Adventures in Teaching Novels: Novel Projects

October 2021, 

Teaching novels is either your thing, or it’s not. There isn’t really a middle ground. Maybe you’re at a school where teaching a novel is required and you hate it… or maybe you’re at a school where you get to teach a novel(s) and love it. Personally, I love teaching novels. But the main reason(s) I love teaching novels may not be what you would expect. Before you continue, I’d like to give a huge shout out to Carrie Toth for allowing me to use her amazing book, Papálotl, as my example! You can add this level 1 book to your library from Fluency Matters here. Be warned…it’s amazing, and you may cry. Okay, back to why I love teaching novels that make me cry…

Reason #1: Accomplishment. Students feel so successful after reading a novel in Spanish (or French, or Latin, etc.) It’s builds confidence. It’s amazing. 

Reason #2: Break up the norm. Sometimes I’m just tired of teaching and I want to do something easier than teaching but still provide amazing input. How do I do that? Keep reading 🙂 

Reason #3: Projects. I don’t do many projects in my classroom (none, really) because they aren’t super “input” based and most of my students can’t really product yet. But novels are great opportunities for comprehension based projects that can be target-language (in my opinion) optional. 

Reason #4: Creativity. Projects for novels are an amazing chance for students to be creative and express a side of themselves that they don’t typically get to show in Spanish (target language) class. This is a great opportunity for students to show off (even if they don’t love reading!) 

Now to the how…

This is going to be my NEW novel project for this year and it’s going to serve two main purposes that I’m excited about! What is it? A “Netflix style” project summary! I showed my students an example today and they went CRAZY. They thought it was the coolest thing in the world that they were going to make something that cool (and relevant…but they don’t know that word 😉 ). What are these two purposes? 

Purpose #1: Students showing comprehension of the novel they read during FVR. I’ve decided I’m going to have students do one per quarter, starting in January. This will give everyone plenty of time to finish their first FVR book! Each student will choose one (1) book that they have completed to do the project on and then they will choose again in March for their second one. NOTE: The example took me about an hour (not counting reading time) so I will likely give students 25 minutes of class over 4-5 days… hello testing schedule filler! 

Purpose #2: I’m going to take the “best” versions of each book that is submitted and create a “Novel Library” on Schoology so students can “browse” what books they may want to read next! This will be a long term project, but as students complete summaries for new books, they’ll get added.. plus a good incentive to choosing a book no one has read yet! 

You might be wondering now how this template works… well it’s all set up for students to drag/drop pictures and type in their summaries for chapters and taglines. (you might need to explain to them what a tagline is…) and that’s it! It’s all hyperlinked and formatted already! You may need to add Bebas Neue to your fonts to keep the same look (but it’s a free font download on Google!) 

You can get your templates here

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