Cure for the Book Report

If you are a Language Arts/English teacher you know the book report drill. Student reads a book and then regurgitates the back cover in an elaborated form to turn in to you at the end of the month. As painful as these are to grade, they are even more painful for kids to write. When I think about the low level of engagement and thinking involved in such an endeavor, I have flashbacks to this scene with one of my favorite movie characters. In addition, what learning is actually happening with such an activity? I still make the kids read a book of their choice and teach a reading strategy for them to use. I instruct them that they will need to demonstrate their use of that reading strategy in some final end product. I give them no indication of what that final product has to be. This week my students were working on the final touches on their products. The reading strategy was using sensory images and this is what they are doing in place of a traditional book report:
• A play-doh claymation video using digital camera and MovieMaker

• A PowerPoint and a Prezi

• A movie trailer using digital camera and MovieMaker

• A play using sock-puppets and various “small” props

• A trifold board/scrap book combo with orginal pictures and content created using

• A diorama of a mansion with each room depicting one of the senses

I urge you to try to get out of the box and let your students use their creativity. Remember that the evidence of learning is what is crucial, not what the evidence looks like. Here is a sample/test book trailer that students did earlier this school year.

1 comment:

Elizabeth-Lewis said...

I really like all of your creative ideas! However, I disagree with you about the virtues of the traditional book report. Due to technology, much of our writing has become very informal. Emails, texting, blogging :), etc. have forever changed our writing style. I am concerned that the well-developed, thoughtful essay has become a thing of the past. I find this to be troublesome, as many students simply do not know how to write a formal paper anymore. Sure, creativity is a good thing. However, our ability to communicate effectively through the written word requires a solid background in the fundamentals of writing formal essays, too. Please, consider bringing back the occasional book report assignment!