I’m not a fan of book reports. I never have been. As a student who was forced to complete them I never found a purpose for them. As a teacher, I struggle with the same problem.
But recently the language arts consultant in my school division and I came up with a plan for book reports with a twist. Nothing fancy, but I thought people might be looking for another idea. It’s always worthwhile to share.
The digital age has brought us many ideas for book reports and reviews. People have done both video and audio reports and reviews. I have seen reports and reviews done live in classrooms as well as animations outlining books. I wanted something quick and simple. I wanted something that would serve as a review and something that others could access.
This brought me back to having a class website.
My class website runs on WordPress with a Buddypress overlay. This gives us the ability to make groups. I’ve also installed a plugin called Buddypress documents. This lets us make online documents that are associated with a group. Unfortunately, these documents can be associated with a specific group, so others can see them, but they cannot be worked on by multiple students at the same time. This plugin is not a replacement for google docs.
Starting at our Idea Hive classroom website, we have a group simply called Books. In this group, a few students have started talking about their reading and what they are reading. Inside of this group is a set of documents that are being created. Each of these documents has been created by a student and is a review of a specific book. Each of these documents follows a specific format, but, overall, they are meant to be a place for students to give others a quick look inside of a book. As well, using the settings that this plugin gives us, anyone can find and read the reviews that we are writing, but only the students who are part of the Idea Hive can leave comments about the books. Public and safe at the same time. As well, using our settings, other students who have read a specific book that a review has already been posted for can add their own information and thoughts to that already created review.
In the end, writing quick reviews that others can access, edit and add to is an assignment that has more purpose to me than traditional book reports that no one else sees but the teacher.
There are a lot of options out there for options, but this is one that works for us.