Friday, February 21, 2020

Authentic PD: 7 Benefits of a Book Tasting Event for Your Teachers

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We recently had a full PD Day for teachers in our building and wanted to do something special to start off the day. I'd heard of book tastings from my Twitter PLN and wanted to give it a try.

A book tasting is an event where people sample different books in a relatively short period of time. I was lucky to have some fantastic help with decorations, planning for food, and setting up our "book store" area.

At our book tasting, we selected about 75 books we felt added value to teaching and learning. Some of them were not necessarily education books. We also included books from psychology, personal growth, leadership, and more.

There were approximately 55 teachers included in our event, so we had plenty of extra books on hand. For each round, participants would select a book to review. We set a timer for 5 minutes for participants to quickly scan the book, look at the table of contents, pick out some interesting quotes, and take a few notes.

Each participant had a "menu" to help guide their book tasting experience. It included some general instructions and some questions to guide thinking.

Menu adapted from:

Make a copy of the menu to Google Drive

After 5 minutes of thinking and reading time was up, we then put 5 more minutes on the clock for conversations and sharing at each table. The conversations were the best part.

At the end of each round, participants would return their books to our "book store" area, and they would pick out a new book. We asked them to sit at a different table with a new group for the next round.

We did three rounds of this whole process, so participants were introduced to a variety of books.

At the very end of the activity, our librarian gave a few teachers a book she selected specifically for them. She planned this all on her own. She used each book to affirm strengths she sees in each of them and encouraged them to pass along the books to people who they see these same strengths in as well. It was powerful.

So how did it go overall? We felt like it was a great success. It was really fantastic to see all of the interesting conversations around the room. The activity only lasted about 45 minutes so it didn't take up a large part of the day. Several people actually left at the end of the day with a book they found earlier. They were excited to continue reading on their own.

This PD event accomplished some of the key aims we have for professional learning...

1. Create an experience

This was not sit and get PD. Our library was transformed. We had candle lighting, table cloths, and we catered a fantastic breakfast.

2. Allow for choice

Participants were able to choose books and topics that looked interesting to them. They also decided what information in the book they wanted to share with others.

3. Encourage connections

We always want to build relationships through our professional learning. Our teachers were connecting with others and learning more about them and their interests through this process.

4. Amplify voices

In our building, we believe it's important for students to talk about what they are learning. We want our teachers to have that same experience. Teacher voice is an important part of any professional learning we undertake.

5. Share expertise

When we amplify voices, it gives learners a chance to share what they know. We believe the greatest learning resource we have is each other, and we want to leverage the brilliance of the room. We have a team of incredible professionals with valuable insights.

6. Generate curiosity

Great professional learning should not be a stand alone event. The learning doesn't end at the end of the day. It should cause learners to be even more curious, to want to learn more on their own, and to be more excited about their work and their future possibilities.

7. Model student-centered learning

And finally, we want to always model student-centered learning. It's important to create learning experiences that include the qualities that we value in effective learning experiences for our students.

What are your thoughts about trying a book tasting at your school? Do you have other ideas for making PD a meaningful and positive experience? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.


  1. I think it's a creative way to engage staff in a book study. We know book tastings work for kids. Why not for teachers too?

  2. I love this idea! What a way to model, too!

  3. What a great concept - I like how it incorporates resources we already have. So engaging!