Friday, March 11, 2011

Team Fluffy

I sit here monitoring one of my Battle of the Books  teams, made up of six giggling sophomore girls. Five of these girls I recruited as eighth graders when they were in my Gifted and Talented English class. They read ALL the time. One of them generally has two or three going at the same time. And, best of all, they read for fun.

They are smart and well-rounded. One swimmer, one cheerleader, two basketball players, two are on my speech team, one is passionate about wild mustangs, one is a school rebel--kind of. They like each other and are definitely a team, even though they don't always hang out together.

This is their second year together. Last year they scored well, wrote all the author's names correctly and went to the Grand Battle.

They arrive one by one. Laughter and giggles greet each as they arrive. They talk about the ones who aren't here yet.  The designated treat bringer forgot the donuts and there are screams from the rest, "How could you?"

And they giggle.

They miss one of the authors--27 out of 28 because the one at the computer, who always knows the authors doesn't listen when someone thinks a name is spelled wrong.  While it's not bad, they know I expect them to get them all right! A little panic sets in and the leader of the group announces that they now have to get ALL the questions right if they want to move on to the oral round next month.  They argue, they giggle, they move on.

On to the multiple choice questions--one for each book.  Now they try to settle down. The leader stands at the board and writes down the questions they want to go back and review. Another sits at the computer and enters their answers. The other four sit in front of the smartboard. They discuss, they giggle, they move on.

The leader tries to get them to hurry up--

"N., we have fifty four minutes left. Take a pill."

"Who was supposed to read that one?"

"Can we phone a friend?" All six heads turn at once and look at me. since I must be the only one who actually read one of the books. Unfortunately, I can't answer the questions.  They are pretty good at giving themselves a 50/50, though.

They go back to the eight questions they weren't sure of. They discuss, they giggle, they move on.

"Don't second guess yourself"

"Did anyone else read the book, people?"

"Next year we have to prioritize these books."

 Oh, really? It's too bad no one told them that in August!

The night finishes with a huge groan and whine. They didn't do well, and will not move on to the Grand Battle. They exit my room into the dark hallway, making plans for next year.  How I love these girls who read for fun.


  1. This sounds like a really fun group! I have never heard of Battle of the Books and was fascinated. Your narrative, punctuated with the girls' giggles, was so fun to read and also gave me a good picture of what the battle is.

  2. I started a battle of the books in our middle schools, but it sounds much different than your battle. Is this a district-based thing or do your competitions go farther than that at the high school level? What books do they read? If you haven't noticed, I loved your post. I was drawn right in by the pace of your retelling and I am definitely curious:)

  3. If you click on the link in the first paragraph, it takes you to the Iowa Battle of the Books. Basically, it works like this:

    Teams of up to six students find a teacher/coach and register for the battle. It cost each student $1. They are given a list of about 28-30 books to read. From March 1-15 each year they take an online test. The test consists of one multiple choice question from each book. There is also an online author quiz. Students are expected to know the authors names and how to spell them. The top teams move on to the oral round in April.

    The best thing is, the books are good. There's a great variety.

    For us, this started in our Gifted and Talented program and has branched out to others. This year we had 7 or 8 teams and four teachers willing to "coach" a group. I believe there is a middle school level also.

    By the way, this year's book list should be on the site--a new one will come out in May.

  4. Thanks for writing about this. I like the way you made the group session come so alive with their talk. It looked like lots of fun. I don't think we have this in Colorado, but I'll look it up.

  5. How fun to be with kids who love to read! I love the way "giggle" was interjected throughout the piece. Good luck to your girls for next time.

  6. So this is the original Team Fluffy ;)

    ~signed, a member of Team Fluffy: the Sequel