March Madness with Books Part 1

By: Mary Kienstra on: March 26, 2015  in: creating, Engagement, reading

March Madness with books – it doesn’t get any better than this!  If you are wondering what student engagement looks like in reading class, stop by my classroom while my students are working on their book commercials.  They are trying to persuade their classmates to vote for their favorite book, the book they nominated for the “Book of the Year” or as they named it, “The Big Book Theory.”

One of our favorite units is the study of award winning books.  The essential questions are “What does it take to win a book award?” and “Why is this book worthy of the award?”  Those questions focus my students’ attention and keep them reading and reading as they research awards and read to find out why each book won.


Kids use Creative Book Builder for iPad to write an eBook about the Children’s Literature Awards

They started by researching the criteria for the most popular book awards for children’s literature.  They learned about the Newbery Award, the Caldecott Award, the Coretta Scott King Award, and the Children’s Choice Book Award.  Working in small groups, they researched to find out everything they could.  Special thanks to John Schumacher (@MrSchuReads) and Colby Sharp (@colbysharp) for answering my students’ questions about their experiences on the Newbery Committee and the Children’s Choice Committee respectively. Next, the kids created e-books using the  Creative Book Builder (CBB) App on the iPad to teach the others about the award they studied.   Each group created multiple choice questions that could be answered by reading their books and then created a Kahoot as a fun quiz.

Nominating a favorite book is a very difficult task.  One of my students commented that it was like choosing a favorite parent.  My students are readers and choosing a favorite is not easy.  Once they were ready to nominate their favorite book, they wrote a persuasive paragraph, complete with evidence, to show why this book is worthy of the class award.


Students use iMovie to create book commercials using the trailer templates.

The nominations came in and the next step is convincing the class members to vote for each book.  By this time of year, my students are very independent and adept at taking responsible risks with their learning.  Most chose to make a book commercial using the iMovie Trailer.  The best commercials are the ones where students use powerful words interspersed with pictures that tell the story.  It is amazing how these video commercials created by 4th and 5th graders look so professional.  On this project, students could choose whether to work with a partner or alone.  Many formed groups based on the book nominations and chose to work with new partners.  I think they were pleasantly surprised how well some of these new groups worked.

Next week students will view each other’s book commercials. Having an authentic audience matters!  Then, the madness will really begin as the books will be in brackets for students to vote.  I wonder which book will win “Book of the Year.”  (Fast forward to this post to see the results of the voting.)

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