Whole Class Novel Versus Choice Novel
This is not to say that whole class units do not have a place in the English classroom. For example, I love whole class drama units. To me, they lend themselves to whole class study for the engaging way roles can be assigned and acted out. Whole class novels absolutely can be done effectively, but from this point on, I knew I wanted to try something different.
The Set Up
Defining the Objective
- inspire students to enjoy reading
- engage students in creative and critical thinking related to their reading
Creating a Book List OR Establishing the Parameters
However, just because I couldn’t give the students free reign on their choices, didn’t mean I couldn’t give them a choice; it didn’t have to be all or nothing. The answer was simple: a book list. The decision to use a book list solved a number of problems. A well-researched book list would give them choice, but I wouldn’t have to worry about complexity or appropriateness. With that many students, I wouldn’t have the time necessary to review each selection. The challenge was giving enough choices. Here is the criteria I used to when constructing the book list:
- The book has at least 20 copies available.
- The book represents the curriculum. (My class is British Literature.)
- The book fits a unique genre (different from the other selections).
- The book is age appropriate/approved by the school board.
I searched every inch of the high school to find sets of books that could work for this project. I decided on eight options that represented different genres, including love, heroic, adventure, Gothic, mystery, drama (as in dramatic action, not a play), psychological, and nonfiction. (Obviously, the nonfiction option was not a novel, but it was about Jack the Ripper, so it fit the British content, and it met the other criteria. In retrospect, I’m really glad I included a nonfiction option for students who really would rather read nonfiction.)
- The book must be on the approved book list set forth by the school board. (If you do not have an approved book list, this one might read, “The book must display literary merit.” This is something that is subject and will require your approval; however, I would still give them a chance to argue their case.)
- The book must be age appropriate.*
Designing the Reading Survey
My reading survey is included in The Critical Thinker’s Novel Study Bundle in both digital and print sources.
After almost a year of researching and planning, we started our choice novel unit today! 🎉 The book snaps were perfect to give a snapshot of the choice options! Here’s a book snap for Pride and Prejudice. 💍 I loved them so much that I’m making a bunch of different novels for mini-posters–let me know if you have any requests! 🤓 When my AP kids saw them from my English 12 and Honors 12 classes, they asked to make their own…Bingo! These book snaps will be perfect to review for the open-ended FRQs, so I’m working on a fun digital template. I promise I’m working on a blog post with all of the details! 😉
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Click here to keep reading about how I used Book Snaps for an introduction to the choices and a student-led enrichment activity. While you’re there, don’t forget to download your free Book Snap template!