Book reports have been popular in classrooms since the dawn of time.
Even fictional characters such as Opie Taylor have had to give them. They are often dreaded by students, but they are one of the easiest ways that a teacher can make sure that a student has read a book or that he or she has understood it.
Since these have been done since the dawn of public schools, many teachers are now seeking ways to make book reports exciting. This list will hopefully get your creative juices flowing so that you might change the face of book reports in your classroom.
Some students are very tech-savvy and enjoy creating with the use of technology. Other students, however, either do not enjoy technology or do not have access to technology. While this might hinder some students’ creativity, here are a few ideas that students can use with supplies that can be found at home or school.
1. Rewrite the ending
Did the book end differently than the student had hoped? Is the student an aspiring writer? Ask students to rewrite the ending to the book. What would they change? Why would they make these changes? They should explore the characters’ motivations for doing things differently. How do these new actions change the book? If it is a series, does it change later books if the ending of this book is changed? How? This will allow students to determine whether or not they understand concepts such as word choices, character flaws, and tropes. Can they improve the ending?
2. Create a movie poster
For students, like me, who are not artists, they may choose to clip photos from a magazine or other source in order to make the images clear. This need not be perfect. Students will need to explain why they created this particular image and they are not allowed to copy the book cover. They may use elements of the cover such as the font for the title or a similar background, but the majority of the image needs to be one they create. Aspiring artists may like this one better because they can showcase their skills rather than writing about something.
3. Write a scene from a sequel set twenty years later
If the book is part of a series that takes place over several years, this might not work. For example, the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series takes place over 5 or 6 years, so a scene from a sequel would need to make sense with the rest of the series. However, if you choose you can let them write a scene for a minor character set twenty years later.
4. Create a wardrobe for a character
Students can use items from their own closets or fashion from magazines that may be available. They have to be able to tell why the character might choose to wear those things. They should remember to include accessories like shoes, jewelry, bookbags, handbags, and jackets.
For these ideas, students may use some technology, but it should be technology that most schools or households might have available.
5. Create a soundtrack
Students could create a playlist of songs that might be the soundtrack to a movie version. They can use songs that they have access to in their personal libraries or that they hear on the radio. One alternative is that they create a CD or put those songs on a flash drive and bring them to school. Songs should primarily be school appropriate.
6. Create a diary for a character
Create a diary for one or more characters. This diary would express what they were thinking or feeling at different times in the book. The diary can be as simple as construction paper covers and paper insides and as elaborate as an electronic journal.
7. Interview the main character
Think about what you might ask the main character if you could. What would the answers be? Why do you think they might answer that way? This could be done with a partner, but the reader needs to have written the script for both characters. The interview could be recorded if the student chooses.
For students who have more access to technology or schools that might have more technology available, students can be even more creative.
8. Write and record a “hit” song from the soundtrack
Write a song and record it for the soundtrack. You can use any instruments you choose, and you may use any medium for recording the song that you like. Why did you write the lyrics or music this way? Musically inclined students will enjoy this one more.
9. Write a scene from a Broadway-style play
Write and record a scene from the Broadway play version of the book. What would the scene look like? Is this a musical? Are there other characters? The student may need to work as a team to do this. This is often best for a book that is popular in the classroom. This scene could be recorded using computers or phone technology.
10. Design a website or social media profile for a character or location in the book
If the book is about a fictional town, create a website or social media page for the town. You could also do this for the character. Students must use school appropriate themes if choosing to do this for a character. Characters should not have inappropriate content on their social media pages.
This list is just ten small ways that you may want to let your students alter their book reports. See if you can come up with more ways.
Keep in mind some students are great with movement and action. Other students thrive with writing and analyzing. Students should find ways that meet their educational preferences to demonstrate their understanding of texts. Any two students will likely have vastly different creative ideas. You might even ask what their ideas for new ways to do book reports might be. Be surprise to hear innovate ideas from the students!
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