After spending the entire quarter reading through Percy Jackson, I wanted the students to show me they truly followed along to the book. We had not done any major projects in my class yet, so I thought finding a few to use as an alternative to a book report would be fun! I gave my students five options to choose from. Each project was worth a different amount of points depending on the difficulty.
- Students can get to express their creativity.
- Students become a little more excited about the book they read.
- Students have opportunities to collaborate with other students and work as a team.
- Students get to chose which project they do, increasing their interest.
- Students have the opportunity to judge what they are capable of and reflect on their decision after a grade is given.
- Five separate projects take much longer to grade.
- Five separate projects make it more difficult to manage the classroom during project week, and provides less structure.
- Five projects make it difficult for students to choose wisely because they are overwhelmed.
In the future, I would limit the amount of options the students have to two, no more than three. The great thing about teaching is I get to learn as well:)
I have listed the 5 projects below starting with my favorite project and leading to my least favorite project. I have given student examples, as well as provided links to the various tools or websites I found these project ideas originally. Let's get started!
Here's what I like about the comic book: It allows students to think about what their favorite scene in the book was and recreate the scene in comic form. It gives them the opportunity to draw out what they envisioned and practice their artistic skills. Less of a book report, it is a fun way to teach students about various types of media. Graphic novels are popular, and many authors have taken to recreating their books in graphic novel format to appeal to more readers. This project gives students an opportunity to do just that. They get to reinvent the wheel and add their own twist on it. Here is a link to the page layouts I used. I can't remember where I found these, so shame on me. My rubric was simple. I'll attach it here, but you could always reformat it to fit your needs. I also found some other tools I might refer to if I did this in the future. ReadWriteThink has some resources, and I found this rubric that I would rather use in the future.
I had my students look up their scene in the book and write down all of the dialogue. I told them to leave out any words on the page that were not in quotation marks. Their job was to write the dialogue in the speech bubbles on their comic book paper of choice, and then draw what the rest of the book had written. This activity also helps them think about how important word choice is and why descriptive writing is critical to helping the reader envision what is going on.
I really loved this project. I found this project from Got to Teach! You can visit this blog to find more information on the project, including the rubric which she offers for free. Steal of a deal!
A handful of students chose this project, about ten. This student allows for creativity and offers an opportunity to practice summarizing. This project was a lot of work - more than my students and I anticipated. Only one student received full credit on this project, and I'm not surprised he did.
What I like about this project is that it shows me they were paying attention while reading the book. It gives them plenty of opportunities to practice summarizing. I also love that they get to draw a picture of each chapter. This is a great way to prove to me that they read the book, as well as give me some insight on what the book was about.
If I was to do this project again, I would make it a project they work on over the course of reading the book, rather than after completing the book. This way, they have multiple weeks to work on it and they can complete each chapter at a time if they so chose. I would create check points to meet along the way. I think my students who completed this project would have been more successful if they had done it that way. Instead, my students underestimated how much time this project would take and wasted a lot of valuable time getting sidetracked during class. In the end, things were rushed and their work was clearly not their best.
I would love to try this again and assign it to the whole class as they read books in their literature circles. I could "buy" them from the students when finished, and use the matchbook summaries in my library to advertise books for reluctant readers. This could also be good opportunity for students to work in groups and have them revise each others work and turn it in as a group grade. Lots of options!
I liked a lot of things about this project. I loved the creativity involved, I loved that students were able to work with partners, I loved that students were challenged to think outside of the box and problem solve. I was incredibly impressed with some of the work I was given.
I found a great packet to help me structure this project. It required students to plan out what they want to do before hand, and provides a rubric for students to refer back to during the planning process. To access these materials, click here. :)
On the other hand, I did not like how difficult this project was to manage across the board. Some students were not prepared for this challenge. A lot of students were missing components. I disliked the drama amongst peers in groups. This is bound to happen in any group projects; however, I still did not enjoy managing the hurt feelings. I also don't feel like this is the best "book report" project. It shows me that they read the book, yes, but so much time is put into constructing the actual game and often students' work just didn't show me that they really remembered the book. Making a game is so creative that in turn it focusses ore on student creativity than retelling what they know.
Many of them made great trivia question cards, but in my opinion that is the meat of the project. I need to see that they remembered what they read. If I were to do this project again, I would increase the amount of points given for the trivia cards as well as increase the amount of cards needed.
Something to keep in mind: If you chose to do this project with your students, make sure to stock up on supplies. I hoped the students would bring most of their materials, while I provided basics; however, it appears that I will need to have many materials for them in order to help them be more successful next time.
I would have ranked this project higher on the scale if the program I use would be a little more reliable. It truly is a super cool program and the kids really enjoyed making the trading cards. ReadWriteThink is where I found this awesome tool.
I had been looking for an opportunity to use the trading card tool, and a book report seemed like a fun way to utilize it! I told my students to chose 8 characters (or items/places) to make a trading card for. The cards ask meaningful questions, and the students need to use their words wisely due to the limited amount of space on the cards. I focused more on grammar and spelling on this project than I did others because the bulk of this assignment is spelling. I could have had the students draw their image, but I allowed them to find one on the internet they liked and use that instead.
The dilemma: You cannot save and resume your work on these cards. The program makes it seem like you can do so, but you cannot. Either you cannot or I have yet to find a device that works well with the program. A student needs to start their card and perfect it by the end of the time they're given to work on it. I dislike that, because if we run out of time the student cannot fix mistakes they make if they discover them later. To combat this problem, students could type their answers in a google document and then paste them into the program later, when they've finished. It's a small hassle that would pay off in the end, I believe.
Another dilemma: Sometimes, when you send the completed trading card to your email, the file does not send correctly. In turn, you get an error message, or you are prompted to download a program to open it with. Even this does not work, and your hard work vanishes. This is why I had my students work on one card at a time. After they finished their card, they would email it to themselves and then begin a new card. This is helpful in case the file does not download correctly. They only need to redo/resend one card rather than all of them.
Even though this program causes problems, I think I would use it again in the future. I would provide a template with the questions they need to answer and have the students write their answers in a google document first and copy and paste later into the program. Still, that takes some of the fun out of using the program for the students. You win some, you lose some.
There is nothing wrong with this project, I simply wouldn't chose to do it with 6th graders or up. This project is much better for 2-4th graders, I think. This project did not challenge nor interest my students. Only a handful of them chose to do this project.
On the other hand, this project is the most "book report" like project I had them do. The students rated the book on a scale of 1-5, summarized, and described the main conflict and the main characters. They also have the opportunity to be creative by decorating the box, coming up with a fun name for the cereal, creating a game for the back of the box, and creating a prize to find inside the box.
Here is a link to the packet I used for this project.
Best of luck with your book report projects! Comment with some of your favorite book report ideas, share on Pinterest and follow my blog. :) Thanks for stopping by!