Showing posts with label Alternative Assessment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Alternative Assessment. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

5 Alternatives to Traditional Book Report Projects

I've been revisiting some of my favorite books this summer. Doing that has reminded me of some ideas that I've shared in the past and also sparked some new ideas. One of those ideas is using multimedia creation tools to create alternatives to traditional book reports. Here's a handful of ideas for alternatives to traditional book report projects.

Create a Game
Have students design and publish their own online board games based on the plot and characters of a book. Flippity recently published a new template that students can modify to create their own online board games.

Create a Virtual Tour
Students can use Google Earth or Google's VR Tour Creator to create virtual tour based on locations featured in a book. Students using the web browser version of Google Earth can include videos in the placemarkers in their tours. Students who use Google Earth Pro can record audio narration for their entire tours. And with the VR Tour Creator students can include audio narration within each scene of their tours.

Create a Book Trailer Video
This now classic alternative to a book report asks students to make a short video to promote a book. Students can summarize key points in the book and try to entice viewers to read the book. Adobe Spark is a great tool for making book trailer videos.

Write Alternate Endings to Stories
Consider using the choose-your-own-adventure model and have students write some alternate endings to a story. They can do this in Google Slides. Here's a video about the process.

Create a Multimedia Timeline Based on a Story
This is a great option for students who have read historical fiction or non-fiction books. They can summarize key points of the book in a multimedia timeline made with Timeline JS. The example that I often give is a timeline that I built based on the book Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Four Things Students Need to Create Book Trailer Videos

This is an update of a blog post that I published about 16 months ago. The concepts are the same, but some of the resources have been updated. 

Creating book trailer videos is a great alternative to a traditional written book report assignment. In a book trailer video students highlight their favorite elements of a story and try to entice viewers to read the book themselves. Much like a movie trailer that tries to get viewers to watch the full movie, a book trailer should give viewers just enough to be interested in the full story without giving away the conclusion to the story. If you have heard of book trailers and wanted to try having your create book trailers, here are the four things they'll need to get started after reading a book.

A script/ outline:
Before I let students start to assemble a video, I make them write a script or outline for the video. Writing a script or outline forces students to think about the points that they want to emphasize in their videos without thinking about the technical aspects of the video creation process. By having students submit a script or outline to me before they start creating a video I can review it for accuracy.

Your students will want to use pictures in their videos to represent key elements and characters in the books they have read. You could have students draw pictures to use in their videos. They might also take pictures of their own to use in their videos. Both of those methods avoid any danger of copyright infringement.

It is not always possible for students to use images they own. In those cases you'll want them to use images that are either in the public domain or images that are labeled with a Creative Commons license. Some video creation tools like Adobe Spark include a Creative Commons image search tool. Otherwise your students will need to conduct an online search for images. One place that I frequently use to find Creative Commons licensed images is Unsplash and Pixabay are two places I often visit for public domain images.

Audio recordings:
At a minimum your students will need to have a music track in their book trailer videos. Many video editing tools include a library of free music that students can use. The odds are good that your students will also want to include some voice-over elements in their videos. The video editing tools Adobe SparkWeVideo, and iMovie all have built-in voice-over recording tools.

Many of the aforementioned video editing tools offer sound effects too. Your students may want to look for sounds beyond what's included in their video editor of choice. The following two resources offer nice collections of free music and sound for student projects.

The Free Music Archive provides free, high-quality, music in a wide range of genres. The content on Free Music Archive is used under various creative commons licenses. The New York State Music Fund provided initial funding for FMA. FMA seeks to maintain a high-quality resource through the use of selected curators who approve or deny all submissions to the collection. Anyone can download music from FMA for use in podcasts, videos, and other digital presentation formats. The music collections can be searched by genre or by curator.

Sound Bible is a resource for finding and downloading free sound clips, sound effects, and sound bites. All of the sounds on Sound Bible are either public domain or labeled with a Creative Commons license. You can find sounds for use in podcasts, videos, slideshows, or other multimedia creations.

Video editor:
Currently, Adobe Spark is my favorite tool for creating simple book trailer videos. In the video embedded below I provide a tutorial on how to use Adobe Spark video. Adobe Spark does require users to register. For questions about using Adobe Spark with students under age 13, consult Adobe's guide for educators which you can find here.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Give Students Flexibility Like Southwest Airlines Does

Over the last couple of weeks I've been sharing this video of Southwest Airlines flight attendant David Holmes rapping pre-flight instructions. I've shown the video to raise this question; what if we gave students the same flexibility to demonstrate understanding that Southwest gives to their flight attendants?

Is your classroom like Southwest Airlines or more like one of the legacy carriers that doesn't let their flight attendants deviate from the script?

Friday, September 24, 2010

A Follow-Up to Five Alternatives to Traditional Book Reports

Yesterday, I ran a post titled Five Alternatives to Traditional Book Reports. I ran that post without including much in the way of explanation regarding why I think that teachers should explore alternatives to the traditional written book report. As a result I've had some people comment and email with questions along the lines of, "why are these things any better than traditional book reports?" Rob Wall even wrote a post on his own blog essentially asking the same question. Copied below is the comment that I left on Mr. Wall's post.

Hi Rob,

Since it's my post about book reports that you linked to, I thought I should offer some clarifications and explanations.

At first glance, yes some (perhaps) all five suggestions are just "jazzed up" book reports. However, what I have found is that when students know that their work is going to become, for lack of a better term, a "performance piece" they tend to invest more effort and care not only in making their products look good, but also in making sure that they look for and include as much information and insight as they possibly can in their final products. In my experience this happens because classmates, parents, and others are much more likely to look at one of these short performance pieces than they are to read a two page book report. Therefore, the students creating the alternative book reports take care to include as many details as possible.

I'm not suggesting that traditional book report assignments are inherently bad. They're not. In fact, they can be excellent exercises in analyzing and writing. I'm simply suggesting that if writing is not the purpose of a book report assignment, there are alternatives that students can use to convey the meanings and main ideas of a book.

(Granted, the following example is with a research assignment instead of a book report, but I think there are many parallels). In my own classroom over the last week and one half my 11th grade students, many of whom have in the past been reported as having a poor attitude toward school,  have worked on creating short videos about the Revolutionary War. Those students have worked as diligently as they possibly can to make sure they know their content and convey their stories as clearly as possible. Many of them have revised their works, without my prompting, three or four times. I know that I probably would not have gotten the same effort out of those students if I had made the assignment a standard research essay. Why? Because they know that the whole class is going to see their final product whereas if it were an essay assignment they know that the whole class is not going to read every student's essay. Are my students learning more about the content because I made their final product a video instead of an essay? Yes. Will there be times that my students do write traditional research papers? Yes, because I do believe that writing skills are important, but I'm sure that that process will not be as cheerily undertaken by my students as video creation projects are.


One last thing that I should add to this is I am not at all opposed to traditional book report assignments. I believe that learning to report and convey messages in written form is an essential skill that all students should develop. That said, we must find a balance between traditional communication skills and communication skills using new media creation tools.

And now back to my standard blogging voice of reporting on free technology resources for the classroom.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Same Content, Different Presentation

Here's a fun video of a Southwest Airlines flight attendant giving the pre-flight instructions to passengers. This is not the standard, boring reading of instructions, it's entertaining and the flight attendant still delivers the same message as you would get from someone reading off a card. The video made me wonder, how many of our students would be more engaged in school if they could choose the method in which they demonstrate understanding of content.

Thanks to Center Networks for sharing the video.

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