Uploaded by Amy Kenyon

Nonfiction Book project

Independent Book - Reading Project
The Independent Reading Project is a chance for you to truly ENJOY your reading. Explore honestly and
thoroughly, do the work and you’re guaranteed to do well on this project. Let me make this clear—the project
itself will not simply be finding and reading a book, though that is certainly one of your tasks. You will have
to complete all of the individual parts of the project in order to get maximum credit. Here in the order you
will turn them in are those parts:
1. Project Proposal: In a one (1) page typed statement, tell me what book you are reading, the author of
your book, why you are interested in this book/subject, and a sneak preview of what your actual final
project might look like. This proposal is NOT a schematic or a legal contract; you can change your
mind about your book or what your project will ultimately be as you make your way through the book.
I just need to know that you are thinking about the process and that you have some ideas.
2. Vocabulary Lists / Dialogic Journals: For whatever book you read, you will be responsible for
keeping a running list of at LEAST twenty (20) new vocabulary words that you’ve encountered while
reading your book. The list first needs to be written down and the new terms defined; finally, you
need to submit a neat, typewritten version of the list. You CAN feature more than 20 words in your
list though there needs to be at LEAST that number as a bare minimum. Also, you need to complete
the equivalent of five (5) days worth of Dialectical Journals for your book (that means TEN—10—
total entries; they need to be in order and spread throughout your book). Journals CAN be
handwritten though typed is preferable. Neatness is critical here Format for journal entries is below.
The journal will be in a two-column format as outlined below.
Provide the page numbers the entries will be covering at the top.
In the left hand column, you will be selecting a
passage – a few sentences to a paragraph that
captures your interest. Copy the passage EXACTLY
the way it was written in the text using quotation
marks and including the page number (I DO NOT
In the right hand column, you need to respond to the
passage. The response must touch on the following 3
1. Summary – an explanation of events that have
occurred in the section of the novel.
2. Analysis – an analyzing of a literary element in the
passage (figurative language, imagery, mood, etc.)
3. Interpretation/Commentary – your thoughts on
the passage. Predictions, questions, drawing
conclusions are all acceptable.
3. Book Talk: Each student will be responsible for a brief (5 minute) overview of his/her book. The
student will deliver a short speech about his/her book and lead a brief class discussion during which
he/she shares the key elements and/or highlights of his book with peers. Presenters do not need to
stand in front of the class to deliver their book talks, though they may choose to do so.
4. Final Project: The possibilities here are endless. Should you come up with an original idea you like
better than any I list below, GO FOR IT! Originality IS rewarded. Should you choose the original
route, just remember to let me know what you’re thinking of doing. Presentation of these projects to
the class during your book talk will conclude your projects.
Final Project Ideas: Now what are some potential project ideas? Here are a few :
Teach the class something about your book using monologues (solo speeches), dialogues
(speeches/conversations involving two people), recipes, memos (letters or correspondence
between characters), role playing, acting a dramatic scene, or a scrapbook
Use music, art prints, maps (is your book about a journey? Map that journey for your peers!),
games (invent a board game or simple computer game the class can play), a video presentation or
short movie, an imaginary radio show where you interview a main character from your book
Use newspaper articles or format, photos, pantomime, sculpture, puppets, or diorama (a scale
model scene from your book like those featured in Night at the Museum) to present some idea or
characters from your book
Create a picture book for children (this works ONLY for appropriate content) or design a brief
graphic novel of a key scene in the plot of your novel—you don’t NEED to create pictures for the
entire book!
Explain a process—how to make, do or build something. Build a model of something and explain
it or have the class build or make something while you tell us how
You might also take a more conventional route and do a brief literary/research paper on your
book. Should you choose this option, you NEED to consult with me about extra sources, possible
topics and the like.
Use a computer multimedia program (Microsoft PowerPoint or Windows Movie Maker, for
example) to create a faux-movie trailer or sneak preview of a film adaptation of your book.
PowerPoint slideshows about the author of the book—which typically have VERY little to do with
actual content of the book—are NOT allowed.
SUPER IMPORTANT WARNING: NO CHEESY POSTERS that simply restate the plot of the
book and feature a few pictures of characters from the book are allowed. NONE. Don’t even ask.
Students typically slap one of these together in about 5-minutes and it shows; such “projects”
don’t require ANY effort (come on—you’ve been reading your book for a MONTH and you can
only complete a crappy poster?!?!), originality and/or creativity—and they’re BORING for your
Finding a Book for your Project: What kind of book should you read? Where do you FIND this
magical book? What kinds of books are available? I cannot answer ALL of these questions for you,
though I can get you started on the right path.
What to read? Start with your interests or hobbies. I know most of you DO have things you are
passionate about (sports, music, history, computers, friends/relationships, mechanics, celebrities,
skateboarding, serial killers, etc.) and there is no shortage of novels/books dealing with this range of topics.
Subject searches at online booksellers (i.e. Amazon.com/books) will serve you well here. Also keep in mind
the kind of reading level with which you’re comfortable. Don’t read a complex 800-page espionage novel if
that’s WAY beyond your abilities.
You CAN read NON-fiction works (true books like Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl, Jon Krakauer’s
Into Thin Air, David McCullough’s John Adams, or Frank McCourt’s memoir Angela’s Ashes are good
examples of acceptable non-fiction works). Though I’d prefer you read FICTION books with conventional
plots, many non-fiction titles do have actual stories that are similar to their fictional counterparts. Should you
read a NON-fiction work, you will need to get my approval before using that title for your project. Also, I can
and will recommend things I think might connect well with your personality and/or interests.
NOTE: Most “How-To” books (How to rebuild a carburetor, How to Knit a Quilt, Microsoft Windows for
Dummies, How to Be a More Sensitive Spouse, How to Make Tasty Thai Food, How to Kill a Rat with an
Oboe, etc.), certain kinds of genre fiction (romance novels, children’s literature) and children’s picture books
cannot be used for your book project. As the saying goes, don’t even ask. Graphic novels are allowed,
though ONLY if the content/style is high school-appropriate (i.e. Art Spiegelman’s Maus; Marjane Satrapi’s
Persepolis; Jason Lutes’ Jar of Fools). Most manga/series graphic novels are NOT workable so if you have
one in mind, I’ll have to OK it first. Also, works with ‘adult’ content may require parental permission. By
‘adult’ content, I mean strong/vulgar language, adult situations/sexuality, and excessive violence. I reserve the
right to veto any book choice that I feel is of questionable merit/propriety. Even if I’ve NOT read it, I WILL
familiarize myself with your title to ensure it is school-appropriate. A good rule of thumb—if your folks
wouldn’t allow you to read it, you shouldn’t ask me to approve of it. End of story.
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