Submitted by: Esther McTague
As I teach 6th grade Language Arts in a departmentalized setting, I usually have 70-90 students. A Book Talk activity is a quick way to check on their free reading and develop speaking skills.
Students are to choose a fiction book they have read, and are given a rubric to prepare the required information. When they present the first book talk, they bring the book, give the rubric to me for grading on the spot, and use no other notes. I will prompt them if necessary. Later on, they may use notes when necessary.
Beforehand we discuss voice clarity/volume, eye contact with the audience, and how to avoid nervousness. I model the book talk, so they can hear what it might sound like.
Rubric - can be modified as necessary
Title and author of book
Time and place setting
Name and description of main character
Explanation of the character's problem
ONE way the character tries to solve the problem
Set up and read a short paragraph
Reader's recommendation of book
Voice - able to be heard/understood
Poise - standing still, giving good effort
Eye contact - speak to the back of the room
(all items are worth up to 10 points)
Add-ons have included:
making a book jacket showing the setting of the book
a collage of pictures from magazines, etc related to the plot, etc.
For a biography, a 3-D timeline of important events in the person's life or dress in character and speak in first person , etc.
I sometimes draw numbers for the order of presentation. Book talks are relatively short, so can be done a few a day over a time period. Students can sign up for a particular day in the week, with a due date established ahead of time.
As for the audience, they are expected to be good listeners. Students should listen with the idea they may discover a book they would like to read.