Saturday, October 05, 2013

Book reports are NOT what they used to be.

So the last time I wrote, it had been a really tough week.  And I wasn't looking forward to the next week (which was last week a week ago!) because Mason had a book report due.

Book report.  You know, that means you have to read a book.  Which he did.  And then you have to write a report.  Or so I thought.  Book report.

When we went to orientation at the beginning of the school year, I remember signing a "book report" form in the midst of all the 79 forms I had to sign times two by the time I signed all of Hannah Kate's forms also.  And I'll be honest.  I signed that book report form without reading it.  Because I knew that meant we'd have to read a chapter book, and we'd not yet been able to do that before.  So I didn't want to even think about it.  I signed the form because I had to, but I didn't read it.  Nor did I make a copy of it to keep for myself, which is something else rather unusual for me.  But, again, I was really just trying to make the book report go away.

So then the book report showed up on the September calendar, and it was due at the end of the month.  I don't usually procrastinate.  And since we're just taking things one day at a time over here, I didn't particularly want to borrow trouble too early.  So two weeks before the report was due, I started looking for my book report form, and I couldn't find it.  I figured Mrs. B would send another form home with all of the kids just for good measure.  But a few more days passed, and I still didn't have it.  The weekend before it was due, I emailed her and asked her to send home a copy with Mason the following Monday.  She said she would and even invited me to come to class on Monday to look at some of the examples she'd shown the kids in class.  Examples?  Of a book report?

Now look.  I can write a book report.  As a matter of fact, I sort of secretly love writing book reports!  Not that I was looking forward to helping Mason write a book report, but still.  I live by the 3.5 (three point five) rule - you write five paragraphs with three main points.  The first paragraph is your introduction.  The next three paragraphs are your three main points.  And the last paragraph is your conclusion.  Five paragraphs.  Three points.  Done.  Book report.  Sure, I didn't exactly write 3.5s in college, but the concept is still the same.

So I'm thinking 3.5.  My only question was whether or not the book report could be typed (I was hoping so!) and if there was a length requirement (I was hoping not!).  In the meantime, I asked Mason about the so-called book report examples that Mrs. B said she'd shown them in class.  And, of course, he had NO IDEA what I was talking about and looked at me like I'd grown three horns and an extra eye.

So Monday came, and I stopped by his classroom when I picked them up from school.  I knew we were in trouble as soon as I saw the book report examples.  I got a copy of the book report form, and we left to go to therapy.  All the way there all I could think about was that we had only four nights to complete the "book report."  And I had no idea how in the world that was going to happen.

Because . . . let me just tell you.  A "book report" is NOT what it used to be!  There are ten options for the book report.  Mason will complete four book reports during the year, and he has to choose a different option each time.  Here are the options:

1.  Write a different ending to the story you have read.
2.  Design a new book jacket for your book.
3.  Find a shoebox and construct a DIORAMA of a scene from the book.  (Oh.  What is a diorama? you ask.  Because unless you're in 3rd grade, you might not know.  You basically create a scene from the book using all kinds of different materials you can find, such a paper and stuff.)
4.  Write a TV commercial on the book you have read.
5.  Write a sample book review for a school newspaper.
6.  Write a letter to your best friend advising him/her to read your book.
7.  Construct a mobile of characters in your story and hang them from a clothes hanger.
8.  Choose an interesting scene from your book and illustrate it (must be at least 12x18 in size).
9.  Make a storyboard/comic strip illustrating important scenes with captions from the book.
10. If a movie has been made of your book, compare and contrast the movie version to the written one.  (REALLY?!?  We are in THIRD grade.)

Book report.

So we talked about this on our way to therapy that day.  And, of course, Mason wanted to do the diorama.  Just my luck.  Oh, and by the way, how in the world he totally missed out on all of the dioramas and mobiles and book jackets that were displayed in the classroom for the kids to see as examples is BEYOND ME.  I asked him what scene he wanted to construct, and he immediately knew what he wanted to do.  And I started thinking.  While he was in therapy, I ran to Hobby Lobby to purchase a few supplies for his diorama.  Yes, I did!

Mason was so excited when I showed him all of the supplies, and he knew exactly what to do with them.  He worked on the diorama Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights and had it ready to turn in a day early on Thursday.  He absolutely loved working on his project, mainly because he got to use the glue gun all by himself.  It really was so refreshing to see him actually enjoy something that has to do with school.  Here he is with his diorama.
The book that Mason read was Four Mice Deep in the Jungle.  It tells the story of Geronimo Stilton, a mouse who was afraid of EVERYTHING.  His family finally orchestrated an intervention of such, and he ended up facing all of his fears in a boot camp type situation in the jungle with three other mice.  At one point, they had to cross a river in the jungle via a rope that was suspended over the river.  As they were going along, one of the other mice just couldn't hold on any longer and fell into the dangerous waters below.  Without giving it a second thought, Geronimo let go also so he could fall into the river and save his friend.  This is the scene Mason chose to illustrate.

I found some scrapbook paper with forest trees all over it so that's what he cut and lined the box with.  He glued florist foam to the bottom of the box and then stuck pieces of faux ivy in it that we cut apart for the trees and foliage in the jungle.  He covered the foam with shredded green paper for the grass.  He used blue tinsel for the river, brown ribbon for the rope over the river, blue paper for the sky and cotton balls for clouds.  I really wasn't sure what we were going to do about the two mice, and I told him that.  But he knew exactly what he wanted to do.  He wanted to make them out of play doh!  And I thought that was a great idea.  Granted, I wouldn't have made them like he did, but I was not about to say anything.  I have to say this "book report" really wasn't so bad after all!  
The week that I wasn't looking forward to really turned out to be a great week for us!  And, not only that, but Mrs. B also mentioned to me that Mason had a great week the week before, one of his best weeks yet.  That was the week that I thought was our worst!  All I can say is that God has done some GREAT THINGS for us during these past couple of weeks, and I can only thank Him for His mercy and grace and love.  This applies to "book reports," too!

Now to Him who is able to do EXCEEDINGLY ABUNDANTLY ABOVE ALL that we ask or think . . . ~Ephesians 3:20

Are you in need of something?  ASK HIM!


Harriette Connell said...

AWESOME!!! Love the way his teacher gives her students a menu of types of book reports to choose from because it makes them think deeply and respond in their own creative way! All of those options are very high order thinking on Bloom's Taxonomy! A teacher like that gives children opportunities to love learning and to shine!!! LOVE HIS DIORAMA!

Mimi & Pop said...

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this! What a fantastic job he did! Rejoicing and praising our Lord for the great days and trusting many more are ahead!