Clueless student writers benefit from a fill-in-the-blanks book report form

Although a specific prewriting organizer for a book review (see last week’s blog) is sufficient help for some writers to get going, for other students, this is not enough. “Yeah, but how do I begin?” they ask after they have filled in the boxes of the organizer.

For them, I use a fill-in-the-blanks book review. It looks like this:
Form fill-in-the-blanks book report

Form fill-in-the-blanks book report
When students have filled in the blanks I ask the students to read the black typed parts and their own words aloud, listening for mistakes. Together we correct the mistakes.

Then I either accept the book review as is, or I ask the students to rewrite it on a different sheet of paper, using the black typed parts and their own words but leaving out the red directions. Rewriting the fill-in-the-blanks sheet strengthens the features of a book review in the students’ minds so I see this as a useful task. Plus it prepares the student for revising in the future.

A fill-in-the-blanks book review form is a crutch for primary school students and ESL students who don’t know what is expected in a book report. After students use it a few times and become comfortable with its features, I ask them to look at it while they write their reviews, but to write their reviews on a different sheet of paper. Eventually, as they become more confident writers, they no longer need it.

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