Engaging Middle and High School Readers
Middle and high school students are often eager to be considered grown-up. Take advantage of this by modeling book studies on the adult book discussion clubs.
Provide a list of titles related to issues of interest to teenagers, including coming-of-age books.
Group students by the title they select. Assign group members to lead the discussion of certain sections of the book. Provide question stems based on Bloom’s Taxonomy. Group leaders compose relevant questions and use them to guide the group’s discussion of the assigned sections.
Use lower questions as a quiz at the end of the project. Assign one or two of the higher-level discussion questions as essay options; select questions that were successful at generating a great deal of sharing.
Novel Unit: The Lightning Thief
Incorporate parallel or related readings from other genres, along with writing and craft activities. Most of the activities from one unit can be adapted to other books, as well. Along with traditional reading activities like story maps and character trait descriptions, consider these for the Percy Jackson series introduction.
Sticky Summaries and Predictions
Useful for any reading assignments, this task helps lead students to actual summaries instead of retelling of the story. Provide 3-inch x 3-inch sticky note pads and ask students to write a summary of each chapter on a single note. The summaries are then “filed" on the last page of the chapter. The limited writing space serves as a concrete reminder that only key events should be included, while providing the teacher with a quick comprehension check. Use 1-inch x 3-inch sticky strips for one-sentence predictions of what will happen in the next chapter; attach the prognostication to the first page of the chapter.
Provide students with different versions of the same myths that are associated with those mentioned in the novel--Greek, Roman and Egyptian myths usually share common stories or characters. After reading the stories, students make Venn diagrams for comparison and contrast.
Games of the Gods
Let students work in small groups to create a game based on the novel. The game board should include scenes and events from the story and should be accompanied by question cards to be answered by players. Cards contain questions about the plot, about vocabulary and about literary elements and devices used, such as setting, mood, theme, metaphors and others. Give groups the following categories to guide their question writing: facts, sequence, context, conclusions, generalizations and inferences.
Guilt or Innocence
Conduct an investigation and a mock trial into the thefts in the novel. Assign students to play the characters in the novel.
During the preparation stage, students explore the text for information, interview “suspects," and write police investigatory reports.
After the evidence-gathering stage, review court procedures with students. If possible, take a field trip to observe a trial in progress. Afterward, hold a moot court mock trial to determine guilt, innocence and consequences in the novel’s “crimes."
With these summer school reading activities, not only will you and your students get through the session painlessly, you'll even have a bit of fun!
Activities for this article come from the author's many years in the classroom.