A Labor of Love... or a Love of Labor

When I was a junior in high school I vividly remember my English teacher writing "This is either a labor of love... or a love of labor" on the interactive notebook I submitted for Crime and Punishment. That has stuck with me since then, as I frequently undertake projects that require an abundance of work, sometimes willingly and sometimes accidentally. The book recommendation bulletin board I created for my classroom fits Ms. Baker's assessment precisely- this thing took about five times longer than I anticipated. And yet I persevered, determined to finish the bastard.

My inspiration was one of those serial killer sort of webs they show on detective movies. I've always wanted to make one, and since I neither want to kill anyone or solve crimes, I decided to go another, safer, route. 

Step 1: Create a list of books that you think your students should read at some point. Accept that you have limited space and par things down a bit. Try to think of books that they will really like.
Step 2: Develop a complicated spreadsheet with categories (coming-of-age, contemporary literature, sci-fi, plays, international/travel, graphic novels, classics, non-fiction, humor, romance, etc...) and lots of check marks. Fail to consider that when you actually start creating the board you won't use this, since you are the one organizing them to begin with.
Step 3: Type out titles (along with author and pages) and category headers. Have the school clerk laminate them, since teachers are not educated or skilled enough to be allowed to use the laminating machine [insert winky smiley face here].
Step 4: Go to Michael's to buy fourteen packs of yarn. Inwardly (or maybe a little outwardly) cringe at all the craft supplies. Ponder the fact that the store always smells odd. Remember to save receipt for next year's taxes.

Step 5: Assign yarn colors to categories. Make TA cut yarn.
Step 6: Arrange categories around perimeter of bulletin board.
Step 7: Realize that it will take 3.2 years to finish the board if you attached strings to every single applicable category. Sadly decide that each book will be connected to a maximum of three categories each.
Step 8: Web away. 
Step 9: Threaten students with timed writes every week if they touch the board.
Step 10: Suppress fear that the fire marshal will come soon for an inspection and this will have to be removed.  

Step 11: Realize that you don't care that it might be confusing. It's a piece of art, dammit.
Step 12: Post blog with subpar pictures and caveman syntax.


  1. This is absolutely amazing! Epic! (And I'm kind of jealous of your students for having you as their teacher.)

  2. I am still in awe at this recommendation board you made for your class (and your directions in making it ;))!

  3. BRILLIANT. That is all.

  4. This is so cool! I want to put one on my walls... for basically no reason except it looks awesome.