So, as I enter this summer I have told many of my followers that my primary focus will be creating more novel units. These are some of my favorite resources to make, and they have become one of my biggest source of requests and downloads. So, many of those I have lined up, will adress those popular requests.
However, one request, I am NOT doing is to create some adapted novels. By that I mean, rewrite the novel in a simple, easy to read format that still conveys the main idea, but in a style and language our students can better connect with. Let me tell you why, I don’t do these. (Then I will tell you where you can download a COMPLETE novel unit for free.)
Source of value
First, I actually DO think adapted novels provide value and get our students excited about reading. IF done well, they can even help build an appreciation for good literature and what these famous authors were crafting with their classics. The key word there is IF.
I think it is really difficult to re-write something like The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton in a way that truly honors the author and mirrors that talent. And to be honest, I am not that good of a writer. So, I don’t try.
I am sure there are some sellers and authors out there, however, who are able to rewrite these classics in a way that rings true to what the author intended. But, just be cautious, and make sure they really do that. Giving our students watered down resources can start to lower that bar of high expectations.
Only you can decided if an adapted novel you find is right for your students. Trust your instincts. I have trusted mine, and choose not to create them myself.
Raising the bar
So, let’s talk about those high expectations. If you use my resources on teacherspayteachers than, you know I strive to create material that is respectful, appropriate, and raises the bar for our students. Novel units are the PERFECT way to do this.
Assuming your students won’t get the meaning without even trying, is simply a silly (and often dangerous) precedent. Many times our students have much stronger receptive language skills than expressive skills. In other words, they understand a lot of the language they hear and process, even if they are unable to convey that in a verbal manner. Playing to this strength and providing rigorous and engaging content is critical to helping them succeed.
Comprehension is not always the point
I have said this before in relation to other topics, but sometimes it is not always about the content and more about the behavior and building some foundational skills.
For example, teaching students to sit quietly while someone/teacher is reading out loud is a critical skill. There will be so many times in a student’s life where they need to sit or wait quietly while adults are talking. Often, the subject matter may not even be relevant to them, or be of any interest. But, being able to sit and wait until that conversation is over is a great skill to have.
Listening to a novel unit in the classroom is a great way to start. I have another blog post, where I give you tips and suggestions on how to decrease a student’s anxiety and undesirable behaviors about sitting and waiting for an unknown amount of time. Read about it HERE. I used these methods A LOT, and they really, really worked.
A sign of respect
Finally, I feel very strongly that reading the novel aloud, unchanged, is one of the best ways to show respect to the person who wrote it. To write and publish a book is such an amazing feat. I want to honor that effort by reading aloud the words they wrote.
It has always amazed me (and I have heard the EXACT same thing from many of you) that my students were often riveted by the words I was reading out loud. Perhaps it was the sound of my voice, perhaps it was the cadence of the words, but they loved it. In all my years of teaching, I never had a student who did not come to appreciate this part of our day (although some required a lot more structure and direct teaching of expectations than others.)
One last thing before I tell you where to find that free novel unit…
I have one other blog post with even more tips and free samples when it comes to reading novels as part of your daily lesson plans. You can read HERE about why my novel units are different than others. And why, even if your students are non-readers or significantly challenged, they can still participate and be actively engaged in completing these novel units.