Book Bento Boxes.
The name intrigued me immediately. I began to imagine miniature books presented artistically in a bamboo box. Then I remembered how un-artistic I am and the most creative experience I have had lately is using blue eyeliner instead of the stock standard black. Then I began to get hungry.
But I digress. Here is a Book Bento Box I prepared earlier using physical items.
Cover reproduced with permission from Kokoda: Teen edition by Peter FitzSimons, Hachette Australia, 2016.
Book bento boxes (BBB) is a multimodal and interactive reader response strategy to literature that promotes visual literacy, critical thinking and multiliteracy (Bales & Saint-John, 2020; Anstey & Bull, 2005). According to Bales (2018), BBB are adaptable and can be used at the beginning of a novel study to predict the events, in the middle to explain critical features or themes, or at the end of a unit of work to show understanding and comprehension. Most commonly used within the English curriculum, BBB can be successfully adapted to use across other disciplines for teaching and inquiry learning (Bales & Saint-John, 2020).
The concept underpinning book bento boxes is straightforward. Common household items or images are artistically arranged and used as points of reference for significant themes or events within the text (Bales & Saint-John, 2020). Their simplicity and scope for differentiation makes BBB an excellent strategy for capturing understanding in a formal or informal setting (Bales, 2018).
Far different from traditional book reports, BBB provides an alternative and creative method for promoting discourse (Anstey & Bull, 2006, p. 22). It allows the student to engage with the text and respond in a manner that utilises their own knowledge bank and best suits their abilities, as each reader’s comprehension of the text will differ to their peers due to the disparity in views, perspectives and mental acuity (Derewianka, 2015).
We have acknowledged that discourse is important for improving student understanding and success and the traditional method for discourse has been literature circles and book reports. I have previously discussed this in other blog posts, for example The books we read aloud are the ones that resonate the most so I will leave it here. BBB are an ideal reader response strategy for high school classrooms as they can be easily differentiated for diverse learners and promote multimodal literacy.
Here is a Book Bento Box I prepared using digital images (all with CC 4.0 or 2.0).
BBB can range from simple posters, to interactive digital images with embedded links for videos and external websites (Bales, 2018). They can be created individually or in collaborative learning groups, for teaching and learning as well as for assessment purposes.
Remember the poster presentation from days before Powerpoint? In the world before Powerpoint and mobile devices, students would create posters using cardboard, paper, coloured pens and magazine collages. This BBB option is still available for young children, or older students with minimal access to devices and software. In most Australian secondary schools, many students have access to mobile devices such as laptops or smartphones, so they are able to create digital images with or without embedded interactive features. By including annotations or a rationale with their work, the reader is able to justify the inclusion of their supporting items and thus illustrate their knowledge and understanding of the text (Bales & Saint-John, 2020).
The process to create a book bento box is quite simple and more detail instructions are here:
- Select a text.
- Select items or images that correspond to themes or events in the text.
- Arrange the items as artistically as possible.
- Take a photo.
- Edit the photo either using Powerpoint or your camera filters.
- Upload the image to Thinglink or you can keep using Powerpoint or Prezi or a poster.
- Add the interactive features (if desired).
- Add annotations or rationale (if desired).
- Share to learning management systems and emails (if desired).
So why is there a need to implement BBB into teaching and learning? Why change things up?
To put it simply, the reading paradigm has changed and therefore pedagogy must also change to support students in this new world (Mangen, Walgermo & Bronnick, 2013). As mentioned earlier, there are sufficient pedagogical reasons to use book bento boxes in teaching and learning. Firstly, exposure to a variety of good quality texts embedded across the curriculum has been proven to extend ICT capabilities, intensify engagement, improve cognition, boost emotional development and increase recall. By using this reader response strategy, students are increasing their visual literacy, critical thinking and consequently multiliteracy capabilities. It is also a whole lot of fun!!
Anstey, M., & Bull, G. (2006). Teaching and learning multiliteracies: Changing times, changing literacies . Newark, Del.: International Reading Association.
Bales, J. (2018, September 23). Book Bento Boxes. [Blog]. Retrieved from https://jenniebales.wordpress.com/2018/09/24/book-bento-boxes/
Bales, J., & Saint-John, L. (2020) Book Bento Boxes: Creative reading response. SCAN, 39. Retrieved from https://education.nsw.gov.au/teaching-and-learning/professional-learning/scan/past-issues/vol-39-2020/book-bento-boxes–creative-reading-response
Derewianka, B. (2015). The contribution of genre theory to literacy education in Australia. In J. Turbill, G. Barton & C. Brock (Eds.), Teaching Writing in Today’s Classrooms: Looking back to looking forward (pp. 69-86). Norwood, Australia: Australian Literary Educators’ Association. Retrieved from https://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2620&context=sspapers
Mangen, A., Walgermo, B. R. & Bronnick, K.A. (2013). Reading linear texts on paper versus computer screen: Effects on reading comprehension. International Journal of Educational Research, 58, 61-68.doi:10.1016/j.ijer.2012.12.002