Fresh Ideas for Creative Book Reports
Tired of the same old book report formats? Do your students grumble every time you mention the words book reports? Spice up those old book reports with some new, creative ideas. Education World presents 25 ideas for you to use or adapt. In addition: Ideas for cyber book reports!
Are you a teacher who keeps saying "I wish I could find a way to make book reports more fun and interesting for my students"? Education World offers 25 ideas that might help you do just that!
In a recent posting to the Teachers.net Gazette, one teacher shared an idea that incorporates some of the basic ingredients of a good book report and sandwiches in a lot more fun!
Her idea: book report sandwiches!
The teacher commissioned a friend to draw slices of ham, tomato, and Swiss cheese; lettuce leaves; a layer of mayonnaise, and a couple of slices of bread. Then she photocopied the drawings onto appropriately colored sheets of paper -- ham on pink, tomato on red, Swiss cheese on yellow, etc. The sheets served as the ingredients for her students' book report sandwiches.
- On the top slice of bread, each student wrote the title and the author of the book the student had just finished reading.
- On the lettuce, the student wrote a brief summary of the book.
- The student wrote about the main character on the tomato slice.
- On the mayonnaise, the student described the book's setting.
- The student shared the book's climax on the Swiss cheese.
- On the ham slice, the student described the plot.
- On the bottom piece of bread, the student drew a favorite scene from the story.
Students stapled together their sandwich layers, then slapped their concoctions up on a bulletin board headlined "We're Hungry for Good Books!"
The project made fun out of what can be a pretty hum-drum activity. Even better, the bulletin board served as a menu for students who were ravenous for a good read. All they had to do was grab a sandwich to learn whether a particular book might satisfy their appetites!
Laura Hayden was looking for something to liven up book report writing for her students at Derby (Kansas) Middle School. One day, while exploring postings to the MiddleWeb Listserv, Hayden found an idea that filled the bill! Hayden challenged her students to be creative with the "Book in a..." idea, which she posted to her school's Web page.
After choosing and reading a book, each student selected a book report container. The container could be a plastic bag, a manila envelope, a can, or anything else that might be appropriate for a book. Students decorated their containers to convey some of the major details, elements, or themes found in the books.
When the containers were complete, students went to work on the contents of their containers. They were instructed to include the following:
- Questions Write ten questions based on the book. Five of the questions can be about general content, but the other five must require more thinking.
- Vocabulary Create a ten-word glossary of unfamiliar words from the book.
- Things Include five things that have a connection to the story.
The third and final part of the project was the student presentation. Each student presented a "Book in a" project to the class. In the presentation, the student explained the connection of the container to the story, conducted a show and tell about the five things, and then shared information about three of the book's literary elements -- setting, characters, conflicts, climax, or resolution.
If you've been working on other literary elements with your students -- foreshadowing, personification, or flashbacks, for example -- you might give extra credit to students for pointing out those elements in their books.
"I'm amazed at students' creativity in choosing a container and the 3-D objects they place inside," Hayden told Education World.
Why not challenge your students' creativity? Adapt Hayden's idea to fit your students' needs and skills.
Are you worried that some of the ideas that follow will be too much fun? that there will be too little emphasis on writing? Take a look!
- The ideas appeal to many different learning styles.
- Many of the ideas involve making choices, organizing information -- and writing!
- Most of the ideas will provide teachers with a clear idea about whether students actually read the book.
- And all the ideas will engage students, help make books come alive for them, and challenge them to think in different ways about the books they read!
If an idea doesn't include enough writing, creative (sneaky!) teachers will usually find a way to work it in use the idea to supplement or replace parts of favorite book report formats.
Descriptive writing. (Use this activity to supplement a class lesson in descriptive prose writing.) Have each student read aloud the best example of descriptive prose found in the book he or she is currently reading. The student should write a paragraph explaining why the excerpt is a particularly good example of descriptive prose. The paragraph might include some of the adjectives the author used to set the scene.
Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down. Each student writes a review of the book he or she just finished reading -- in the style of a movie review. The student concludes by awarding a thumbs up or thumbs down on the book. This activity could be even more fun if two students read the same book. They could plan a lively interaction, a la and Ebert and Roeper, about the book, which could be videotaped for all to see!
Character Trait Diagram. Each student creates a Venn diagram to illustrate similarities and differences in the traits of two of the main characters in a book just completed. (A student might elect to create a Venn diagram showing similarities and differences between the book's main character and the student!)
Surfing the Net. Where did the story take place? When did it take place? Each student surfs the Net to find five Internet sites that others might check out before they read the book so they will know more about the book's setting or time period.
Write a Letter to the Author. After reading a book, each student shares reactions to the book in a letter written to its author. If a student writes to an author who is still alive, you might actually mail the letter.
Sell It. Each student pretends to be a publicist for the book that's just been read. The student writes and then delivers a 60-second speech that will persuade other students that they should read the book. Writing and speaking persuasively will be especially difficult if the student didn't like the book. If that's the case, the student can share that fact after completing the speech.
Create a Card Catalog. After reading a book, a student completes an index card with information about the book. The front of the card includes details such as title, author, and date published along with a two- to three-sentence synopsis of the book. On the back of the card, the student writes a paragraph critiquing the book. Students might even rate the book using a teacher-created five-star rating system. Example: A five-star book is "highly recommended; a book you can't put down." Completed cards are kept in a card file near the classroom bookshelf or in the school library.
Interview a Character. Each student composes six to eight questions to ask a main character in a book just completed. The student also writes the character's response to each question. The questions and answers should provide information that shows the student read the book without giving away the most significant details.
Ten Facts. Each student creates a "Ten Facts About [book title]" sheet that lists ten facts he or she learned from reading the book. The facts, written in complete sentences, must include details the student didn't know before reading the book.
Script It! Each student writes a movie script for a favorite scene in a book just read. At the top of the script, the student can assign real-life TV or movie stars to play each role. The student might also work with classmates to perform the favorite scene.
Concentration. Each student will need 30 index cards to create a Concentration-style game related to a book just finished. The student chooses 14 things, characters, or events that played a part in the book and creates two cards that have identical pictures of each of those things. The two remaining cards are marked Wild Card! Then the student turns all 30 cards facedown and mixes them up. Each student can choose a partner with whom to play according to the rules of Concentration.
What Did You Learn? Each student writes a summary of what he or she learned from a book just completed. The summary might include factual information, something learned about people in general, or something the student learned about himself or herself.
Glossary and Word Search. Each student creates a glossary of ten or more words that are specific to a book's tone, setting, or characters. The student defines each word and writes a sentence from the book that includes that word. Then the student creates a word search puzzle that includes the glossary words. Students can exchange their glossaries and word searches with others in the class.
In the News. Each student creates the front page of a newspaper that tells about events and characters in a book just read. The newspaper page might include weather reports, an editorial or editorial cartoon, ads, etc. The title of the newspaper should be something appropriate to the book.
Create a Comic Book. Each student can turn a book, or part of it, into a comic book, complete with comic-style illustrations and dialogue bubbles.
Characters Come to Life. Each student creates life-size "portraits" of one of the characters from a book just read. The portrait should include a written piece that tells about the character. The piece might also include information about events, traits, or conflicts in the book that involve that character. Hang the students' portraits in a class gallery.
Prove It in Five Minutes. Each student gives a 150-second (2-minute) oral presentation in which he or she shares information about a book's plot and characters. The student closes the presentation by offering an opinion and recommendation about the book. Then students in the audience have 150 seconds to question the presenter about the book. If the presenter is able to prove in five minutes that he or she read the book, the student is excused from filing a written report about it.
Picture Books. After reading a book, each student creates a picture book version of the story that would appeal to younger students. The students can then share the picture books with a group of young students.
Resume Writing. As a tie-in to your career education program, challenge each student to create a resume for a book character. The student should include in the resume a statement of the applicant's goals and a detailed account of his or her experience and outside interests.
Character Trait Chart. Each student creates a chart with three columns. Each column is headed with the name of one of the book's characters. As the student reads the book, he or she can keep a record of the traits each character possesses and include an incident that supports each trait.
Theme Report. Challenge each student to select a concept or a thing from the book just finished and to use library or Internet resources to explore it further. The student then writes a two-page report that shares information about the topic.
Setting. To learn more about the setting of a book, each student writes a one-page report explaining how that setting was important to the story.
"Dear Diary." Invite each student to create a diary or journal and write at least five entries that might have been written by a character in a book just read. The entries should share details about the story that will prove the student read the book.
Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World® Editor in Chief
Copyright © 2009 Education World
Last updated: 11/22/2016
The Assignments screen is the fourth step/screen used in the 5 steps taken by most teachers when they create a new class. You should add at least one assignment before going to the next step.
The Assignments screen allows you to add, edit, delete and copy assignments. You can also use the "add and score" button to add and score an assignment at the same time.
Each category defined in the Categories Screen that does not have sub categories can have multiple projects or assignments associated with it. Each category you defined is available from the pull-down menu at the top of the form. Select the category you want then add, delete, modify, copy or move assignments in that category. If you do not see a category that fits an assignment you want to add, use the Categories Screen to add a new category before you add the assignment.
If your class has grading periods, all of the assignments for the currently selected grading period are shown. If your class does not have grading periods, you will see a "Only Display Current Assignments" check box below the Category drop down and if it is checked, you are only shown assignments that are due within the dates four weeks prior to and following the current date. If you check or uncheck the "Only Display Current Assignments" box, you need to click the Save button to make the screen redisplay the assignments that match your preference.
After you have finished modifying the assignment list, click the save button to update the list of assignments. You can then work on another category by selecting it from the pull-down menu.
REQUIRED FIELDS are indicated by red type
ASSIGNMENT FIELD DESCRIPTIONS
Assignment Name (required field)
The title of the assignment. For example, "Read chapter one" could be the name you give an assignment.
You can assign any number of points you want to an assignment. When adding a new assignment, the points column is given an initial default based on the value you specify in the My Account screen preferences section.
If you are like most teachers and do not weigh your assignments, the points you assign to each assignment have a direct impact on the students grade in the category because the students grade in the category is based on the total points they received out of the total possible points. Thus, an assignment with more possible points is more important to the grade in the category that the student receives.
TIP: If you have some assignments you want to keep track of that you do not want counted in the overall grades, put a zero in the points field.
Default assignment dates to first & last day of class
Elementary, Middle School, and High school teachers typically leave this box UNchecked. College professors typically check this box. If this box is checked, the system will default the Date Assigned to the first day of the class and the Date Due to the last day of the class when you are adding new assignments. Otherwise, the system will default the dates to the current date.
Enter the date the project was assigned.
Enter the date the project is to be completed.
The Extra Credit symbol ♦ is used in reports and screens to visually indicate which assignments are extra credit.
If you check the Extra Credit box, students that earn points for the assignment will get a boost to their grade. When the grading engine computes grades, the final computation essentially boils down to the number of points a student earns divided by the Total Possible Points. Points earned by students in Extra Credit assignments are not included in the Total Possible Points. Therefore, students that earn points in the Extra Credit assignments get a boost to their grade.
Extra Credit Example
Student X has turned in various assignments and has earned 700 out of 1,000 possible points (70%). Student X then turns in an extra credit assignment and earns 70 out of the 100 possible points in the assignment. The students grade is boosted to 77% because he has now earned 770 out of a possible 1,000 points.
If descriptions are not shown, you can make the screen show the assignment descriptions and an Edit link for each description by checking the "Descriptions" box and clicking save. Click the "Edit" link for an assignment to pop up a window that lets you enter a description of what the student needs to do in order to successfully complete the assignment.
If you use hyperlinks in your HTML code, make sure you have quotes around the URL parameters so MyGradeBook can pop up new windows when they are clicked.
If you want to include graphics from other web servers, please make sure the graphics are coming from a server providing https:// (Secure Socket Layer) access. If you link to pages that are not using SSL, teachers, parents, and students in your group will be shown messages repeatedly telling them that some of the content is unsecured.
Please note that the following are some but not all of the types of activities that are not allowed your in your HTML.
· You cannot include advertisements or promotions for products.
· You cannot link to commercial sites unless it is for educational purposes.
· You cannot perform cross-site scripting.
· You cannot include disparaging remarks in a custom header.
· You cannot include obscene, illegal, or libelous material.
If you decide to use HTML, make sure that you add a space after any "<" symbols that you do not want interpreted as an HTML tag. Please note that <body>, <form>, <head>, <plaintext>, and <html> tags are automatically converted to their textual representations. If they are not converted, these tags can cause problems when you or your students try to view the pages on which they appear.
Special note about pictures and teachers that use the Internet Explorer
This issue does not affect students that are taking quizzes.. This issue only affects teachers that use the Internet Explorer when they are creating, modifying, and taking quizzes via the "Take Quiz" link in the Quiz tab menu. If you are going to include pictures in your quizzes and you use the Internet Explorer web browser, you should store your pictures on a web server that supports SSL and use https instead of http for paths to your images so you can avoid the security warnings that the Internet Explorer will show you when the main page is accessed via https but the images are not. If you must use the Internet Explorer and your school does not have a web server that supports https or will not allow you to store your images on it, you should remember to click "NO" when the Internet Explorer asks you if you if you only want to view secure images.
Add and Score
The "add and score" button is displayed whenever you have a class and category selected. Clicking the "add and score" button takes you to the Scores by Assignment screen which lets you create and score a single assignment in one screen. The Scores by Assignment screen has its own "add and score" button so you can keep adding and scoring assignments without having to jump back and forth between the Assignments and Scores by Assignment screens.
When you click the add button, a new page appears that lists 5 empty assignments. Enter the information for the assignment(s) you are adding and click the save button. You can use your Tab key to quickly move to the next field and Alt-Tab to quickly move to the previous field. In addition, you can press the Enter key instead of clicking the save button.
Click in the check box to the left of the name of the assignment or assignments you want to delete. If you decide you do not want to delete a assignment, or have clicked on one by mistake, simply re-click the check box click the cancel button. Once satisfied with all you deletion selections, click the delete button.
After you click the delete button, a confirmation window opens that lists the assignments you selected for deletion. Select either to keep the assignments or delete the assignments.
If you have multiple classes that use the same assignments, you can save time by checking the boxes next to the assignments you want to copy and clicking the copy button.
After you click the copy button, you see a list of all classes that have not ended more than 45 days ago which contain a category with the same name as the category you are currently using. By default, all of the classes are checked. If you want to copy the assignments to all of the classes, just click the copy button. If there are any classes that should not receive a copy of the assignment, uncheck them before clicking the copy button.
Check the boxes next to the assignments that you want to change to a different category and then click the "change category" button. You will see a selection list of the other categories for the current class. Select a new category and again click the "change category" button.
EDITING AN ASSIGNMENT
Select the word in a field you want to change and type in the new value.
You can update as many fields as you want by repeating the process or tabbing between fields and making changes.
Click the save button to update your assignments.
You can modify the display options by checking or unchecking the options you want and clicking the save button.
- Only Display Current Assignments - This option is only shown if your class does not have grading periods. If this option is visible and checked, you are only shown the assignments that are due sometime within the four weeks prior to today's date and four weeks after today's date. Using this option generally displays fewer assignments which makes the screen display faster.
- Descriptions - If this option is checked, you are shown and can edit the descriptions for each assignment.
- Sort By Order Created - If this option is checked, the assignments will be displayed in the same order in which you added them. If this option is not checked, the assignments are listed in descending date due order.