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We are in the second week of our “Read Across America” series, where we celebrate this motivational reading awareness program to encourage every child in every community to develop a love of reading. If you missed part one of this series, we investigated five excellent strategies to get your kids reading at home. You can find that post HERE. This week, we are offering alternatives to one of the most contentious practices in classrooms today – the book report!

 

Coming from somebody who has developed into an avid reader in my adult life, I am in full support of any and every way we can get our students to read. And (as is evidenced by this current post), I enjoy writing as well. So, you would think of all people, I would appreciate the well-defined structure and process of a book report. But let’s be honest, they’re terrible! Students find them boring and useless, and teachers find them burdensome and muddling. If only there was another way to achieve the results of a book report (showing a fully-developed understanding and application of the assigned text), while changing its presentation? Here are five techniques to bring your next book report to life, and how to connect that with a student’s learning style.

 

  1. Record a Podcast

Every student has a unique learning style. While some may feel comfortable using an intrapersonal (solitary) learning style to write a standard book report, most students need an alternative. For your auditory/musically inclined students, a podcast is an excellent substitute. Simply provide a set criterion of content you want your students to cover in their podcast and let them do the talking! For Apple products, we recommend using GarageBand, and for Microsoft we recommend Voice Recorder. Both programs are user-friendly for recording and editing and make it easy for your students to email you their finished podcast!

 

  1. Make a Scrapbook

Have a student who can’t sit still during a lesson, or who needs a little help staying focused? A book report for students with a physical learning style is the equivalent to watching paint dry. Try having them make a scrapbook instead! By creating original “memories” from the story, they will not only display their comprehension of the title, but also begin to explore the tone and purpose behind the story as well. Make sure to set specific criteria you want covered in this scrapbook for a fair evaluation of the project.

 

  1. Interview the Main Character

Albert Einstein once said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” This is exceptionally true for students with a verbal learning style. These students will fully grasp the concept of the lesson only when they are able to verbalize the idea through a discussion. An excellent alternative for these students is to have them create a video where the main character is being interviewed about his experiences in their story. This interview not only assesses the student’s understanding of the story, but also helps them process the information in a more meaningful way. Check out this post from “Free Tech 4 Teachers” to find various free platforms your students can use to create and publish their interviews.

 

  1. Create a Commercial

One of the most difficult learning styles to introduce to a lesson is the social learning style. With the high propensity for a discussion to go off-the-rails, a socially charged learning environment can be difficult to manage. One alternative for these social learners is to have them create a commercial. This commercial can either be a short “advertisement” convincing their fellows students to read this book, or an artistic video highlighting the major themes and discussions in the title. Either way, this project will allow these social learners to work with their peers and share their project with others. By placing the “burden of learning” upon these social students, you will turn a potentially chaotic learning environment into a memorable project.

 

  1. Storyboard It

There’s a reason why film directors and producers storyboard a scene before it’s shot. By and large we are visual learners, and a storyboard helps us to picture the action and assess the accuracy of the images being portrayed. By having your students create a storyboard, they will have a greater evaluation of the plot, along with a more refined understanding of the meaning behind the words. Want to take it to the next level? Take a look at this free online storyboard tool from StoryBoardThat!

What alternatives have you found most effective for bringing the book report to life? Share your story with us @edvergent and #iTeachDigital!

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