"Blind Date with a Book": Creating Lifelong Readers
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This lesson has students read a novel after going on a "blind date" with a variety of novels during a class period. Students then create an argument for why their classmates should also read their novel (even if they do not like the book they read). Ultimately, students will debate against one another to argue why their book should be added to the curriculum. This encourages students to read for enjoyment and learn that while they may not always enjoy reading, they can still learn from an author's words.
From Theory to Practice
The Blind Date with a Book learning project is much more than just an engaging activity for students; the purpose of the project is to encourage independent reading based on students’ interests. Not only does the extended lesson provide ample opportunities for differentiation based on individual student needs, but it also brings the power of choice back to the English classroom. Too often, students complain about the canonized choices that populate our high school curriculum. In their Guideline on the Students’ Right to Read, NCTE states, “The right of any individual not just to read but to read whatever he or she wants is basic to a democratic society.” Through “dating” a variety of novels and choosing those with topics that interest them most, students are able to take ownership of what they are doing and how they are accomplishing the goals we, as instructors, have set for them. Furthermore, they are able to exercise their democratic right of choice in the classroom, thus fostering a learning community where students are able to learn from one another and from the books they read and share throughout the school year.
Common Core Standards
This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.
This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.
NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts
- 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
- 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
- 11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
- 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).
Materials and Technology
- Technology (iPads or laptops) to access to Animoto and the ReadWriteThink Persuasion Map.
- Projector/Smart Board technology to be able to watch book trailers created online as a whole class during the first day of debates.
- A different novel that each student can read for the assignment. (For a class of 22 students, you will need 22 different novels for each student to read. If you choose to use this project for multiple classes, you will either need multiple copies of each novel or to choose different novels for each class).
- Numbered Book Covers: Each novel must be covered with some piece of material so that students cannot know what the title of the book is. Additionally, each book must be numbered so that students can differentiate between the novels for the Blind Date with a Book Rating Form (see lesson image for an example).
- Book hints: On the front of each novel, identify key quotes or characters/themes that are a part of the novel beneath the paper. These hints are how students will base their voting and their interest level on each novel (see lesson image for examples of book hints).
- Novel sign-up list
- Voting slips for the actual debates
This online resource allows students to take pictures or choose pictures from the Internet to develop a movie trailer based on their novel in order to persuade their classmates to read the novel.
- Gathering Novel Choices: Prior to beginning this learning project, have a different novel for each student to read and eventually present to their classmates. Become familiar with each text to prepare students and teachers for any sensitive topics that may be addressed.
- Blind Date with a Book Reading Survey: Create a list of the books that will be used for the activity. Then, have students each circle any book they have read (this will prevent students from choosing a novel they have read previously based on the clues provided for each book).
- Numbered Book Covers: Each novel must be covered with some piece of material so that students cannot know what the title of the book is. Additionally, each book must be numbered so that students can differentiate between the novels for the Blind Date with a Book Rating Form.
- Book Hints: On the front of each novel, identify key quotes or characters/themes that are a part of the novel beneath the paper. These hints are how students will base their voting and their interest level on each novel.
- Blind Date with a Book Rating Form copies: Students will use this to track their interest in each book that they “date.”
- Book Sign-Ups: Organize a system for students can sign up for the book choices. Consider labeling each index card with a number, and have students write their name on their top 5 choices as to which novel they would like to read most. They can then write their name on the corresponding numbers and then put the number from 1-5 (1 being “I Want to Read This One Most”) in parentheses next to their name on the sign-up card.
- Blind Date with a Book Parental Consent Form copies: After students are assigned the novels they are expected to read, provide them with the attached permission slip, specifying the title and author of the novel that their student will be reading.
- Blind Date with a Book Guidelines and Rubric copies: The guidelines and rubric provide students with an end goal that they will be working toward while reading their novels.
- Blind Date with a Book 4-3-2-1 Quiz copies: This quiz serves as a checkpoint to ensure that all students have completed their novels prior to beginning preparation for the debates.
- Technology: Be sure to sign out laptops or iPads for students to use for approximately three class periods.
- Blind Date with a Book Bracket (copies or teacher copy): The bracket will allow you to keep track of who will debate whom, and how the rounds will proceed. Consider creating and sharing with students using Google Docs so that they would know their opponents ahead of time.
- Voting Slips (for the actual debates) copies: Ensure that all students have a means of voting for who they believe is the best debater during the three class periods dedicated to the peer-versus-peer debating.
- critique, differentiate between, assess, and draw conclusions in order to construct responses to an assigned novel.
- identify and cite evidence to support assertions.
- evaluate the effectiveness of a novel in conveying themes.
- utilize rhetorical devices to create persuasive visuals and arguments.
- make connections between and cite evidence for the use of a novel in an English classroom.
- evaluate and critique the meaningfulness of a novel based on content and connections from text to class.
- demonstrate an understanding of argumentative writing or debate through a brief presentation.
- synthesize multiple texts to determine their relevance not only in the classroom, but in modern-day society.
Session One: Blind Date with a Book
- Place students in a circle with a covered book on each of their desks. Be sure that prior to beginning this session they have already completed the Blind Date with a Book Reading Survey.
- Provide each student a copy of the Blind Date with a Book Rating Form. Explain that they will have approximately 45 seconds to look at the hints presented on the front of their covered novel. They must take notes on whether or not this book may hold their interest. At the end of the 45 seconds, they will pass the book clockwise and will receive a second novel for 45 seconds.
- Have a timer at the front of the classroom to ensure that students only have the novels for approximately 45 seconds. Continue the 45-second rounds until each student has “dated” each of the covered books.
- Give students 10-15 minutes to revisit any numbers they were unsure of, to jot down any further notes, and to narrow their choices to five novels they think they want to read, numbered 1-5 (1 being the novel they would like to read the most).
- Have students sign their names on the library cards (or on another sign-up sheet you have provided), which should be numbered just as the covered novels. They should write their name followed by the number that the book is in their top 5 list in parentheses.
- Optional: Hand out the Blind Date with a Book Guidelines and Rubric. Let students know that in the next session, they will receive their novel title. The Blind Date with a Book Parental Consent Form will be due two days later, and their novels will be due at a later date (this depends on whether or not you have copies of each novel or if they need to check them out from your school or local library). This helps students to see what will be expected of them as they are reading.
- Be sure that everyone is reminded of the due dates that you set. Because the majority of this unit takes place outside of the classroom, remind students of when their novels must be completed, when they will be quizzed on the novel they read, and when they will have class time to work on the culminating assessment.
Session Two: Blind Date with a Book Checkpoint
- Use the Blind Date with a Book 4-3-2-1 Quiz as a means of assessing students’ completion of their novels. This type of assessment is that you can give any student the quiz, regardless of their book title or content.
- If you have time after administering the quiz, you may want to re-introduce the assignment guidelines and allow students to begin the brainstorming process for what they want to use for material in the Blind Date Debates.
- Exit Ticket: Why should your classmates read the novel that you read for this assignment? Explain.
Sessions Three-Five: “Blind Date Debates” Preparation
- Review the goals and expectations of the Blind Date Debates activity. Remind students that the assignment is two-fold: they will create a trailer for their novel as well as an outline of their argument as to why students should read their novel.
- Show students how to use Animoto as well as the ReadWriteThink Persuasion Map so that they understand what they should be doing during the class periods. Consider using the ReadWriteThink Strategy Guide Bringing Lessons to Life with Animoto for support in teaching with Animoto.
- Provide the necessary scaffolding students will need to begin crafting their argument. Because some students may not like their novels, it will help if, as the instructor, you are able to show them how those struggles make them better writers and readers. Consider using the ReadWriteThink Strategy Guide Developing Evidence-Based Arguments from Text to support students.
- By the conclusion of Session Five, you should have each student e-mail you their Animoto trailer as well as the ReadWriteThink Persuasion Map. Have students “Share” a document with you on Google Docs that contains both of these pieces – a link to the Animoto and a link to the ReadWriteThink Persuasion Map. This can make Debate Days much easier, as each students’ trailer will be accessible and can simply load them so that students have full command of the class while showing their trailer and explaining the importance of their novel.
Session Six: The “Blind Date Debates”
- At the start of the session, distribute Blind Date with a Book Brackets (optional) as well as voting slips so that students can vote for their peers after each set of debates.
- Each round will begin the same: one student will show their movie trailer, read their summary of the novel (without any spoilers), and then their thesis statement – Why should students read this novel?
- Once each student has presented, they will have a 60-second “rebuttal period.” This will be a chance for each student to say why they believe their book is the better choice for students to read. Encourage students to utilize ethos, pathos, and logos in their rebuttals to further their argument with their peers.
- After each debater has presented and had opportunity rebut their opponent’s point of view, students will vote while the teacher opens the trailers for the next two opponents.
- Collect the voting slips while the next debate pair makes it to the front of the room.
- Repeat the process until all initial debates have taken place (this will take one full session).
- After class, tally up the winners and post the debates so that students will be able to see their opponent (be it online or on your front board when students come into class the following day).
Session Seven: “The Blind Date Debates” continued
- On Day 2 of the debates, opponents will come to the front of the classroom once more and re-introduce their novel to the class, read their thesis, and then provide their first piece of supporting evidence for their thesis.
- Again, each student will have a rebuttal period (this can remain at 60 seconds or can be extended at the teacher’s discretion).
- Once both debaters have presented their thesis, their first piece of evidence, and their rebuttal, students will vote. Collect votes after each debate.
- Repeat this process until all opponents have debates.
- If time permits, have students begin Round 3 of the debates, where they will simply re-introduce their novel to their peers, read their thesis, and then provide their second piece of supporting evidence as to why students should read this novel. Provide time for each student to refute their opponent’s claims in order to again debate why their novel is the one that should be read/added to the school’s curriculum.
- Repeat Step 3 until the conclusion of class. Again, you must tally up the winners of each bracket and again make known to the students who will be debating the following day (again, online or at the front of your room for students to see during Session Eight).
Session Eight: “The Blind Date Debates” Finale
- For the fourth round of debates, each debate opponent will re-introduce their novel, will re-read their thesis, and will then provide their third piece of supporting evidence.
- The remaining debaters should be given a time window for a final plea with their classmates. This “final plea,” or last words in this round of the debate should emphasize their novel’s importance and relevance, acting as a means of trying to sway their peers to vote for their novel.
- Students will vote after each debater has presented, and the votes must be tallied immediately. Repeat this process until there is either a final pair or trio.
- The final round of debates consists of viewing each debater’s trailer once again, and then a from-the-heart argument. This is the time when students should be pulling their knowledge of rhetorical strategies (including ethos, pathos, and logos) to truly persuade their classmates that the novel they are discussing is one worth reading.
- Complete the final vote to have your Blind Date Debate winner, and feel free to announce it during this session, or postpone it to the following day for suspense.
- If time permits, assign a student reflection piece where students can share what they have learned through this project. This can be done using class time or can be completed as a homework assignment. Ultimately, this will provide closure to the activity or allow for an extension of the tasks and skills addressed through this extended project/unit.
- Following the Blind Date Debates, students can choose a second novel to read independently based on their peers’ presentations and complete a different task upon completion.
- Create a presentation for a new audience, such as the Board of Education, where students must change their voice as well as their use of rhetorical strategies to engage and persuade a group of adults rather than peers.
Student Assessment / Reflections
- Blind Date with a Book 4-3-2-1 Quiz: This quiz serves as a checkpoint to ensure that all students have completed their novels prior to beginning preparation for the debates.
- Blind Date Debates: Students will ultimately be creating a movie trailer for their novel, demonstrating their ability to use rhetorical devices/persuasion, as well as outlining an effective argument as to why their novel should be added to our school curriculum. The Blind Date with a Book Guidelines and Rubric outline the key areas through which students will earn a test grade.
- Reflection Piece: Following the debates, students craft a brief writing response about the project. They discuss how reading the novel changed them as a reader, what connections they were able to make between their texts and topics from class, and then provide feedback as to how the project could improve in the future.