Book Reviews, Annotation, and Web Technology
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Students work in groups to read and discuss a book, keeping track of their feelings and opinions about the book, as well as facts and quotations, as they read. After reading, each group goes through their notes on the book, marking items they want to include in a book review. They look at sample book reviews and discuss the common elements of book reviews. Next, each group works together to write a review of their book and use Web-authoring tools to publish the review onto a Web page. Students then decide which parts of their review they wish to annotate, with each student in the group responsible for one topic. Students research their topics, taking notes. Each student writes about his or her topic, including bibliographic information. The writings are then peer-reviewed by the group, published to the Web, and hyperlinked back to the group's book review.
The Annotated Book Review Project: This handout for students provides all the necessary details about the annotated book review project.
Student Annotated Book Review Rubric: Use this rubric to assess the book review project, including the graphics and layout, group book review, student research, navigation and links, and how well students worked together and followed guidelines.
From Theory to Practice
Patricia Webb suggests that using the Web supports "collaboration" and "opened up engaging discussions about audience, writing, and texts." Dean Rehberger emphasizes the importance of annotation when he states, "We do, after all, read texts as hypertexts. Rarely reading a book from cover to cover, we use tables of contents, indexes, footnotes, and endnotes to make links from passage to passage, text to text, idea to idea. We collect and catalogue information-building bibliographies, resources, and libraries-and then turn around and deploy the information-paraphrases, quotations, and imitations-finding "originality" often in synthesis and syncretism. To this end, in my classes I use the Internet to emphasize these older rhetorical arts to create what I have come to call living texts" (194).
Emphasizing the connection among reading, writing, and Web page design, this lesson combines collaborative, small-group, and individual learning activities using literature circles and group investigations as suggested by Harvey Daniels and Marilyn Bizar.
Common Core Standards
This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.
This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.
NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts
- 1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
- 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
- 5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
- 6. Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.
- 7. Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and nonprint texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.
- 8. Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.
- 11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
Materials and Technology
Assorted books for literature circles (to be read and discussed before this project)
- Prepare mini-lessons to review the elements of fiction and on the differences between book reviews and book reports.
- Test the Story Map student interactive on your computers to familiarize yourself with the tool and ensure that you have the Flash plug-in installed. You can download the plug-in from the technical support page.
- 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.
Group Reading and Discussion
- 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.
- Review the elements of fiction with students.
- 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.
- 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.
- After they have finished gathering details, the students will write a group book review.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- Once they have their final review written, they copy and paste it into a Web page using Web-authoring software such as Microsoft FrontPage®. This is the homepage that they will hyperlink to their annotations.
Group Annotations and Web Work
- 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.
- If desired, students can use the Literary Elements Map to gather additional details on the text they've read.
- 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.
- Let them decide which parts of the review they want to annotate and assign topics to group members.
- 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.
- 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.
- As a group, students review and edit each piece.
- 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.)