You’ve decided which book you want to use for a class novel study, what’s next? Well, what shouldn’t happen next is educator and students reading the book together. I can say with some pretty strong confidence that this is not an effective way to study themes, explore new vocabulary, facilitate literature circles, or discussion that encourages critical thinking. I can say this because I did something very similar during my first year of teaching. My poor, naive, frazzled brain. I honestly thought I had done enough prep work. I thought I knew the book well enough to create as I went along. Not true and not fair to my students.
Every lesson should be designed with the end in mind, and in a way that sets students up for success. When the teacher has no idea of the lessons direction, the students do not either. For this reason, the likelihood of student success is significantly decreased.
So, what should happen next?
Prep, Prep, Preparation –
- Look at the standards so that you can engage in purposeful reading. As you read the novel, you will be aware of standards that would be easier to cover based on the content.
- Read the book before you teach it. To properly facilitate purposeful reading and discussion for your students, you should know the content beforehand. In addition, some of the most innocent of texts can have a bit of controversial content. Skillfully navigating sensitive topics is easier when you can plan for them.
- Annotate the text just as you would have your students:
- Make inferences supported by text – jot down page numbers or quotes
- Draw conclusions
- Identify new vocabulary
- Track WIT statements – What I’m Thinking
- Do character analysis
- Create a plot chart
- Identify major themes supported by text – Why are these themes important?
- Make text to text, text to self, text to world connections
- Once you have finished the book, jot down your thoughts. What did you like about the book? Why? Dislike? Why?
- What do you think your students will like and dislike? Why?
Now we are ready to create the novel study plan beginning with the end in mind. Begin thinking about which standards to focus on based on the content covered in the novel. Also consider what student learning targets will be outlined related to these standards.
In the next blog post we’ll continue our conversation by looking at the specifics of beginning the novel study plan.
Cheers to vision inspired growth and development!