Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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In Search of the Novel:Teacher-TalkNovel

Subject: Research and the Novel

From: Sue Oliver (soliver@d20.co.edu)
Date: Mon Apr 17 2000 - 18:59:13 EDT

Dear Folks,
        Thanks to everyone who responded to my research and the novel idea.
the discussion ideas will be started by me. If there's a lull in the
conversation or flow of ideas, I'll interject another idea, sort of a devil's
advocate if needed. I like to start with open-ended questions, such as, "Which
was their least favorite character in what they've read so far?" or "What is
something unexpected in the plot?" These usually get the conversation flowing
and I let it go from there. I also like to ask "Why" a lot. I meet with each
group for about 10-15 minutes. While I'm meeting with one group, the others are
reading or working on a class assignment. We sit in the hall and I leave the
door open a crack to hear the rest of the class. They like being separate to do
their discussions and don't mind having a pow-wow on the floor in the hall.
Usually the kids inside want to know what we were laughing or arguing about and
it generates even more interest in reading the novel.
        Cindy, the culminating project will be a 3-5 page research paper. We
cover the traditional format of internal citation, bibliography, etc. However,
the topic must somehow relate to the novel. I had one excited student who
finished Summer of My German Soldier over the weekend and came in to announce
that she was doing her research on child abuse. The father in the novel
reminded her of one of her step-fathers and she was eager to discuss the novel
and the abuse. Thank God her mother divorced this guy and my student isn't in
that situation. However, she is truly "fired up" on this issue and I believe
her research paper will reflect all that energy. At the end students will
informally discuss their findings. They'll first present their ideas to the
small reading group and then later with the whole class. Their small reading
group can help them formulate what to say to the whole class, since time will be
        Someone mentioned that Denee had a good unit on The Pigman. I love that
novel. I had an extremely low group of readers a couple of years ago and we
read the novel aloud together. As 8th graders, some of them only had a 2nd
grade reading level. They related to it very well. Some great discussions
arose as we talked about the characters, their problems and these kids would
relate similar episodes from their own lives. The only problem I encountered
was trying to find chocolate-covered ants to let them taste. No specialty
stores in Colorado Springs had any.
        To Marilyn and Betsy, your discussion on language in the classroom has
interesting. One year before Jurassic Park, the movie, came out, I purchased a
copy and read it in small sections aloud to my classes. They LOVED it.
However, whenever there was a swear word, I would bleep it. The kids laughed
and wanted to know what I bleeped. Their imaginations were far worse than the
actual word. After a week or so, kids were buying their own copies and bringing
them to class to follow along. Every time I'd bleep, they'd proudly show their
copy to classmates to show what word I wouldn't say aloud. I think by the end
of the book, almost every student had a copy and we agreed to see the movie
together. After the movie, they were disappointed that so much had been left
out, especially the episode with the T-rex chasing them in the rubber raft.
        Thanks to everyone for your input.
Sue Oliver

Academy School District Twenty 20Mail

Academy School District Twenty 20Mail


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