Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Where's the tech that would have REALLY made a difference here?

These are some great ideas for alternatives to traditional book reports. However, had the planning of these ideas included tapping the power and flexibility of simple, easy to use, COMMON technology, they could have been made much more satisfying and relevant to the students and infinitely easier to manage for the teacher in a number of ways... Seems to me that easy to use technology would have made a) doing the projects easier and given the students the sort of more professional looking products that would have further motivated and satisfied them (e.g. mining the web for images to 'collage' to create a poster, maybe with animations and links to reference sources - easy to do audio recordings would capture student verbal performances and be ready for playback on demand) - b) would have made storing the projects and the elements they are made from easier and neater, helped conserve space, and made it easier to give the students access to them. when they wanted to continue working on them - including, at home (storing projects as digital files is more efficient and practical than piles of paper, cardboard, scissors, glue, etc.) - c) would have made it possible to preserve,document, and save the projects, and (e.g. simple digital photos, teacher's or students' phone still or video cameras, etc. d) possible to share the projects with a broader audience (including parents) who would have been empowered to give feedback more practically (e.g. simple, easy class blog, etc.. Tutorials on how to do these things can be found on the web. 

From Scholastic online:

"Bringing Book Reports to Life
By Amanda Nehring on January 19, 2016

Traditional written book reports and story plot posters are a classroom classic, but over time they can get a bit redundant. Instead of using the same old reading response projects year after year, why not try a new, creative and crafty approach to student book reports? Whether you teach the elementary grades or middle school, these hands-on projects are sure to engage your students and bring their favorite books to life!

Storybook Dioramas

Storybook Dioramas

Remember the science fair shoebox diorama from your childhood? Storybook dioramas follow the same idea, but in place of the water cycle or rainforest habitats your students will bring a book to life with a three-dimensional representation of their favorite scene.
The first step is to encourage students to pick a book that fits your assignment’s criteria. In the early elementary grades ask students to read their favorite picture book or simple chapter book that addresses a central theme, like teamwork or perseverance. In the upper elementary grades have students choose a chapter book from a state or national award list. At the middle grades you could even allow your students to use the book they are reading in their small-group book clubs. It won’t matter if students select the same story because each child is sure to choose a different scene to portray in their diorama.
After students have read their selected story, they should begin by choosing one scene from the book that they consider to be memorable or important to the plot. Using a shoebox and their own endless creativity the students can work to capture the essence of that scene in a 3D display.
You may choose to have your students work on their dioramas in class with materials from your art center or assign the project to be completed at home. When my first and second graders made their dioramas we had such an impressive display of artistic ability, design creativity, and wide variety in stories: everything from Clifford to Baby Turtle’s Tale to I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie.
Once the dioramas were completed we turned our classroom into an art museum. The students set up their dioramas on their desks, along with a short museum tag to introduce their story and explain why they chose to portray the scene shown. We toured the museum as a class, giving each child the opportunity to briefly share about their diorama. To assess the students’ dioramas I used this rubric, which includes rave reviews from their classmates, as we toured the museum. The students loved reading what the other children had said about their stories.

Wax Museums

Student in wax museumPhoto by Julie LochenWax museums are another great way to give your students creative liberty in sharing what they have learned from an assigned book. This particular project lends itself well to biographies and autobiographies of important cultural and historical figures. First, allow your students to choose a grade-level appropriate biography of someone they find both interesting and important. Encourage students to pay special attention to the descriptions of how the character looks, feels, and acts. They can use this graphic organizer to help them as they read.
When students are finished reading their biographical texts they must work to bring their historical figure to life! Ask parents and community members to help your class put together costumes so students can get into character and become their chosen figure. Each child should write a short speech that will explain who they are and what their impact was on the world. You can even have students make buttons to hold so that visitors to your wax museum can press them, cueing the student to begin their speech.
Invite families, other classes, and even the community to come and explore your wax museum. The students will love getting to share what they have learned about their selected historical figure and the visitors will be amazed by the museum your class has created. 

Character Cans

Pigeon Character CanPhoto by Sandy LandvickThe fabulous third grade team at my school makes character cans each year and I am always amazed by what the students create as responses to reading. The students are asked to choose a favorite character from a book and transform an empty can into that character.
Inside the character cans the students must include six index cards with talking points to share about their story’s title, genre, information about the character, text to self connections, predictions about the story, and reason for selecting their chosen character.
Students love getting the chance to show off their adorable and creative character cans and talk all about why they love their book. Best of all, the character cans go in our school’s front entry display case for everyone to see and enjoy! It is always a memorable project and a great alternative book report.

1 comment:

  1. This post was very enlightening and quite nostalgic. In reference to the story diorama, I immediately thought of the various "storyboard" applications and websites available on the web. In order to take this diorama idea and implement it in a way that includes technology, students can read a book of their choice, select a memorable scene and create a free storyboard in which they are responsible for recreating characters, dialogue, setting and other elements of the plot. One great resource is: