As per usual, this lesson idea came to me the same morning I decided to try it out. That’s just how I work. No matter how hard I try to plan in advance, I inevitably end up changing plans in the final hour and plowing forward with that. Thankfully, I’ve gotten to the point where I can visualize the progression of the lesson and because I’m really detail-oriented, that means I can create the pieces of a lesson relatively quickly once things start to click in my brain. I’m happy to pass this lesson idea and materials on to you!
Onto the lesson! Enter: Speed Dating/Friending Discussion
I knew I wanted to run a discussion and get students talking comfortably about themselves first about the same topics they’d need to make text connections to at the end of the lesson. I wanted something:
A) That felt quick (each “date” was only 4-5 minutes long, but multiply that by 5 dates and kids are talking and listening non-stop for nearly 25 minutes)
B) That felt low-pressure (each topic was something I knew students could write about)
C) That welcomed honesty and vulnerability naturally (talking to just one person at a time is a gentle invitation to open up that you can’t get during whole-class discussion when someone asks the shy student: “So ___________, do you want to say something?”)
D) Was low-prep on my end for obvious reasons.
On a piece of lined paper, have students write the first name of all their classmates down the left margin. Create columns for each of the topics they’ll discuss. My lesson includes family, friendship, community, and education as the focus topics but you can do whatever you want! After each date, have students write a check mark if they and their date were compatible in each category.
If possible, have students sit facing each other across a table or desk during their date. Why? Because side-by-side seating during a date is just awkward.
Students can go on a date with anyone in class other than whoever they sit beside on a daily basis. They chat enough, most likely.
Once desks are prepped and students have written their points of view on the topics you’ve provided, it’s time for the dates to begin. Play music if you like, but have some sort of bell or indicator for when it’s time to end the date and find a new one.
Once students have completed as many dates as you’d like them to, have them return to their seats and share out something new they learned about a classmate and who they were most and least compatible with. From there, the lesson materials include pages for them to compare and contrast their POVs on one of those topics (education, family, friendship, community) with Malala’s father, Ziauddin, but swap that out for a character your students are reading about if that doesn’t fit! I loved this lesson and students are asking me when do they get to go on second dates…