Alternatives to Book Reports
Book reports can be so mundane and repetitive for students. These are some alternative ideas for students to write about books.
- Write a letter to one of the characters in the novel
- Write a sonnet summing up the novel
- Make a poster advertising the novel
- Put 5-10 items in a shoe box to represent items the protagonist would take on a deserted island
- Make a wanted poster for the antagonist
- Create a possible, short trailer if the novel were to be a movie
- Write an epilogue (5-20 years in the future)
- Write a prologue
- Write a missing chapter of the novel (at beginning, middle, or end)
- Write a letter to the protagonist as if you were his or her best friend to help him or her through the central conflict
Teaching the Parents
This works best for math. Assign the students to “teach” their parents how to do what you are learning in the classroom. Give about 5 problems (so the busy parent won’t have to spend too much time. Instruct the students to teach the parents how to do the math problem, then have the parents complete the problem. Leave space at the bottom of the homework page for the parents signature and any comments. Encourage the parent to note if certain steps were harder to explain for the student, then you can target exactly what she or he is having trouble with.
This is a great way for the students to learn the material, and it encourages interaction at home. If for any reason a parent or guardian is not available to be taught the lesson, set aside a short amount of time for the student to teach you how to do the problems.
I think weekly classroom meetings are a vital part of an effective classroom. Time allowing, I believe that two meetings a week are necessary in order to guarantee organization. Mondays and Fridays are the best days to hold weekly meetings. On Monday mornings, take 5 minutes to talk about what was learned last week, 20 minutes to discuss goals for the presents week, and 10 minutes for any comments/complaints from the students. Without straying too much from standards or lesson plans, allow the students to comment and help create goals for the week. It is important to write down the goals, comments, and complaints to check on Friday how effective the week was. On Friday afternoons, see which goals were completed and which still need to be conquered. Also, take a short amount of time to ensure complaints were fixed if not worked out completely. Incorporating students in decision making provides much better classroom management in the long run.
The ending of a school year is always a bittersweet time for teachers. The anticipation of summer and fresh students in the fall is wonderful, but (no matter how difficult they are) you will never have this exact class again.
A great way to compliment your students and to show them how you appreciate them is so nominate Student Superlatives. Name each student in the class positive, funny superlatives accenting his/her personality. Some great ideas are: Most Creative, Most Athletic, Most Likely to Marry Justin Bieber, Funniest, Most Likely to be a Public Speaker (for the outspoken students), etc.
This is a fun way to look at the personalities of your class, appreciate each of them, and have them remember you.