Like all teachers, I read a story to the class every day. The majority of the time, the book tends to deal with something we're currently studying. Or it may be about a particular holiday we're about to celebrate. Either way, it's directly tied to something we're doing.
A problem came up recently at my school about upper grades having to do book reports, and I remembered how difficult it was to find something to say about what I'd read when I was in grade school. Which got me to thinking...was there any way I can start to prepare my students for book reports?
Here's the method I've adopted. Using this simple wipe-off board, after reading the book, I get a quick consensus from the group. How many liked it, and how many didn't? (Show me thumbs-up or thumbs-down.) The number of likes goes underneath the happy face, dislikes go beneath the sad face.
Now, why did they like or dislike the book? What was their favorite part? And what part of the story did they not enjoy?
Not only do the children get into the spirit of discussion, but their answers are a great way to build their vocabulary, and use correct grammar.
In addition, I've often caught the children continuing the discussion, aka debate, during recess and center time!