The infamous book report may elicit groans in classrooms with students losing interest in a continuous stream of similar projects. Repetition of traditional English coursework can be viewed as mundane and might lose students' interest when only assignments like book reports, spelling tests and research papers are given. When educators introduce English lessons in the form of projects; students are given the ability to demonstrate their topic knowledge in a variety of ways. By including more creative options, students may then also be more engaged in the daily English classroom lessons.
In an English classroom, students are often taught about different genres in literature including autobiographies. A different way for teachers to introduce autobiographies that may ensure students understand the importance of this genre is to assign the task of composing their own autobiography. The autobiographical projects do not have to be lengthy but can still be created to look like a traditional book. Students should include the expected personal information such as birth dates, hometowns, hobbies, goals, likes and dislikes and information about their families. After the basic information, students can get then choose to be more creative with these projects by adding illustrations, photos and quotes from friends or family. This project could also be a great icebreaker for the beginning of the school year as it helps teachers and students get to know each other.
Today's generation seems to revolve around technology, not only in the classroom but in almost every aspect of a student's life. Teachers can keep students engaged by using technology in projects to offer students an additional way to express their creativity beyond written projects. Creating a social network page based on a literary character can add creativity and technology. Students may not expect it as an assignment, which in turn may engage them as more willing to do the assignment. If a teacher wants her classes to research famous people in history, they might assign the students to do research and set up the information to look like popular social networking sites. Designing and sourcing images, important facts, hobbies and important events from the life of the person researched can be the assignment's focus.
Literary Board Games
A project integrating literature by creating a board game is another option. After students read a book, they can then be instructed to create a related board game. This project focuses on students understanding what they have read while the board game can also be used as an innovative study tool. Students can create their own game boards by drawing a path of squares on pieces of poster boards. Each square can contain a different command such as "define this word" or "draw a question card." Decorating the poster board in relation to the book introduces pictures of the characters, the setting or events in the story. As part of the instructions, students might have to roll the die, move their game pieces to the corresponding square or follow directions. Some squares might ask students to define a vocabulary word while other students may be given commands requiring them to correctly answer a question about the book. Students could play this game in groups with the first student to answer all of the questions correctly winning a prize.
Understanding different types of writing such as descriptive, persuasive and informative writing are other potential English project subjects. There are many ways a teacher can present this information other than a typical essay. With different project options, a student demonstrates they understand the concepts. One project option involves students keeping a writing portfolio with many types of writing kept together to create one project. This larger completed project can then demonstrate the knowledge of the included writing styles. Students might also write ads for specific items to practice descriptive writing or write commercials and songs for persuasive writing. Another engaging English assignment option involves the creation of a public service announcement to showcase informative writing.
Katy Lewis has been a freelance writer since 2010, specializing in parenting, education and health. She holds a Bachelor of Science and Education in English from Northeastern State University. She also holds an Associate of Arts in English from Tulsa Community College.