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.

Sweet Search 2Day - Best of the Web for Students

Dulcinea Media, host of the academic search engine Sweet Search, has a new free offering for teachers and students called Sweet Search 2 Day. Sweet Search 2 Day is a one page stop for good, up to date, web content that can be used in Science, History, and Language Arts classes. Visitors to Sweet Search 2 Day will find some entertaining content, cartoons and image galleries, that is safe for classroom environments. Sweet Search 2 Day also hosts some useful reference materials, like "how to write a bibliography," for students and parents.

Thanks to Kyle Pace for the Tweet that drew my attention to Sweet Search 2 Day.

Applications for Education
If you're in need of some quick, relevant talking points or conversation starters for your classes, Sweet Search 2 Day might be a good resource for you to bookmark. Looking for some academic brainteasers? Sweet Search 2 Day has you covered there too.

One Week Left to Apply for PolarTREC 2011/2012

Are you an adventurous teacher? Do you prefer cold weather over hot weather? Do you blog or are you willing to start blogging? If you said yes to those questions, you might want to apply for PolarTREC's 2011/2012 field experiences. PolarTREC is looking for twelve teachers who are willing to spend a few weeks (possibly longer) on an Arctic or Antarctic research expedition in 2011 or 2012. Your responsibilities on the expedition may vary but at a minimum you'll be expected to share your experiences with your school and others through a variety of online and offline mediums.

The application deadline is October 1, 2010. You can find the application and FAQs here. Listen to an informational webinar recording about the application and expeditions here.

Google New - Find the Newest Google Offerings

Google maintains blogs for all of their various products and services. I subscribe to many of those blogs to stay up to date on the latest enhancements to the products I use on a regular basis. Yesterday, Google introduced a new and better way to stay current on their latest new offerings. Google New is a central location where visitors will find news on the latest updates to Google's products and the newest product offerings from Google. Embedded below is a short video introduction to Google New.

Applications for Education
While you don't have to be as obsessed as I am with the latest tech developments, but it is important for teachers to be aware of new tech developments that can be of use to their students. Visiting Google New from time to time is one way that teachers can find out what's new from one of the most widely-used service providers on the web.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Free 33 Page Guide - Google for Teachers
140 New Things Being Tried In Classroom This Fall
How To Do 11 Techy Things In the New School Year