6. The Book Report (K-12)
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Far too many students pass through school retelling the story of books they have read or summarizing lines from the dust jacket. A favorite book report question is "Tell what you liked about this book and why you would recommend it to a friend." Too often we read responses that go something like, "I would recommend it because it was very interesting to read." These reports can be dreary for all involved, but student questioning can provide a highly desirable alternative. Using the class developed typology, ask students to formulate and answer three questions of their own that fit a particular type (i.e., "Ask three comparison-contract questions.") These questions can provide a refreshing shift from the normal fare. Another approach is to develop a list of book reporting questions as a class activity. Students may then select from a rich menu each time they complete a report.
Critical to all of these activities, however, is some kind of guided practice in how to think through such questions. Introducing one type of question at a time with models of how it can be answered is one way to introduce the thinking skills required. The students' questions as they proceed through the activity provide one guide for their thinking. The teacher's careful analysis of the students' progress in thinking through the questions is the other essential ingredient.
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