I have been mulling over a couple of issues with my 11yo son, wondering how to inspire him to (a) read books that might be a bit more challenging, and (b) write.
He has always been a fantastic reader and loves to read. But getting him to read more challenging books, not just the exciting books (i.e. Fablehaven, Harry Potter, the Olympians, etc.) has been a struggle. These books he reads are great, I've enjoyed some of them myself, but I just would like to see him branch out some more. He does seem to love listening to me read aloud the more classic books, though. Anyway, I came up with what I think is a brilliant plan. I invited him to read books with me (not aloud, just separately but at the same time). So, first he chooses a book and then I choose a book. It's been great! He chose first. I was reluctant at first to read what he chose (The Candy Shop War) because of my goal to have him branch out. But then I realized if I didn't trust his choices, he wouldn't trust mine. We also have a deadline by which the book needs to be read. So far we've read Candy Shop War and Castle Corona (actually B's choice because she thought to join in for a minute). And now we are reading The Westing Game (my pick). And the best part of it is, I am being forced to read (not that I need much arm twisting, but giving myself time to read isn't always easy these days...now I have a great excuse...there's a deadline!). I'm excited to see how challenging I can get as the year goes on. :-)
As for the writing. Well, I didn't realize he didn't like writing until recently. The kid will do whatever I ask him to do...but I want him to love it! Well, in our new learning system (to be explained in a different post) he wrote down "movies" as one of his goals. What!?!? So, I explained that he could add movies to his list, but he had to do more with the movie than just watch it for watching's sake, you know... discuss it with mom, answer questions about it, etc.... And then it hit me....Why not combine something he LOVES with something he doesn't like so much?? I did a bunch of research and found some websites that discuss how to write a movie review. Today was his first trial. We read the tips on how to write a review. Then I had him read some example reviews and highlight the parts in the reviews we wanted to include in his reviews (i.e. character development, opinion, etc.). And then he chose and watched Toy Story 2 (I wanted him to start with a simple movie). He took notes while watching and now has a deadline to finish his review (edited and revised) by Friday. We'll see how it goes, but I'm excited to try it out. Maybe we'll post his reviews on the blog for added incentive and enthusiasm. :-)
Websites I found:
Teach with Movies - this site has an annual fee, but I like it for the age-by-age movie suggestions
How to Write a Movie Review (the best one I found)
Scholastic movie review ideas (this has some printable pages I kind of liked)
***note: my friend found a free website with worksheets and questions tied to movies, I'm still waiting to get that site info from her and will add it soon