Monday, January 6, 2014

Talking About Books

20 Day Blogging Challenge, Day #4:  What's one thing you did with your students that you will or will not do again?

We started back to school on Thursday and Friday, but we are home again today.  It is freezing out there!  It is -12F this morning with a feels like temperature of -37F.  Brrrr!  We are all safer and better off at home.  During the two days we did have back at school, we did some "Book Shopping" in our classroom library, and I held reading conferences with students during small group reading time.  I wanted to find out what reading, students were doing over vacation.  I had students give impromptu book talks to tell others about the books they were reading.  It's a good way for me to assess what kids are doing, and as an added benefit, it lets kids hear about new books they may wish to read in the future.

During the month of December I had students present a more formal book talk to the whole class.  I have been trying to offer my students more choices when possible, so they could choose between three options for presenting their book talk.  They could write a blog post on their Kidblog, and present that to the class.  They could use Keynote on the iPads to create a presentation, or they could make a poster and present that to the class.  I just started using Keynote myself recently, so I modeled it's use by creating slides for math as well as reading activities.  I did that as part of the instruction, and talked about how it worked as I went.

I was very curious to see how many students would choose technology over pencil and paper, or in this case, crayons, markers, and poster board.  As it turned out, the largest group chose the poster, but the second largest group were those who chose Keynote.

Whichever presentation method they chose, they all were required to talk about the basic story elements of characters, plot, conflict, resolution, and theme.  Our first step was to use this form, to organize our thinking. Over the course of the month, 2-3 students presented their book talks each day.  Let me just say, they were awesome!  I was particularly impressed with their use of Keynote.  Students used the iPad camera to add photos of the book cover, photos from the book, and in some cases, drawings they had created from the book.  I had a couple kids, who are often reluctant to share during class discussions, that really took off with this.  It was a great way to hear more about the books the kids are reading.  Since that time I have seen other students reading some of the books that were shared through those book talks. This is a project I will definitely try again.

How do you get kids to talk about the books they are reading?

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