Everyone’s picked a new novel they’re going to read on their own, but good readers think about the writing as they progress through a book. It’s important to consider certain questions at the beginning of a book; it helps establish a deeper understanding of the complex plot the author developed and helps you make connections to the rest of the text as you read along.
After you’ve read enough of the beginning of your book (maybe 20 – 40 pages), pause a moment to consider some of the following prompts. You don’t have to answer all of them and shouldn’t respond with a Question-Answer format. Just journal your thoughts as they come together.
Prompts to consider from the beginning development of your book:
- The setting is a super important part of a book’s beginning. Whether a series of events happens in the past, the present or the future, the possible outcomes depend on when in time the events happen. Where it is happening, that you understand the surroundings, the locations the main character goes back and forth from, and where they are in relation to others around them, these are also all parts of the setting to consider. Some authors may develop this really clearly at the beginning while others maybe don’t pay enough attention to it. How is the development of setting affecting the way you are reacting to the book?
- Main character development – We usually have to be able to relate to a character if we want to follow them along through their experiences. Even if they have very different qualities than you, you often can find similarities with them from the ideas they have, the way they treat people, the hopes they have, their background etc. How are you connecting with your novel’s main character?
- What about the author’s style of writing do you like, so far? Or what about it do you not like, so far? It can be how they use dialogue. It can be whether personality shows through in descriptions of how characters act around others. It can be how they divide the chapters; some of the most popular books have chapters that end with a bang and entice readers to keep reading! Some authors may use sentences that are too long. Others may use some that are too choppy.
- Establishing the problem: Every story is about a character in a situation they don’t want to be in. The rest of the story is about their attempt to solve their situation and the distractions that get in their way. If an author develops the beginning of a book for too long, though, without identifying the problem, a reader may lose interest and feel the pace is dragging. An author may fail to create a believable problem, oversell the danger and not deliver with an exciting story to follow. With what you’ve read so far, a) are you aware of the conflict the main character wants to solve and b) is it an interesting problem/does it make for a good story in your opinion?
We’ve played a bit with some creative activities. Here is a collection of some Speaking and Writing Challenges to choose from to experiment a bit more.
Narrate/Record the letter addressed to Inspiration.
Narrate/Record this break-up letter addressed to KFC staff.
Voice Acting Challenge: Record this Gollum-like character who is utterly useless
Write about the worst customer service experience you ever had.
Write a poem about how nasty Poison Ivy is.
Write a completely fake bio of yourself. (reinvent your life)
Write a Dear Diary entry as a dog.
Finish this sentence: “Nothing makes me more uncomfortable than…”
Write a story in 140 characters (letters)
Write an exchange between comical/bitter rivals
Create a meme out of this cat image
Here are some samples of how to develop the type of paragraph you’re about to write.
One of the first signs of maturity in this novel is when Mariam has to cook her first meal for her and Rasheed, all by herself. She is fifteen at the time, and has just moved away from her home where her mother has died, and has to cook and clean for her husband for the first time without any guidance. Mariam has never been in this situation where she has to cook for a man by herself, because her mother had always been there to help. Mariam tries something challenging and “[makes] fresh dough, kneading it the way [her mother] had shown her”(65). Mariam is fifteen and already she is taking on a huge responsibility of taking care of not just any man, but her husband who she has just met. No fifteen year old girl should have to be thrown into a situation like this, but Mariam was, and she handled the situation very well, better than a normal girl her age would have. Mariam shows a lot of maturity as she grows throughout the novel but this is one of the earliest and most significant events.
In addition to Clay’s denial of the tapes, comes his dread of just wanting them to be over. Emotional stress starts to overcome Clay as he listens to these tapes, just waiting to hear the reason why he is involved. He sits with grief waiting for the current tape he is on to finish. Expressing his emotions, he moans “I’m ready to get this over with”(99). The actions of Clay shows that he does not want to take part in these tapes anymore. Comparing this example, Clay yet again is changing his attitude. Observing this, readers recognize the main character does not want to be in the position he is, but continues to change throughout the novel to change throughout the book.
The first example of how the main character changes throughout the book is that Hannah Baker starts off as an innocent and carefree girl. She is young and new to town and wants nothing more than a fresh start. In the first summer there, she meets a boy who she starts to like and likes her back. Hannah “simply wanted a kiss and [she] wanted [her] first kiss to be… innocent”(23-25). Rumors, however, spread like wild fire and soon Hannah’s reputation starts to change. She goes from being known as the pure new girl to being known as a girl with a damaged reputation. This newly developed image of Hannah is based off of lies and it has a lasting effect on her. Before this, she is not worried what others thought of her and, for the most part, lived carefree. After this, though, she begins to second guess her actions and think about the long term results that could come from them. Her innocence was taken away from her and this starts a chain reaction of changes in Hannah’s life .
This will be our last big project in ELA 9 this year. You have typically been free to select your own novel for independent reading, but this time you’ll select from one of two options:
- The Outsiders is a short novel based around two opposing groups of youth from a small community. It’s set in the 1960s and focuses on one young boy’s struggle to figure out who he is as he faces tough peer pressure.
- Lord of the Flies is also a short novel based on a group of boys whose plane is shot down during War. With no adults surviving and being stranded on an island in the Pacific, the boys have to establish some method of decision making. There are conflicts over what type of government style they want for their new, temporary society.
I only have a few paper copies of these books, so you may likely read them on your iPads. Here are digital copies of both books. Download them so they stay on your devices. You’ll also be highlighting parts as you read and you’ll need to refer back to those parts for an after-reading project.
The Outsiders online pdf copy
Lord of the Flies online pdf copy
While Reading: collect evidence (references and page numbers) of characters figuring out their sense of identity. It can include:
- how they face difficult choices
- the struggle between what they want and what they do instead
- the pull of peer pressure influencing choices
- the conflict with another character who is very opposite them in qualities (characters compared can help you understand both characters better than just one character on its own)
- what types of fears they voice to themselves or others
- how they treat their friends/those closest to them
- other elements that you feel contributes to that character’s sense of Identity.
Be sure to collect and track these moments in the text As you’re Reading, because it’s much harder to find them after you’ve finished reading.
We’re close to finishing our ELA class, so it’s time to do some reflecting on your work and set some goals.
Reflection of Gradeless ELA so far 2017
The following lines are from popular pop songs and include one or more of the following figurative devices:
Plays on meanings of words: personification, similar or metaphor
Plays on sounds of words: alliteration, assonance, consonance
You can try this quiz in one of two levels: with hints or without hints. Let me know which you want to try!
Bonus marks if you can identify the song title and artist!
Song Lyrics Quiz – gr 9 (multiple choice)
There’s been some amazing work developed by students working through this Visualization project. The options were available to create many types, but most stuck to choosing between creating a new Book Jacket Cover and creating a Novel Periodic Table of Elements, and the end results are so cool!
Now that this project is over, though, it’s time to look back and reflect on decisions made, successes and goals for another time, and overall how pleased you are with yourself for the work you’ve done.
Take some time to develop your personal response to each of the following prompts. When you’ve answered them all:
- find a quiet spot and audio record your personal reflections of these questions.
Note: We do speaking activities for different purposes. In this instance, imagine you’re talking to yourself down the road. You’re going to grow in skills and confidence as a student and, a year or two from now in High School, you’ll look back at this activity and listen to yourself recount whether it was a challenge, how you faced that challenge, and what goals you hoped to achieve in this type of activity in the future. Tell yourself what you’re proud of and what you hope to improve in.
- take a photo of your visualization project
- When done, embed your audio and image into your Blog with an appropriate title. This is an AR Task; you can either post it as a new Post to your blog or add it to your AR Reflections Page.
- Novel Choice:
- Identify the novel you chose and review the story line
- Whether you would recommend a friend read it as well and why
- What you can say of the author’s style of writing and how it’s unique
- Choice of Visualizing Project:
- Did you do the book jacket, periodic table or other?
- Reasoning for your choice – Why did you pick that type of project and not another?
- Decisions made along the way of your project:
- What type of roadblocks did you encounter that you had to work around/figure out? Describe them and how you solved them.
- Challenges: What other challenges existed in the project you developed? Explain/Describe
- Your Reaction to your Challenges:
- Did you stretch your abilities?
- Did you try things that took yourself out of your comfort zone?
- What type of risk-taking did you do?
- How did you mentally handle the work you were doing?
- Did you demonstrate any resiliency, an ability to overcome and work through some stressful times and obstacles?
- Did you quit any part of your project or give up on an idea because it was too hard? Explain.
- Identify a “yet” target – something you can’t do yet that would have helped you be successful in this project. Explain your choice.
- End Result of the Project:
- Are you proud of your work or let down? Explain.
- Advice to another future student before they start this project – what should they know before beginning?
- I give myself ____ out of 5 stars on my end project, because ______________.
- I give myself ____ out of 5 stars for my strategies, choices, and problem-solving on this project, because __________________.
- I give this Project Activity ___ out of 5 stars, because ________________.
We’ve had another block of time set aside for personal choice independent novel reading. There were no comprehension elements to this reading, so far, but we have taken time to take a measurement each of your oral reading fluency and speed. The curriculum goal for your age group (and anyone older than you, as well, actually) is to be able to fluently and with emotion read at the pace of 150 words per minute (wpm). Each of you will know, then, whether your oral reading is below, at or above that goal pace. Later in our course, you’ll do another assessment to see if you’re improving to help you set some reading targets.
For now, if you’ve come to the end of your novel reading, our next activity to finish up this novel reading section is to create a visualizing task and you’re challenged to pick one of the following options:
- design a new book jacket to sell the same novel to children, teens or adults
- design a Literature Periodic Table of Elements to represent aspects of your novel choice
- draw a two-page spread of a Dr. Suess-themed portion of your novel plot complete with rhyming text
- draw a scene from your novel plot in a Star Wars theme (novel characters overlapped with Star Wars characters)
- draw a geographical map of your novel’s plot events (a town map, Hogwarts Castle, etc)
This will suit each of you and your learning preferences differently. Some people are very visual/spatial, so creating the book cover may be your preference, whereas others may be more verbal/linguistic so creating categories of characters, themes and such may be your preference.
Curriculum Objectives Satisfied by this Project:
- Create and present a variety of visual and multimedia presentations to best represent message for an intended audience and purpose
- G. Experiment with representing in a variety of familiar and unfamiliar forms
- J. Adapt a print work to another medium
- K. Experiment with the use of technology in communicating for a range of purposes with a variety of audiences
Each project will require a different approach and reflection of different elements of your novel choice.
Some examples are shown below.
We’re officially finished studying Romeo and Juliet! Before we move on, you have a few things to look back on and identify some things about your learning through it.
- Reflecting on the fact that you studied and did some online research to learn about Shakespeare and specifically the play of Romeo and Juliet before we started reading it together, what are your thoughts on that process or method of beginning this text study?
- How do you think it changed your experience of Romeo and Juliet, having studied it and learned so much about it before reading it together? Give one specific example to help support your perspective.
- Would you recommend for other students in the future to go through the step of studying Shakespeare and the play elements before reading it? Explain the reasoning for your answer. Pick one – yes you’d recommend it or no you wouldn’t.
- You journaled as Romeo immediately after he killed Tybalt and lost his friend Mercutio. Explain how you felt completing that journalling, first person writing: challenging, easy enough, a breeze? Explain what about it made it this way for you?
- Our debates: You’ve completed many other debates before, you’d shared. How was this debate any different from the others you’ve done previously, or was it different? If it was, in what way was it different? What parts of the planning work helped prepare you for the actual exchange of the debate?
- How do you feel your performance of your debate related to your preparation of the debate?
(Ex: I prepared a lot but performed poorly; it might have been because….. )
(Ex: I didn’t prepare much, but performed really well; it might have been because….)
- What new elements of developing a presentation have you learned from preparing your Comparison Project? List two specific elements you tried that were different from what you’ve done before and how you felt they worked for you in the end.
- Are you becoming more comfortable with speaking projects and activities? Explain.