Setting the Stage for Novels

Since I've had the same groups of kids two years in a row, I'm trying to find new and interesting ways to introduce novels and prepare the students for reading.  Our next novel is The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, and we are aligning it to our next IB Unit of Inquiry on exploration.  They needed some serious background information in order to successfully tie the book and the historical part of it together.  It's also a fabulous book by Avi, whom most students aren't familiar with, so I had to give them some background on him, too!

As I looked for author bios for Avi, I realized I was having so many “silent thoughts” about what I was reading, and I thought it would be a great article to use for note-taking and responding to reading in non fiction works.  Some kids are so worried about cruising through assigned reading that they don't take the time to really think about what they are reading, so that was the main purpose behind this activity.

I did the first paragraph with them, modeling some of my thoughts about what I was reading.  They caught on right away and jumped in to adding their own thoughts.

Here is the copy that I projected onto the document camera

After we did the left side together and part of the right side, I had them discuss some categories our thoughts fell under.  They decided that what they were reading about the author led them to make inferences, ask questions, make comments, and make more inferences about the impact the author has on the novel.  I thought this was a pretty impressive categorization of their thoughts!

Then, I sent them off in partners to finish up the last few paragraphs.  I was super impressed!

We made an anchor chart to call out some of our important notes, and each student put a sticker under a category.

I felt like this was SUCH a worthwhile activity and a great way to get them ready for reading the book. It would also be great for an author study!

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