About the Project

As part of a Technology for Teaching and Learning class, I created a series of four “Technology Menu Projects.” These projects helped me explore activities that can function as alternatives to book reports and analysis papers. It also provided me with activity examples to share with my students in the event I bring one of these projects into the classroom. One benefit of completing the projects is that they made me consider what types of skills (analysis, summary, creative writing, etc.) each project prompts the creator to engage. Out of nine possible activities my instructor allowed us to complete, I choose four projects that I believe will encourage students to view a text from a variety of lenses, and through a variety of mediums. A brief explanation and photo of each project is listed below. Please click on the “View the Project” buttons to explore the full projects, read a more thorough reflection about making each project, and see a description of their potential classroom applications. 

Technology "Menu" Projects

"Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" Fakebook Page
Image Sources (left to right). "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes [Book Cover]. Retrieved from: https://encrypted-tbn0.gs. "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes [Play Bill]. Retrieved from: https://www.playbill.com%2Fproduction%2Fgentlemen-prefer-blondes-lyceum-theatre-vault-0000007103&psig=AOvVaw0Zww7qbPQi6z4cFG0_naFK&ust=1564970776739896

Why I chose this project for the text: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes  is a novel driven by voice. Anita Loos uses a diary-style format, full of misspellings and reality-detached musings, to characterize Lorelei Lee. The setting, plot, and character focus of the Fakebook project helped me keep track of the different locations, characters, and conflicts within the novel. However, this project allowed me to do more than summarize the plot. Because Loos gives each character a distinct and humorous voice that I was able to enact while creating each post, the project helped me consider how writers create voice and tone within their works, use language to characterize the people within the world of their novel, and establish believable relationships between characters.

Why use it in the classroom: A Fakebook page prompts students to explore how characters interact with each other at different points in a text’s plot. Through the act of writing in the voice of different characters, students consider how the author used language to create each character’s voice.

Great for texts: With non-linear or complex plots, many characters, and a first-person point of view. 


"Brave Girl Eating" Podcast Book Review
Image Sources (Left to Right). Headphones [image]. Retrieved from: https://depositphotos.com/187477610/stock-photo-fancy-headphones-laying-on-a.html; "Brave Girl Eating" [Book Cover]. Retrieved from: https://www.bookdepository.com/Brave-Girl-Eating-Harriet-Brown/9780749955236

Why I chose this project for the text: Brave Girl Eating  is a memoir that Harriet Brown notes she wrote with the intention of teaching the greater public about eating disorders and changing people’s perceptions of eating disorder suffers. The podcast review allowed me evaluate if I thought this work fulfilled its intention and consider how different readers might connect to this work.

Why use it in the classroom: A podcast book review asks students to consider the individual and cultural impacts of a text through the lenses of different audience segments. By imagining how different people might connect with the book, the project helps them challenge the notion of naïve realism, the idea that the “real” version of the text is the one that they experience.

Great for texts: With a social or political commentary, that explain real-world experiences, that are written for a specific audience .

"So Far From God" Children's Book
Images Sources (left to right). "So Far From God" [Book Cover Image], Retrieved from: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/p/so-far-from-god-ana-castillo/, Time Magazine. "The Poisoning of an American City." Retrieved from: https://time.com/4187507/time-flint-water-crisis-cover/

Why I chose this project for the text: So Far From God re-imagines a popular myth that is often told to children. By converting this novel back into a children’s story, I was able to consider how Ana Castillo evoked the popular La Llorona story to create a social commentary about promises, betrayal, and the effects of loss.  

Why use it in the classroom: A children’s book project allows students to focus on one the themes of a text and identify the main textual elements that build the theme. Through creative writing and visual art, this project helps students brainstorm ideas about the “aboutness” of a text and compile a resource of the textual elements that build that “aboutness.”

Great for texts: With a social or political commentary, that reference popular myths and/or elements of folklore, that fall within a magical-realist or science-fiction genre.

"Winesburg, Ohio" Playlist
Image Source: "Winesburg, Ohio" [Book Cover]. Retrieved from: Retrieved from: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22094293-hands

Why I chose this project for the text: Winesburg, Ohio is a collection of interrelated short stories, each with their own themes that connect to a larger argument about truth, hypocrisy, and identity. The playlist allowed me to close-read nine different stories within the text and then organize them into a cohesive story that touched on the overall theme of the work.

Why use it in the classroom: A playlist project asks students to close-read a text and then perform an analysis of both an element of the book and a song. 

Great for texts: That change point-of-veiw or narrators, that contain multiple short-stories, that are highly metaphorical. 

Creating the Menu Items

All menu items, with the exception of the Fakebook page, took me upwards of five hours to create. This is due to the fact I had to review the novels, learn the technologies involved in creating the products, and then actually produce the work. When I assign technology menu projects to my students, I will consider the amount of time it will take them to learn the applications in which they will be creating their projects and build that time into the assignment. Though these projects did take a considerable amount of time to complete, I found that my intrinsic motivation to finish them was high due to the fact that I had:

  • Choice in the menu item I created, which gave me the sense that I was completing each project out of my own self-determination.
  • The freedom to make different projects from my peers, which meant I was not worried about comparing my work to theirs or thinking about how they would go about the project. Instead, I focused on what I wanted to showcase about each text and create as an output. 
  • Some autonomy and discretion as to when I would complete each project (we had to create four projects within a seven-week time-frame).

The projects that asked for a creative product and justification as to why I created that project were the hardest for me to complete, simply because they contained an element of self-reflection and explanation of theory. However, I will ask my students to create some form of explanation for each creative product they produce because I found this element of the project made me more considerate of my reasoning for choosing a project and likely to choose a project based on its applicability to the text, rather than a project that just seemed easy to me.  

Menu Items in the Classroom

Menu item projects are a great assignment option in literature classes because they allow the students some choice in what project they will complete, provide teachers with a way to assess what students know and can do versus what mistakes they make, and provide both teachers and students with a way engage with texts through a variety of different, creative mediums. Stipek (2002) notes that self-determination, or a person’s idea that they are completing an activity with minimal external influence and interference increases their intrinsic motivation and, therefore, produces learning that will continue outside of the classroom walls. The choice involved in the “menu” projects lowers the students’ perceptions that they are “forced” to complete a certain assignment in a certain way. Likewise, Toshalis (2015) notes that, in order to keep students from resisting assignments out of fear that they will appear incompetent if they complete them, teachers should provide students with opportunities to demonstrate what they know versus evaluating them by what questions they get wrong on tests. The flexible nature of these assignments allows students to enact their areas of expertise to showcase their understanding of a text. Some students may be more interested in creating visual art, while others are interested in exploring audio products. Providing students with a chance to work in a medium they feel they have high-competency in will help them enter into a flow state (Block, 1984) while creating their products and make the assignments more pleasurable experiences. 

Teachers should consider if they are providing their students with menu items that all have the same relative difficulty levels or that each sit on a different level within a difficulty scaffold. Block (1984) notes that “human beings experience flow only when there is a perceived match between the challenges posed by an activity and the skills that performers possess to meet these challenges” (p. 68). He recommends teachers assess student understanding of a concept and then provided students with either corrective (material review) or enhancement (material elaboration) activities based on their demonstrations of mastery (Block, 1984). Menu projects can be one way that teachers allow their students to either review or expand on class content. However, the teacher will need to direct the students to menu items appropriate for their skill-level. This could decrease students’ feelings of self-determination, and teachers also run the risk of underestimating versus challenging their students. Likewise, teachers should also consider what menu items are appropriate for which texts. For example, projects that ask students to simulate a character’s experiences within real-life, historical or current events run the risk of oversimplifying lived traumas and producing new traumas within the classroom space. 

Class "Gallery Walks" of Menu Items

I appreciated the chance to receive feedback from my peers about my menu items and see how they imagined the menu projects. However, I found the gallery walks most beneficial when I was viewing menu projects that I did not plan to complete. I noticed the more projects I viewed before I created one of the same type, the more I fit my project into the “style” of my peers’ works. As the semester went on, I felt as though my classmates and I were basing our ideas of how to do a project based off of the projects we saw during the gallery walks. In some sense this was positive. For instance, I learned that I loved the playlists that had interesting graphic designs so I incorporated design elements into my playlist. However, on the other hand, I felt like it also stifled my creativity a little bit. It was difficulut for me to do a project differently than my peers had chosen to do it. 

What I Learned

The most important thing I learned through creating the technology menu assignment is that it is important for teachers to attempt the projects they will ask their students to create. Reading the project rubric, I though I had a pretty good idea about what each menu item would teach me, what skills it would enact, and how long it would take to complete. However, I found that in most cases my perceptions were wrong. For instance, I thought that the Fakebook page would not add and understanding to my current knowledge of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. However, I discovered the process of writing in Lorelei’s voice and reviewing the major plot points and character relationships increased my ability to explain how Loos creates satire. 

I believe each assignment should serve a learning objective. Therefore, it is important that I attempt and then reflect on each assignment to determine if it is appropriate for the objective I want to meet.


Block, H. Making school learning activities more playlike: Flow and Mastery Learning. The Elementary School Journal, 85 (1), pp. 64-75.

Stipek, D. J. (2002). Motivation to learn: Integrating theory and practice. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Toshalis, E. (2015). Make Me! : understanding and engaging student resistance in school. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard Education Press.