Alternatives to the Dreaded Book Report

Rationale

There are plenty of engaging and authentic alternatives to the traditional dry book report that

  • foster student creativity

  • afford students choice and ownership of learning

  • promote digital literacy

  • encourage shared reading experience

  • and most importantly engage and excite students about books and reading


Here is an archive of #engchat May 23, 2011 "Ban the Book Report: Power of the Product"

Here are some my favorites:

Comic Strips

Use Comic Life software (or free online comic creators such as Creaza) or old-school (but still super fun) paper and colored pencils to create a comic strip of the book. Visual learners will appreciate the opportunity to think about the meaning of the story through graphic depictions of the characters, conflict, and settings. Comiclife pojects can be saved as .mov files or .jpgs for sharing on the web.

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Example Page from a Student Created Book Review of The Slippery Slope by Lemony Snickett

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The student scanned pictures from the book and also found images from the movie website. Students could also draw their own images, take pictures or scan them into .jpgs. Comiclife interfaces with iphoto for easy drag and drop.


Scratch Interactive Stories

Use Scratch, a free computer programming language created by MIT to create a digital, interactive book review. Students learn problem-solving and activate logical reasoning skills while developing their literacy. Projects created in Scratch can be created collaboratively online and shared.

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This is a screenshot within Scratch for a student project on Star Craft: Heaven's Devils by William C. Dietz.

Video Book Trailers and Book Talks

Use imovie (or a free online website such as Creaza) to create video book trailers and video book talks. There are many examples online available at Scholastic. Video book trailers and book talks may be shared on a school website or played on the school tv show.

Here is a video book trailer from the Scholastic.com website for Diary of a Wimpy Kid.



Websites

Use Weebly.com to create an interactive website. Weebly for Education allows teachers to create student accounts and to control privacy and publishing settings. Students do not need an email address to register.

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The website was created as a culminating project for a unit on mythology. Students worked collaboratively to develop a website around a chosen mythological figure. They remixed content and linked their sites to each others as they learned the complex web of connections between the gods and goddesses.
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Homage to an Author (pastiche)

Students pay tribute to an author's body of work and style through a remixing of a selection of the author's work or works to create a new work such as a poem, video, rap, etc. This is an example of a remixing of Langston Hughes's poem "The Weary Blues" accompanied by original music composed in Garageband.

The student also composed an original poem incorporating Hughes' style and themes.


Life-Sized Character Representations

Students represent internal and external character traits through a life-sized representation of the character and display them in the classroom for a gallery walk. While this is a low-tech option, our artistic learners may prefer to draw their own original work. Also, sadly, technology is not always available when we want to use it! This was a lot of fun as a group project and allowed artistic students to shine. Also, kinesthetic learners were free to move through the process of tracing the character and physically manipulating the materials to create the product. For another idea that does integrate technology, students can create character glogs using glogster which allow for multi-media and interactive features. My students incorporated their posters into glogs as a way of sharing their final products.



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Students working on their Life-Sized Characterization Representation. They used text annotations to identify examples and quotes to develop their character analysis.
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Life-Sized Character Representation of Uncle Bright Star from Dragonwings. Note that one student in our class helped the others incorporate Chinese characters into their products.