I don't think I know how to teach a novel

Discussion in 'General Education' started by AHS_Fan, Nov 2, 2013.

  1. AHS_Fan

    AHS_Fan Rookie

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    Nov 2, 2013

    Hi,

    I'm in my second year of teaching ELA to middle schoolers. I plan to start teaching another novel unit to my students soon, but I'm not sure I know how to exactly do a novel unit/study. (I probably DO, but I'm probably just second guessing myself.)

    How do I have students read a novel while hitting the CCSS?

    For context, I'm thinking of using the novel Sounder with my 6th graders. The book will have to be read in class.

    How can I teach this novel while meeting the CCSS? :help:
     
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  3. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    Nov 2, 2013

    Get yourself a copy of Jim Burke's new book The Common Core Companion for grades 6-12. It explains the standards in plain English and describes the kinds of activities you can use. Also, join the English Companio Ning online, and you'll be able to ask questions or search the archives for help.
     
  4. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Nov 2, 2013

    Stop trying to teach a novel, and start thinking of what you want to accomplish with the novel. What objectives do you want the students to master through reading the novel? Once you figure out your objectives, you should have an easier time aligning to the standards.
     
  5. AHS_Fan

    AHS_Fan Rookie

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    Nov 2, 2013

    Thanks for the book suggestion. I will have to check it out. How do you go about planning a novel?

    That's where I'm at right now. I want to teach both summarizing and context clues skills. I also want to take a look at theme.

    I guess I'm stuck at how to teach summarizing/context clues/theme while reading the novel. Do we read for awhile, then do a mini-lesson about a skill, continue reading? Or teach the skills first, then read the novel?

    I also want to assess my students' comprehension by giving "standardized test" type quizzes every few chapters. [My school is really pushing test prep right now.]
     
  6. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    Nov 2, 2013

    I didn't know either! (I moved from 2nd/3rd to 6th.) I'm still not sure I know. But what I do is read a little while, model all different kinds of thinking, and highlight the one that I want to emphasize. So I might literally stop and say, "Let's look at the specific language here. This is some great descriptive writing. When I read this I make a picture in my brain like this. This is called visualization." And I might draw on the board. Then my students work on the skills more specifically and with different examples in small groups. But we constantly review skills during whole-group novels. Kids might make predictions, connections, summarize, etc.
     
  7. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    Nov 2, 2013

    I teach my language arts program exclusively with novel, essays, poems, plays and so forth. Gr3teacher's comment is spot on.

    The novel provides the framework with which to teach all the literary elements.

    I would add to this to what's already said: that you will get much more out of your students if you provide models of what you want them to learn. For example, if you are teaching summarizing, you will want to read some text and an example of a great summary of that text. Have your students figure out why it's so strong, make a set of "rules" for making a great summary, then have your students practice the skill.

    Our school uses Literature Based Writing from Mt. Hood Press. It's a how-to book on using literature to teach writing.
     
  8. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Nov 2, 2013

    I'm not sure I get your question.

    I'm never teaching a piece of literature. I'm always teaching a standard.

    What standards are you trying to cover during that time? The good thing about literature is that there are so many ways to address standards.

    We are assessing informational text standards and language standards right now, but we are using a novel at the same time. The novel is just the springboard for the other activities.
     
  9. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Nov 2, 2013

    I don't know if this will help. I posted it ages ago:

    Here is a plan that worked well for my class this past year with a read-aloud:

    Students kept a reader response journal. They wrote in it daily. They each had a copy of the book (they had to buy it). They were not allowed to read ahead or start it on their own.

    First, we previewed the book, the title, the author's name, cover illustration. We predicted what the book was about. I kept a chart on the wall to record predictions. Then, we read the back cover which had a brief summary. The kids wrote in their journals about any questions they had, what they wanted to know. I recorded questions on the chart paper. This was done in two sessions.

    I made charts for recording names of characters, descriptions of characters, settings. We kept adding to the charts as we read. We updated the predictions chart as we proved or disproved our predictions.

    The next lesson was about how to use the reader response journal. Every day of reading, they dated the page before writing. They were to keep it open while they read, jot down questions they had, things they wondered about, conclusions they could draw, emotional responses, words they did not understand, and (their favorite) figurative language. (Tie in to language arts lesson on figurative language.)

    Each day, the kids read one chapter (they were short, you might have to limit it to a certain number of pages if the chapters are long) silently. They wrote in their response journals.

    Chart paper for vocab words was kept up until the book was done. I listed the words and page numbers for each day's reading. Sometimes we projected the definitions before the kids read a chapter. I gave them pages for recording vocab words and definitions - just made it on the computer with appropriate lines. They used the dictionary to find the definitions after reading silently.

    When everyone had finished reading and recording, I read the same chapter aloud while they followed along. This could take place at any time later that day. We stopped and discussed at appropriate spots. We updated charts. Each student shared their favorite parts (which they had noted in their journals), and interesting language (words, phrases, similes, metaphors). This turned out to be their absolute favorite part of the discussions, which surprised me.


    On most days, I posted a question of the day (or two or three) on the board. They had to answer the question in their journals. Their answers had to contain the question and be in complete sentences. I encouraged them to cite the page number and/or a quote from the chapter which helped them.

    Sometimes, I had them draw a particular scene, or even a vivid use of language right in their journals. They loved this, too. You could also ask them to make short comic strips of chapters, write letters to characters giving advice, write 'found' poems using words they found in the novel, compare characters to themselves......
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2013
  10. AHS_Fan

    AHS_Fan Rookie

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    Nov 2, 2013

    I really like that idea and think I will use it with my students!

    I suppose I should have worded my question like this:

    How do I teach the standards through a novel versus just reading a novel with students?

    If you do not mind, can you tell me more about how you are using a novel as a springboard?
     
  11. AHS_Fan

    AHS_Fan Rookie

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    Nov 2, 2013

    Wow! Thank you for re-posting that. Lots of good ideas that I can use.
     
  12. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    Nov 2, 2013

    Another book suggestion, since you teach MS: Notice and Note by Probst and Beers. You teach students a series of six "signposts" that they watch for in their reading: Contrasts and Contradictions, the Aha Moment, Words of the Wiser, the Memory Moment, Over and Over, and Tough Questions. The CCSS require students to read closely, and I think this is a nice strategy for your age group.
     

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