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Lesson Plan

Book Reviews, Annotation, and Web Technology

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Book Reviews, Annotation, and Web Technology

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Unit
Estimated Time Six 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Patricia Schulze

Yankton, South Dakota


National Council of Teachers of English


Student Objectives

Group Reading and Discussion

Group Reviews

Group Annotations and Web Work

Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • read, discuss, and keep a journal on a book in literature circles.

  • understand the elements of and collaborate on a book review.

  • create a Website based on their book review.

  • learn to use parenthetical references and a works-cited page in a research paper.

  • use the Internet for research and write an individual research paper.

  • hyperlink their research papers (annotations) to their book review.

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Group Reading and Discussion

  1. Select groups or let students select groups of 3 to 5 to work together. Often groups will be formed by the books they choose for their literature circles.

  2. Review the elements of fiction with students.

  3. Students read their book together and keep notes of discussions and of important things they notice in their reading journals as they read. Have them keep track of their feelings and opinions as they read and discuss the book. Ask them, too, to keep track of things such as main characters, conflicts, settings, and quotations that they think might be important; what they think the author's purpose might be; and whether or not the author achieves his or her purpose. They will use these ideas when they write their book review.

  4. When they have finished discussion, the groups should read through their journal notes and put a check next to the details they want to include in their review. Be sure that they don't give away too much of the story in their review.

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Group Reviews

  1. After they have finished gathering details, the students will write a group book review.

  2. Explain the difference between a book report and a book review. Reviewers express their opinion of the book. It isn't enough, however, to say that a book is good or bad. They have to support their opinion with explanations and specific references to the book itself, including quotations, rather than give a synopsis of the book. Refer to Writing Book Reviews and Write a Book Review with Rodman Philbrick for tips and strategies for writing book reviews.

  3. Look at and compare the three sample reviews in this article from the University of North Carolina Writing Center. Most reviews name the title and author, include a brief summary of the book without "spoiling" the book for the reader, comment on the book's strengths and weaknesses, and include a personal response. 

  4. Working together, students write their first drafts using the details that they checked. (Remember that reviewers comment on the important parts of the book but do not give away too much of the story. Here is a sample book review of To Kill A Mockingbird and some ideas for ways to write one.)

  5. Once they have their final review written, they copy and paste it into a Web page using Web-authoring software such as Microsoft FrontPageŽ. This is the homepage that they will hyperlink to their annotations.

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Group Annotations and Web Work

  1. Students will each write short research pieces on the areas they want to annotate in their review. Possible topics could include the author, the setting, connections with history, and other topics mentioned in their book. For example, if they were writing an annotated review over the book Night by Elie Wiesel, they might want to do research on the author, on Sighet in Transylvania (Wiesel's hometown), on the Talmud, on the cabbala, on Zionism, on Auschwitz, on the Resistance, on the liberation of Buchenwald, or on any other topics they notice while reading.

  2. If desired, students can use the Literary Elements Map to gather additional details on the text they've read.

  3. Students use the notes that they took on topics for research while reading the book. They then read over their review to see which they included.

  4. Let them decide which parts of the review they want to annotate and assign topics to group members.

  5. Using the Internet and other library resources to research their topics, students take notes on index cards or in a note file on their computer. Be sure to have them get complete source information for all written sources and URLs of all Internet sites used.

  6. Students then word-process their research topics. Be sure that they use parenthetical notation for any quoted or paraphrased sections of their report and include a works-cited page at the end of their report, using an agreed-upon style (e.g., MLA). This Annotating resource from Colorado State University may help students to determine what should be annotated.

  7. As a group, students review and edit each piece.

  8. Finally, they copy and paste each report to a new Web page. Have them add pictures and graphics that complement their writing and then hyperlink their reviews to each report and hyperlink the reports back to the review. (Be sure that they check all of their links to make sure that they work.)

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Much of the assessment of the project is teacher observation and anecdotal note taking. It is a good idea to have students do a reflective journal over the process of putting together the project. You may also choose to use a rubric for student annotated book reviews.

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