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How to Teach Novel Studies Part 5: Assessment

How to Teach Novel Studies Part 5: Assessment

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 5, is the conclusion of the series dealing with the assessment aspect of using novel studies. You can read part 1Part 2,  Part 3, and Part 4 here.

Novel Studies Part 5: Assessment

Assessment of a novel study can be a tricky thing to handle. My main objective, in addition to hitting skills, is to hook the student on the enjoyment of reading a good book. Too much assessment can kill that joy, but we need some way to assess that the skills have been met. It’s a delicate balance.

I often get questions from potential buyers asking if there are assessments after every chapter of my novel studies. I kind of cringe when I get these questions because I can only imagine the dread the students have if they are tested after every chapter! Testing is not the only way to assess if a student has read and understood. In my experience, class discussions and the writing in the comprehension answers is more than sufficient evidence of learning and understanding by the student. It is imperative when using novel studies not to lose focus and kill the joy of reading for your students! You want them to voluntarily choose to pick up another book to read when a novel study is over, not run as far as they can from books!

I do understand that assessments can be helpful and needed, but they need to be appropriate. For many of my novel studies, I only offer assessments at the end of the book for comprehension, vocabulary, and a writing essay question. I offer an end of the novel quiz in both a multiple choice or a short answer format for comprehension, a multiple choice format for vocabulary, and a writing assessment so that the teacher can choose which is most appropriate for their students. You can see an example of this from my Hatchet Novel Study.

 

I’ve switched up the format a little in other units such as Where the Red Fern Grows Novel Study that incorporates the comprehension and writing assessments into one format.

 

 

In some of my other novel studies, I have split the book into logical sections and have a comprehensive assessment after each particular section. My Wonder and Tuck Everlasting Novel Studies are created in this format.

 

 

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. The assessments are included as multiple-choice questions in a Google Forms™ format so that they are self-grading. Here’s an example page from the Google Drive™ format of my A Wrinkle in Time Novel Study.

 

 

The key, in my opinion, is not to overdo the testing. You just need to be able to assess if the students are understanding what they are reading and that can easily be done in so many different ways that aren’t paper and pencil testing. Don’t kill the love the student is developing for the book you are reading!

I hope this series has been helpful to you in the planning to use novels in your classroom. I promise you will not be sorry and you may just be the spark that takes your student on a lifetime love of reading!


You can find  Where the Red Fern Grows Novel StudyWonder Novel Study, Hatchet Novel Study, Tuck Everlasting Novel Study, and A Wrinkle in Time 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

Part 3: Pacing

Part 4: Extras!

The Beauty and Sadness of Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes

The Beauty and Sadness of Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes is a historical novel set in Post-WWII Japan written by Eleanor Coerr. This is a wonderful book to use for a novel study, literature circles, book clubs, or individual study in the classroom or home school.

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes was first published in 1977 and is based on the true story of Sadako Sasaki. Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes is a thoughtful book that helps students see the other side of war, both the effects on innocent citizens and in the point of view of the “enemy”.

Summary of Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes:

Sadako Sasaki was a toddler living near Hiroshima, Japan when the United States dropped the atomic bomb on the area in 1945.  When Sadako was 12 years old she was diagnosed with the “Atom Bomb Disease”, Leukemia.

Sadako was inspired by the Japanese legend that one who created a thousand origami paper cranes would be granted a wish. Her wish was to survive. Sadako worked hard to create her paper cranes but sadly succumbed to the disease. Her family and friends worked to accomplish her goal after her death.

 

This is a great novel to accompany a study of:

  • Learn Origami.
  • Research the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during WWII.
  • Research Japan.
  • Investigate Atomic and Nuclear energy.
  • Research radiation and its links to Leukemia.

I offer a complete novel study to accompanySadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes for use in the classroom or homeschool. The unit includes both a printable format and a Google Drive™ format for use in a paperless classroom or with Google Classroom.

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes is an inspiring story of friendship, empathy, and perseverance despite facing the greatest odds, and is a great tie to History.


How to Teach Novel Studies Part 4: The Extras!

How to Teach Novel Studies Part 4: The Extras!

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 4, deals with the extras added to the novel studies, from writing activities to non-fiction research activities. You can read part 1Part 2, and Part 3 here.

 

Novel Studies Part 4: The Extras!

Of course, when using novel studies in the classroom you need to hit the basics of comprehension and vocabulary. One of the wonderful bonuses with novel studies is you can pull in other areas of the curriculum into a larger thematic unit. The various topics of the different books can lead to a plethora of inquiry and learning.

As I create a novel study I open my mind to all the places the story may be taking me. Some books are easier to explore outside the reading domain than others. Some take me down the rabbit hole of investigation with a deep-thought question that allows for some longer writing passages that can lead to some really nice class debates!

 

Some examples of great non-fiction investigation are The Lightning Thief Novel Study and The One and Only Ivan Novel Study. You can branch off to an entire Greek Mythology Unit with The Lightning Thief.

 

With The One and Only Ivan Novel Study, your students can learn about gorillas and elephants. They can learn and compare life for these animals in the wild vs. captivity. And, the most interesting to me was the true story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla that inspired the story!

 

 

A book like Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH lead to some deep-thought questions regarding animal testing that can be debated and discussed in-depth in the classroom.

 

 

 

 

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. The “extras” of the novel study are included in the Google Drive™ format as well. Here’s an example page from the Google Drive™ format of my The Lightning Thief Novel Study.

I love being able to combine the theme from the full novel throughout different curriculum areas in a way you just can’t do with short passage reading instruction. This allows for even deeper learning by using novel studies!


 

Join me for the conclusion in my series to learn how I handle the assessments to end my novel studies.

 

 


You can find  The Lightning Thief Stone Novel StudyThe One and Only Ivan Novel Study, and Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH 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

Part 3: Pacing