BTTV Brings Humanities to Life

It was the second week of September, and the 7th-grade English classroom looked like the set of a television talk show. Blue cloths adorned several tables, and carefully placed hardback books lined the floor-to-ceiling shelves. A group of 8th graders passed by, smiled, and quipped, “It must be time for BTTV.”

Book Talk Television (BTTV) transforms students into television journalists as they analyze the themes in their summer reading books and report out in the form of three-minute newscasts. Mr. Etigson, a 7th-grade English teacher as well as the middle school humanities department leader, explains the motivation for creating this project, “I wanted to find a collaborative and creative way for students to explore their summer reading. BTTV encourages students to actively engage in discussions about the big ideas in the books they read! Plus, they have the opportunity to show their presentation skills and ham it up.”

During the first two weeks of school, 7th graders practiced close reading by asking one of the members of the BTTV crew to select passages from their reading book and explain how they connect to the theme around which the newscast centers. 

Seventh grader James commented, “I liked how it really seemed like a real talk show.”

Another 7th-grade presenter noted, “I enjoyed the theatrical spectrum of the assignment.”

Imogene acknowledged that “being able to present in a group and collaborate on a script” brought BTTV to life.

Mr. Etigson summed it up, “Overall, BTTV sets a tone in the 7th-grade English classrooms for purposeful yet playfully creative projects, where students practice important skills in an engaging format.”