Last year, I made the switch from using novels in addition to the textbook to just using novels without a textbook. I would add if you are interested in incorporating a novel into your textbook curriculum, I have found a few places that work. For levels 2 and up, you can use an easier novel at the beginning of the year for a review. For all levels, you can use a novel at the end to wrap up the year. I also like to use a novel in December because it is a shorter month with winter vacation at the end. You can envision it as a mini-mester.
Although I have presented about how I use novels including activities that I enjoy, I haven’t blogged about it here in detail. This is also a compilation of some of my other posts, so I hope that you (and I!) can save this as a reference.
- Ahead of reading the chapter, I write out 5-6 sentences about what will happen in the next chapter. Students then predict if the sentence is true or false. Then, you can have the class vote for which sentences they think are true and which ones are false. As they read, they are checking to verify their answers. I have tried this as an adult and it was extremely engaging! (Medium prep: all levels)
- To change the previous activity to a lower prep activity, have students make the suggestions and predictions. Then, students can indicate what they think is true or false from the predictions.
- To introduce culture in the book, I like to find pictures from Instagram from the country featured to discuss in class. As a class we discuss what we see and make predictions based on the picture. We can also look at the short caption (which is likely to be comprehensible for most levels) and the hashtags. You could also put two similar pictures next to each other and compare them. Finally, if the pictures contain any key words from the reading, you can label them to introduce them as well. (Low prep: all levels)
- Start with a dictation. Find 3-4 sentences in the upcoming chapter and read them aloud. Students record down the sentences as they hear them. This is when I encourage students to focus on both spelling and accents. At the end, I project the sentences (or you can write them on the board yourself), and students correct their own sentences. After this activity, have students translate the sentences. You can pick sentences that may be difficult, so students already understand them in the text. (Low prep: all levels)
- To review and introduce vocabulary before the chapter or the novel, I like to import my Quizlet sets into PearDeck vocabulary. Students practice writing sentences with the vocabulary or drawing a picture of the vocabulary as they work with a partner. Then at the end, everyone votes on which sentences and drawings fit and which ones do not. (Low prep: all levels)
- Another way to review vocabulary before reading is to review key phrases through PQA or personalized questions and answers. You can use either the vocabulary or upcoming topics in the chapter to ask students questions about their lives. For example, before La Calaca Alegre we discussed nightmares and types of nightmares. Since many of my students were juniors and seniors, we could discuss car accidents before Frida’s accident. (Low prep: all levels)
- One of my new favorite ideas last year came from Amy Lenord when she was discussing creating creators called Whiteboard Splash. You could do this post or pre reading. In this activity, I would give students key words from an upcoming chapter to use in a sentence. Or I would give them a personal question that would connect to the chapter. Students would record their answers on individual whiteboards. Then, once they are done, other students would give feedback by giving an ! if they were surprised, check for me too, star for well written and a smiley face for like or funny. I took out the disagree feedback to keep the activity positive. Sometimes, I would encourage students to rewrite their answer to add more details after seeing others’ work. (Low prep: all levels)
During reading activities:
- Give students each 4 sticky notes, and as they are reading, they record down four main events of the chapter in the target language. At the end of the chapter in small groups or as a whole class, the students can organize their sticky notes in a timeline. (No prep: all levels)
- Have students fill out the main questions for each chapter: who, what, when, where and why. (Low prep: all levels)
- I love using reading guides! Students fill out main ideas, identify vocabulary and visualize scenes by drawing throughout the chapter. This also helps students focus on the main ideas and concepts from each chapter if they are reading the chapter in pairs or individually. (High prep: all levels)
- Give each student a mini whiteboard and ask main questions for them to answer as you read the chapter as a whole class. You can have students draw, translate, true/false questions- you name it! Plus, most of my students love being able to write on the mini whiteboards! (No prep: all levels)
- Have students pause throughout the chapter, close the book and write down everything they understand/remember. They could do this in the TL or English. They then compare their summary with a partner and add anything that they forgot. (No prep: all levels)
Post reading activities:
- Martina‘s collaborative mural is always one of my favorite activities! I modified it a bit, so three to four students come up to the board at once and draw different parts of the past events in the novel. Then, I discuss with the class each drawing. I always start with the question “who is it?” After, I will have students take a picture of the board, upload it to Seesaw and explain what is happening in the drawings based on our discussion. They can do this by adding a voice comment. (No prep: all levels)
- For a technology task, I like to use either Kahoot or Quizizz. For Kahoot, I like to use Jumble because students have to put events in order. It is harder than the traditional Kahoot. Other than Jumble, I REALLY prefer Quizizz to Kahoot. Quizizz is faster because the questions come at the students’ pace instead of the whole class. You can also assign Quizizz for homework. When I assign it for homework, I like to give a minimum score for students to earn. If not, they can just click through and not pay too much attention. Also, depending on how popular the book is sometimes games have already been created! (Low to medium prep: all levels)
- For each novel, I have started creating Puedos from Laura Sexton. Puedos are can do statements or questions that students can answer about the novel. I have two columns. Students can practice twice on each question with different partners and each partner initials that the student completed it successfully. I also encourage the partners to HELP each other- not just say oh well if someone can’t do it. At the end, I spot check about 4-5 of their Puedos. (Here is an example of my Puedos from Piratas.) (Medium prep: all levels) Some of my favorite questions include:
- Who is your favorite character? Why?
- List two facts about the country/city in the book.
- What does X character do?
- Describe this character.
- I enjoy doing a jigsaw activity after a few chapters. I have done this to review after 4 chapters. I have students break up into groups of 4. Then each person from the group decides if they will review chapter 1, 2, 3 or 4. All of the chapter 1 people get together, all of the chapter 2 people get together etc. Then from their specific chapter, they write down 3 key words from the chapter, 3 key facts and 3 questions. This year, I want to change it, so students create a hand out with the key words, key facts and questions. Then, the next day, they will get back into their original groups. Each person takes the 3 quizzes from the other chapters. Then the “expert” from the chapter reviews them. (Low prep: all levels)
- I like to have students recreate different scenes from the book. One way is to use digital storytelling. You have students recreate scenes then take pictures of their recreations. If they use Snapchat or Google slides, they can add effects and captions. Then you can talk about the photos like a PictureTalk and continue to provide more valuable input (No prep: all levels)
- Another way is by using play-doh. With the play-doh, students sculpt a scene. Then, students walk around and write down what each sculpture represents from the book. As a class, students guess the sculpture and each person reveals the part of the novel that they were intending to sculpt! (No prep: all levels)
- For reading activities, I like to have students make Google Forms to send out as quizzes for all of the students. I encourage students to write around 5-6 questions and normally true/false or multiple choice. Then the students can take their peers’ quizzes. Not only does it help the students who are reviewing the book, but it also helps students learn how to make a Google Form (which far too few students know how to do!) (No prep: all levels)
- This past year, I have also made some Google Tours for students to complete that go through locations of the whole book. While this is DEFINITELY the most time consuming item, I believe that it is worth it! It is fun to play around with Google Tours, and I believe that Google will continue to evolve this platform as well. This post explains it more in depth, and it also gives two examples of Google Tours that I made with Bianca Nieves and El Ekeko. (High prep: all levels)
- In the middle of the book, we have also completed vocabulary mind maps that Sara-Elizabeth suggests. I like to think of categories to group vocabulary. For example, in Piratas, I did Pirate actions and Spanish actions. These are also great to display for when students are reading to help reference the vocabulary. (No prep: all levels)
Share your favorite activities below, and I will add them to the list! (Also if you are interested in learning about how I incorporate IPAs into my novel study, check out my video here!)
6 thoughts on “21 ideas to use while teaching novels”
Reblogged this on My Journey to Learning and Growing as a Teacher.
This is one of my favorite posts ever. When I’m teaching a book, I visit it at least every couple of chapters for ideas. I especially like how it is organized into pre, during, and post reading suggestions. Thank you for sharing your ideas!