Book Project Book Selection

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by otterpop, Oct 4, 2017.

  1. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    Oct 4, 2017

    If you were assigning a book report type project (say, a diorama), do you think would be better to assign a specific book, assign a genre, or let students have free reign on book choice with possibly a few qualifiers like minimum page numbers?

    I've assigned genres in the past to get students reading new things, but overall I also just want them to love to read no matter the genre. Therefore, I'm not sure what the best route to take here is. What do you think?
     
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  3. rpan

    rpan Cohort

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    Oct 5, 2017

    Putting myself in the shoes of a student, I'd love for the teacher to let me have free reign on my choice of book and genre. Reading a book or genre you dislike will definitely put someone off reading rather than cultivate a love for it. I loved reading crime/mystery books (Famous 5 then Sherlock Holmes) as a kid and now I love reading James Patterson. There are certain genres e.g. Fantasy, I didn't enjoy as a kid and still don't enjoy as an adult, even though I do love reading. No amount of enticing could make me read the chronicles of narnia as a kid and as an adult I have no inclination to read Harry Potter or read or watch game of thrones. I know I am the exception.
     
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  4. MsMar

    MsMar Fanatic

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    I think choice is a better way to go, but at the same time it is good to expose them to different genres. I don't have my students complete projects with their books. Instead they need to complete a written response for every 50 pages in a book, so for example a 217 page long Diary of a Wimpy Kid book would have 5 responses. They have a list of about 20 different prompts to choose from, they cannot just summarize the section. My students are in 6th grade and they need to read 650 pages each marking period. They need to read from two different genres each marking period. But if they need more than 2 books to hit the 650 pages then it's fine to repeat a genre. For your project assuming you'll do one each marking period, you could list 5 different genres each time and students can select from those options. Then change it around the next time so that the students will need to try a different one.

    I started the written response thing last year and overall it worked well. I prefer it to a project as it makes the students reflect on the reading while they are doing the reading. I know some of the kids fake their responses and don't actually read the book, but there's not much I can do about that, and I do believe the vast majority actually read it. And with a project you can still have the same problem, that the student doesn't actually read. Other than using class time for reading, I am not sure it can be avoided. Not that that was the point of your post, but it is a part of independent reading projects.
     
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  5. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    It depends on the project you are assigning. Not all genres will work with any project. If you are offering a choice on genre, I would also offer a choice on the project.
     
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  6. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    Concerning genre, I'd say it's an either/or decision; assigning a genre will expose the students to various forms of literature, but allowing free choice will encourage the students to read for pleasure. I find that students profit from projects such as dioramas. Most enjoy the project, and the brain connections, connecting art with literature for example, are beneficial.

    I'm not inferring opposition to assigned amount of pages, but I have observed some problems with that. Sometimes students try to find a book closest to the minimum number of pages; somehow, the thought that a page amount is assigned creates a reward/punishment scenario in some students' brains, and they work towards to assignment rather than the project and the fulfillment that is derived from reading. Another more serious problem that I've observed with assigned book reports, some students only read to complete book reports, no more and no less (Trelease, 1982; Kohn, 1993).

    At the elementary level, especially grades 1-4, I have problems with assigning reading levels to independent reading. I realize this goes against some research, but other research would support my thinking. 9 months of the year, students read to complete school assignments. If their level choices are restricted, then they possibly are avoiding much profitable reading material that might be of high interest to them. (The same problem can occur with genre assignments). For example, I see nothing wrong with a 4th grader, who is tested at a 5th grade level, reading Green Eggs and Ham, but that free reading choice might be avoided if s/he feels required to stay within a 4-6th grade level. Frankly, if I had a 4th grader compose poetry at the competency of Dr. Seuss, I'd be thrilled! But the opposite problem also occurs. Suppose this student became interested in a book from a more advanced reading level. Is that harmful? No, because her/his interest level might push the student to increase her/his reading ability. Another possibility that might occur, an elementary student might buddy read a more advanced book with an older sibling. Book report requirements might prohibit buddy reading and therefore this activity might end up being avoided.

    But if I might raise a counterpoint against my own argument, the possibility also exists that a student will deliberately choose the least challenging or fulfilling material. In that case, it might be best to conference with the student and encourage more advanced choices. But rather than assuming the students are eager to avoid reading and will try to lower the expected standards, I'd rather assume that they will become excited about reading and find fulfilling material to read. I'm thinking about my selection of reading as a kid right now. Had I been assigned pages, genre, and reading level, would I have chosen to read books on science experiments, books on magic tricks (which by the way eventually led one young relative into becoming a professional magician), James Whitcomb Riley poetry (which heavily influenced my own writing ability), Dr. Seuss, Black Beauty (if memory serves me correctly, it might have been above my reading level if I had been tested), Dr. Spock (yep, I read that when I was a kid), I even recall sitting on top of a pinball machine in the basement (my favorite reading seat) and reading the King James Version of the Bible(way advanced material for that age)--in other words I was exposed to a large variety of material that matched my interest.

    Sources:
    Kohn, Alfie. Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s Praise, and other Bribes. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1993.

    Trelease, Jim. The Read-Aloud Handbook.
    https://www.amazon.com/Read-Aloud-Handbook-Seventh-Jim.../dp/014312160X , 1982 (As I recall, Mr. Trelease offers some critical advice concerning book reports. He also provides interesting ideas for advertising reading selections).

    Miller, Donalyn. The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2009. (I seem to recall Ms. Miller addressing the possibility of needing to encourage alternative reading for students).
     
  7. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Oct 5, 2017

    If you have to limit the book selection, you might provide a list of ten books from which to choose. Allow for requests for other titles.
     
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  8. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I wouldn't let them have complete freedom when selecting a book. I'd set some limits like number of pages and possibly lexile level or AR reading level (or whatever your school uses). As long as they're selecting books of appropriate length and difficulty level, I think that they should be allowed to select a genre of their choice.

    I think it's also okay to nix certain genres or series if you want students to branch out a bit more. No graphic novels or no Wimpy Kid, for example. Then again, if they're selecting within an appropriate reading level, even a graphic novel or a Wimpy Kid could be the right choice for them.
     
  9. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    Oct 5, 2017

    It depends on what your purpose is for this book project. What are you hoping they'll accomplish?

    ^^In general, this is similar to what I was thinking, if your goal is to have them analyze high quality literature for something specific: give them choice, but out of a selection that you would be okay with. Again though, it depends on your purpose.
     
  10. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    Oct 5, 2017

    Usually, I have three goals: 1 - encourage students to read more (I've found having an end project means they're more likely to actually read); 2 - encourage students to explore different genres; and 3 - make sure they are actually comprehending the books that they read. In the past, requiring a genre like "historical fiction" has made kids try books they wouldn't otherwise have tried, such as the I Survived series. I've had students get hooked on new series because they'd just assumed previously they wouldn't like a certain type of book.

    I haven't really noticed that, but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen. My page number is usually pretty low, anyway, and mainly a way of making sure they're not choosing the easy reader books. Usually there's a big variety in the level, type, and size of books kids read. I also have to approve the books to verify they're at the right level for each student. I don't give specific parameters on that, but I also don't let a high student read a very low level book, or vice versa.

    Also, thanks as always for all of the research information!
     
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  11. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Oct 6, 2017

    I teach high school, but I focus quite a bit on independent reading. I allow them free choice, but I tell them it must be around their reading level. I put no other requirements on them, and that seems to have worked well.

    I do an author of the week each week where I tell them about the author and then read an excerpt. That has been a great way to expose them to new authors and ideas. I've had kids ask to check out that author's books after I feature him or her.
     
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  12. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    This is very similar to what I do with my Grade 7s. I give them lots of free choice, but caution them that, if they are constantly reading books well below their level, they aren't proving to me that they are able to read and comprehend grade level text (and that impacts their report card marks).
     
  13. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    I cut and pasted just one quote, but I'm writing in reference to several of the above posts. Although I wrote a differing opinion, I wanted to express my understanding and respect for the other opinions concerning workable procedures for book reports and independent reading. The nice thing about discussions on this forum is that it resembles listening to J. S. Bach, we have point and counterpoint working together. I might not always agree with other posts, but I always learn, and everyone's post causes me to think. In considering this, this morning, probably the most important direction for a teacher to take is what works best in her/his classroom. When I read teachers' posts on this forum, I'm impressed with the quality of teachers posting (including the above posters). Back to the OP, probably the main product that we're all working for and our various methods are producing is a student who reads, comprehends, and applies the skill of reading to her/his life.
     
  14. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Otterpop, at your grade level, I see nothing wrong with assigning genres. Many are still likely getting into books, and I daresay many wouldn't mind some directions regarding genres.

    Maybe this is the 2nd grade teacher talking, but I see it merely as "explore more books!" (kids: "yay")
     
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  15. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    If this is your goal, I would let them choose their own books. Then, during independent reading time, I would conference with them and gradually learn about the authors, topics and genres they enjoy. As I learned more about them as readers, I would begin making recommendations of other books they might enjoy and that might stretch them.
     
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  16. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    Oct 7, 2017

    :yeahthat::agreed:
     
  17. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    My team is doing book projects this year. We're requiring the genre be that which we are studying in class, as well as certain number of pages (which can be adjusted for below level readers). We're giving them a list of options for how they choose to present their information.
     
  18. Allie Andrews

    Allie Andrews New Member

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    Oct 12, 2017

    Personally, I think letting students read what they would like to read with a few qualifiers like the book type (novel, picture book, etc.) and teacher approval. As a student I never wanted to be told what I could and couldn't read and always enjoyed reading more when I didn't have to force myself to get though a book but to read it for enjoyment. When you want the students to complete a book project on that specific book then I think they would try harder and be a lot more interested in the project if they were to do it on a book they picked and liked!
     
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