Teaching Tips – The Classroom Novel

One Small Step At A Time – The Class Novel
Tips For Teachers 1
Posted By Liz Dunoon
Students with dyslexia often have difficulty holding more than one or two points, ideas or facts in their head at the one time and retaining the information. For this reason it is a good idea to break tasks up into manageable small steps, making learning memorable. All steps should be clearly identifiable, sequential, multisensory; and where possible, should build on knowledge previously learnt.

See below for an example that is based on a class novel.

  1. Use one term to describe the genre of the book. Is it a mystery, tragedy, period drama, comedy, essay collection, autobiography etc?
  2. Provide an audio recording of the book to those students who require it. Encourage them to read the book and listen to the audio recording of the book at the same time if possible.
  3. Identify and list the main characters in the book. You could also include personality traits and physical characteristics, habits and speech consistencies. Get students to do a quick sketch of main characters in their books.
  4. Identify the secondary characters. Create a pictorial representation of how all the characters in the novel are linked to each other.
  5. Where does the story take place, in which country(s), which city or region? When does the story take place, in which year or time period?
  6. Use five words to describe the way the book is written.
  7. Get students to use a sticky note to identify any words they are unsure of so you can go over those in class.
  8. List keywords that are reflective of the storyline. These may appear numerous times throughout the novel.
  9. Write a short paragraph to describe what has happens in each chapter, a chapter summary. These can sometimes be found online or in teaching resources. It is a good idea to have students explain verbally to a classmate what a chapter was about.
  10. Have students act out significant events in the story to cement characters and main story plots.
  11. As students are reading the book or after they have finished it, assist students to determine the sequence of major events in the story. This can also be done pictorially
  12. If a film of the book exists encourage students to watch it.
  13. As students read each chapter, provide a list of pertinent quotes that students may reference when answering questions or writing essays. Novels in electronic formats such as Kindle provide numerous assistive tools including most commonly highlighted quotes.
  14. What is the author trying to tell us? What is the message(s) we should take away from reading this novel? A student’s personal interpretation of a novel and its message to them is important when it comes to answering questions or writing essays about it. Ask students “How can you relate this novel to your life?”
  15. When a student is uncertain how to answer a question about a novel in essay format it can assist them greatly to provide a question that they can answer in each paragraph.

Teaching in structured small steps, helps to keep students with dyslexia on task. Together with multisensory teaching strategies, you can assist your students to take in new information in an orderly sequential fashion and build on that knowledge.

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