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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Five Alternatives to Traditional Book Reports

On Tuesday evening I gave a presentation in Second Life for school librarians and media specialists. One of the topics that I talked about was alternatives to traditional book report assignments. While this post is a follow-up to that presentation, the post on its own should give you some ideas for alternatives to traditional book report assignments.

1. Create book trailers. I ran a post about book trailers during the summer which you can read here. In short, a book trailer is a short video created by students to highlight the key points of a book. When creating their book trailers students should be trying to "sell" viewers on a book. To create their videos your students could use Animoto for Education, JayCut, or PhotoPeach. Learn more about these free video creation tools in my free guide Making Videos on the Web.

2. Create animated or stop-motion videos about a book's plot. To make an animated video try Memoov which is a free service that your students can use to create an animated video book review. Memoov allows users to create animated videos up to five minutes in length. Creating an animated video with Memoov can be as simple as selecting a setting image(s), selecting a character or characters, and adding dialogue.

If stop-motion videos are more your speed, Kevin Hodgson's Making Stopmotion Movies is a fantastic resource for directions and advice on making stop-motion movies.

3. Create literature maps. Using Google Maps or Google Earth students can map out the travels of character in a story. Google Lit Trips has many examples of teachers and students using Google Earth in literature courses. If you're not familiar with how to create placemarks in Google Maps, please see my free guide Google for Teachers for directions.

4. Create 3D augmented reality book reviews. ZooBurst is an amazing service that allows you to create a short story complete with 3D augmented reality pop-ups. Students could use ZooBurst to create short summaries of books that really jump off the screen.

5. Create multimedia collages about books. Glogster allows users to create one page multimedia collages. Students could create a collage containing videos, audio files, text, and images about books they've read. For example, a Glog about Into the Wild could contain images of Chris McCandless, chunks of text about the book, and this video featuring a song from the movie based on the book.

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