Beacon Lesson Plan Library

I Highly Recommend It

Carmel Monaghan
Bay District Schools


After reading "The Watsons Go to Birmingham" by Christopher Paul Curtis, students submit critical reviews via the Internet as a way to publish their personal responses to the novel.


The student paraphrases and summarizes text to recall, inform, or organize ideas.


-Copies of Curtis, Christopher Paul. [The Watsons Go to Birmingham] 1963. Bantam Books. New York. (enough for students to have their own, or one to read aloud).
-Computer with Internet access, printer, and projection TV.
-Pencils or pens


1. Gather materials.
2. Familiarize yourself with the text.
3. Assign reading to students, or begin reading aloud.
4. Create or copy scoring rubric.
5. Familiarize yourself with book reviews and the online submission of book reviews (practice by reading and submitting reviews for your favorite books or movies.)


1. Introduce the book by telling how exciting it is, that it won several awards, that they will love it, etc.

2. Allow students to spend approximately one and a half weeks reading the book in class.

3. Introduce students to the concept of online reviews of books. Show them other reviews written by children and adults of several books they know or have read as examples or non-examples.

4. Tell students they will be reviewing a book online themselves.

5. Share the rubric with students, explaining the process and desired product.

6. After completing the book, "The Watsons Go to Birmingham," students write out a review of the book on paper.

7. Collect the reviews and give feedback on the studentsí work based on the rubric, making suggestions for change without assigning a grade.

8. Return the papers to students in the next class, re-teach if necessary, and allow students time to edit their reviews.

9. Give students time to work with a peer group to read and share each other's reviews. Allow students to type their reports into Word and show them how to use the spelling and grammar tools.

10. Show the students how to submit a review to Amazon Website online (see Weblinks) by copying and pasting their text onto the site.

11. Students type their revised reviews onto the Website.

12. Students show the teacher their reviews online and print them for assessment.


Use the rubric located in the associated file to assess submitted reviews. Reteach, if necessary, any areas needing revision on an individual basis.

Note: Circulate and formatively assess students as they use the technology tools. Provide assistance for students who are experiencing difficulty and monitor accordingly.


This lesson requires that students be familiar with the elements of the novel, punctuation, grammar, and style. The book may be read aloud for students with lower reading ability. If it is read aloud, assessment of listening standards may be added to the rubric. The Powerpoint presentation and Webquest listed in the Weblinks can be used for extension of the lesson.

This book could be read in conjunction with the study of the Civil Rights Movement and U.S. History.

Web Links

Web supplement for I Highly Recommend It

Web supplement for I Highly Recommend It
PowerPoint presentation on THE WATSONS GO TO BIRMINGHAM, 1963

Web supplement for I Highly Recommend It

Attached Files

Critical Response Rubric     File Extension: pdf

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