Friday, February 5, 2016

4th graders rescue books!

Two conference sessions - one by school librarian April Bunn at AASL and one by Yong Zhao at NWAIS - inspired our 4th grade Lonely Book project. As Zhao said in another keynote,

“First, a good project has to have an authentic audience, an authentic purpose. When students create anything, it has to matter to someone. It has to touch emotions.” Through project experiences... “students have to learn to understand their own strengths and weaknesses so they can seek partnership with someone else.” Finally... “a project has to help a student understand someone else’s needs.”
First, students talked about how they choose books to read - what makes a book appealing and why? Next, they read sample professional reviews and learned about the typical structure of a book review (a brief plot summary followed by evaluative comments that include a recommended audience). This was new to most of them - and they now have a new way of deciding which books they might want to read as they browse library catalogs or online bookstores.

Second, they selected "lonely books," ones that have not been checked out as much as they deserve, wrote and peer-edited reviews, and designed new covers they thought would be appealing to other students. They then hid the original covers under wrapping paper to make them more tantalizing.

For the final stage of the project, we will read the books and reviews to younger students and ask them to vote on their fate. If a book gets more "no" than "yes" votes, it will be discarded from our collection. Students became very attached to their books - and that fueled their motivation to write engaging reviews and design appealing covers that will encourage their audiences to give them a try.

This project included an authentic audience and purpose, and it required 4th graders to think about the needs and interests of Kindergarten through 3rd graders. The Library Learning Commons was a happy buzz of activity throughout, and emotion has also played a role, as they wait in anticipation to hear the final verdict on the books they chose to promote!