Monday, May 30, 2011

The Monthly Book Report

Joe's fourth grade teacher has been very creative in the way she assigns monthly book reports. Rather then traditional written papers, the projects have ranged in style from cereal boxes, mobiles and book covers to board games and pinwheels. Each form requires the same fundamental items (setting, characters, etc) but the production and vehicle for communication is different.

At the beginning of each month Joe chooses a book. By the end of the month, he's read five other books besides the one he'd planned for his book report. It's amazing to me that he doesn't mix everything up. He remembers the details of the characters, plot, thoughts, ideas - everything.

We work together on the reports. It's often a challenge and it would be fair to say that there is occasional dread involved (from both of us) at the impending due date. I've found that each report requires at least four hours and is best to do over two days - usually the weekend before it's due. Getting through each project is gratifying and, despite (not) infrequent arguments, his pride in the creations is gratifying. The time spent together bonds us. It's been good.

The final report of the year was "free choice" and Joe asked if he could do a movie trailer (I've been working with the students on digital stories so this is an acceptable format of submission) We got to work - starting with a story board... we created our own, not realizing that iMovie offers templates for movie trailers - had I known we were going to use one, I would have had him start there. (Live and learn --- Learn and live!)

We decided quickly that the kinds of images that Joseph wanted were too specific to find in a creative commons search, so he decided to draw his own. BEST DECISION EVER! His artistic skills (in my humble opinion as his mom) are stellar. Because we'd taken the time to make the story board he  knew exactly what illustrations he needed. It took out the guesswork. I taught him how to color his sketches in Adobe Photoshop - a program I use professionally. He was impressed with my familiarity of the software and he learned something about my field of work.

When he was done drawing, he took digital pictures of the illustrations and imported them to iPhoto, and from there to iMovie. Using the template provided, he chose the images he wanted; when he didn't like the number of images required by the template I explained how to add up the time of each clip provided so he could insert what he liked while keeping the movie in concert with the music.

Tomorrow Joe will turn in the dvd with the story board and notes in a plastic cd case What he created is really excellent. I'm a very proud mama.