Sunday, November 15, 2015

Nonfiction Book Report Alternative: Making a Flip Book

I have never been a fan of the traditional book reports from way back when I was in school. You know the ones: write an essay, write a paragraph, chapter summaries, write answers to questions, etc. They can be very dry and let's face it, boring.  Instead, I am very vigilant about hooking readers and helping to sustain and increase their love for reading. Even before I read Kelly Gallagher's book, Readicide, I was very much aware of how we as teachers can kill a love of reading by assigning a barrage of worksheets and assignments to complete during and after reading.  It's something that I am very passionate about and have been over the course of my 26 year career. 

 Now that I am a homeschool mom to a 3rd grader whose love for reading is precarious at best, I have to be careful not to kill his new-found affinity for reading. However, just as I stated in the picture at the top of this post, I still have to hold him accountable for his reading, including his independent reading, our instructional reading, and the read-alouds I do everyday.  Just like when I was in the classroom, I allow him to have choice (within reason) and alter the ways in which we interact with a book as well as allowing for different ways for him to demonstrate his understanding. 

I do not assign lengthy packets for him to complete at the end of each book he reads. What I don't want to do is to kill the reader with 50+ pages to complete analyzing and dissecting every part of the story/book. Nor will I assign a plethora of questions for every chapter. Instead, I have a focus, what used to be called "teaching points" for each text he reads- whether it is a chapter book, picture book, a short reading passage, a nonfiction book, a content-area reading, poem, etc.  My first priority is to make sure he can demonstrate a deep understanding of the text (not necessarily all of the text). Sometimes I can accomplish that with having him write a response or two.  I realize that I am in the minority here and that many of you may disagree or may have your hands tied as to what and how you teach. But, this is what has worked for my students in general over the last 20+ years and is working in homeschool.

For this blog post, I chose to focus on nonfiction because just like other boys his age, my son loves to read nonfiction that interests him.  So, for the last month or so, he has been reading a lot of nonfiction for independent reading.  He is enjoying the "Who Was..." series and just finished Who Was Milton Hershey? ( a perfect choice to conclude our chocolate unit!). I also chose to focus on "book report" options for independent reading in htis blog post because this is our focus in homeschool ELA for this 2nd marking period. 

Remember the teaching points I referenced earlier?  When determining what after reading activity I want my son to focus on, I think about two things.  First, I think about why I want him to complete an after reading activity.  Is it to showcase his learning?  Demonstrate his understanding of the reading?  Have him extend his reading and learning by interacting with the text at a deeper level?  Second, I think about what the natural teaching points of the text are.  What aspects of the text are just "begging to be explained, shared, or discussed?". And just like in the classroom, believe it or not, time is a factor too when homeschooling. How much time can I allot to this activity?

Based on the answers to the above questions, I present a menu of activities from which my son will choose one. I do not assign an activity for each book he reads independently.  Sometimes he reads just for the pure enjoyment of reading. At his current rate of reading (2) books a week, it would not be feasible for him to be completing activities for each book he reads. At other times, I determine the after reading activity. Sometimes, we have a brief, informal discussion and at other times, he completes a more involved project, which I can integrate with other content areas and most likely with "specials" such as art.

A few of the activities that my son enjoys...

Nonfiction Book Report Alternatives
  • Discussion of what was learned, new information vs information that was in his schema, interesting information, questions he still has, why he did or did not enjoy the book.
  • Completion of a graphic organizer- Click here for free organizers.  I especially like the 3-2-1 Strategy. Also, check out the organizers on the Florida Center for Reading Research site.
  • PowerPoint, Glog, or Prezi presentation
  • Art project related to the text
  • Completing a foldable or interactive notebook type activity that can be glued into his reader's notebook

I found this Make a Flip Book tool from the Read.Write.Think website. See here for an overview of this online tool and lesson plans that use the Flip Book. Students can type and print, or you can choose the template you want and print.  Then students can draw (or use clip art like I did since I am artistically challenged!). You can also choose how many tabs you want.  I chose (6) for my example, but my son is only doing (4) since we are crunched for time. This flip book is so easy to make!  Once you print, there are lines where you cut and lines for where to staple. It's so easy that even I could do it!

I created a sheet to complete (in the picture below) before using the online tool.  I used the book featured in the picture below as my model/example.  As a side note, this book makes such an interesting read-aloud for Thanksgiving!

Click the picture below if you want to use this 2 page form I created to be completed before using the online flip book tool.

Graphics by Graphics From the Pond and KG Fonts

The completed flip book....

Inside the book...  I glued and then later colored the clip art. At the top, I wrote the topic/main idea of the book I read.

Here is an example of how you can print a page and then write information on the page instead of typing.

My son loved the idea of creating this flip book because he could do some typing and drawing. He chose this activity and is still working on his product. I loved it because it allowed him to really think about his reading and learning, it was something he was interested in, it integrated art which really motivates him, and it is FREE!

What nonfiction book report alternatives have you used?  Have you tried out this Flip Book tool?  Leave a comment and tell me all about it!

I'm linking up with HoJo's Teaching Adventure.  Click the pic below to visit the linky for some fabulous ideas for your elementary classroom!

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