Easy Openers


In celebration of National Library Week, we used one of our favorite professional development icebreakers this morning. Here are the easy steps to a successful opener to any meeting. Begin by setting out picture books and novels on tables for colleagues to pass by as they walk in.

1. Ask participants to choose a book that calls to them as they come in to the meeting.
2. Invite them to “date” their book for two minutes looking at the title/cover, reading a passage, skimming or any approach to previewing.
3. Pair participants and give them four minutes to share their book with their partner.
4. If you have more time you can repeat steps two and three for another round.
5. Call everyone back together and ask volunteers to reflect on how they chose their book, what they learned or how they might use it.

One of our coaches chose Perfect Square by Michael Hall. Do you know this book? It’s great for adults and kids. Perfect Square Link Perfect Square called to her because the shapes are “just so” and she appreciated the message of the book that perfect squares can become anything. Another coach chose Zombie Makers by Rebecca Johnson Zombie Maker Link because he felt a little “undead” at the end of his work week. Sharing out about Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal Duck! Rabbit! Link, the coach said, “It called to me because the duck-rabbit illusion is so much like coaching. We can be looking at the exact same thing–like standards for example–and see something completely different.”

Here are titles of the assortment I chose to put out on the tables:

17 Things I’m Not Allowed To Do Anymore (and) 11 Experiments That Failed-Jenny Offill
Exclamation Mark-Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Dead End in Norvelt-Jack Gantos
Food-Ifeoma Onyerulu
Holes-Louis Sachar
How to Survive Anything-Rachel Buchholz
How to Teach a Slug to Read-Susan Pearson
The Invisible Boy-Trudy Ludwig
If…-Sarah Perry
If You’re Riding a Horse and It Dies, Get Off-Jim Grant and Char Forsten
Ish-Peter Reynolds
Pictures of Hollis Woods-Patricia Reilly Giff
Ralph Tells a Story-Abby Hanlon
The Story of The Little Piggy Who Couldn’t Say No-Sabine Ludwig
Thank You Notes-Jimmy Fallon

What are some easy openers that you enjoy using?

2 thoughts on “Easy Openers

  1. Great idea! “Dating” a book and briefly talking about it afterwards is very non-threatening, and it sounds like fun! My district has lots in the works related to ELA Standards. This would be a good way to start a meeting with teachers – light and lively, then get into the “heavy” stuff. Thanks, Heather!

  2. What a wonderful idea! I remember having the chance to do this once. My biggest challenge was choosing to just “date” one! This reminds me of a quote my 8th grade teacher had on a banner down one side of her ancient 1920s era classroom, “Show me the books a man reads, and I shall know him better than his closest friends.” I’m definitely going to pull this one out soon.

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