Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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In Search of the Novel:Teacher-TalkNovel

Subject: Three Book Project

From: STEPHEN HACK (s.hack@worldnet.att.net)
Date: Tue Apr 04 2000 - 12:06:18 EDT

Dear Shelia,

When trying to address the legitimate issue that students need to have ownership of the books that they read, I
have included in my English Language Arts class what I call a "Three Book Project". For this activity, students
are allowed to select and register books/dramas from a pre-sanctioned, grade level listing . Having them
register gives me an opportunity to regulate just how many literary titles are floating among each class.Usually I
try to limit that number to 3 or 4 titles per class before I tell them to select another title. It also gives each
student the opportunity to make a commitment and to be responsible for following through with it.

While many of classics are housed within the list, there are still works of a more controversial nature included.
Works like Their Eyes Were Watching God, Lysisitrata, and Song of Solomon are available to them.
Fortunately, my students seem to like the idea of being allowed to choose from more than 100 works their
"own" literary titles.

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.

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.

The only drawbacks involve the amount of time required for bookkeeping and note taking on the part of the
instructor. For this I need help. If anyone has any suggestions, I am opened to them.



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