Independent Reading You will need to prove that you are reading outside of school. (Minimum for a grade 9 student is 20 minutes a night on average.) Why 20 minutes a night on average? It has been proven that children who read at least 20 minutes a night grow further and further away incrementally from their peers who do not read each day. Vocabulary grows stronger, a love of reading grows stronger, and research shows that fiction helps grow empathy in readers. Nonfiction, of course, can make us more world-minded. This is the only true homework you are given each night, so it is expected that this is the least you will do. How can you prove that you are reading 20 minutes a night on average? There are a number of methods you can use to demonstrate your understanding of a novel. You will complete at least eight of the following by the end of the year. Select one of the below, or another such method you've had approved, and complete it for the novel you've just read.
Character astrology signs. After reading brief descriptions of the astrology or sun signs, figure out which signs you think three of the main characters from your book were born under. Write an explanation of why you think they fit the sign, drawing on their actions, attitudes, and thoughts from the book.
Create a childhood for a character. If your main character is an adult, try to figure out what he or she would have been like as a child. Write the story of his or her childhood in such a way that shows why he or she is the way he or she is in the novel.
School counselor’s recommendation letter. If your main character is a youth: Write a summary appraisal from the school counselor’s point of view that assesses the character’s academic and personal qualities and promise for study in college. The college is particularly interested in evidence about character, relative immaturity, integrity, independence, values, special interest, and any noteworthy talents or qualities. Why do you feel this student would be well-suited to attend college?
Radio exchange. Your character calls into a radio show for advice. Choose which show your character would call in to and then create the conversation he or she would have with the radio advice give.
Yearbook entries. Imagine what three or four characters from your novel were/are like in high school. Cut out a picture of a person from a magazine to represent each character. Mount one picture per page and under each picture place the following information which you will create: nickname of character; activities, clubs, sports they were in and what years; class mock award such as “class clown”; quotation that shows something about the person and what is important to him or her; favorites such as colors and foods; a book that has had a great impact on him or her; voted “most-likely-to” what plans after high school.
Found poems. Select a chapter from the novel you have just read that you consider powerful or interesting. Then select words, lines, and phrases that you think project strong images and show the impact the chapter makes. Arrange this material into a poem.
The following example comes from Chapter Twenty in Spite Fences by Trudy Krisher (1994, Delacorte):
Violence at the Lunch Counter Sit-in Fist slammed into George Hardy’s face Glasses slid to his chin Shattered into a spider’s web. River of red blood Running from his nose. It was the red color of the fence The red color of the earth on which I stood It was red The color of my life this summer The color of Kinship.
Poetry. Write three poems in response to the novel. The poems can be about the characters, where the book took place, or the themes in the book.
Create a character’s room. We learn a lot about people by what they keep in their closets, what they have on their walls, what they select to put in a room. Select a character you know well and create a living room, bedroom, kitchen, or some other room that would mean a lot to the character. Draw it or write about it, making sure to include an explanation of why you designed the room as you did.
Book choices for character. Select a character and then choose five books for him or her, thinking about what he or she might like and also what you think they need to know more about. Scan library shelves, the Internet, or use the library’s computer card file. Why did you select the nonfiction books you did? What do you hope your character will like about or get out of the fiction?
Advertising campaign Using video and print media, you will create at least three advertisements that capture the 'essence' of the novel. The advertisements should be intended to convince your audience to read the novel, without revealing the plot, but introducing characters and emphasizing the theme.
Create your own test Create a multiple choice test, short answer quiz, or essay question for your chosen novel. You must include literal and inferential questions, along with the answers. Questions using quotes from the novel would demonstrate your understanding better than general questions about plot or characters. Example: On page 122, Marcus turns to Roland and screams, "You are not the only one with good ideas, and you are not in charge of my choices! God doesn't chose my path, and therefore neither will you!" In several sentences, please explain how this line is used by the author to describe Marcus and Roland.
In-Class Reading Comprehension Besides your own novel choices, we will be reading at least one text of the teacher's choice in class. How can you prove that you understand the material? When discussing texts in class, be a participant.
My goal is to encourage reading, not discourage it. Anything that encourages reading encourages me. If you have a suggestion (such as reading a class novel aloud), please feel free to let me know.