March 1, 2013

NOVEL Responses to Novels

I've been a Language Arts teacher for a LONG time! I've seen many changes in teaching methods, philosophies, best practices, Common Core, etc., etc., etc. Some of the old becomes new again, and some of the new becomes quite old. What hasn't changed is that a good teaching activity is still a good teaching activity! 

I've been sorting through The Desk lately and have come across many good activities that I've been using since my early days. One file I found was titled NOVEL RESPONSES (one of the first ideas I posted on my original website in 1996). In it are numerous ideas for having students respond to the novels that they read. I still use most of these in either my fifth or sixth grade classes. I'll be sharing many of these novel responses in the coming days.

Here's a sampling with which to begin:

  • Write a letter to one of the characters in the novel. Ask him/her questions as well as tell about yourself. Pay particular attention to letter format.
  • Create a newspaper page for one of the novels. Summarize the plot in one of your articles. Cover the weather in another. Include an editorial and a collection of ads that would be pertinent to the novel.
  • Summarize the plot by creating a cartoon version of the novel. Use about six to eight frames.
  • Rewrite a chapter or section of your novel from another character's point of view.
  • Pretend you are a newspaper reporter whose job is to interview one of the characters. Write your interview.
  • You have become a character in one of the novels. Describe your experience during a conflict.
  • Write a poem about one of the novels. Touch on the characters, setting, plot, and theme.
  • Rewrite a portion of the novel as a play.
  • Choose a familiar melody, such as "Mary Had a Little Lamb," and change the lyrics so they pertain to the novel.
  • Develop a mini matrix for your novel... more about this activity in a later blog post
  • Create a mini story wheel for your novel... more about this activity in a later blog post
  • Create a story chain for your novel that consists of at least ten links... more about this activity in a later blog post
  • Compare and contrast one of your novels with another that you have read for class this year or last. Remember to include how the novels are alike AND how they are different. Create a Venn diagram to show your findings.
  • Redesign the front and back cover of your novel. Include the pertinent information as well as a blurb on the back.
  • Develop an award for your novel. Explain the criteria for the award and why this particular book was selected to receive it. A good place to start this project is by reading about the Newbery and Caldecott awards. Notice, too, the other awards particular books have been given.
  • Create a triorama for your novel that depicts the most important scene. Write a summary of this scene, explaining its role in the storyline.
  • Design a story map for your novel. Include important information such as characters, setting, and the plot. Write a brief explanation of your map.
As I read through the list, it dawned on me that even though these ideas had been posted almost 20 years ago, most of them align nicely with the current Common Core State Standards. Sounds like another project for me to work on!

Happy Teaching,
The Teacher's Desk 6

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