Implementation of “You can’t judge a book by its cover. Or can you?” (SOI-MT-348)

Author: Maria Martinelli, Primary Teacher

School/Organization: Fgura B Primary School, Malta

I selected the learning scenario ‘You can’t judge a book by its cover. Or can you?’ Learning Scenario because I thought it was very suitable to complete during World Book Week at my school, since we already had many activities planned. I decided to carry out literacy activities by emphasizing the learning scenario and the English idiom “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. This brought a focus to children book covers and students practiced various skills, apart from reading.

Children book covers

I have 17 students in my class, 16 of which are fluent English speakers. They are aged 8-9 and are in Year 4. The students in general have very few familiarities with digital heritage, however I have always tried to find such similar resources and include them in my lessons. To give an example, when talking about the past in Malta, I display arts and science digital heritage such as a popular song or music style from the 1900’s.

Europana Gallery Book Covers

I adapted this learning scenario for my students who are aged 8-9 years. I focused more on children’s books rather than all the book covers in the Europeana Gallery, specifically Alice in Wonderland and Hansel and Gretel. Book Covers | Europeana We also referred to book covers of the same story in Maltese. The students participated in a quiz about children book covers to assess prior knowledge. Quiz During the week before World Book Day, the Learning Support Educators and I changed the classroom front door and stuck on different classic children book covers. This intrigued the students and created a discussion.

World Book Day

On the day after World Book Day, the whole school celebrated by wearing a costume of their favourite book character and bring a prop. In my class, students presented a show-and-tell where they talked about the key features of the book, the front cover, and gave a summary of the story. They discussed and asked questions about why it is their favourite book. Following this activity, there was a school-based initiative to Drop Everything and Read. The students got comfortable and engrossed themselves in the book.

Students during Drop Everything and Read

Book Covers Design and Reviews

Next, the students got to practice some wrapping skills by wrapping their book with plain brown paper. They wrote the title and author, and they left some clues. The books were then distributed randomly, and students planned and created a new book cover on the application WorkSpace and j2e on their learning pad (tablet). j2e They rated the book before reading it, and then rated it after as well. I suggest a 30 minutes time slot for the show and tell, 30 minutes for the wrapping and clues activity. I allocated a whole lesson time slot (45 minutes) for the students to plan, design and create the book cover digitally.

Students wrapping their own books and leaving some clues

Students created their book covers using WorkSpace

Learning outcomes from the Year 4 English Curriculum:

  • LS 5.10 I can listen to others, letting them put forward their point of view and take turns in a discussion and/or conversation.

The students practiced listening skills by listening attentively to each other’s presentations and asking questions about the books.

  • LS 5.11 I can, in my own words, retell an audio or written text, ordering the main events in the correct order.

The students presented a book review orally by talking about the title, book cover, author and illustrator, and a summary of the story.

  • R 5.6 I can express my opinions about a text at my own reading level, giving clear reasons why I like or dislike the text.

The students discussed the main parts of the book which they liked and why the book chosen is their favourite book.

Additional learning outcomes:

  • Digital-literacy skills by using the app WordArt to create a book cover of their own.
  • The students collaborated by leaving clues and sharing books with each other.
  • The students familiarised themselves with classic children book covers.

The students really enjoyed all the activities, especially because they had the opportunity to play dress up and share their favourite book with their friends. I am hoping to see an increased interest in reading in general, as well as better evaluations of book covers. The only advice I give to other educators is to find resources that are suitable for the age group and that would engage them the most.

My experience I was inspired to be more creative and resourceful when using Teach with Europeana resources. Teach with Europeana  I highly encourage other educators to make use of digital heritage to make teaching and learning more authentic. Finding Europeana resources was very easy through the search bar. Book Covers | Europeana However, one must be careful that activities and resources are age-appropriate and adapt when needed to. I found many other Europeana resources related to European textual heritage that can be used to implement this learning scenario. Furthermore, I found additional learning scenarios regarding literature that can also be used, especially during World Book Week. A learning scenario I am looking forward to carry out in my classroom is Book Design Workshop by Sanja Ždralović. Book Design Workshop  Although I did not collaborate with colleagues, I did share my lesson ideas with them and suggested using the website Teach with Europeana.

Did you find this story of implementation interesting? Why don’t you read about the related learning scenario? You can’t judge a book by its cover. Or can you? (LS-PL-220) created by Katarzyna Siwczak

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Public Domain Mark 1.0: the featured image used to illustrate this article has been found on Europeana and has been provided by the Rijksmuseum.

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