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Essential Skills

Found in: language arts & literature; book report

One of the best book report ideas I have used with 8th graders uses the Lifeskills list found in Susan Kovalik's book, Iti: The Model Integrated Thematic Instruction. 

I took the fifteen vocabulary words (LIFESKILLS) -- like integrity, perseverance, patience, etc. -- and gave them to the students. After a two-day discussion of all fifteen attributes and how these skills show a well-rounded person, we located passages in a short story showing some of the Lifeskills in the behavior of the characters.

I then asked the students to take a major character from a novel they were reading, and locate passages throughout the book that were the best examples of each of the fifteen Lifeskills. I instructed them that they were to search and locate passages throughout the book and that no passage could be used more than once. I included instruction in how to cite from a book and also required them to defend their selections. Thus, each entry had to follow a certain format: Lifeskill, exact passage showing the lifeskills, pages X to Y, and two or three sentences defending the choice of passage.

I found students comparing passages and really spending time thinking about why one passage was a better example than another. An added bonus to this format was that it helped students see how to quote from a book. So, when we studied how to do a Research paper with citations, they remembered the format from the book report, and could understand how to use quotation marks, underlining, etc. Their finished reports were more thoughtful than the usual book reports used in the past and it also met many of our state's Essential Skills.


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