever, creative idea in my personal and/or professional life. I am as guilty as the next librarian for going on a pinning streak, but I think the REAL challenge comes in taking someone else's cute, clever, creative idea and actually turning it into a reality. That's why I made it a goal to take a few of my favorite ideas from my Library Display board and try to bring them to life this school year.

When I first saw this idea on Pinterest, I knew I had to try it. Here's the Skeeter Library's version of March Madness: Book Style!

I used two blogs that I stumbled upon via Pinterest as the "primary sources" for this project. First, big props to Cathy Jo Nelson's blog for her detailed steps. I also loved The Brown-Bag Teacher's version of the March Madness display in her classroom.

Here are some specifics that might help you:

  • We ran a report in Workflows to find the top 16 most circulated books in our collection over the past school year. I think the March Madness idea works best when the books are a true reflection of your campus and the reading preferences of your students.

  • Thanks to Cathy Jo's blog, we "seeded" the books according to the NCAA tournament bracket. If you don't know how March Madness works, this is HUGE because it determines which teams (or books, in this case) will face off, and it also creates much of the madness because a higher seed can upset a lower seed, which is known as the "Cinderella Story." This also ensures that your #1 and #2 seeds have a chance to face off in the final "game," unless there's a big upset.

Compliments of Cathy Jo Nelson's blog 

Here's our list of books ranked by popularity in circulation count, which determined the seeding in our bracket:

1. The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins*
2. Divergent series by Veronica Roth*
3. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
4. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
5. Maximum Ride series by James Patterson
6. Romiette and Julio by Sharon Draper
7. The Fault in our Stars by John Green
8. Delirium by Lauren Oliver
9. The Authoritative Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson
10. The Skin I'm In by Sharon G. Flake
11. A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer
12. Dawn of the Arcana by Rei Toma
13. Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
14. Naruto, Vol. 53 by Masashi Kishimoto
15. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
16. Tears of a Tiger by Sharon Draper

*Cathy Jo Nelson suggested that the entire series be included rather than taking up spots with each book in the series. So even though Divergent and Insurgent were #2 and #3 in our circ count, we just grouped the series together.

  • The most labor-intensive part of this project was constructing the bracket display. First, I printed off the book covers for each of the books using Our library does not have much wall space, so I actually covered three sections of our reference shelves, since they aren't used. (This is why the display looks lumpy since it's not flush against the wall. This drove me CrAzY.) I also printed off signs for "Elite 8," "Final 4," "The Big Game," and "2014 Book Champ." After I already had these printed off, I found them pre-made on The Brown-Bag Teacher's blog. They are much more ADORBS than mine, so here's the direct link so you won't make the same mistake that I did.  The Brown-Bag Teacher's blog does a great job of talking you through the making of the bracket. Honestly, I'm an "eye-baller" rather than a "precise measurer" so I just took a deep breath and went for it. "Don't overthink it," became my mantra. Using duck tape to make the bracket lines works great! I built the bracket from the outside in (covers to CHAMP sign), whereas she started from the inside out (CHAMP sign to the covers). 
  • I then made a paper copy of the bracket for students to fill out to predict the overall winner. Students have filled out and turned in close to 100 paper brackets in two days! I've publicized this on our school Facebook page and on Twitter to draw interest. I admit that I have harassed students into filling out brackets when they come into the library to chill in the morning (I'm always nice, but I think they do it to make the nerdy librarian go away.) I don't have a copy of the bracket to share because I printed the one from the Brown-Bag Teacher blog (included in the direct link above), whited out her books, and wrote our books in the slots. Janky, but it works.   
  • The books will "play" each other through voting via Google Form, and the books with the most votes will advance on to the next round. Here's the link for our "Sweet Sixteen." Voting will continue for this round until next Monday, when we will announce the books that made the "Elite 8." We will vote next week on the "Final 4" and then narrow it down to the "Big Game" and finally, announce the "2014 Book Champ" on Monday, April 7th, when the real NCAA Basketball Championship will be played in Arlington. Prizes will be given at each round of voting, and I will go into more detail about that in my next post (because I honestly haven't figured that out yet). 
This is a lot of work, my friends; I'm not gonna lie. But it has already been so worth it. Kids are having conversations about books. Many of them have not read the books but are still voting for them and talking about them and arguing about who the big winner will be and isn't that our goal--to get kids talking about books because that might be the first step to getting them to actually read one? I've been telling them that it's okay that they've never heard of a book in the bracket; they can still vote. It's okay that they've never read the book; they can still vote. I purposely don't watch any college basketball until March so that I know nothing about the teams until I fill out my own bracket; my lack of knowledge makes it more fun. (I don't know anything about Dayton, but I picked them to beat Syracuse, and they did.) Of course, my beloved book nerds are ALL OVER this and are voting with a passion because they are experts. But that's the beauty of this contest, you can be a book novice or a book lover and still participate, much like the real March Madness. You don't have to be basketball expert to register a bracket on   

MHS students filling out brackets on Monday morning in the library. 

My adoration of this time of year goes way back to my childhood, when my Dad instilled in me a love for the Madness of March. I have vivid memories of him teaching me how a bracket works and us watching the games and always cheering for Duke. He is a HUGE fan of the classy Coach K, so like father like daughter. Mercer played the role of Cinderella this year in the first round and upset Duke, which destroyed my bracket since I had them going to the Final 4. (Do you see my love for the Madness? Books and brackets coming together--I am SO there!)

I distinctly remember "the shot" that made my crush on Christian Laettner grow exponentially. In fact, you can't talk about March Madness until you relive "That One Shining Moment" from 1992: 

That's why they call it MaDnEsS.

I will let you know which book is named the CHAMP once it is determined. My bet is that Hunger Games will take it all, but I will be cheering for The Fault in our Stars, which just so happens to be the underdog since not as many kids are familiar with it (well, until the movie comes out).

Maybe it will be a Cinderella Story.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Another Blog

Just because I have not been posting my lessons on this blog does not mean that I have not been teaching. I've got another blog brewing with Marnie Cushing, the librarian at Poteet High School and former English teacher and elementary librarian. We started LOL: Librarian on Loan at the beginning of the school year to document the picture book lessons that we do with high school students on our campuses. If you are an elementary librarian/teacher who still follows Red Reading Chair, thank you for the support, and I want to make sure that you know about LOL because I think you can take our ideas and adapt them to your classroom at whatever grade level you teach.

We have been blogging up a storm on LOL (Really, Marnie has. I'm trying to catch up.); please take a gander. If you are at the TLA Conference in San Antonio, we will be presenting our picture book ideas on Wednesday afternoon, April 9th. We would love to see you there!

Here's the link to LOL: Let us know what you think!

4th Six Weeks Happenings

You can watch this quick Animoto video to get a feel for the happenings in the Skeeter Library during the 4th Six Weeks: