Book Reports are a good way to bring attention to the many literary genres. Kids often find a favorite type of novel, and stick with it, so it's necessary to provide exposure to others. Starting a conversation about adventure is easy and fun for the kids. They revel in the many adventure books or movies they've witnessed and also like to tell stories of their personal "adventures." I begin by asking them all to write down the most adventurous thing they've ever heard someone do on a half sheet of paper, then put it in a bin in the front of the room.
Once everyone has completed the task, randomly select a few adventures and begin categorizing them. Some of our categories have been: Outdoor Adventures, Dangerous Adventures, Secret Adventures, Accidental Adventures. In my reflection, I offer a suggestion so that this categorizing doesn't become a haven for story telling.
Discuss with them the meaning of the word adventure and how it impacts their own lives. Ask for a show of hands to determine who the adventurers are in your classroom. Finally, inform them that the next book they will read for a book report will focus on this genre.
Their book report is written on their own time. Today, they review what Narrative Poetry looks like - the venue in which they demonstrate their understanding of the book they choose.
I know I can't go wrong with the Narrative Poem, Casey at the Bat by Ernest L. Thayer. Whether the kids have heard it before, or not, it's a fun one. I present the story to them- the Scholastic version I've linked is quite pleasing with great illustrations in pencil and near photographs. As it states on the cover Casey at the Bat book, it was "Copiously and Faithfully Illustrated By Christopher Bing." I found a great "Casey at the Bat" comprehension quiz, which is in the resource below, that I either give to the kids after the reading or as a homework assignment.
After this example has been shared, the kids have a better understanding of what a narrative poem is. It's good to reiterate that it's got all of the story elements such as characters, setting, plot line fixtures, theme, etc. but also adds components of poetry such as repetition and poetic verse.
Another great narrative poem for 5th grade is The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The kids can tie that right into their studies on the American Revolution. Googling narrative poetry pulls up lots of suggestions "List of Narrative Poems" and nearly every subject area will be covered by one. Narrative Poems are less threatening to the kids who typically don't like poetry. The idea of a story, lots of room to get out their information, and what is often an entertaining topic can really sell the idea to the more reluctant kids.
It's time to get started. Pair the kids up Students working on their Narrative Poem and have them write examples of narrative poetry Students write their Narrative Poem. This strategy is perfect because they're working with their partner, More collaboration on Narrative Poetry who will contribute half of the poem. Students highlighted couplets example Pair Writing Narrative Poem. They will each write couplets and work toward creating the narrative so that it stays within a theme. After they've completed, share a few examples (while walking around the room, I take note of the ones that should be highlighted.) Narrative poem example not highlighted Pair Writing Narrative Poem 2.
The final action is to pass out the criteria for the Adventure Book Report.
Book Report Presentations are always a nice diversion from the regular class time. Some kids may be a little anxious, but it fits right in with the expectations for Common Core Speaking and Listening standards excellent practice for public speaking. Reciting their Narrative Poem to the Class. Sometimes I give choice in presenting their book reports, but not in the case of Narrative Poems. This is a report everyone shares. I do give them choice as to when they present. For instance, if I pick a stick and it's a particularly shy child, I let them pass. Sometimes just watching a few will help those reluctant students calm down and have a better experience. I also observe the audience to be sure they're attentive and show respect to the presenter.
I've noted in the timing that it's a thiry minute period, but to clarify- it will take longer than that. I break the presentations into thirty minute segments. The kids can get antsy after hearing too many. Having said that, they really enjoy when we come back to the activity at later times in the day. The poems are interesting and fun to watch the kids read. Students read their completed poem to me
*Note- My battery failed me on the day of the presentation. I didn't take any pictures, so the ones in the resources are of the kids working on their partner narrative poems.