Whether students see themselves as ‘readers’ or not, reading is an essential 21st century skill. Students are probably reading more than ever; the preferred texts may be Facebook updates rather than a paperback, but reading is still a vital skill in analysing all manner of texts, understanding traditional and social media and communicating online and offline.
The Readers’ Cup is a competition that rewards students who enjoy and are good at reading. Just as students who are good at sport receive rewards, then good readers should receive prizes and certificates for competing at reading.
The Readers’ Cup competition consists of teams of two to four students reading three or four individual books that have been selected by the school Readers’ Cup convenor, perhaps in collaboration with the students involved. Students enter individually (and then are matched with other individuals) or in teams.
Depending on the number of interested students, competitions can be held for each year level from 3-10, divided into 3 & 4, 5 & 6, 7 & 8 and 9 & 10. At a previous school, we ran heats in terms 1, 2 and 3 and the winners went through to the grand final, held in term 4.
Once teams are formed and books have been read, teams compete against each other in heats. Each team provides written answers to four questions about each book as well making a creative presentation on one book. Correct answers are worth one point each. The creative round is worth a total of eight points.
Drama can be added to the competition via unveiling and updating scores for each round. The teams with the highest scores go into the finals.
The winning team at each level can then represent the school at the State finals.
The creative round includes options to respond such as:
- Develop a game show (can be videoed beforehand or have video segments)
- Make and explain a poster (using a tool like Glogster)
- Compose a song or rap (can also be videoed or recorded via a tool like Audioboo)
- Make and explain a mural
- Create an ‘A-Z’ of the novel (using a tool like Wallwisher or Glogster)
- “This is your life” which can include a range of multimedia elements
- Character interviews (could be developed using GoAnimate or ToonDoo)
- Create an interactive map with pictures and details (using HistoryPin or Google maps)
- Create a news presentation (can be videoed with a range of multimedia elements)
- Create a “Fakebook” profile for several characters and include interactions
- Create an ‘email inbox’ for one of the characters. What type of messages might there be and who from?
- Make a book trailer (using animoto or Photopeach)
- Create a video game (using Scratch, gamesalad or other tool)
- Other options are encouraged via discussions with the Readers’ Cup convenor
Teams are awarded one point for each of the following:
- Involvement by each group member
- A description of the processes used to develop the activity
- Knowledge of the story and the underlying themes
- Effort and organisation
- Success in engaging the audience with the presentation
- Completion within 5 minutes
If at all possible, holding the Readers’ Cup at your school in the evening means parents and even grandparents can attend and support their children/grandchildren. Some parents have negative memories of school and only attend school on parent/teacher nights, which can be stressful. The Readers’ Cup is a positive and fun way for parents to attend a school event.
If you have to hold the Readers’ Cup during the day, you’ll need to decide if you (and the competing students) are happy to have other students in the audience or if you will limit the audience to friends of the participants.
It is also highly desirable to have a male teacher host the Readers’ Cup competition (they don’t have to be the convenor, just read out the questions on the day) as it is very powerful to have a male ‘reading role model’. If you can get a member of the Phys Ed staff to do it, even better.
It’s also suggested that Principal class, leading teachers and local ‘celebrities’ are asked to judge. They’ll enjoy it and it’s great to have their support of the students and the competition.
Why hold the Readers’ Cup at your school?
The students really love it and it is another great way to engage them with reading. The Readers’ Cup competition is a highly visible form of promoting and recognising the importance of reading. As a reading incentive program it is an excellent way to promote literature and libraries. A competition with focus on academics, it encourages team building.
Some English teachers may also include the competition in their assessment plans as part of an extension reading program. Most of the books selected are also on the Premier’s Reading Challenge list, so the students can read the books once, but use them twice.
The aspect of using technology to create presentations gives the students an opportunity to work collaboratively with technology and to decide which tools to use and how best to portray their knowledge of the book. It means that students need to think deeply about how to demonstrate their understanding as well as ensuring that the presentation is entertaining. Students are learning skills such as scriptwriting, filming and editing as well as using higher order thinking skills such as analysing, evaluating and creating.