Reading Menu Projects

This year I’ve had the opportunity to work with a fifth grade reading group. My day consists of almost all math instruction, so having a reading enrichment group is something different. I appreciate the different subject matter as I tend to look at most content through a math lens. The group meets every day for about 30 minutes. This is my third year teaching this  group and I’ve become more familiar with the resources every year.

I find that each year brings new ideas and this year is no different. I always tend to ask question about making relevant connections to the content that I teach. This year my students are studying Hamlet. They’re not delving too deep into the original text. In fact, we’re reading this book and have been exploring Hamlet for the past month. It’s been an exciting journey. Along with reviewing the play, the class used a character map, learned about Will, and viewed clips from a contemporary portrayal of Hamlet with David Tennant.

The class is now in the final stretch of our Hamlet unit. So, for the last unit I decided to try something different. Ideally, I’d like to have students remember Hamlet when they encounter it again in a few years. I decided to use a menu board approach.  Each student picked one project below.

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The class then reviewed a criteria for success rubric. Honestly, the rubric seems quite intense at first. But in all fairness, I needed to have a rubric that actually encompassed all of the menu items.

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I made sure to have the students review the part on the left side. In that past, I’ve found that sometimes students might pick a project that is less challenging. I was hoping to be proven wrong with this project.


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Students “signed-off” on the project and were committed.  I find value in having students actual write that they agree to the criteria.  I think it adds an ownership element that isn’t always there.  It also reminds me what resources to pick up before next class.

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I was pleasantly surprised to see that all of the menu items were picked – some more than others.

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Students were then given the remainder of that Monday to work on the projects. Near the end of class I told the students the plan for the rest of the week.  They had the next four days to complete their menu item. My job was to gather materials and the technology that was needed. I had to find more technology since my school isn’t 1:1. I begged and borrowed from the other teachers in my building to get enough Chromebooks and iPads to make the projects feasible. Priority for iPad and Chromebook use was given to the stop-motion-video and board game creators. I was pleasantly surprised to find that some of my kids wanted to create a video game using Scratch.  One of my favorites was a duel between Hamlet and Laertes, where Hamlet always wins.

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Near the end of the week most students were finished, although a few voluntarily came in during their recess to finish up the project. The next Monday was designed for feedback.

Over the weekend I created a Google Form for student feedback. Students scanned the code when they entered the class.  Each student filled out the feedback form and reviewed another student’s project.

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You can view the sheet here. Currently, the class is halfway through giving feedback because we’ve had a slight interruption because of Parcc testing. Tomorrow the class will be giving additional feedback. My plan is to print out the feedback and give the responses (without the names) to each student. The authors will then have an opportunity to analyze the feedback and give responses as needed.

The student engagement for this project was top notch and I was impressed with the quality of work produced.  This reading menu has me wondering how a menu system could be applied in the math classroom.  So far, I haven’t had as much success with a menu in the math classroom.  I’ve used choice boards, but they haven’ been anything spectacular. Anyone have success with this?  This topic is something to ponder before heading off into spring break next week.

Author: Matt Coaty

I've taught elementary students for the past 14 years. I enjoy reading educational research and learning from my PLN. Words on this blog are my own.

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