Activities: Advanced Work
These activities can help your students reach the next level in their understanding
of Reading Process.
- Writing a Critical Review
Encourage students to write reviews of the books they read independently
or in class. Remind students to consider the following as they identify, summarize
and evaluate the ideas and information the author has presented:
- Clearly state your position about the book in your introduction.
- Compare or contrast your point of view to that of the author by
evaluating specific parts of the text.
- Make a few key points about the book or article; do not discuss
everything the author writes.
- Conclude your commentary with a statement that is suitable to the
purpose of your review. (Some reviews summarize the book's content and then
evaluate it; others comment on the book and summarize only to give examples.)
Ask students to read scholarly book reviews in such publications as The London Review of Books or The
New York Review of Books.
- Synthesizing Classics and Culture
Literature addresses universal human struggles and celebrations. Readers
of classic literature are able to participate in a cultural dialogue, and
well-read students are empowered with the knowledge behind references, allusions
and expressions they encounter in daily conversation as they enter college
and the work force.
Encourage your students to connect their classroom literary explorations
with their experiences in the world outside of school. Look for references
and allusions in newspaper headlines, movies, commercials and songs. Shakespearean
references are particularly common in daily life. References to "something's
rotten in the state of Denmark," or "all the world's a stage,"
will resonate beyond just the readers who paid attention when they read Hamlet and As
You Like It in high school. The references are familiar to many,
but have deeper meaning to those who know the texts.
Ask your students to bring in examples of literary references in pop culture.
Encourage them to conduct an Internet search of famous lines from literature
to see how many resources they discover. This discussion will illuminate for
students the value of literary experience beyond the classroom. In addition,
the process of identifying relationships between academic texts and cultural
experience challenges students to synthesize ideas.
- Personal Recommendations
Students benefit from having you as a model reader. If you are an avid
reader yourself, it is easy to convince young people of the value of a great
story. Your enthusiasm trickles down to your students as you discuss the books,
authors and genres you love.
Informally discuss what books you are reading for pleasure and which authors
and genres you enjoy. (You may have more recommendations to share with them
after vacations when you can leave behind the paper load and indulge in personal
reading!) Take time to consider the interests of each of your students and
come up with a short personalized reading list. This gesture communicates
powerful messages to your class. By taking the time to notice their interests
and finding a book or two that each of them might enjoy, you let students
know that you care about their reading, that you are interested in knowing
what they might like to read, and that books are a personal journey.
Keep a bulletin board in class for students to post recommendations for
one another. This exciting hub in your classroom might evolve into a centerpiece
that encourages a culture of discussing books. Leave paper and markers handy
so that students can post personal notes or recommendations for one another.
(You could refer to these as IRs, Instant Recommendations, since students
communicate actively using Instant Messaging programs and enjoy IM'ing each
other.) Other recommendations might come from individual students to the entire
class. Ask students to post the relevant information for each recommended
book (author, title, publisher and number of pages) and a brief description
to entice other readers. You might use this as an opportunity to model correct
citation forms, such as the order and punctuation of an MLA-style list in
a works cited entry.
As you recommend books for your students and as your students suggest books
to one another, encourage them to seek out other titles from authors they
enjoy or from types of writing that are interesting to them. This process
encourages students to develop self-monitoring strategies such as setting
a purpose for reading, activating background knowledge, and developing inquiry--skills
that will serve them in academic settings and beyond.