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Kickin It Old School in the New School Library

Today we are honored to share with you a guest post by Middle School librarian Amanda Galliton.

The 2018-2019 school year found our school without 1:1 iPads that we were used to and moved to classroom sets with Chromebooks for 6th and 7th grade, with 8th graders taking their Chromebooks home. The school library is equipped with a wall-mounted 36-inch TV as the monitor to a desktop.  It is difficult to see as well as use. All this combined left me thinking outside the box for lessons when the English Language Arts classes came to the library. Forced to get creative, we went old school and did some things that I grew up doing.

Musical Books

Students and myself sat on the floor in a circle and passed books around until the music stopped. We then read whatever book we had for two minutes. They could read wherever in the book they wanted. I would pick books that were not too gender specific. Many of the students found a book that they wanted to check out.

The pictures show the first stack of books I started with and how it dwindled down after each class played.

Mad Libs

Yes, the Mad Libs that were first published in 1958. I purchased several Mad Lib books from Follett. Students chose groups of 2 or 3 to work with. I handed out the blank portion of the Mad Libs, looking for the parts of speech, first. To prevent some of the middle school mentality, students were asked to use words that used 5 letters or more. Of course, I told them it was to broaden their vocabulary.  Once students filled that page out, they could have the story. Each group presented their story. We did these at Christmas and Valentine’s Day because the students loved them so much.

Metaphor Dicehttps://www.metaphordice.com

Metaphor Dice was created by Taylor Mali. Again, students were in groups of two or three. They followed the directions for the dice. When they rolled, they chose a red, a white, and a blue die to create a metaphor. They were challenged to create three metaphors and explain each one. The classroom teacher and I would walk around to each group and make sure they were on task and that their metaphors made sense. Some of the teachers would take up the papers and continue the activity in their classroom.

Spine Label Poetry

Again, students worked in groups to create poems using the titles on the spines of books. They were asked to use a minimum of four books for their poem. I always do this lesson after they have started talking about poetry in class. I believe this activity really helps them have a better understanding that poems don’t have to rhyme.

Blackout Poetry

I have pages from weeded books for this activity. I put butcher paper down on the tables beforehand. We discuss poems and what they have learned. I give a few examples of what blackout poetry looks like. We talk about how to pick out words and maybe small sentences, but not chunks of the works. Each student receives a book page and a pencil. They are to put a rectangle around each word or phrase they are going to use. When they think they have their poem done, the classroom teacher or I come by and discuss their poem with them. When we feel it is finished, we trade their pencil for a black marker.

Here is a great gallery of Blackout Poetry on Pinterest


In preparation for this game, I take three lists and photocopy them next to the numbers and lines from the column cards. Students are paired up. We follow the board game rules listed in the box. When time is up, we’d go number by number and see if anyone had matching answers. Each group that had an answer for that number would raise their hand and we’d go group by group for them to call out their answers.

We had a blast with these activities. In May, I was covering for a Math class. I let them have free time. Students were asking for the Scattegories game to play. I felt that I really got to know the students better this year than in the past because of the small groups and the discussions when they were working.

Meet Our Guest Blogger

Amanda Galliton has worked for 10 years as a school librarian.  She is currently a Texas Middle School Librarian in Burkburnett ISD. You can find her on Twitter @amandagalliton