11th Grade ELA : Unit #2 - Finding Themes and Making Inferences in Literature : Lesson #5

Novel Discussion, Day Two

Objective: Students will be able to discuss a novel by posing and responding to questions, incorporating others into discussion, and presenting their own ideas and justifications.
Standards: RL.11-12.1 RL.11-12.2 SL.11-12.1 SL.11-12.1a SL.11-12.1b SL.11-12.1c SL.11-12.1d
Subject(s): English / Language Arts
60 minutes
1 Do Now: Learning Reflection and Work Habits - 10 minutes

This classroom routine is discussed in this lesson. Students continue to give thoughtful responses which are useful for their continuing practice and my lesson planning.

2 Novel Discussion - 20 minutes


Students meet with their groups to film and discuss. Most are prepared today; my reminders to be prepared for the groups' sake have proven helpful for several students. Feeling more comfortable with one discussion under their belts, students' talk today is more natural. It may not be so bad to have this extra discussion before our fishbowl, after all; we'll likely see even stronger discussion when we finally see a good example on our next reading day.

 Want to start with a model rather than use your students? Check out how I modeled good discussion in this lesson.

Other Emergency Plans

I was lucky that today's lesson could proceed with relatively few changes given the unexpected absences I faced, but I've learned over the years that it is best to just expect the unexpected. I always have a back-up plan.

My district, of course, requires emergency lesson plans in the event I cannot make it into school--these sit in my sub folder in case they are needed. Since I don't know what unit my kids will be studying when/if these plans are used, they are very general and sub-friendly--vocabulary practice drawn from top SAT words. The lesson asks students to define and use words in a fictional story, making the activity engaging and as lengthy as needed (it's a LONG list of words).

Still, what about those days when technology crashes? When students are unexpectedly absent and the lesson isn't easily adaptable? My go-to options include:

  • extra practice--we study skills, not texts, so I can always assign extra practice which doesn't require a lot of preparation. For example, I could ask students to find figurative language in a section of text we've already read but not yet analyzed (while studying figurative language).
  • academic games--I have a few games I can pull out which relate to CCSS concepts. My favorite is a vocabulary game, designed to get students to brainstorm lists of words they might not normally use. I give them a three letter combination (example: M E R), and they must list words which feature those letters in that order. After 3 minutes, they compare their list with another student and cross off any words in common (hence the push to use words outside of "normal" vocabulary).


3 Read - 15 minutes

I again give students time to read, knowing that many students won't read at home if they aren't engaged or at least nearly done from reading in class. Students get comfortable and push further into their novels.