My middle school remedial reading students come to me with a wide variety of reading profiles, interests and needs. Yet one thing almost all of my students have in common is that they begin the year as students who have spent very little time reading. In order to combat this problem, our classroom book nook comes stocked with high-interest trade books, comfortable chairs, and posters beckoning students to sit down and read! With a little persistence (and, I’ll admit — sometimes a little bribery!), I’ve found that I can usually get my students reading.
The hard part comes once they’re mid-book. I want to hold my students accountable for what they’re reading, but I find it nearly impossible to have meaningful conversations or written dialogues with all 130 of them at once! This is where book projects come in. Book projects allow my students to share what they’re reading with me and their classmates, yet don’t take a ton of extra time and energy. Some projects my students and I are especially fond of include:
- Index Card Recommendations: After finishing a book, students write a mini-book recommendation detailing story elements, their favorite character/part, and who they think would benefit most from reading the book
- Book Talks: Similar to index card recommendations, but done orally in front of the class
- Book Soundtracks: Students create a soundtrack for their book, typically matching one song of their choosing to each chapter, including a sentence explaining their choice
- Cover Remix: Students re-design the book’s cover based on their own interpretation/feelings about the book
- Cast the Movie: Students assign people they know (famous or not) to play the roles of main characters from their book.
- Character Convos: Students choose a character from the book they’d like to talk with, and script a phone/text/in-person conversation with that character
- Test Making: Students write their own set of multiple choice, short-answer, and essay questions about the book
One of my main goals for book projects is that they need to be quick to for students to complete and for me grade — the goal is to give students a fun way to share what they’ve read, not to bog us all down with extra work. I’ve found that the projects above typically meet these criteria, particularly when students are given a choice of what to complete. They also serve to get students thinking — and talking! — about their books in new ways, which is always a positive in my book!
I’m looking forward to continuing the trade book conversation with you all this year, and hearing what you’re doing to increase independent reading excitement in your classroom!