We are currently reading, "The Westing Game" for our 5th grade Novel Study. The kids are LOVING it. BUT, it is NOT in any sense an easy read, so I really need to pull out ALL the comprehension tricks that I can think of out of my sleeve!!! The first thing we are doing to get to know the story are "Chapter Doodles" Basically, the kids take out their Reading Response Notebooks and write notes as we chorally read. In the picture seen below, we read chorally together and I stopped to model when new or important information happened.
The next thing we did to really bring this story to life was actually construct the setting!
(Which we are in the process of doing, but are NOT quite finished yet!)
Keep reading for more details...Setting
This story had SO many characters that it was confusing to the kids at first. One way to help the students keep the characters straight was to "BUILD" the setting so that they could think about and visualize who lived where. Thankfully, this story lends itself to this strategy since MOST of the characters are living in the same place, The Westing Towers. What the students did was illustrate the characters on the outside of each window flap, and then on the inside, they are currently writing character descriptions for each!
This book seems like it has a million chapters! We are discussing each chapter in depth to keep everyone understanding and on the same page. One strategy that has worked VERY well during this story to monitor comprehension and keep everyone accountable, is for small groups to write chapter summaries together as a team. I organized students in groups of 3-5 and they have worked together to write important events on a small poster board. Listening to each group read their summary to the class was another way for everyone to hear what was happening in the story and the different details that different groups picked up. I LOVED this strategy since the KIDS keep each other accountable and really don't allow each other to slack off. GREAT!
You can find the task square seen in the upper left corner of the picture in my Reading Response Notebook pack. (Click on the pic to be taken there!)
We are still jumping into the book, so stay tuned for more as we get further along in the story!
What strategies do you use for novel studies?