Reflection: Alternatives to Traditional Written Book Reviews

Teachers, are you getting tired of reading the traditional written book review? Are your students getting burned out on writing book reviews? Do you want to keep reading goals alive in your classroom?

As a sixth grade ELA and Reading teacher, I would answer “yes” to all of those questions. As a result, I’m always looking for ways to assess my students’ reading in new ways. However, it is not always easy to do. I began this year by having the students complete a book review worksheet that I found @
http://www.readwritethink.org/files/resources/printouts/BookReview.pdf. Now, for a time my students did great with it, but after several weeks it got a little tedious, and I could tell their spark for reading was waning.

So, I decided to add in some options. I created a choice board with different options that the students could choose from, which also included a rubric. The choice board can be printed off @
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4DhsZMkPIN7emNQd0FmZWUyUEdBVmJYSDJFUnIxTjM5eFBJ/edit?usp=sharing.

The students had two weeks to read their book and complete the book review option outside of class. I gave students some time during class to finish due to the need for technology.

I must say that so far, I am pleased with the results. The options engaged all levels of students, and it was fun for me to experience their books in different ways, too.

Take a look at what my students created:

Book Trailers: Check out the following book trailers, not bad for first timers!

“The Pro Football Guide”
http://animoto.com/play/syw59DMq13doWyl9iB5cug
“The Forest Of Hands And Teeth” http://animoto.com/s/6liqhMy9LWn0RVqg06hSlg
“Heat” http://animoto.com/s/ehYhUoZwaCA9HPWI7Az5eQ
“Copy of Guinness World Records 2009” http://animoto.com/s/eszgJg7pZC7hrc5IGALoUA
“Warriors” http://animoto.com/s/z3T88YrKQfCZk1gyshW15Q

Plays: I had several students write a play based off their novels. They made props, and added several touches to it outside of class! I was thrilled that they took the time to add those extra touches without being asked. Also, many typed and made copies of their play, so that every actor had a copy. I did not require that, but they were ready, and made it their own.

Blogs: The students also blogged about their reading on their personal blogs@
 Mrs. Farmer’s Brave Writers  http://kidblog.org/MrsFarmersBraveWriters-2/

The students and I had a great time with this, and they loved having choices. They couldn’t wait to explore the different websites, and create using technology. All this enthusiasm is exciting. However, trying to navigate choice in the classroom is not easy on the teacher. I was pulled in a thousand different directions, answering a thousand different questions, which was taxing. On the other hand, the purpose of this lesson was to experiment, stretch, and explore new approaches. So, from this point I will tweak, and see where we can improve for next time.

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