The dreaded book report is something we all have dealt with either as a teacher, parent, or student. It’s no wonder with some of these droll assignments:Summarize the plot of the book in three paragraphs. Describe your favorite part of the story. Identify the main characters.
These knowledge based questions could be answered by looking at the book jacket or searching for reviews of the book on the Internet. My solution to this was to use questions that probed much deeper into critical thinking. The building blocks were already available. Bloom’s taxonomy has been around for more than 50 years. It’s purpose was to take students beyond thinking in a rote, fact based fashion.
I devised these questions for each of the six levels of the taxonomy and now find them helpful as I look back at the stories I’ve written. In the classroom I gave them point values with the higher levels receiving more points. I varied the requirements based on the readiness level of each student. There was also a rubric to evaluate the quality of their answers. If you have any use for these, you can copy and paste the original offered below.
I. KNOWLEDGE (1 point each)a. Identify the relationship of the characters in the story. b. When and where does the story take place. c. Write about one happening in the story. d. Who are the protagonists and the antagonists? e. What was the climax (high point of the story)?
II. COMPREHENSION (2 points)a. What was the cause of any one event in the story? b. Find a sentence in the story that has some words in it that you do not understand. Decode and explain the sentence in your own words. c. What did you think of the main character? What clues in the story led you to think this way? d. Illustrate funny, sad, or exciting parts of the book. e. Summarize the problem faced by the main character.
III. APPLICATION (3 points)a. Think of one way that a character in the story solved a problem. Write what you learned about solving the problem that you could use in solving a problem of your own. b. Create a diorama from a scene in the book. c. Make an illustrated dictionary of unfamiliar words you found in the book. d. Make a map showing the setting of the book. e. Write a message to a friend telling about the book
IV. ANALYSIS (3 points)a. Put key events in the story on a sequential chart. b. Write several new titles for the story that would give others a good idea about what the story is about. c. What was the author’s purpose in writing the story? d. Compare the book to a movie or TV program that is similar. e. Compare and contrast this book’s main character with a real person you know or with a similar character in another book.
V. SYNTHESIS (4 points)a. Write another ending to the story that is different from the one the author wrote. b. Create a game to for others to play that will check to see if they really read the book. c. Design a promotional ad for the book. d. Write and present a scene from the book as a play. e. Predict what will happen next if the story continued.
VI. EVALUATION (4 points)a. Justify the main character’s actions in the story and describe how you might have acted differently. b. Write a letter to the school media specialist recommending your book for inclusion in the school library. Defend your choice. c. Choose two characters in the story and decide which character has better qualities/character traits of the two and why you think so. d. If you could have one character from the story as a friend, why would you make that choice? e. Write a critical review that could be posted on Amazon or Goodreads.