Do you do read-alouds in your classroom? I taught in a class for students with autism for 10 years. I had students in grades kindergarten through 5th grade. Some students were early readers, some students could not even identify their name. Some of my students could hold an hour long conversation with me on the fine features of Thomas the Tank Engine and some students were unable to utter a single word. I was tasked with helping every single student grow and thrive while learning what their typical peers were learning a few classrooms away. One of the ways I did this was by reading novels to the class as a whole group activity. Sounds a little crazy, but it was great.
My “not your average novel units” were born from this amazing experience. I was not reading these novels to my students for a comprehension purpose. I was reading to them in hopes of connecting on a personal level. I was reading to them in hopes of teaching them to sit and listen (or at least be quiet) while an adult was speaking. I was reading to them in hopes of sharing my love of books and stories. So, with each chapter, I found myself trying to come up with an activity that would help them make a deeper connection to the content without relying on their ability to decipher and comprehend what I was actually reading.
These novel units do just that. With each chapter, I develop one or two activities that tie to a concept introduced on those pages. This isn’t as easy for me as it seems. With each novel unit I start, I worry, “Will I be able to think of what to do with the next chapter?” Sometimes the idea comes right away as I am reading. It is easy to see a thread to pull on and use to build a great activity. Sometimes, it is not so easy. Sometimes it is REALLY difficult. Some chapters, I just want to skip.
When I was doing the novel unit for Where the Red Fern Grows (a favorite story of mine from childhood), I totally forgot that one of the characters in the story falls on an ax and dies. It took me 3 days and LOTS of conversations with my daughter (who was home from college) before I could come up with an acceptable activity. I really just wanted to skip that chapter, but in the end, I decided it related to when you really need to call 911 and when it is not really necessary.
I currently have competed 12 novel units. They take me a long time, usually about a month. There is a lot of love, time, and thought that goes into creating these. If you are looking for a different approach to teaching your novel units, check these out. I hope you love them as much as I have loved creating them. Click on the image below, to download some free activities to go with the novel, Matilda by Roald Dahl.
Here are the other novel units I have in my store: Special Needs for Special Kids.
Don’t see the novel you are looking for? Leave me a comment below, and I will add it to my working list. Many of the ones I have completed were the requests of other teachers, so don’t be shy!!