Wixie provides students with tools they can use to combine text, images, voice narration and video to demonstrate their understanding. Take a hint from the maker movement and move beyond filling in the blanks with these creative comprehension tasks that help develop a passion for reading literature and gaining knowledge resulting in unique student projects.
Use these four authentic product ideas to evaluate comprehension for either literature or informational texts.
Students love the excitement of a Western-style Wanted poster and these are great ways to get students to think about content from a new perspective.
In literature, Wanted posters can help students move beyond a simple copy and paste of information to a more sophisticated catalog of a character's traits. For example, asking students to identify a “last seen” or “often found in” location provides an opportunity for them to demonstrate what features and characteristics look like in action.
When working with informational texts, an obvious fit for a Wanted Poster is to showcase facts about a historical figure. Students can also use a Wanted Poster to personify historical objects, scientific elements, or even mathematical concepts.
A wanted poster format is also a fun and different way to engage students in new vocabulary and grammar skills. For example, students can identify synonyms and antonyms in their Wanted Posters that describe character’s aliases and enemies.
Comics and graphic novels are quickly becoming accepted forms of both literature and informational texts and creating comics in response to text can be as engaging as reading them.
Because of the limited space for text in comic panels, students must summarize key events and details to evaluate which information is critical to share.
Creating a comic strip is also a great way to get students thinking about informational texts. Again, the limited amount of space in a comic’s panels requires students to choose the most significant points in a text. The visual nature of comics helps students cement ideas through nonlinguistic representation, further bolstering comprehension, and retention.
Creating comics based on informational texts also helps students more easily connect to information as they develop narratives to share information or arguments to raise awareness and change behavior. Sequencing and logic are crucial to good storytelling, and students quickly learn that they cannot simply jump forward in time or around in space.
While print books are still common, many students have read a story on a tablet or explored an online textbook. Asking students to create their own eBook stories and informational texts lets them see their writing effort as valuable, especially when you intend to publish them for an audience outside of the classroom.
An easy way to begin, especially with emerging readers and writers, is to have students create adaptations of the stories you are reading in the classroom. Read a familiar pattern story, such as Charles G. Shaw’s It Looked Like Spilt Milk and ask each student to create a page that completes or changes the sentence. Combine them together for a class book.
Combining visuals with text allows students to demonstrate learning without struggling to tell their story using only words. Recording narration provides an opportunity for nonthreatening practice as they record, listen, record again, listen, and finally save. The recordings also provide performances you can use to assess fluency.
Older students can create adaptations on their own, modernize fairy tales and fables, or create variations and new endings to the stories they are reading.
Students can also create their own informational texts to share learning and inform others. Ask your elementary students to research and create nonfiction eBooks on their passions and interests. This is especially helpful if you are having trouble finding informational texts leveled for your learners. After all, who better to write a book at a second-grade level than a second-grade student?
This is also an opportunity to teach students about the elements of nonfiction text that help a reader find information. Be sure they know their work should have images, headings, labels, and a table of contents to help readers find information. If you are concerned about students simply copying and pasting information, try a format like an ABC book, Associative letter report, or even Fact or Fiction book.
Crafting fictitious interviews helps students learn to ask great questions and well as share content. Because interviews are written in first-person perspective, students must empathize with their subject and cannot simply copy and paste information or regurgitate facts.
Interviewing the protagonist or antagonist in a story gets students thinking more deeply about a character’s traits and motivations as well as how they experience events in the story.
Crafting a fictitious interview can help bring abstract scientific concepts to life and make history more personal. For example, students could interview the Great Sphinx of Giza, a water molecule as it progresses through the water cycle, the life of a trafficked pangolin, or the feature in Paul Revere’s hat.
Put students in charge
“With so many options for retelling, adapting, and digital writing, working in Wixie gives my students the freedom to get creative with the books we are reading and craft literature-related projects they want to show off!” -- Heather Temske, Georgia Educator
While the above products are engaging ways to demonstrate comprehension, they are also teacher-directed. If we want students to take ownership of their own learning, we need to give them agency in how they demonstrate their learning.
You can begin this process by giving students choice. Wixie includes choice boards for both literature and informational text you can assign to students so they can choose how they would like to respond to the books they are reading.
When comprehension tasks involve creating, student work looks and feels like the products they see in the world around them. Having students create to share knowledge and demonstrate understanding motivates and engages them by providing a more personal connection to the content they are learning in the classroom.