by Robyn Gioia
I was introduced to Reading Restaurant at a school get-together. Our school shared a professional day with teachers from a top-rated school in another district. Our assignment was to bring our favorite teaching units to share with everyone.
We met with the reading teachers. A manila folder was handed to us by two smiling masters. The manila folders were designed to look like restaurant menus. On the front cover was the title Reading Restaurant. When you opened the folder, you were met with a menu of different projects.
Instead of book reports or summaries, students have the opportunity to do a creative project.
Just like a restaurant, students select from each menu section. Their final selection must equal 100 points. For example, if they chose a 70 point dinner, they must choose another item worth 30 points.
The projects vary and can be tailored to the level and interest of your students. Some of the cool things are designing movie theater posters, writing and performing a play, or creating a cereal box that highlights selected literary elements with a playable game on the back. Of course you can add your own projects, but the restaurant menu format and a variety of projects is a big winner with the kids.
In my class, students usually mull over the selections. At the end of the month, each student presents their project to the class. I use a rubric to grade their project and presentation skills. Afterwards, the student audience is allowed to ask questions of the presenter. This generally creates a lot of excitement and generates a lot of interest in the different projects and featured books.