Saturday, November 8, 2014

Skeleton Book Reports and a Freebie!

Hi everyone! Gina here from Third Grade Tidtbits Teaching With a Touch of Pixie Dust. If you follow my blog you may have realized I change my name and design. Teaching a new grade (4th for those that aren't aware) I decided I wanted a blog name that was more "me" and less grade specific. And if you "know" me, you know pixie dust was a perfect choice. But enough about that, back to the point of this post...

Do you have your students complete book reports? Up until this year, I never did. For many reasons. But the main reason being that either students wouldn't do it, parents would do it, or the students who did in on their own had no help/support, thus not being quality. Imagine my surprise when I sent home a book report this month in my new school and every single student brought it back... and they were AMAZING.

Here is what happened... another teacher mentioned book reports. I said I never did them. She seemed shocked and made it seem as though I HAD to do them. Panic ensued and I had to figure something out FAST. I didn't want to do boring old book reports or the same things kids do every. single. year. Being that it was an October book report I knew I wanted something that was fall or Halloween-ish.

And I narrowed it down to two ideas... character pumpkins with a little more rigor added for my 4th graders, or a skeleton book report. I am sure you have seen (or maybe even done) character pumpkins. I was going to do those and have students complete a character analysis including character traits, motivations, how the character changed, and why. But I decided I really didn't want 12 pumpkins in my room.

So I went with the skeleton book reports. I had never done this before so I spent some time trying to find some images of completed projects to show my students. I didn't find EXACTLY what I was hoping for, but I came across something that was pretty good (a school had posted pictures on their site... no project description or anything, just the pictures). I was fine with them not having posted the project description because I knew what I wanted included in the book report, so I just had to figure out where the students would include each element of the report. So I got to planning it out.. and making a little diagram with basic shapes.

I also created a simple scoring guide and a letter to send home with students so that parents and students knew exactly what was expected of them from the start.

Students had a little under a month to complete the book report and were able to pick any book. I originally said it had to be fiction, but one of my students really wanted to use a book about Derek Jeter. I told him that as long as he could complete every element required that would be fine. And he did really well. Students have been presenting their reports a couple a day and I am just so amazed at how good they turned out.

The best part... students are finding more books to add to their want to read list. Any of the books that came from my book shelf, after students present, we put the book on the chalk tray. This way other students can grab the book to read it if they are interested. One of the books flew off the tray as soon as students were able to get out of their seats again.

I typically hate book reports. HOWEVER, I think I have changed my tune. I don't make them too difficult for students and I definitely don't make them difficult to grade. I am not too particular on how I grade them... I am an easy grader for these ones. And my students are jumping to get new books into their hands!

If you would like to use this with your class, you can click the image below to grab the 3 pages you will need. Feel free to use these pictures to show your students examples of finished products as well! And you don't have to use this ONLY in October. It would be fun any time... October, during the body systems unit, or just because you want to try something new for book reports!

Disclaimer: The reason I am not a picky grader on these is because I care more about the fact that the students were engaged in the comprehension of their book than I do about the "extra stuff". As long as the students do what I asked, how I asked, they are getting full credit for that part. The only place students are losing points is on spelling and/or neatness. And we are all loving it!

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