Wednesday, October 9, 2013

book reviews take shape

Since September 10th the Book Reviews have been on my mind. We've had to consider quite a bit about writing, reading nonfiction, reviews, criticism, and evaluations. I'm not quite sure we've gotten through it all--in fact I'm quite sure we haven't--but we've had some very good conversations full of interesting and insightful questions, heated statements, and personal opinions. Hopefully the students are opening up to nonfiction texts more and more, and hopefully they appreciate the work that a nonfiction writer must put in to be successful.

This week we've been working on the actual construction of the Book Review. In my pacing, I'm trying to take it at a steady, even pace--with two paragraphs a day the max that we write. That may seem like very little, but it offers the students a challenge at which they can be successful. There are so many things to incorporate into a Book Review, well beyond a summary plot analysis of a fictional text, that the students are encountering some new situations that seem to confuse them, even when we addressed the situations in the smaller scale Articles of the Week.

Today the students were working through the 3rd and 4th paragraphs, within which they included there quotes and personal responses. Some students are choosing to type their reviews, while others are choosing to handwrite. Both offer opportunities for writing development, and it's great to see the progress made. It's amazing to see the notes and forms we've used to consider the format and structure, and the examples of other reviews, and the checklist and scoring guide for the finished product, and the book, and everything else we use to be successful (including our brains!) all spread out across the students desks. I love to see everything coming together into something wonderful. I really wish we had more time and opportunity to do student choice writing; we'll get to do this more once the second quarter begins, but for now we'll have to settle for this.

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