Sunday, October 28, 2012

The One In The Bag

If you are like me, you dread grading those long book reports that students dread writing.  

Surely there are better ways to assess a student's comprehension and understanding of a novel.  

I have come across several alternatives to the old school book report, but one of my favorites is the Bag Report.

My students just finished reading Jerry Spinelli's Loser.  The main character in this story is a little boy affectionately known as Zinkoff.  

I gave each of my students a plain brown lunch bag.

We called them their Zinkoff Bags.  I gave the students the option of decorating the outside of their  bags.  Some did.  Some didn't.  You could easily make that part of the assignment though.

Students were required to place six items in the bag that represented Zinkoff.  At least two of these items had to be    3-D objects.  The other four could be printed pictures, student art work, or anything else they could find.

Students also had to present their bags and items to the class explaining why they chose those items.

I also required them to turn a written explanation of each item.

I created an incredibly simple rubric.  I gave two points for each of the six required items.  Three points for each of the  3-D items and two points for each written explanation. 

Grand total of 25 points.

There were some items that every single student had in their bag and that was okay.

But there were also some very creative and unique items.  It is really neat to see how different students interpreted different parts of the book.

As a teacher, I could really see how much of the book they comprehended and understood.

It was such a fun way to wrap up a book.  Definitely better than listening to countless summaries of the book.    Quicker too. 

What are some creative ways you have your students do "book reports"? 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The One In October

I love Farley's Currently Posts.  Somehow I missed October's.  That just can't be.  So here I am playing along 11 days late.  I hope you'll forgive me.

If you haven't linked up already it's not to late. :)

The One With The Reading Chain

I posted this picture in this tour post.  

The poster in the top right corner with the pink edges is our genre poster.  Each color circle represents a different genre.  For example, dark blue is realistic fiction and yellow is historical fiction.  If you look closely you can see corresponding circles on the spine of the books.

This makes it easy for students to not only find their favorite genres, but it also helps them step out of their comfort zone if they are looking to try a new genre.

As students finish book they pick up a link in those corresponding colors to fill out.  The links are simply strips of construction paper.  I cut them so that they are 8.5" long.

 Students pick up a strip of paper corresponding to the genre of the book they just finished and write their name and the name of the book on the strip.  They then file the strip in a drawer for me.

After several strips have been completed, I create a chain to hang from the ceiling.  The idea is that by the end of the year my ceiling will be covered by a visual representation that my students read.  You can also clearly see 7th grade's favorite genre.  Right now it appears to be Science Fiction.

The chain should be much longer than this already.  I'm behind in putting the links together.  Students love knowing that they are links in the chain.  It builds community in my classroom as work together to build the chain.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The One With The Harry Potter Party

Occasionally I can be very stubborn.  There are a few things in life I refuse to do just to go against the grain.  Reading and watching anything Harry Potter related was one of those things until this school year.

I never really had a reason to not read the books or watch the movies.  I simply didn't want to.  This year I have G in my class. G is a big HP fan and immediately started trying to convince me that I needed to read the books.  I figured since I was challenging my students to step out of their comfort zone when it comes to genres, I probably should too.

I gave in and checked out the first book.  I read it.  I liked it.  I liked it a lot.

I've since read the second one and am planning to read number three soon.  When I received an email from scholastic saying J.K.Rowling was doing a webcast for students my interest was peeked.

It turns out it is this Thursday during my Pre AP English class, which G happens to be in.  Perfect.  I got in touch with our technology person and it looks like we should be able to do this.

The party planning began.  Any excuse for fun snacks.  I went to Pinterest of course and found several cute ideas.

I will be serving these Nimbus 2000s

Along with Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans (thanks to my brother).

We will also have the much needed wands.

Cauldron cakes & petit fours are a must simply because they are so yummy.  I'll post a picture of these soon.

To drink we will be having a special potion that changes colors when poured.  The color will determine your house since the Sorting Hat only works in Hogwarts.

My kids and I are super pumped about this.  I love a good party.