Anyone who has read my blog knows I am always up for taking risks in the classroom. Yesterday was the culminating activity to another one I am excited to share with you. About a year ago, I read Dave Burgess’s blog post, A Deep Dive Into Creativity. It was all about using the Oscars as a way to get kids talking about the books they were reading. I loved the idea but didn’t go anywhere with it at the time. Fast forward to a few months ago (and a podcast reference to his idea), and I was suddenly totally into trying it NOW.
I started by having the kids come up with categories that they thought represented the best parts of books. I had a few of my own ideas and a few of Mr. Burgess’s to back us up just in case they struggled. Not only did they come up with the same ideas I already had (without my prompting), but they came up with a few more that I had never even considered. That part right there would have made this activity worth it. They were talking about books in a new way. Of course we didn’t stop there though.
Once we set up the categories, the kids got to work. Each student created a minimum of two presentations for their nominations. Most of the kids used Google Slides, but others also chose to use Prezis, Microsoft Sways and Flipgrid videos. Students’ were able to use whatever means they wanted to be able to share their enthusiasm for the nomination. I loved watching a few of them step out of their comfort zone to create using a new tool. To go with their presentations, each kid also had to share 5 reasons why they picked that book/character/author/etc… for their nomination. Once again, students were talking about books! They weren’t being forced to answer a worksheet of questions or take a quiz on what they read. They were sharing their favorite parts about being a reader. Even the reluctant readers were getting into the activity.
I wanted this to be a full-on student centered event. I just needed to help with a few logistics and organizational elements. So, while they were creating their nominations, they were also designing the winners’ certificates and making trophies in our Makerspace. Students also created an acceptance speech. Since they didn’t know if they were going to win, everyone took it very seriously. We talked about what kinds of things should be said and why they were important to talk about. Now, the kids were also writing about the books and some would be talking about them in the ceremony!
After they had enough time to share their presentations (through a Google Form set up so that I had an easily accessible location for them all!), they chose their classmates as a formal “Nomination Committee”. The only rule was that they could not vote for themselves and they had to choose people from their own class. Since I was doing this for two separate classes/grade levels, I felt it was important to make sure we had a committee that wouldn’t favor anyone specifically. The Nomination Committee had the difficult job of narrowing each category down to the top 5 to become finalists. They gave up their recess time for about a week to be able to do it. Once they were done, I felt we had a pretty good selection for the classes to vote on.
The finalists’ presentations were shared with the classes through another Google Form. Each student in both of the classes voted on their favorite for each category. I was able to split this into three sections so we didn’t take a lot of class time to go through each of the finalists’ nominations and vote. Some of the categories came down to 1 or 2 votes to determine the winner. Watching the 100% anonymous (this was very important to me) votes as they came in was exciting!
The morning of the awards ceremony was impressive. I had convinced 11 other staff members to dress in formal wear (not an easy feat!) to be our presenters. Students were encouraged to dress as their favorite book characters or in something “fancy”. Boy did some of them dress to impress! We even had a professional photographer and a few parents act as paparazzi to take their picture as they walked the red carpet! As each adult announced the finalists and finally the winners to the audience (parents and other classes), there was lots of clapping and cheers. Each winner received the student-created trophy, certificate and a prize bag (where I had given them a few things to make it more special.) I loved watching not only the winners, but the anticipation of the audience as each award was given.
There were so many moments of this activity that made it all worth it. One of them came from a parent who commented that this made his son’s love of reading more evident than taking a book quiz and earning points could ever do.
This was our first year doing the event (which it truly became!). It will not be our last!
Just a few pics from the event with student-created certificates (shown on the screen) and picking up a trophy.
20+ year teacher, mother of 2 kids and 2 dogs, wife, lover of all things M&M, interested in tech in the classroom, and changing up my teaching