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Novel Units



I need some fresh ideas on how to run a whole class novel unit. We just finished Shiloh, which went well, but I read it aloud, then had student follow along (partially so that we could overcome the bad language...I didn't want kids to feel uncomfortable reading certain words aloud.) After Christmas I will begin Cricket in Times Square, and need some fresh approach to the novel. I was thinking low/high pairs to read together. Any ideas? How do you all do whole class novels??


Senior Member
Story ladder

When we read a novel aloud in class I assign a person or a pair (depending on their literacy skills) to write a summary of the chapter we have read.
I create a ladder stencil (one run per A4 sheet) and photocopy it . Students write their summary in between the rungs. Each day a new rung is added for the next chapter. This ladder is hung up in the room and it grows as we read the book. It helps students remember the major points of the story too.

I usually give the completed ladder to a student when we have finished the book.


Senior Member

I am just going to begin Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing with my class. I have a cookie sheet divided into 3 groups. Read by Yourself, Read with the teacher and Read with a partner... I then put the kids names in each column.. I typed the class list and then I added a magnetic strip so they stick onto the cookie sheet. I assign a chapter or a few pages for them to read and then I will either give an assignment for them to complete or we meet in whole group to discuss. I try to vary the groups but I do have some at risk kids so I try always to have them read with me or pair them with a very strong reader.
My kids enjoy reading this way.


Reading ideas

I like Pat's idea of having some students read alone, in groups, or with me. I hadn't thought of having different people do different things.

I usually try to have silent reading for part of our literature time because the higher grade teachers have told me that their students dread reading independently, since they've always read with partners. I'm trying to give them practice. We always discuss what they read afterward, so that I know they understand.

Sometimes my students read in groups/partners. I pair strong readers with weaker readers. If you put all weak readers together, it takes them FOREVER to get through an assignment.

Sometimes we do comprehension questions, other times we do projects. I have a scholastic book that is about book report alternatives, and I get a lot of ideas from that - dioramas, plays, poetry, etc.


Senior Member
literacy circles

Try literacy circles where each person in the group of 4 has a job. They can read so many chapters per day. Then complete assignments in groups based on their jobs.
word finder- writes downs new words the group does not know and then defines the.
question person- This person writes five questions for the group to discuss.
illustrator- This person draws a picture of favorite part of the story. Tell the group why they drew the picture.
character person- selects favite characters and tell about them.

They complete this after they have read the novel together. Mix your groups with high, middle, and low.