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How to Teach Novel Studies Part 3: Pacing

How to Teach Novel Studies Part 3: Pacing

Some of my most vivid childhood memories of school were the novel studies that we read for various subjects. It was my most favorite way to learn skills, history, any topic really! I am a lover of books and getting to read an entire book from cover to cover as a school assignment put me in heaven! I am sure this is a major reason why as a teacher my passion is to create and teach is novel studies! I love to introduce new books to students and as a community, get immersed in the book together. I love for a student to pull us off the schedule with a question or comment from something they read that leads the class in a lively discussion. That’s where the real memorable learning takes place after all!

Novel studies are my largest product line simply because I like to focus on what I love. I want to work with my passion! I often get questions from readers asking how I would set up novel studies in my classroom. I decided to write a small series explaining my methods.  For the most part, all of my novel studies include comprehension questions, vocabulary/grammar skill work, extension activities, and assessments.

Today’s post, part 3, deals with pacing the novel study. You can read part 1 and part 2 here.

Novel Studies Part 3: Pacing

One of the challenges of using novel studies in the classroom is finding the time. It’s a balance between not moving too fast and not letting the unit drag on for too long because we all know you have a million other things to squeeze into your curriculum!

 

Each of my complete novel studies includes detailed daily teacher lesson plans that include the objective and directions for the day. You can see how I have this designed for my Freak the Mighty Novel Study.

 

 

 

I also create a pacing guide for each novel study that helps you map out your long-range plan. You can see an example here from my Crenshaw Novel Study.

 

 

It’s a delicate balance to set the pacing. I generally try to aim for approximately 20 pages to read per day. This will be altered based on the chapter sizes. I don’t schedule to split chapters as I feel this disrupts the reader. I know I hate to stop reading mid-chapter. That’s just mean!

 

All of my novel studies offer a Google Drive™ format to use with your students in addition to the printable format that is shown above. This allows you to use novel studies in a 1:1 classroom, to save paper, and to easily engage students that are absent. Here’s an example page from the Google Drive™ format of my Wishtree Novel Study. The same pacing would apply for the Google™ version as you would use for the printable version.

 

This pacing is a suggestion as it has worked for me, but it is very adaptable so that you can work to fit it into the schedule that you are working with. The planning pages are generally written for a whole class novel study, but again these can very easily be adapted to fit small book groups or individual novel studies. How much teacher interaction you want to have in the course of the study is up to you and can be worked out very easily in the suggested pacing.


Join me for part 4 in my series to learn how I add the extra experiences to my novel studies for deeper learning and growth.

 

 


You can find my Freak the Mighty Novel StudyCrenshaw Novel Study, and Wishtree Novel Study that are mentioned above in my store. I also offer over 90 titles ranging from grades 1 to 8 where I am sure you’ll find something to engage your class in some deep reading.

 

 

 

 


 

 

To read Part 1: Comprehension

To read Part 2: Vocabulary

 

 

 

 

 


Are you interested in reading about and sharing ideas with other educators on using children’s literature in your classroom? My goal is to bring together teachers and homeschoolers who teach grades 3-8 and use novels with their students. I’d love for you to join me to learn, share, and grow together!

Click here or the image below to join my Facebook group, Book Talk with The Teaching Bank!

Click to join Book Talk with The Teaching Bank

 

Travel Through A Wrinkle in Time

Travel Through A Wrinkle in Time

Many reached out asking for a novel study for Madeleine L’Engle’s award-winning classic, A Wrinkle in Time.


Disney released the movie based on the novel in March 2018. We all know the book is always better so make sure you expose your students to this awesome piece of literature!

I heeded your call and created a novel study for A Wrinkle in Time!

This novel study contains everything you need to teach this novel in both a printable format as well as a Google Drive format for those of you in paperless classrooms!

I hope you are able to share this wonderful novel with your students and then all go enjoy the new Disney movie!



Are you interested in reading about and sharing ideas with other educators on using children’s literature in your classroom? My goal is to bring together teachers and homeschoolers who teach grades 3-8 and use novels with their students. I’d love for you to join me to learn, share, and grow together!

Click here or the image below to join my Facebook group, Book Talk with The Teaching Bank!

Click to join Book Talk with The Teaching Bank

How to Teach Novel Studies Part 2: Vocabulary

How to Teach Novel Studies Part 2: Vocabulary

Some of my most vivid childhood memories of school were the novel studies that we read for various subjects. It was my most favorite way to learn skills, history, any topic really! I am a lover of books and getting to read an entire book from cover to cover as a school assignment put me in heaven! I am sure this is a major reason why as a teacher my passion is to create and teach is novel studies! I love to introduce new books to students and as a community, get immersed in the book together. I love for a student to pull us off the schedule with a question or comment from something they read that leads the class in a lively discussion. That’s where the real memorable learning takes place after all!

Novel studies are my largest product line simply because I like to focus on what I love. I want to work with my passion! I often get questions from readers asking how I would set up novel studies in my classroom. I decided to write a small series explaining my methods.  For the most part, all of my novel studies include comprehension questions, vocabulary/grammar skill work, extension activities, and assessments.

Today’s post, part 2, deals with the vocabulary/grammar skill aspect of the novel studies. You can read part 1 here.

Novel Studies Part 2: Vocabulary/Grammar Skill Work

One of the beautiful things with reading books is that it expands your vocabulary. It introduces you to new words that you can build into your commentary. Being exposed to these new words within the context of a story helps the reader make an inference to the meaning of the word and it helps to see the word used in action to help the student understand its relevance.

When I create a novel study I try and pick out all the words that would be unfamiliar to a reader while at the same time not overdoing it by having such a long list of words for each chapter that the reader is pulled out of the story. Balance is imperative.

I would always write the vocabulary words for the day/chapter of the board before we would start reading so the student would know to keep a lookout for those words as they read.

 

I create a vocabulary bookmark for the student to have in hand as they read. They can record the page number of the word and note the inference that they have made on the meaning of the word as they are encountering it in context. You can see how I have this designed for my Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Novel Study.

 

 

 

I also create another page that the student can attend to after they’ve completed their reading. They will use their bookmark to locate the page number of the word. Next, they will look up the dictionary definition of the word and check it against the inference that they made on the bookmark as they read. You can see an example here from my Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Novel Study.

 

Each unit will contain some activities to work with the words and their definitions such as a crossword puzzle or word search.

I also like to work with grammar skills in context. My units contain a grammar skills activity for each vocabulary word that allows them to identify the part of speech of the word and then the sentence is pulled that contains that word. The sentence is written with improper grammar, missing punctuation, and misspellings. Students will need to correct the sentence to the proper written format. Here’s an example page from my Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Novel Study.

 

 

 

All of my novel studies offer a Google Drive™ format to use with your students in addition to the printable format that is shown above. This allows you to use novel studies in a 1:1 classroom, to save paper, and to easily engage students that are absent. Here’s an example page from the Google Drive™ format of my Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Novel Study.

Pacing and approaching vocabulary in this manner has worked very well for me. It allows the students to think about the words and their meaning in context, while not disrupting the story to learn the true meaning.


Join me for part 3 in my series to learn the pacing methods I use for my novel studies.

 

 


You can find my Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Novel StudyHarry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Novel Study, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Novel Study, and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Novel Study that are mentioned above in my store. I also offer over 90 titles ranging from grades 1 to 8 where I am sure you’ll find something to engage your class in some deep reading.

 

 

 

 


 

 

To read Part 1: Comprehension

 


Are you interested in reading about and sharing ideas with other educators on using children’s literature in your classroom? My goal is to bring together teachers and homeschoolers who teach grades 3-8 and use novels with their students. I’d love for you to join me to learn, share, and grow together!

Click here or the image below to join my Facebook group, Book Talk with The Teaching Bank!

Click to join Book Talk with The Teaching Bank

The Beauty of Friendship Through the Eyes of the Shopping Mall Gorilla

The Beauty of Friendship Through the Eyes of the Shopping Mall Gorilla

Last year my son came home from school and told me, “Mom, I am reading the best book and you really need to make a unit for it!” Not a crazy comment by any means, but from my son it is a bit out of the ordinary because he is a reluctant reader. It takes a really, really good book to hook him into raving about it! There really isn’t higher praise for a book than that!

What is this awesome book you ask? It is The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate. In addition to the highest accolades from Sam, it also won the Newbery Medal in 2013 among many other awards. From Katherine Applegate’s YouTube Channel:

I put it on my to-do list and I am very proud of the novel study that was born from Sam’s suggestion! I also have to say my son was right, it is a really, really good book! I am a huge animal lover and love animal stories so of course, there’s that, but I also really enjoyed the poetic way this story is told through the eyes of Ivan, the shopping mall gorilla. I was also astonished to learn that this story isn’t totally fictitious. There was a real Ivan who lived in a shopping mall in Washington State for 27 years!

While creating this novel study I wanted to incorporate as much of the non-fiction aspects as I could to help the student learn a little about Silverback Gorillas, elephants, animals living in captivity vs. the wild, and of course the story of the real-life Ivan! I hope that your students can walk away from this book with their hearts filled with as much excitement as Sam’s was.

Please check out the completed The One and Only Ivan Novel Study that contains both a printable and Google Drive™ compatible format available in my store.

Sally Kneifl, who teaches in the Umoⁿhoⁿ Nation Public Schools in Macy, NE. was the winner of my giveaway of a class set of The One and Only Ivan books, the novel study, and a gift card. Sally wrote to me to share the deep and positive experiences her students had reading this book.

“I wanted to thank you again for the books that we received from you, The One and Only Ivan and share the activities that we did to culminate the unit.

Students wrote a short summary, some facts that they learned about the real Ivan the gorilla and gorillas in the wild, as well as their favorite part of the book. I found a book called “Actual Size” by Steve Jenkins.

We researched the true story about the real Ivan.

The students completed a WebQuest about Gorillas and they learned many facts.

The author Katherine Applegate mentioned the documentary about Ivan, so I ordered the National Geographic special “The Urban Gorilla” which featured Ivan.

The students created a display on the hallway wall where other students can learn fun facts and compare their hands, feet, height and arm length to a life-sized gorilla.

The librarian is also reading it to the younger kids, so it didn’t just impact my grade levels…it is going to impact the entire elementary and middle schools. I love hearing the students talk in the hallway when they are sharing their writing and they know all of the information about Ivan or gorillas, and they are explaining it to the High School students or our Special needs students. Any chance for my students to feel smart or have pride in their work…I will take it. It is always a struggle at our school. Thank you again…you blessed many.” -Sally Kneifl

You can find the Urban Gorilla documentary that Sally mentioned within my The One and Only Ivan Novel Study and Actual Size by Steve Jenkins by clicking the image below.

Thank you, Sally and the students from the Umoⁿhoⁿ Nation Public Schools for sharing their work and joy with me!


 


Are you interested in reading about and sharing ideas with other educators on using children’s literature in your classroom? My goal is to bring together teachers and homeschoolers who teach grades 3-8 and use novels with their students. I’d love for you to join me to learn, share, and grow together!

Click here or the image below to join my Facebook group, Book Talk with The Teaching Bank!

Click to join Book Talk with The Teaching Bank

How To Teach Novel Studies: Part 1 Comprehension

How To Teach Novel Studies: Part 1 Comprehension

Some of my most vivid childhood memories of school were the novel studies that we read for various subjects. It was my most favorite way to learn skills, history, any topic really! I am a lover of books and getting to read an entire book from cover to cover as a school assignment put me in heaven! I am sure this is a major reason why as a teacher my passion is to create and teach is novel studies! I love to introduce new books to students and as a community, get immersed in the book together. I love for a student to pull us off the schedule with a question or comment from something they read that leads the class in a lively discussion. That’s where the real memorable learning takes place after all!

Novel studies are my largest product line simply because I like to focus on what I love. I want to work with my passion! I often get questions from readers asking how I would set up novel studies in my classroom. I decided to write a small series explaining my methods.  For the most part, all of my novel studies include comprehension questions, vocabulary/grammar skill work, extension activities, and assessments. Today’s post, part 1, deals with the comprehension aspect of the novel studies.

Novel Studies Part 1: Comprehension

In my opinion, one of the most compelling reasons to use whole novels in your reading instruction is to boost the comprehension skills of your students. A complete novel allows the student to delve deep into the character’s minds and work through the plot from a detailed beginning to an end. You just can’t achieve this level of deep understanding and thinking using short passages only. Students need to be exposed to all methods of reading instruction and complete novel studies fulfill a critical piece of the puzzle.

In order for your student to dig deep into the comprehension, they need to be able to have the time to get lost in the narrative. Complete chapters will help them fall into the world of their book. The goal here is for students to be thinking at the higher levels of the cognitive domain and to immerse themselves in the affective domain of Bloom’s Taxonomy.

 

To achieve this I only use narrative questioning for my novel studies. The student needs to write out a complete statement in order to answer the question. Multiple-choice questioning for this is just not adequate to get the student to move beyond the lowest level of knowledge questioning of Bloom’s. You don’t want students doing quick guessing games to show what they’ve learned as they move through the book!

 

Here’s an example from chapter 1 of the comprehension questions from my Fish in a Tree Novel Study.

You can see that the questions will not allow the student to quick-skim the book. They can only answer if they’ve read and the questions force them to think through the thought processes of the character and to put themselves into the character’s shoes. This type of questioning will take the student into the highest levels of both the cognitive and affective domains of Bloom’s.

You can also see that there are only 5 questions for the chapter. The questioning I use in my novel studies generally is only 1-6 questions per chapter. Students don’t need to be inundated with questions to dig deep and to show understanding of what they’ve read. If the questioning is thorough only a few questions are needed. I try to have at least one question per chapter no matter how small it is. Of course, there are some exceptions where a chapter is so short that it’s not necessary to assign questions just for the sake of assigning work.

Another reason for not overburdening the students with questions is to minimize the disruptions as they read. The more they have to stop to answer questions the less likely they are to get lost in the story. You want them to go all in!

All of my novel studies offer a Google Drive™ format to use with your students in addition to the printable format that is shown above. This allows you to use novel studies in a 1:1 classroom, to save paper, and to easily engage students that are absent. Here’s an example page from the Google Drive™ format of my Esperanza Rising Novel Study.

Going through a story in this manner in regards to comprehension has worked very well for me. It forces those reluctant readers to put forth the effort in letting themselves read deeply. The non-reluctant readers will just be thrilled to be reading a complete book so you’ve already hooked them!


Join me for part 2 in my series to learn the methods I use to try to turn my students into book detectives with vocabulary/grammar skill work using novel studies.

 

 


You can find my Fish in a Tree Novel Study and Esperanza Rising Novel Study that are mentioned above in my store. I also offer over 90 titles ranging from grades 1 to 8 where I am sure you’ll find something to engage your class in some deep reading.

 



Are you interested in reading about and sharing ideas with other educators on using children’s literature in your classroom? My goal is to bring together teachers and homeschoolers who teach grades 3-8 and use novels with their students. I’d love for you to join me to learn, share, and grow together!

Click here or the image below to join my Facebook group, Book Talk with The Teaching Bank!

Click to join Book Talk with The Teaching Bank