Some of my most vivid childhood memories of school were the novel studies I read for various subjects. It was my favorite way to learn skills, history, and any topic! I love books, and being allowed 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 novel studies! I love introducing new books to my class, and as a community, being immersed in the book together. I love it when a student pulls us off the schedule with a question or comment from something they read and leads the class into a lively discussion. That’s where the real memorable learning takes place, after all!
I create novel studies more than any other 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, my novel studies include comprehension questions, vocabulary/grammar skill work, extension activities, and assessments.
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 are 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 must 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 are 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! Your goal is for them to voluntarily pick up another book to read when a novel study is over, not run as far as they can from books!
I understand that assessments are helpful and necessary, but they should be appropriate and not overwhelming. For many of my novel studies, I have split the book into logical sections and have an assessment after each section. For example, you’ll find my Wonder, Projekt 1065, and Tuck Everlasting novel studies in this format.
For some, I only offer assessments after completion of the book for comprehension, vocabulary, and longer paragraph-writing essay questions. The end-of-the-novel comprehension quiz includes both a multiple-choice and a short answer format for differentiation. A multiple-choice quiz for vocabulary and a paragraph-writing assessment is included with each novel study. You can see an example of this from my Turtle in Paradise Novel Study.
All of my novel studies offer a Google Drive™ format, in addition to the printable format, shown above, to use with your students. This allows you to use novel studies in a 1:1 classroom, save paper, and easily engage students who 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 need to be able to assess the students’ understanding of what they are reading, which can be done in 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 planning to use novels in your classroom. I promise you will not be sorry, 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 Study, Wonder Novel Study, Hatchet Novel Study, Tuck Everlasting Novel Study, Projekt 1065 Novel Study, and A Wrinkle in Time Novel Study that are mentioned above here in my store or at my TpT store. I also offer over 100 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!