Assigning books for students to read over the summer can be tricky. How do you know they read the book? How do you know they didn’t ask a friend to summarize the book for them? Here are a couple of different ways of assessing their progress.
Gather all of your English teachers together. As a group, decide your summer reading list. After you have your list, assign each teacher several books to read over the summer. Each English teacher is responsible for not only reading his/her books, but also for creating a multiple choice test (and answer key!) for each test. That way, once the kids come back to school, they take the test over which book they have read. Grading is a breeze for the teachers because both the test and answer key are already completed!
Going Beyond the Average Book Report
If you don’t want to give the standard test over the summer reading materials, consider giving a more project-based assignment. Each student has to create a book jacket for his/her book. On the front, they need to draw (by hand!) an alternative cover to their book. (For example, one of my students just did this book report on The Lovely Bones. She drew a bunch of bones (creepy!) in the shape of a heart.)
Next, the student needs to write an original summary of their book on the back of the book jacket. Then they need to find three quotes from the book that they really like and write them on the back. Inside of the book jacket, they need to summarize at least five different characters, all the while trying to hook the person looking at the book jacket. Finally, the student should give the book a review out of five stars telling why they would or would not recommend the book to a friend.
Alternate Assessment Ideas
Have students create a comic book that depicts their book. (Obviously, this works best if the book is funny!) Decide how many lines of dialogue and how many pictures in each frame, and leave the rest to them! Some kids can get really creative!
Another great idea is to have the kids create a movie out of the book. They have to decide where the movie will film, who will direct it and what type of soundtrack the film will have. Students also have to pick at least eight characters from their book and, in at least four sentences, decide which famous actor will play them and why!
An assignment that can be assigned with the book is a personal journal requiring the students to log which pages they read, summarize what they read and how they felt about it. This log can also incorporate the words they struggled to understand and how long it took them. This data allows you to understand a bit of how strong their reading level is, their style, and other insights into your students’ behavioural traits.
Do your students like music? Create a soundtrack for their book! Have your students pick at least eight songs that “tell the story of their book” and have them explain why each song important!
Hopefully you find some of these ideas helpful. Happy grading!