Novel Responses – Student choice when responding to novels & books through design, drama, crafts, writing, math
If you were a fly on my classroom wall you would see that much of what we do is based on the concepts of “choice” and “authenticity”. Introducing choice into the curriculum whenever possible provides students with a sense of ownership and a heightened sense of responsibility. Their personal choices reflect their interests, build on their strengths and (when applied properly) address their needs.
Please find a list of some of the different choices that I provide for my students when they are asked to respond to text.
- Make a gift & a design/write a gift card for the main character. Consider all that you know about him/her in order to choose the most appropriate present and card.
- Design and write a postcard as though it had been chosen and sent by the main character.
- Create a scrapbook as though you were the main character. What will you include?
- Create a photo album for the main character. Use cuts outs from magazines, download pictures, draw, write, etc.
- Create a giant mural or piece graffiti based on the novel – consider symbols, characters, setting, themes, etc.
- Create a time capsule for the novel.
- Design the perfect bedroom for the main character – be clear as to your choices.
- Design an ad campaign or the novel.
- Design a movie poster for the novel.
- Design a board game based on the novel.
- Design a “look book” for the main character. What would he/she like/need to have in his/her wardrobe?
- Design a test for the novel. Include a variety or types of questions (e.g. true/false, multiple choice, matching, fill in the blanks, short & long answer questions ….)
- Dress up as the main character – include “clever” items and explain their significance.
- Conduct a mock interview with the main character.
- Write a script for and perform your favourite “moment” in the novel.
- Write and perform a meaningful monologue.
- Write a perform a puppet show based on the novel.
- Choose a dream vacation for the main character. Create an itinerary for him/her.Turn the novel into a picture book.
- Write & perform song based on the novel.
- Create a newspaper. All the articles must somehow be based on or relate to the novel.
- Retell the novel through a series of letters.
How We Answer Comprehension Questions in Grade 5
If you were a fly on my classroom wall you would “see” that this is how we address comprehension questions in Grade 5.
We are very methodical, & yet flexible & organic in our approach.
This process becomes second nature to
my students quite quickly … it becomes automatic … & in fact, should I ever miss a step they are quick to remind me.
Just thought I’d share.
• Review the previous chapter. Discuss “seeds”. Ask questions … share ideas … wonder why … make predictions. Note: As with the other “steps” (& anything worth doing) it is very important to take one’s time … never rush … savour contributions, ideas & moments shared.
• Turn to the questions. Read the questions prior to reading the chapter. Ensure that they are properly understood. Discuss any new vocabulary. Make predictions.
• Highlight any words that will most likely appear in the answer. Take an educated guess. Doing this helps to set yet another purpose for reading, direct questions and also “helps” with spelling.
• Should students come across answers to questions during our read aloud they mark the page with a post it.This is helpful as they can then move on quickly – and find the answer & page number easily when the time comes. As we stop to discuss readings frequently along the way students are use to reflecting and then returning to text seemingly without skipping a beat.
>Why Reading Fluency Matters (… for parents)
I recently read a posting by a parent regarding her child’s report card.
Now, report cards are difficult to write at the best of times. There is limited space to say what I mean and I must mean what I say. I must address strengths and needs; the whole child. No easy feat.
I start and finish report cards early, and I hand them in late. I can never seem to let them go … they always seem to final, so static … and my students are so dynamic, so fantastic!
Anyway, this mum’s understanding of her child’s report card was thoughtful, balanced and positive.
There was one comment however, that stood out for me:
“The only negative comment was that her reading fluency is still a little slow. Frankly, I care more about comprehension than how many words she can read per minute.”
Through no fault of her own this mum is not aware that fluency is more than “words read per minute”.
Fluency is about reading smoothly, easily and expressively. Fluency enables individuals to read with greater understanding. A fluent reader has automatic decoding skills and a solid bank of known sight words as well as good comprehension skills.
Reading is like singing: there is expression and rhythm. After all, we read for meaning and we read aloud to entertain as well as to inform.
Anyway … as teachers the onus is on us to ensure that parents (as well as students) have a clear understanding of our goals, objectives and outcomes.
Let’s keeping working together!