What are our objectives when using literature in the classroom and curriculum?
To help you people find books that will be meaningful to them.
To help young people develop the habits of good readers – active readers – who make meaning of words on the page and take an active stance while reading.
Emphasize gender-fair and multicultural resources and the attitudes, interests, problems, and opportunities of young adults in contemporary society.
This summer I have gone on a young adult book binge and I am currently rethinking some of the book assessments that I offer to my students. I believe that teachers need to be interacting with young adult literature on a regular basis to explore current publications, revisit favorites, and discover new and renewed ways to connect young readers with books. I strongly feel that teachers need to create options for students in assignments and culminating assessments. Projects should promote authentic learning and writing for real purposes.
Below are three different book assessments I have had my middle school students complete in lieu of a test to show me their reading and understanding of an independent reading text.
1. Bookseller’s Day – Hold a bookseller’s day in your classroom where each student will try and sell their independent reading book in a book talk and display. Students create a “pitch” to review and promote their book to whole class. Props, costumes, and music are encouraged and visual aids might include posters, book jackets of your own design, stickers, bookmarks, business cards, or postcards. Students prepare a brief summary of the book, a book review, and if the book has been made into a movie, compare and contrast the book and the film.
2. Author’s Study allows students with a favorite author to complete an author’s study project. Students write a report or create a presentation that offers key biographical information about the author, genre of writing, key quotes from the author about their writing life and craft, pictures of the author and images of book covers. Students can create an annotated bibliography of the books the author has published and a one page reflection about how this writer inspired or influenced them.
3. Book Reviews – To help students dig deeper in reflection about a book he or she has read – and to avoid surface plot retelling that comes with traditional book report assignments – book reviews found in newspapers and magazines are an authentic method for evaluating a text. I often give my students guidelines for writing book reviews. Paragraph 1 offers a brief summary of the plot in 2-4 sentences with an attention grabber in the first sentence. Paragraph 2 addressed whether or not the reviewer recommends the book with reasons to back up his or her opinions. Paragraph 3 – When the book is finished, what stays with you?