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In Search of the Novel:Teacher-TalkNovel

Subject: Re: Three Book Project

From: Jennifer Hack (jhack@mail.phila.k12.pa.us)
Date: Mon Apr 10 2000 - 13:49:39 EDT

Dear Cheryl,

In order to facilitate some of the many facets of English Language Arts, I
am compelled to give my students at home assignments. This particular
assignment, The Three Book Project, has a timeline of 6 weeks with periodic
dates associated with "book checks" (to encourage continuous reading in a
timely fashion) for each literary work. For example, summaries are
required on given dates and used during mini-group interactions ( with
students who were reading the same literary piece). (Record keeping for
class/home work grades)

In the interim, we work on a unit of Poetry by examining poetry terms and
various poems on a timeline continuum (based on the curricular literary
genres, i,e, 11th grade American literature and 12th English literature).
As we also treat poetry as a form of reading comprehension as well as
literature, it works to augument skills that assist students in their at
home reading projects. While we explore themes and literary elements in
class, they see application, anyway a number of them seem to do so, in
their independent readings.

Because they select books from a prescribed, School District sponsored and
leveled reading list, even the most controversial works, such as Lysistrata
and Song of Solomon are less likely to generate parental unrest.

To address the written component of this assignment, I teach a form of a
Newsletter ( it varies somewhat from year to year ) that addresses the
elements of the Newsletter while incorporating literary elements. I also
give them a template and discuss how they need to address each of their
readings while balancing what and how they write.

To facilitate the oral component of the assignment, they relate to one of
readings by demonstrating original games that incorporate the plots of
their selected stories, or they create and sing (with music) original songs
for commercials for their readings, or they create original dramatic scenes

For the Newsletter, I create a rubric that is based on the oral and written
directions given for the project. I then grade each according to how well
they address each objective given. For the oral presentation, I create a
rubic that once again addresses the directions given... If during their
oral presentations students need to be prodded to provide information, I
usually question, if one of their peers has not already done so, to elicit
more information. (More record keeping; here I take notes)

For these assignments, they are given, then, two major assessment grades.
All successful Newsletters (most students do well with this assignment) are
published around the room as well as on the bulletin board in the corridor.
For both teacher and student, this is usually a win-win situation.

As performance based activites, the Newsletter and the oral presentation
allow for the flexibility of multiple intelligences and for a successful
environment for those students who seem to experience difficulty with
tradition testing methods.

As we have recently finished with this year's, Three Book Project, I must
say that one group in particular exceeded my expectations with their
dramatic skits and original commercials. Pleased with their own successes,
they published their individual reactions, and I found that some of their
peers in other classes questioned me about their oral performances.

I hope, Cheryl, that this lengthy explanation is helpful to you.


>I have a few questions about your Three Book Project:
>>For this activity, students
>>are allowed to select and register books/dramas from a pre-sanctioned,
>>grade level listing .
>Is this your list? One put out by another source?
>>After keeping a journal of their readings, they are asked to construct a
>>literary newsletter that addresses key
>>elements of the newsletter skills that are taught in the interim, and
>>they are asked to respond to various literary
>>questions. As this performance based activity also involves an oral
>>component (i.e. creating a skit for a
>>"hidden scene", or creating an original board game based on one of the
>>stories, or creating an original
>>commercial ( with music, song or dance) to sell the literary work, I find
>>that even the slower readers work
>>harder to successfully complete this project.
>How long do students have to complete this Three Book Project? Is this
>all that the class is working on during this designated amount of time, or
>is this project done outside of school?
>>One of the positives, I believe, about the assignment is the grading
>>system that accompanies it.
>>Usually it generates two grades -- one for the written component and one
>>for the oral. As these grades are
>>not related to test stress, many students go beyond the directives given.
>Is the project graded--or is just the presentation of the project graded?
>>The only drawbacks involve the amount of time required for bookkeeping
>>and note taking on the part of the
>What sort of bookkeeping are you currently doing?


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