|"Who is messing with my board?|
I didn't change it!"
THE BOOK has been decided for months. About eight people on the planet know the title, including five within the walls of our school. Miraculously, it has remained at five. When we put up the bulletin board this summer in preparation for the first day of school, a part of our collective CRL conscience worried, "Is it too soon?" We knew we wouldn't be revealing for at least ten weeks. Are the kids going to get frustrated and just not care?
Since August 30th, the 2014 "title" has read ???
On Monday, October 21st, it changed to 9. Students and staff admitted to Googling "9", which evidently is a book title, but not even close to middle school appropriate.
On Tuesday, it became 8.
This post is about the power of the tease, so just to be clear we never admitted to changing the numbers...it was more fun that way! We acted just as befuddled as the students (and added a little dose of huffiness too.)
When a 7 greeted them on Wednesday morning, they knew: the countdown had begun.
Then life intervened and things turned ugly in our little corner of the world. The principal rallied the troops. He called in the school psychologist, the adjustment counselor, and...the crazy reading ladies??
"I need a favor, and it has to be fast. We have to fight negativity with positivity. Remind the kids why they love coming to school."
Since we work with the most wonderful faculty in the business, it wasn't difficult to film our epic reveal teaser the very same day. It was ready for its world premiere on Thursday's VideoTeam News.
As soon as it aired, a mob of news crew students poured into Ms. Cotillo's room positively pleading to know the title.
Mary's daughter is a 6th grader at our school. At the end of the day, she flounced into her mother's room, flung her bag into a chair, and in her best pre-adolescent voice said, "Thanks, Mom." Apparently she'd spent the day being grilled, too. And not just by students!
(Don't you worry. The Crazy Reading Ladies have high security standards. When planning meetings were held, dear daughter was locked in the basement. Don't look at me that way. She had food. Sheesh.)
Just like that, THE BOOK was all the kids could talk about. The "book talk" in our hallways went from chatter to pandemonium in under four minutes.
Middle School Tactic #2: Tell them they can't have something.
which is almost as powerful as
Middle School Tactic #1: Tell them they can't do something.
|Messing with middle school minds|
When we left on Friday afternoon, there were students camped out by the bulletin board, waiting to see if we were going to change the number ("Do weekends count?") and then we heard it:
"I think this is the first weekend I want to go by really fast so I can get to school on Monday!"
|"But what does it meeeeean?!?"|
Monday morning came and the tension was palpable. Students compared notes, discussed movie release dates, appeals of different genres. One boy confessed that he'd created a notebook in which to keep all of his research and predictions.
On the morning news we made a pretty big announcement. We narrowed down the pool of potential books from all the titles in the Franklin Public Library to six: Ender's Game, Catching Fire, Divergent, The Book Thief, The Maze Runner, and Romeo and Juliet.
A super-excited 6th grade teacher (who may or may not have been badgering Mary's daughter) was presented with an envelope. She opened it on-air and accounced that the 2013-2014 book is....
NOT Ender's Game.
We were a little worried there might be a riot.
We have big plans for Friday's reveal, so here's hoping we can keep our heads down low and survive the interrogation tactics for another three days. We've loved every second of this; it has already been worth it. On Friday evening we received an email from an eighth-grade boy who couldn't get into his weekend groove because he was so obsessed. Amid analysis of clues and unadulterated glee, he thanked us for making this happen.
Thankfully, we are literacy soul-mates and can read each other's minds because for moments like this, there really are no words. We'll just catch the other's eye and shake our heads...and probably have a little cry.
- Mary @mzcotillo and Erin @allinoleary