Shorter Reading Approach to Novels

I must confess that I have struggled with how to get the novels in and at times I wonder why the kids think it is so boring. Well, I have asked around about how people do it and tried a bit of what people suggested in class today. It was vastly improved. I think the secret to keeping the novels interesting is two-fold:

1. Only read for 10-15 min.

2. Keep a parallel story or personalize it to the class

Today, I kept it short and personalized and man it was so much more fun. Infact, I could notice a feeling from the students that said, “Okay, we’re done now.” At that point I just said with enthusiasm, “Okay, great work today!” and moved on to something else.

I am hoping that this will help keep the class more enthused about reading and that we will actually finish a novel. I am going to try to do this a couple times a week. I think that they need the feeling of continuing with a book. If you only read once a week it can be hard to finish the novel, plus the students don’t remember the plot as well and eventually loose interest.  The key is to always have the class on a hook, always eager to want more. I hope to get there some day.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Shorter Reading Approach to Novels

  1. Jim Tripp

    I lost a lot of students with the novels last year, I think because we were losing the momentum that you speak of. Perhaps it was the lack of a good parallel story, I don’t know. But kids always moaned or asked to do something else when Tue/Thur rolled around and the novels were in view as they walked into class. That doesn’t help one acquire a language at all.

    At that time I was trying to do everything so formulaic: read for 10 minutes silently, I translate the text (of what the average student covered in that time) and then asked a few questions and spun some PQA. They were usually done with it (figuratively speaking) by the time any good PQA might get started, and the minutes til the end of class fast approaching.

    I’m sold right now on the idea that what they read has to be either material about them (stories written out from the day before, or the bios that Inga talks about) or something they choose (FVR). Problem is, one of those takes some time to create, while the other is typically unavailable or limited in our classrooms.

    I look forward to hearing how the novels evolve as reading material in your classroom!

    • thomasyoung

      Jim, thanks for the comment. I have lost students, too and I am curious to see how it goes. I am wondering if it went well because we have just started the novels and they aren’t sick of them yet. I know what you mean about having them read something that is about them. I have felt that way too, but lately I have seen what the backward planning can do. When the students know 90-95% of the book already it is much more successful for them. They get the text right away which frees me up for more personalization. I really feel that the idea of backward planning is not emphasized enough in tprs. It is not presented at the workshops and at this point it has been huge for me. Also, I only do 10-15 total of the novel and we read it as a class. They all need to be translating out loud or they loose PAT points, so they are motivated to participate. I can write more later, but gotta head to class…

  2. chill

    Anne Lambert first brought my attention to backward planning as it relates to TPRS. She reads the first few pages or chapter of the reading she wants to do with her kids – usually a novel or short story and looks for words and structures that are high frequency in real life and in the reading at hand. She uses those categories in addition to two others – vocabulary that is interesting enough spin out an interesting script and not so limiting that the scrpit will be a dead end. She then organizes the structures to be taught according to these four criteria. It’s very much like your vocabulary organized by question words. Another great blog to read. Congratulations and thank you, Thomas!

    • thomasyoung

      chill,
      Thanks for the comment and for taking a look at the blog. I know exactly what you’re talking about with Anne. She really gave me a lot of helpful information last fall, which is where I got much of the foundation for backward planning. I also really like the simplicity and repetition that Anne has. She really gets a lot of meaningful repetition while at the same time having an engaging story with enough room for the students to create it.

      Thanks, again, for the encouragement!

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