Writing a Review

Part 1

Purpose:

Students will clarify and develop their own point of view.

Time:

1 period, about 45 minutes

Materials:

  • Copies of book, film, music and product reviews (samples are provided on this website) to be shared with the whole class.
  • Handout Writing a Review
  • Paper/pencils/pens

The Lesson:

  1. Distribute a copy of a review to the whole class. In whole group read the review.
  2. Ask students to search the review for facts. Give the class five minutes to find as many facts as they can.
  3. On the board or chart paper make two columns. Label the first column facts, label the second column opinion.
  4. Write down all student answers under facts.
    Ask: What information does the reader need to know?
    (name of CD/movie/book, performer/author…the list will go on until you have exhausted the obvious and start to get into interesting information, such as how many awards the performer/author has received or number of CDs/books to his or her credit. Some of these facts are what make a review interesting and informative to read.
  5. Have students re-read the review. Give them five minutes to find the opinion in the review.
  6. Write down all student answers in the column labeled opinion.
  7. Students will easily find the obvious opinion, but may not realize that each time the writer chooses an adjective to describe the product/performance he or she is giving an opinion.
  8. Distribute copies of the handout Writing a Review.
  9. Read over the handout in class.
  10. Ask students to bring in a CD and CD player (with headphones) to the next class. Ask them to choose CD’s with the liner notes still attached to the plastic case. They will need the liner notes for their review. Caution students about bringing in music that could not be shared in class.
    If you are concerned about the content of the songs, bring in a few current CDs that you know are appropriate for the classroom.

Part 2

Purpose:

Students will clarify and develop their own point of view.

Time:

1 period, about 45 minutes

Materials:

  • CD with liner notes (If the teacher is supplying the CD make sure students have a photocopy of the liner notes).
  • Internet access if liner notes are not available
  • Handout Writing a Review
  • Paper/pencils/pens

The Lesson:

  1. Ask students to take out their copy of Writing a Review. This will serve as a reference while they are writing their own review.
  2. Give students time to listen to a CD (either on a portable player with headphones or in whole class using a CD the teacher selects).
  3. While they are listening they should be taking notes, jotting down points on how the music makes them feel, the message in the lyrics and the overall sound. Ask the music teacher for suggestions on the technical points students might consider including.
  4. Have students read over the liner notes. Is there enough information here to write a review? If not, students may have to use the Internet to search the record label site for additional information on the band. Some popular performers will have their own web pages, but caution students against searching the fan sites. These can contain misinformation.
  5. Now they should have both fact and opinion notes. Give students time in class to write a review, or assign this for homework.

Assessment:

A sample marking scheme for reviews is provided

Part 3

Overview:

Writing about a book, film or CD you enjoy is easy. The task becomes more challenging when a reviewer has to spend time listening to music or viewing a style of film he or she doesn’t enjoy. The reviews must be fair. To accomplish this, the reviewer should set aside personal prejudices and approach the project with an open mind. Unfortunately, this isn’t always practiced.

Many of the students in your class will be able to cite examples of reviews that they believe are unfair. It happens especially when adults are sent to watch a film aimed at a teen audience.

The goal in this lesson is to put students in the shoes of a reviewer assigned to write a review of a CD or film they normally wouldn’t be interested in.

Purpose:

Students will clarify and develop their own point of view.

Time:

1 period, about 45 minutes (more time is required if a film is chosen)

Materials:

  • CD with liner notes or movie with fact sheet about the film (names of performers/director taken from Internet website) or liner notes.
  • Internet access if liner notes are not available
  • Handout Writing a Review
  • Paper/pencils/pens

The Lesson:

  1. In whole group give students time to listen to a CD or watch a movie.
  2. While they are listening or watching they should be taking notes.
  3. Have students read over the liner notes/ or the fact sheet on the film. Is there enough information here to write a review? If not, students may have to use the Internet to search entertainment sites for additional information. Again, caution students against searching the fan sites. Fan sites may contain misinformation.
  4. Give students time in class to write a review, or assign this for homework.
  5. When the review is complete (or a first draft) follow-up with the question: What challenges did you face as you wrote the review?
    Students should be discussing how difficult it is to be objective and fair in a review. If everyone is writing about the same CD or movie, ask students to share their opinions

Student Handout

What is a review:

A review is an informed opinion written about a product, such as a book or CD, or an event such as a concert, a movie or a television show.

The role of the reviewer:

The purpose of the review is to help the reader decide how he or she will spend their time or money. The reader wants to know:

  • Will I like this movie?
  • Should I buy this CD?
  • Is this book something I might like to read?

A review gives the reader a summary of the plot, show or music. A good review does not retell the entire story, or give away the ending.

A review must be fair. The writer should avoid being too harsh, or sounding too gushy over a performance.

What’s in a review?

  • Information such as the name of the author or director, the book title, names of performers and where the performance take place. Book and movie titles are always written in italic.
  • Details that describe the product. For example, a performance can’t be just “good,” it has to be described in more detail with the use of adjectives.

Example: Check out the technology story on the Apple iPod. Look at the descriptive words the writer has chosen to convince readers that “iPod is the best portable music device available.”

slick design stylish light-weight firm, but flexible strong engineering

The review gives the reader important details that may help decide whether to purchase an iPod.

“The iPod is more aesthetically pleasing than its predecessors and weighs about as much as a deck of cards. Equally important, is its ability to easily download and manage music.”

The writer also makes sure to point out iPod’s drawbacks. The big one is price ($349.99). It also has a weak battery and buttons that may be too sensitive for some users.

Teacher Assessment Tool

Rubric for a Review

Name : __________________________________________

Title: ___________________________________________

Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4
Opinion Contains no opinion Contains some opinion, but writer uses the word “I” Contains opinion without using the word “I” Contains opinion skillfully blended with facts or  information
Summary/ Description Summary of plot/story or product description missing Some summary of plot/story or product description missing Contains summary of plot/story or product description Contains a well-written  summary of plot/story or product description
Facts and information Contains no facts or information beyond title Contains some facts and information Contains many facts and information Contains well-researched facts and information
Paragraphs Paragraphs do not contain a complete thought Some  paragraphs contain a complete thought Most   paragraphs contain a complete thought All  paragraphs contain a complete thought
Spelling Review has more than five spelling errors Review has  three to five spelling errors Review has one to three spelling errors No spelling errors
Punctuation Review  contains more than five errors Review has  three to five  errors Review has one to three  errors No errors

 

Writing a Review Marking Sheet

Student Name: _____________________________________

Review: ___________________________________________

 

The review contains facts:

__ marks __Name of the movie/TV show/book/game
__Name of director/producer/publisher
__Name of actors/performers
__Additional information (production notes, history, awards, or other trivia of interest)

The review contains opinion:

__ marks __Personal opinion backed up with an example
__Opinions expressed by others

Conventions of Language Are Followed:

__ marks __Place names, titles and proper names capitalized
__Words are spelled correctly
__Each sentence contains one thought
__ Proper punctuation

Ideas are Expressed Clearly:

__ marks __Some of the time
__Most of the time
__All of the time

Two stars and a wish: