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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!

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

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.

 


Best FREE Classroom Apps!

Best FREE Classroom Apps!

More and more classrooms have 1:1 capability and even those that are not fully 1:1 are using technology more every day.  Here are some apps that are available for free for you to use with your students and for parent communication.

Organization and Parent Communication Apps:

• Bloomz

Remind

• Homeroom

• Seesaw

• Class Dojo


ELA Apps:

• Readworks

• Spelling City

 

 

 


Math Apps:

• IKnowIt

• XtraMath

• Prodigy

 

 


Quizzing Making & Apps for all Curriculum Areas:

• Quizlet

• Kahoot

• Quizizz

• Khan Academy

• EdPuzzle