Teaching for 15 years makes a teacher wise. As teachers, we are always looking for ways to make our students' time in the classroom the most meaningful and productive. Like you, I don't have a moment to waste with my instructional time.
Novel reading is something I want my students to fall in love with and look forward to every day! While we read numerous whole class novels, students also read books independently. When I am not working on a novel with them. I want them to reflect on the text and rather than complete some sort of report or typical reader response questions, I want them to extend their thinking and be excited to share what they have learned from their self-selected reading books.
As a language arts teacher, I have spent countless hours hovering over pages of different novels in hopes of finding the perfect tales to engage my students and make them enthusiastic readers. I want them to reach the point in each novel where putting the book down is the hardest challenge they face.
With this expectation, my students complete novels at completely different times. I need learning tools that my students can have at the ready to work on when they have completed their texts to showcase and highlight their reading and comprehension. What I don't need them to do is take a test or complete a book report, where they relay literal information that tells me nothing more than that they may not have scratched the surface of thinking thoughtfully or or engaged with the text.
So what do I do to engage students and encourage them to share about the books they are reading? I have them consider and focus on high-interest end of novel projects. Here are a few tried and true ideas to share and implement with your student readers. These projects can be completed after finishing whole class novels, books in reading groups, and fictional selections used for self-selected reading.
Idea #1: Character Dress-Up Day
Whether you are studying fiction or biographies, students LOVE the chance to dress-up as favorite characters or significant individuals they have read about. Take the dressing-up a step further with students and allow them the chance to stay in the role of the characters for the duration of class. What says, "I know everything there is to know about this character" more than taking on their persona for an extended period of time?
Idea #2: Book Trailer Movie
Did you know that you can easily use Windows Movie Maker to create mini-movies with your students. Even if you are overwhelmed by technology, you can easily assist students in creating video book trailers based on the stories they have completed using your classroom desktop computers or your school computer lab. Students will read a novel and determine the fictional elements of their story, upload images, add their own words and narration, and create a fun snippet to entice their classmates to read their books. Take a look at this example...
Here is a 5-minute tutorial so you can coach your students through the process...
Idea #3: Books in Action:
Did you realize students LOVE to perform? Any chance I give them to be a focus of the class, my students will rise to the occasion. A few ways I encourage their acting skills is by allowing them to act out a favorite scene from their story. This involves writing a short script and allowing that script to be performed in front of peers. The performance can also be recorded with student iPads and turned into a movie using Windows Movie Maker. The possibilities with giving students peforming roles is endless.
Idea #4: Novel Theme Park:
My students are obsessed with amusement parks and thrill rides because we live very close to Kings Island, a local amusement park. The idea of coming up with rides based on characters and events that took place in a story, is a high-interest end of book project for my students. Drawing and carefully mapping it out involves great reflection and detail. These are Hunger Games Theme Parks the students completed after reading the novel. My students had so many thoughts about characters and elements of the setting, that their projects reflected incredible detail. Determine what criteria for the theme parks you want students to include and they will be thrilled to create your vision.
Idea #5: Book Review Flip Book:If you are looking for a way to really assess student comprehension as well as encourage students to share about the different elements of the fictional novels they have read, this Book Review Flip Book is the perfect resource. Not only are students determining whether the book is a worthy read for another classmate, but they are reflecting on other reading literature components like summarizing, plot, and theme.
With projects like these, students won't be able to wait to share about what they have read! While it takes a bit of organizing and planning, high-interest projects help students feel accomplished, prideful, and enthusiastic about the books they have completed. ...then they won't want to STOP reading! A teacher's dream! Happy Reading!