Bring Novel Study to Your Classroom
If you decide to do a novel study with your students, you want the novel to be the central focus, not the assignments. There need to be some activities to ensure that learners do the close reading necessary to benefit from reading the book. Learning stations and partner or group projects all work well; learners have fun doing these activities, and you can integrate any skills you want to work on.
We have developed some ideas for learning station assignments that should work well while learners are still reading the novel.
Game Questions – Give index cards and fine point markers. Have learners write questions with answers, one per card, letting them know that their questions might be used for a game after the novel is finished.
Dramatic Reading – Set up a documenter and have learners select a scene to read aloud.
Conversation with the Main Character – Give learners time to write a series of e-mail or text messages from themselves to one of the central characters, with replies from the character.
Theme Bookmark – Give card stock cut into bookmark-sized rectangles and art supplies. Learners should make a bookmark that involves phrases and images to represent one theme from the book. Post a list of themes for learners to select from.
More Books – In this learning station, learners should either go to the library or use the internet. Tell learners to put together some good lists – a list of additional books by the author, a list of additional books in this genre, a list of additional books with a comparable theme, and a list of additional books with a central character who has comparable character traits.
After Completing the Novel
The following ideas are for after the class has finished reading the story.
Plot Sort – Give a set of cards with an event from the plot on each card. Learners should sort the cards into the right sequence.
Character Match – Create two groups of cards, one group with character names, and one group with character traits. Learners will match the character traits to the characters.
Theme Poster – Give a poster board or huge sheets of paper. Learners make a poster that discusses and gives examples of one theme from the story.
The excitement of collbaorating with a group or partner can help kids get into the novel.
Costume Design – Learners collaborate to plan, draw, and describe costumes for the central character and other characters based on what they know about the characters themselves, the setting, and the time period.
Sets and Props – Learners collaborate to sketch out sets and write lists of props for essential scenes from the story.
Character Interview – The group plans out interview questions that they would like to ask the central character with answers that the central character may give. Two learners from the group present their interviews to the class.
For learners who are having issues comprehending the story, use partner reading. Two learners read together, taking turns, and then take turns quizzing each other about the pages just read. Give a “cheat sheet” of potential questions if that should help.
After Completing the Novel
These group projects should work well after the whole novel has been read.
A Good Yarn – Learners tape yarn to a wall to create a big plot map, then write the essential plot events on cards and post them at the correct places on their plot map.
Life-Size Character – Learners in the group trace around one person to create a life-size character shape on bulletin board paper. Upon drawing in the character’s features and attire, the group develops character traits around their person, using details from the novel to support their selection of each trait.
Big Themes, Mini-Book – Learners in the group divide up the essential themes from the story and collaborate to create pages for a booklet discussing each of the story’s central themes.
Since learners enjoy moving around from station to station, collaborating, and working on hands-on projects, many of these ideas should encourage them to enjoy the novel while they are reading it, instead of thinking about questions that they will have to answer.