Novel & Unit Projects: Day Two


 I find it helps to organize books and units around one “principle.”  This principle will be modeled and practiced throughout the entirety of the unit from a variety of angles.  It’s always my goal to then have students “produce” that skill on their own or in small groups by the end of our study.  Today I’ll provide two different approaches. The options for today all focus on culminating activities that measure writing ability.

Idea #1

It seems to me that many of the books we give our students are meta “texts.”  Novels like To Kill a Mockingbird, All the King’s Men, even The Scarlet Letter include a series of speeches, sermons or courtroom arguments that have their own “life.”   Books that include other “texts” within them offer a range of opportunities for end projects.

  • Over the course of the novel have students use these in-novel “texts” to annotate for SOAPSTone.
  • Pull other examples of speeches, sermons, essays, or arguments that link to the text itself and offer more student opportunity for analyzing argumentation.
  • End Project Idea:
    • Pull one of the examples from the text that you’ve not yet used or find an appropriate outside speech/text and have them annotate for SOAPSTone and respond to overall argument purpose.   Consider this to be their end of unit assessment instead of multiple choice.

Idea #2

Modern non-fiction lends itself to a different angle or approach.   Think books like Fast Food Nation, Nickeled and Dimed, Seabiscuit, and Arc of Justice or units that focus on speeches and essays, say Rationalism or Transcendentalism. These texts raise moral and ethical debates.

  • Midway through the novel construct a list of current topics that relate (Fast Food Nation=global vs. local, farmers markets, immigration, minimum wage, etc.)
  • Assign students topics from the list.  It helps to have a smaller list of 5-10 topics for the final product.  Introduce a small research assignment where students collect articles and write précis paragraphs.  Decide how you monitor/grade this component.
  • End Project idea:
    •  Introduce students to the New York Times weekly feature “The Ethicist.”
    • Have students draft moral/ethical questions in paragraph form based upon the archived examples and the topics they’ve been researching.  Have them look at the posts submitted to the New York Times.  Some columns that might work deal with immigrants, green cards and minimum wage , Working Conditions, and issues of race
    • Further Extension: Sort students into groups of two based upon their topics and have them exchange these ethical questions.  Ask for written responses.  Use their responses as an end of unit assessment.

One comment

  1. Erin says:

    Do you have any ideas for 6th graders?!?!

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