I spend a lot of time in the summer reading (even more) kid lit. I am always on the hunt for books I can use in my classroom. I have a core group of novels that I teach each year, but I like to rotate one or two out of the line-up and bring in something fresh. This year, I am adding The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. I have spent the past week designing new materials to use with my students. While there are some materials I like to have for all novels I teach (chapter vocabulary lists and a character chart), I pretty much start from scratch every time I design a unit so that the activities are unique to that specific novel. Developing the ideas and wrapping layers of language skills into a unit of study are probably my favorite part of teaching.
- I read lots of books for pleasure until I find one that catches my interest.
- Once I choose a book I would like to teach, I read the book a second time and make notes. I circle key words, write notes and questions in the margin, underline important quotes, put stars next to interesting passages, and jot activity ideas at the bottom of the page.
- Next, I set up my basic handouts that I use in every novel unit. I always add chapter vocabulary, and I always have a character chart of some kind.
- After that, I often implement an ongoing task. I call this an anchor activity. Students might have to find figurative language in each chapter, write a summary “gist” statement after completing each chapter, or re-tell the chapter from the point of view of one character.
- I add in activities that are unique to the themes, story, and writing style of the book. For The One and Only Ivan, students recreate the “puzzle” drawing Ivan paints with his message to save Ruby, the baby elephant. Based on evidence from the text, students draw and color their version of Ivan’s masterpiece. They cut their drawing into pieces, and a partner has to reassemble the drawing just like the character, Julia, did in the story. I want to keep the flow of the story going, so I won’t plan for these unique activities at the end of every chapter; I sprinkle them throughout the book.
- I also like to incorporate at least one non-fiction reading selection that supplements events in the story. In the Ivan story, students get to compare the book version of Ivan to the real Ivan who lived at Zoo Atlanta after spending 27 years in a glass enclosure at a mall.
Typically, the first year I teach a book, I am creating the items I need the night before I will use them with the students. Thanks to the TpT Seller Challenge, I had motivation to get a head start on my new novel for this school year. I also had a great editing buddy, DocRunning, who offered great suggestions for improvements.
I don’t know that book. I’m going to have to check it out. I love the puzzle activity. Great masterpiece!
You could adapt that puzzle activity for any book– but I think you should read The One and Only Ivan! It’s great.
Room-mom, if I were still teaching I would love all your ideas and incorporate them into my curriculum. Such lucky students to have you for their teacher!
You know you were the teacher I always wanted to have in 3rd or 4th grade! Every year I tell my students your story about phoning Roald Dahl.
Thank you for sharing, especially your book lists.