What novel should I choose for my kids?

Discussion in 'High School' started by Mr. Masters, Nov 13, 2012.

  1. Mr. Masters

    Mr. Masters New Member

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    Nov 13, 2012

    Hello. My name is Mr. Masters and I'm going to be teaching several classes of high school students in less than a week.

    I am a newly hired teacher with no actual teaching experience. I hold a B.A. in English literature and a minor in film survey studies.

    I've been reviewing lists of recommended novels and looking over my own library trying to decide what novel to teach when I start. I have three English I classes that recently finished Night and an English III class that recently finished Gatsby. Can anyone here make any recommendations?

    Before you answer, let me preface with a few details. I am coming in as a permanent replacement for another instructor who recently left. For nearly two weeks now, these classes have been managed by a long-term substitute. The students have treated her much as students are apt to treat substitutes, and it certainly doesn't help that their previous instructor was well-liked. This is the situation I'll be inheriting.

    As one might expect, the Night classes loved Wiesel, and so I wanted to try to introduce something either a little more challenging or in the same ballpark thematically. My top picks so far have been Hatchet, Great Expectations, Lord of the Flies, and a combination of Hemingway's short stories, specifically the Nick Adams chronicles from In Our Time.

    The English III class did not care for Gatsby. I have to imagine that's due in part to how the substitute pitched it, as Gatsby's soap opera-like drama-romance framed by the roaring twenties seems to me like a difficult story to sell to high school students. My selection here is a bit more difficult - Don Quixote, A Farewell to Arms, and Of Mice and Men.

    The first I think might be interesting enough just as a premise and a far enough departure from Fitzgerald that I'm hoping the students might be drawn in. The second will be remarkably similar, but I rather like Hemingway - even as a student I liked Hemingway - and I'm hoping his curt, brief style combined some historic background in World War I will intrigue them. Finally, I like Of Mice and Men the most, both for its historical transition and contrast from Gatsby's setting and the fact that Steinbeck's style will, like Hemingway, hopefully come as a welcome change to the students.

    In any case, I've typed everyone's eyes out long enough.

    tl;dr - newbie high school English teacher looking for novels to teach after Gatsby and Night
     
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  3. TamaraF

    TamaraF Companion

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    Nov 13, 2012

    I don't know about where you are located, but here there is a list of novels to choose from. We have to use one of the approved books for each grade level. That might narrow down your choices somewhat.
     
  4. Mr. Masters

    Mr. Masters New Member

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    Nov 13, 2012

    Thanks, TamaraF. I'll call the school tomorrow and see if I can get that curriculum e-mailed to me.

    But just as a shot in the dark, does anyone else have any suggestions?
     
  5. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Nov 13, 2012

    In my district we don't teach novels. Instead, we teach concepts that can be found in certain novels. I'd recommend that you look over your district or state standards and find a novel that incorporates the big ones.
     
  6. amakaye

    amakaye Enthusiast

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    Nov 13, 2012

    Here, Hatchet is often read by our upper elementary/middle school classes (I'm referring to the book by Gary Paulsen; I don't know if there's another with the same title.)
     
  7. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Nov 14, 2012

    Definitely get your hands on that curriculum soon. We have a list of approved novels that we must choose from when assigning a novel. However, our district works like Caesar's in that what SKILLS you are teaching is much more important than the novel itself.

    (Btw, if they haven't read Of Mice and Men in an earlier grade, that would be my vote for your English III. Our kids read it in the 10th grade but they remember it well when we discuss the Lost Generation in 11th grade.)
     
  8. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    Nov 14, 2012

    Here we read OMAM in 9th and LOTF in 10th.

    While you're waiting to get the curriculum from your school, I strongly suggest that you spend some of your prep time reading up on classroom management. That's going to be your biggest challenge. (I started at my school in very much the same situation as you.) For high school, I like Teaching Outside the Box.
     
  9. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    Nov 14, 2012

  10. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Nov 14, 2012

    I believe 1984 by George Orwell is on that list and I recommend it. We've marketed it to our students that it has a similar feel to Hunger Games as as a dystopian futuristic novel. We're currently following it with a unit on propaganda, showing how literary techniques are used to influence thought and action, as in the novel. The novel provides a fantastic transition into having students write and present their own propaganda campaigns (which fulfills Speaking and Listening).
     
  11. TeachingQueen

    TeachingQueen Rookie

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    Nov 14, 2012

    It might help you get a good rep with the class if you ask for their input? Obviously a lot of them will offer up books that won't be appropriate, but maybe a few of them might have a few good ones in mind. Could you ask other teachers in your department?

    These aren't my grade levels, but I know of other teachers that have used pretty much all of the options you've already picked. I would vote for Great Expectations, Lord of the Flies. Maybe A Tale of Two Cities?


    It's disappointing that the English III class did not like Gatsby, although a classic, most students (as far as I know) did enjoy the book. What about The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, or The Scarlet Letter?
     
  12. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Nov 14, 2012

    You also could take a look at the list of popular high school novels found at www.goodreads.com
     
  13. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Nov 14, 2012

    I loved The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and Member of the Wedding, both by Carson McCullers.
     

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