Graduation is the culminating ceremony which celebrates the achievements of students. It brings a sense of finality to graduates and their families. When our children were all under the age of five, my husband went back to college to earn an additional degree. Taking my young children to the university field house for graduation was a unique experience. My son, age three, wanted to know why daddy was wearing a dress. My oldest daughter, age five, wanted to know whose hand he was shaking on stage. Their curiosity and wide eyes warmed my heart as they watched their daddy finalize what he had been working toward. In READ 180, I watch as my students wrap up their independent reading by creating a final project. Creating and sharing a final project gives them closure and empowers them to move on to a new book. Sharing final projects with the class creates curiosity for new book selections. It’s an exciting time in my classroom!
Final Projects Demonstrate Comprehension
How It Works
When students finish reading a book during the Independent Reading Rotation, they complete a final project. The final project helps them demonstrate their understanding of the story elements. The final project guidelines are found in the READ 180 Teaching Resources book. In SAM, search keyword: Final Project. I have these guidelines printed and laminated. These laminated directions are taped to my counter for students to easily access. Students are provided final project choices and I manage the process. The final project choices in my classroom are:
· Create a Book Cover
· Letter to the Author
· Front-Page News Article
· Write a Book Review
· Make a Poster
· Create a Timeline
· Design a Slide Show
Students work on final projects during the Independent Reading Rotation. In my classroom, students are allowed five days to complete a project. Students write in their Daily Reading Log each day no matter if they are reading, doing Quickwrites, or working on a final project. This log helps us monitor the time spent working on a final project. When projects are completed, I grade them using the rubric found in the Audiobooks Teaching Resources. As time allows during our READ 180 class, students share their final projects with the class. This might mean sharing at the beginning of class or at the end before the hour ends. Sharing a final project at the beginning of the school year can be intimidating for some students. I allow them to share however they are comfortable; sitting, standing in front of the class, standing next to me, or allowing a classmate to work with them to share. Last year I had a student that was uncomfortable speaking to the class. I encouraged the student to hold the poster and I read the poster aloud. I asked the student probing questions to help her be more comfortable sharing. The class is also encouraged to ask questions about the final project and book as well. As the year went on this student gained confidence and was able to present independently. Final projects are displayed in my classroom for students to reference during the year. As students are selecting new books, I will often see them checking out final projects to help them in their book selection.
Over the years, I’ve watched students as they work on a final project. I love seeing their creativity spark as they complete a project. I appreciate their “take aways” from a book, which may vary from student to student. Helping students share their final project with the class is a proud moment. The student feels accomplished. It's also exciting to watch the class get excited about a new book.
Last week I met with one of my sixth graders to check in with him about his thoughts regarding his first final project. Here’s our conversation.
Mrs. Eskildsen: What was the first book you finished reading in READ 180?
Student: Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets by Dav Pilkey
Mrs. Eskildsen: Tell me about the final project you completed for Attack of the Talking Toilets
Student: I wrote a letter to the author. I wrote to him because he is my favorite author. It would be cool if he wrote back.
Mrs. Eskildsen: How did you know what to include when writing the letter?
Student: I used the direction sheet for writing a letter to the author. I asked you for ideas too. I didn't know I was going to have to write on the envelope but now I know how.
Mrs. Eskildsen: How many days did it take you to complete this letter?
Student: It only took me 2 days. I was so excited, I worked on it at home.
Mrs. Eskildsen: Tell me about when it was your turn to share your final project. What did you like or dislike about it?
Student: I shared my final project after morning announcements and before we started Whole Group. It didn’t bother me to read my letter to the class. I really like it when other kids talk about their book. It’s helping me learn about different authors.
Mrs. Eskildsen: What project do you think you will do for the book you are reading right now?
Student: Oh, I will for sure write a letter. I’m really enjoying the book and I want to know how he thought of the idea for the book, the invisible kid. I hope he writes back to me.
Final projects are a way for students to wrap up the reading of their independent reading book. Completing a final project brings them a sense of closure with their book, and it does provide me much joy to see their dedication to show what they know.
What final projects do you use in your READ 180 classroom? What positive experiences have your students had with final projects? Share a picture of a final project from your READ 180 class! My students would love to see what others are creating!
Mrs. Melanie Eskildsen works as a reading intervention teacher with grades k-8 for a small school district in rural Wisconsin. Mrs. Eskildsen also teaches 8th grade English. She earned a degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of Wisconsin- Stout in 1998. Later on she returned to UW-Stout to earn a reading teacher license. Teaching READ 180 is the most rewarding part of her school day. She has taught READ 180 Next Generation to grades 6-8 for the past eight years. There are many opportunities for outdoor adventures in Wisconsin. With her family Mrs. Eskildsen enjoys hiking, camping, biking, and snowmobiling.