10 Technology Enhanced Alternatives to Book Reports
Kelly Tenkely | Teaching.monster.com
The most dreaded word in school reading for students: book reports. Teachers assign them, viewing them as a necessary component of assessing reading comprehension. Book reports can be a contributing factor to ‘readicide’. “Read-i-cide n: The systematic killing of the love of reading, often exacerbated by the inane, mind-numbing practices found in schools.” http://stenhouse.com/html/readicide.htm. So, how can we as teachers continue to monitor our students understanding of reading material without killing the love of reading? Enter technology. Technology can help bring some excitement and creativity to the traditional book report while still displaying students understanding of reading.
1. Let students create a cartoon version of the book they have just finished.
Use a tool like Creaza http://creaza.com, Piki Kids http://pikikids.com, or Kerpoof http://kerpoof.com to inject a little fun into the book report. Students can create a short cartoon or comic strip summarizing the book they just read. Encourage students to include key characters from the book as well as the problem and solution. If there are no appropriate background templates to fit the book they have just finished, students can tell the story in the form of an interview between two characters or choose a cartoon character to review the book. This alternative to book reports is particularly appealing to boys who are already excited about graphic novels.
2. Let students create a short video clip about the book.
Creaza http://creaza.com, Kerpoof http://kerpoof.com, and Xtra normal text to movie http://xtranormal.com are all great online tools that allow students to create short movie clips. Students can create an interview type show where they interview characters in the book, create a short movie trailer for the book, or actually have characters act out portions of the book.
3. Create a virtual poster advertising the book.
Think about movie posters, they give just enough information to give you a taste of what the movie will be about. They also contain information such as the title of the movie, the major actors, and a rating. Students can use Glogster http://glogster.edu to create an online book poster that acts as an advertisement for the book they just read. Students should include the title and author of the book, key characters, use pictures that support the story line, and create a tag line that will make others want to read the book.
4. Encourage students to create their own virtual bookshelves with Shelfari http://shelfari.com.
Shelfari is not only a great alternative to book reports, it is also a nice alternative to reading logs. Shelfari allows students to display books that they have read on a virtual bookshelf. This site enables students to connect with other students and teachers, sharing book recommendations and reading reviews. Shelfari provides the ability to create online book clubs and discussions. Inspire students with similar interests to start a book club where they read and discuss together. When students finish reading a book they can add it to their bookshelf, rate the book, and write a short review of the book for others to read. The collaborative component makes it easy to keep up with what students are reading and to measure understanding. It also allows teachers to recommend books to students based on what they are currently reading. This is a great way to keep your students engaged in their reading and ensures they will always have great suggestions for new books to keep them reading.
5. Book Adventure http://bookadventure.org is an online reading motivation program.
Teachers create student accounts on Book Adventure. In the student account students can research books based on their reading level, age, and interests. They get a convenient printable list of books that match their level and interests. The list includes the ISBN, Title, and author. This makes it easy for students to head to the library and hunt down new reading material. After students have read a book, they can log onto their Book Adventure account and take a 10 question multiple choice quiz based on the book they read. Students can take each quiz multiple times and must get 8 or more questions correct to earn points to purchase prizes from the Book Adventure store. Each students score is automatically sent to the Book Adventure teacher gradebook along with the number of times the quiz was taken. Students earn and save up quiz points to purchase fun goodies from the Book Adventure store. Students can get everything from a 6 month subscription to Highlights magazine to a chocolate bar from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. This is a completely FREE program for students and schools to participate in. Book Adventure has a great teacher area with ideas for encouraging reading as well as certificates to print out to recognize good readers and notes for parents with the students latest reading progress.