There are times to ask and expect all students to read the same novel in a classroom - and of course, that's always a book you have read once - or MANY times. It's reasonably easy to determine whether a student has or hasn't read that book because you are so familiar with it; if they even attempt (heaven forbid) to try to pull the wool over your eyes regarding their reading and understanding of the book - they aren't successful.
But what about when you are encouraging students to read from a wide array of books, i.e., books around a particular theme, books that are from a certain time period, books by a particular author, books from a range of reading levels, and/or books that students choose based on their own interest? Now what? Are you well-read enough to be able to prepare prompts for each of the different books - and then know how well your students comprehended their chosen book? Most of us can't keep up with all the different books that are currently available, so we need some alternatives.
Over the years, I created a number of questions/prompts that I could present to students...and no matter whether I had read the book(s) they had read or not...I could determine whether they had read the book based on the understanding they exhibited by answering my questions. This article offers 10 of those questions/prompts.
Use a box of 64 crayons to color a picture that represents your book. Explain your drawing briefly - demonstrating your understanding of the overall plot.
Write one thing (character, event, detail, plot point, etc.) about the book for each letter of the alphabet. Be sure to demonstrate your understanding of the book through your choices.
You may give an award to anyone in this book - for anything. Design the award, name the recipient, and provide a justification for the choice.
What kind of clothes do the main characters wear in the novel you are reading? What does this indicate about their personalities? Sketch out those characters and their clothing if that helps you show what you know.
What kind of books do the characters in your novel read? Design the covers of some of those books - and explain why they represent the characters in your book.
Choose three of the characters in the book. What kind of shoes do you think they wear? Sketch these shoes and then explain why you chose these kinds of shoes for each of the characters.
If one of the main characters in the novel you are reading kept a scrapbook or a photo album, what would be in it? Why do you say that? Feel free to create the scrapbook if you like.
What kinds of items would be found on the bulletin board of the main character of your book? How does this represent the character, particularly as that character grows and changes through the novel your read.
Paint a picture that represents some aspect of the book that you read. Explain your painting, demonstrating your comprehension of the novel.
Design a business card that the main (or some other significant) character would have. Indicate your understanding of this character's personality, etc. through the design (including logo and motto) of the business card.
Envision the creativity that would be displayed! You will have a blast and so will your students! I experienced it and you will, too. I invite you to access the full-color version (immediately downloadable) of *50 Questions to Ask About Any Novel* as well as scores of free resources that you can use to build reading, writing, and learning in your classroom, including PowerPoints, PDFs, and Word documents, by going to...
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