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Shepard turns to ‘speed dating’ for book lovers

Shepard High School health educatiteacher Ryan McGuire (background) walks among his students as they browse books 'speed dating' literary event.

Shepard High School health education teacher Ryan McGuire (background) walks among his students as they browse books at a "speed dating" literary event. | Supplied photo

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Decorated in red and pink, eight small tables that created a ring in the Shepard High School library recently overflowed with books, according to a press release from the Palos Heights school.

The books invited sampling, sort of a box of chocolates for book lovers, the release said. And with Valentine’s Day approaching, that was the point of the “speed dating” literary event.

As they walked into the library, the freshmen in teacher Ryan McGuire’s sixth-period health education class soon learned what would happen, the release said. The tables, with seating for four students, featured books with a specific theme. For three minutes — the speed-dating aspect — students would read the back covers of books.

After the three minutes, a group would move to the next table and repeat the quick-fire absorption of a new group of books. Then they checked out as many as they wanted at the end of the period, according to the release.

“We thought the timing perfect, just before Valentine’s Day,” Learning Resource Center coordinator Kim Borgia said in the release.

The notion was that students would find something they like, just like when one gets a box of chocolates.

The books explored health-related themes of bullying, self-image, mental illness, suicide, addiction, obesity and others. Once students chose their books, literacy coach Meghan Sisk explained the expectations for completing the readings, according to the release.

While fun, the activity pursued serious goals.

“The themes common in young adult literature naturally lend themselves to opening up discussions about the health issues being covered in class,” Sisk said in the release.

Borgia and Sisk took the idea from a workshop at Waubonsie Valley High School.

Staff report



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