I am always looking for fun and meaningful ways to encourage students to read and to think about what they read. As a teacher and a parent, I really disagree with assigning book projects that are time-consuming and unnecessarily burdensome. After all, my goal is for students to become life-long readers. The assignments are supposed to support that goal.
This is the second round of official book talks that I have had this year. After the first time we did them, students really seemed to be inspired to try out the books that their peers had read. In fact, I was surprised how much impact it had.
In the past I have used all kinds of journals and activities for post-reading. I was thinking about brochures and setting when I stumbled upon Read/Write/Think's version, which was what I had been thinking about, only better.
So, I took the kids to the computer lab for a day and had them work on this project. I introduced it to them by talking them through my short handout, which includes a sample.
Some kids had trouble getting their heads around a travel brochure, especially if their novels had dystopian settings. I told them they could create an "ironic" travel brochure, or they could just create an informational brochure -- one that doesn't necessarily advertise or "sell" the location(s) but gives information about their features.
As I mentioned in the previous section, a few students had trouble with the "idea" of a travel brochure. This handout from Read/Write/Think gives some great ideas for things to include.
Since I was teaching this class in the computer lab, and computer lab time is very precious in my school, I did not spend a lot of time brainstorming travel brochure ideas with my class. If you wanted to slow this lesson down, or even complete it over a few days, I think it would be great to have students come up with ideas for elements that might make sense to include. Also, it would be cool to show them a "regular" travel brochure (not one made for a story) -- this might jog their thinking about the format and content.
For example, here is a brochure I found for Colonial Williamsburg.
The Read/Write/Think site has a fantastic link to an interactive, online printing press. This a fantastic resource for students who are not really adept at using Publisher or even Word. The students select from a number of layouts for the front and back of their brochures, then they can type in text or paste in pictures.
Obviously, if your students are very computer-savvy, you can give them the option of using another program. However, the printing press minimizes the possibility that your students will produce really messed up brochures, and sometimes the frustration that technology can cause is just not worth it.
Because of the length of my classes, we actually did the book talks the next day.
To set up the classroom for book talks, I arranged the desks into tables of five or six. I then had the students line up in order of their birthday (day, month.) You can have students do this in silence (it's pretty funny to watch.) Then, I split them into groups by counting off five at a time.
Each "round" of talks takes about 8-10 minutes. At the start of each round, I say something like "Tallest person speaks first" or "Oldest person speaks first," and then they present in a clockwise order from there. I do this because the kids like it, and it mixes things up.
Book talks are a little chaotic at the transitions, because the students have to sit with different people each time. I recommend a timer set to 20 seconds -- it alleviates the need for barking over the crowd.