The Battle of the Books has been a favorite tradition in our Elementary School for the past 8 years. When I took over the Battle in 2012, I was excited to carry on the tradition, while also hoping to improve upon the program over time.
The goal of my Course 5 Final Project was to preserve all the fun aspects of the Battle program that students love, while also making the most of technology to create a deeper learning experience for them. I tried to keep the following standards in mind as I considered how we could use technology to strengthen reading reflection and learning within the program:
ISTE Standards for Students
1. Empowered Learner
Students leverage technology to take an active role in choosing, achieving and demonstrating competency in their learning goals, informed by the learning sciences.
3. Knowledge Constructor
Students critically curate a variety of resources using digital tools to construct knowledge, produce creative artifacts and make meaningful learning experiences for themselves and others.
6. Creative Communicator
Students communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats and digital media appropriate to their goals.
Google Forms has proven to be an invaluable tool for students to use as a form of reading reflection and response. Google Spreadsheets collects students responses from the forms and allows me to quickly sort them for easy tracking.
Padlet is a great tool for sharing student progress with their Battle Badges.
Various video apps have made it easy for students to record book reviews, which is a great form of reading reflection.
Seesaw makes it easy for students to share their book reviews with me, and also allows me to provide feedback.
Kahoot is a fun way for students to review the Battle Books and keep important themes of the book fresh in their minds.
Google Docs made it easy to share a research template with the students. All they had to do was make a copy and share it with me. It’s also easy for me to comment within their doc to provide feedback.
I’ve made use of my Learning Commons blog as a hub where students can find everything related to the Battle. From our Battle of the Books page, they can learn about Battle basics, see which books they’ve read, view the badges they’ve earned, and fill out the Google Form to earn points and badges. One thing I didn’t mention in my video is that I’ve also invited students who have read all 10 Battle Books to be guest bloggers who share their experience with the Battle. It’s another way to celebrate their achievements.
The students have really embraced the changes and additions to the program. They love filling out the Google Form and sharing their summaries and reflections about the battle books. They also enjoyed making the book review videos, and they are excited about the battle research projects we’ve just started. So far, I’ve only started the research projects with a few of my high flyers, but the rest of the students will begin them soon.
I am really happy with the progress we’ve made in the program this year. Our battle books are full of rich themes, and it’s wonderful to see the students thinking more about the books, developing empathy for characters, and making personal connections to the events in the stories.
Do I think we could have done more, and done it better? Of course! There is always room for improvement. But, the reality is, I was out on leave for a few months due to an unexpected spine surgery, so some of my good intentions had to be set aside. One thing I would have liked to do that didn’t happen was to use Padlets as a tool for reading response during our battle book read alouds. Had I been there, we would have done that. I also would have liked to have the students create Book Trailers for the Battle Books. Ideally, it would have been nice to start the research projects much sooner to give the students time to dig deeper into the topics and spend more time working on their media projects. And I’d love to spend time helping the students get their book reviews onto their blogs to share their reading voice. I only see the students for 50-minutes in each 6-day cycle, so our time together is limited, but technology integration has helped us to do more with the time we have, and I am very appreciative of that!
While I know there is room for a lot more growth, we did come a long way this year. The Google Forms, Battle Book Reviews, and Research Templates have been a great way to get students digging deeper into reading reflection. As a librarian, my role is different from that of a classroom teacher, but I do want to support students in building their reading skills. I feel like these additions to the program have helped students to think more about their reading and hopefully go to a deeper level of comprehension.
Did this implementation meet the definition of Redefinition?
For me, and for the purposes of the Battle Program, I think the answer is yes. While our Google Forms and Book Reviews may not seem like groundbreaking or deep projects, they are an addition to our Battle Program that has made a difference for student learning and wouldn’t be possible without the technology. Thanks to the tools we’ve added to the program this year, over 300 students are able to share their reading reflections with me and with one another. It’s been wonderful to see and hear their terrific responses to the battle books this year!
My iMovie skills are still a work in progress, but I’ve learned a lot about iMovie through creating this video, and I plan to put those skills to good use in the future! All photos and images in the video are my own work.