Writing a Good Recommendation

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SWBAT: write about what they are reading in the form of a book recommendation.

Big Idea

I really try to stay away from adding work to student choice reading, but a book recommendation seems like a nice compromise.

Guiding Question

5 minutes

For the Guiding Question, I want them thinking about what information do they usually give when they recommend a book to someone. It might be that they don't generally write book recommendations, but I "catch" them by saying that it might be when they try to get someone to read a book in a conversation format. How do they persuade their friends or family to read a book?

Mini Lesson

15 minutes

I try to make any writing attached to a book authentic. If it's something that I'm not doing when I read, then my students don't need to be doing it, either. I do, at times, write or share book recommendations, so it's something that my students can do. I sell it like this, "You are already recommending books to friends when you are Buzzing about a books, or trying to convince your friends to read a book with you. Now I just want to capture that thinking!"

I put my own notebook under the document camera and write a brief recommendation based on our Read Aloud, Ninth Ward. Eventually, I want my kids to write recommendations, or reviews, on Amazon.com or on our own library's search engine and website, Destiny. But, for now, I want them to just see the format.

The parts of a recommendation are: the book title, author, noting whether it's part of a series, and an opinion of a book. I ask my students if there is anything else we should add, and they mention page length (I agree, since we've talked about why this might be important in an earlier lesson). I also instruct them to write a little summary (two or three sentences) that included important information, but doesn't give away too much information (no "plot spoilers").


Work Time

25 minutes

For the Work Time, I have the students write their own recommendation about a book they've recently read. It could be a book they read over the summer, or a book they read last year.

I circulate to check in and help students who are stuck. They generally want to give too much away, or make the writing sound like a Reading Rainbow recommendation (If you want to know more, then pick up this book). Not that there's anything wrong with that, it's just cliche.

When they are finished, they share with a partner.

Lastly, I ask for volunteers to put their recommendations under the document camera, and we all identify each part to make sure everything is included: author, title, etc. This is also when I spend a very brief minute talking about why titles should be underlined.

Wrap Up

5 minutes

For the Wrap Up, I have students use their Reflection Stems to write a reflection about the process of writing a book recommendation. Any questions that come up as a result of these reflections I can address either individually or the next time we write recommendations (about once a month).