Author Visit Presentation Book Report

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Objective

TSWBAT present their book report from the position of the book's author who is visiting the school to speak with kids.

Big Idea

What's it like to speak to a class about your latest book? Find out here!

Warm Up

15 minutes

I start this lesson discussing favorite authors and which of these authors it would be most exciting to meet in person.  It's a great kick-off to this book report.  The kids enjoy volunteering answers, and participate fully. After listening to responses, I shift the conversation to Point of View.  Questions include, "If you wanted to tell others about yourself, what's important to say?" and "How is personal perspective significant to how an author writes?"  Both questions are perfect for focusing students, with the second more complex.  This is a good vehicle for introducing their task in writing from an author's point of view. Each must research their author to introduce "themself" at the beginning of the book report presentation.  They will also have a question and answer session at the conclusion of their report, so they need to be familiar with the individual.

At our school, we typically have authors visit about every three years.  Last year, the 5th and 6th graders were fortunate to have an up close and personal visit with Frank Beddor of The Looking Glass Wars series. The impact he made on the kids lasted for months.  They were anxious to purchase his autographed books, and avid readers of them due in a large part to his charismatic personality and fabulous storytelling. Although my current kids didn't experience this last year, those who had friends or siblings in the group wished they had.  I was able to draw on this firsthand knowledge as we discussed the way to present to an audience when they portray their author. 

*An author did come to our school in April for the "Artist in Residence" program.  She talked to the kids about writing rough drafts Copy of Showing the kids a rough draft and introduced some of her books Copy of Display of book jackets to the classes.

Bouncing off an Author Presentation lesson link.

Application

30 minutes

They will read the book over a period of four or five weeks and the book report presentation will be due soon after.  I require a fictional book of at least 100 pages. Fiction is the perfect choice for this book report. There's quite the range under its umbrella (fantasy, historical fiction, science fiction, etc.) and the kids have a lot of fun becoming the author. It doesn't matter if the author is actually living or not.  It's great to watch the kids impersonate and answer questions from the likes of Laura Ingalls Wilder, etc.

This book report gives the student's a chance to not only know their book, but become familiar with the person who wrote it.  They are required to introduce themselves as their author, retell the novel they read, then thank the group for being a wonderful audience and take their questions.  The final part is of course the most challenging.  They are certainly not going to know the answers to all of the personal questions, but I give them a lot of credit for the creative answers to those really tough ones.  Since everyone's in the same boat, no one takes it in too serious of a manner, and we all enjoy each new presentation.

They will also be graded on how important the information they chose to share was and if their audience could understand the overall idea behind the book.  Rounding out the rubric are the fundamentals of presenting to a group (eye contact, voice projection, articulation, and being well prepared.)  They will turn in their notecards at the end, which contain pertinent information about the author and also highlights from the book.  Perhaps the most important component is respecting the time limit.  If a child can't get enough of being on stage and continues on for fifteen minutes, it hurts.  Likewise, if they get up there for too short of a presentation, it's not ok, either.  I aim for 2-3 minutes a student.  Here is the Author Visit Presentation book report criteria.

I've listed the time for this at 30 minutes, but of course this will mainly be completed at home. Taking a trip to the library to  look for author biographies to conduct a little research is a worthwhile idea, but often it's just as easy for them to find the information they need at home on their computer and/or supplement with the encyclopedia.  My kids love the opportunity to get out of the classroom, so we generally do our author research at the library anyway.

Closure

30 minutes

Presentation Day!  First we welcoming the authors! This is a really great day, and the kids have a blast!  A few of the kids choose to fully impersonate their author through dress, even though that isn't part of the actual grade.  It's interesting to compare the presentations of the kids who dress the part vs the ones who don't, and it's amazing how the slight change in clothing turns a regular book report into an event.  I will definitely require the kids to dress as their author next year. Hear are some examples:

"Suzanne Collins" 

"Lincoln Peirce"  

"Gordon Korman"  

"Judy Blume"

An important component to their presentation is the name card.  Each student should create a card with their author's name in big letters.  I tape these to the podium during their talk. The students are exercising both their speaking and listening skills with this presentation.  The speaking component is obvious.  They're standing before their classmates and presenting from the point of view of their author.  It's the effective listening that sometimes has to be practiced.  Truth be told, this report presentation is an engaging one, and the kids are involved from beginning to end without many being off task. Still, I have them write questions for the author at the end of each presentation.  Although we won't have time to answer all during the speech, they can be compiled as a written page later.

The kids are primed to give their author's talk, Audience from Author's View and do a great job.  I sit in the back of the classroom and can complete the rubric, at least in part, as they present. Although I take an individual picture of each child to attach to their graded criteria sheet, a group picture of all the costumed authors is fun.  Here are the Authors! I recommend sending them to the bathroom to change right before the presentations then take a picture of the costumed ones immediately.  This way, you have your group photo and they can slip away and change back into regular clothes as they finish.

A final idea when it comes to the end of each presentation.  Due to what can turn into a lengthy question/answer session, I limit each author to four audience questions.  After the last question is answered, I thank the author and say, "One, two, three" and we all give a single, simultaneous clap. It eliminates the chance of hurt feelings if there are only a few claps for a kid, but tons for another. An example of what I mean is at the end of the "Questions from the Audience" clip.