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Book Projects

Posted 12-31-2010 at 07:51 AM by imalith

When people ask how I differentiate for students I say, "book projects". To teach content effectively, book projects are fantastic. This year I have one book project per quarter.

Project 1: Biography poster. Students read a biography and create a poster about the subject. The learning objectives include research and inferencing. All students start with the same Thesis statement, "Is my subject a hero". On the poster they complete a paragraph expressing their conclusion of whether or not the subject is a hero, with evidence from their book to support their answer. We have discussions to define hero. I set up extra research and poster creation time in the library for about a week after the books are finished. We finalize with presentations and a final lesson in which students complete a gallery walk of the posters and "commend or challenge" the Hero paragraph on the poster.

Book project 2: PowerPoint of literary elements for action/adventure books. This learning objectives for for students to demonstrate understanding of character, setting, theme, point of view.

I think this project is unique because I make students find evidence in their books with quotes to support their answers. For example if a student determines that their setting is approximately 1980, they may find a quote in the story that evidences technology that was common in the 80's. "Bob played his 8 trac player while he listened to disco".

Book Project 3: This is my research report. Students choose a nonfiction book and create a research report. Biography scaffolds part of this lesson. In this case students have to create their own thesis statement in which they draw a conclusion about the subject. I have to help virtually each and every student determine their thesis or at least approve of their idea, because otherwise it can all go south. Students write an amazing introduction that will include an introductory strategy, usually anecdote or scenario. They will have 3 sections that help answer their thesis question and finally a conclusion in which they answer their thesis question.

Book Project 4: This project was new to me last year and I loved it. I found it on Proteacher and modified it to suit my class. Basically, it is like speed dating. Students read a book and create a persuasive oriented presentation to convince classmates to read the book. There are several required components, but the main requirement is that the presentation is persuasive.

The original project I hijacked from Proteacher had a rubric that focused mainly on creation of parts for the presentation. One of my students last year made me see the value in the oral presentation, so I've upped the rubric to grade mainly the persuasive presentation. I'll call this the "Josue effect". Josue was one of my students that does not produce much work. Handwriting is a challenge for him. He wrote almost all of his letters and numbers with his pencil starting in the front and working backwards. Of course, it is too late to break him of this habit, so we work with it. Anyway, Josue read his book and memorized an amazing persuasive presentation. He did not actually write down his persuasive paragraph. His presentation was so polished and amazing, that I am now grading the oral portion only. Some kids can write their ideas and read it, but the Josue effect is that some can just have notecards and oral presentations for the same grade.

As a human, not a stellar teacher, my favorite part of this project is that the grading is completed in one day. One exhausting day. This is how it works:

Half the class sets up their desks in a circle facing out. They sit beind the desk and prepare the desk like a presentation station. They decorate it with items related to the book and project requirements. Students have 3 minutes to present to one classmate. Classmates sit in chairs located in front of the desks. After the 3 minutes are up, the students switch by moving one chair to their right. As we circle around I'm in the mix with the rubric. I grade students during their 3 minutes. After the first half of the class is done, the next set up. I grade them as we go along. So very fun!

Those are my book projects for the year.
Posted in Teaching Related , Reading , Writing
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