Post reading activities with novels

Post reading activities with novels

To continue our series, I will discuss ideas for post reading activities when you are using novels in class.  To see the other ideas, you can read the pre-reading activities, the during reading activities or the post reading activities for shorter stories as well.

One of the activities that I do at various points is to search for either a Kahoot or Quizizz game that I can either use or modify.  Many teachers have made these games for chapters or whole books.  You can just search then start playing!

In the middle of the book, I like to break out the Play-Doh!  Students use it to reconstruct one scene from the book.  Then, I put numbers by each sculpture.  Students bring a piece of paper and pencil and complete a gallery walk.  While they walk, they write down the part of the book that the sculpture is depicting.  Then at the end, I hold up the Play-doh and students guess what part it is.  The student who made it finally reveals the actual scene.

Martina’s collaborative mural is also great.  I pick a few students to draw different parts of the chapter or last two chapters.  Then, we discuss the parts again, and I ask the whole class questions.  Finally, I have students take a picture of the mural and upload it to Seesaw.  In the comment section, students can retell what is happening based on the mural picture.

Students recreate different scenes of the book in small groups.  They can take a picture on Snapchat then edit it to include filters, stickers and CAPTIONS!  Then, they can download the pictures and send you those pictures.  You can then look at them to discuss this with students as well.  If students are too young for Snapchat, you could have them do something similar on Google Slides.  Speaking of Snapchat, your students can take a booksnap of their favorite part (or least favorite part!)  Check out Tara Martin’s page for more tutorials for most technology platforms.

Students can also summarize as much as they can at the end or beginning of class.  I am a big (recent) fan of the retrieval practice blog.  The research states that ways to help retention including spaced out recall and summarizing without looking at a book.  I will have students write as much as they can remember then refer to the book.  This practice helps reinforce ideas and vocabulary as well.

What are your favorite post novel reading activities?  We can also continue this conversation in June!


Apply to the Impact Grant!

If you have attended an edcamp in the past year, you are eligible to apply for an impact grant.  These grants are worth $500 each.  The deadline is the end of April.  Check out the EdCamp Foundation website for more information, a rubric and tips.

During reading: Novel activities

EdcampCIVa: During reading

In a previous post, I detailed some activities for pre-reading activities with novels.  In this post, I will explain some during reading activities with novels.  For a first chapter especially in level 1 (or level 2 if they have not read a novel before), I will read a few sentences, and students will translate them.  I do this for the first chapter to ensure that students understand it and to build their confidence.  I also tell them that they can volunteer to translate some sentences, or I will find one for them.  This helps build their confidence, and it allows them to choose what some sentences where they feel confident.

Another way that I help with independent reading is by creating reading guides.  On reading guides, I make two columns.  On one column, I put the page number and the questions.  On the other column, I include space for them to answer the questions.  With a reading guide, I include key words or phrases for them to look up or just define.  I also will have them sketch out a few parts of the scene.  I also will ask comprehension or extension questions.  Here is an example of a chapter that I used with Chapter 3 of La Calaca Alegre.

I also ask the similar questions and have students respond on mini whiteboards.  This makes whole class reading more interactive.  Plus, it allows me to vary the activities.  (It is also low prep for me since I don’t have to print anything ahead of time!)  I use the same types of questions- vocabulary identification, comprehension questions, extension questions and drawing of scenes.

PearDeck is one of my favorite tech tools if you are 1:1!  You can ask questions using this platform then students can all answer at once.  It is an interactive slideshow where everyone can participate.  I write questions ahead of time then we move through the questions as we go through the novel.  It also has the option for a quick question in case a question comes up as you are reading.  Again, I focus on questions that are comprehension based or focus on key words.  The options for PearDeck include a short paragraph or multiple choice.  You can also embed videos into PearDeck.  As we were reading La Calaca Alegre, I wanted to highlight horchata since the characters drink it.  I embedded this video into my PearDeck to break up our reading.  These features are all included in the free version.  If you have the paid version, you can also have students draw on the slides as well.

Another low tech alternative is to use sticky notes.  You can have students come up with a few questions they have on the chapter and post them on the board.  You can then review the questions as a group trend instead of individual.  You could also have students write down any words that they didn’t understand then answer all of their questions.  If you are creating mind maps, you could have students record down a few important words that they want to add to their list/map.

For a quick no-prep reading activity, you could create a chart with the main question words in your target language (who, what, when, where, why and how).  Then students could fill in the chart as they read the chapter.  You could also have a sheet with 3 to 4 points.  You could have students write down the 3-4 most important events in the chapter then have students compare notes with a partner.

Now it is your turn to share!  What is your favorite activity to do during reading novels?

Want to learn more?  Sign up for our free conference in Chesapeake, Va on June 27!

Five favorite post reading activities

My Post (15)

Not Another Worksheet!!

Our brains need novelty and worksheets aren’t novel!  So how can we review a reading without using another worksheet?  Here are my favorite 5 activities:

  1.  Write, Draw, Pass from Martina Bex

This activity can be cumbersome the first time, so allow extra time but after the first time, they will be pros!  What I love about this activity is the flexibility! Martina has several blog posts with new ideas, so be sure to look around her site a bit.  In my level 1 classes, I have them choose one sentence to write in the TL, then they pass. The next person has to draw the sentence, fold and pass.  The third person must decide what the pictures is and write the sentence, and so on. Many times I allow them to have the story out to “help” them. The genius of this “help” is that when they get a new sheet, they have to read the story AGAIN!  I’m good with that!

With other levels, I have them choose one sentence to write and pass, the second person draws and then the third person has to look at the picture, decide what come next and write that.  Again it forces them to go back into the story and reread each time to find what they are looking for. More reading is not a problem!

  1.  Paper Airplane Readings (I can’t remember where I learned this but the blog is by Alina Filipescu)

This is a great activity to get kids up and moving, especially good for those busy middle school kids but also good for days when they are not moving at all, even high schoolers like paper airplanes.  Beyond reading this is great for teaching commands and getting kids to follow directions in the TL! Be sure to have them toss their planes in a new way each time, it adds to the fun!

  1.  Picture Gallery Walk by Annabelle Allen

I can’t find a blog on this idea specifically but Annabelle’s blog is full of inspiration!  For this idea, the kids draw a picture of one part of the reading and then hang it on the wall.  Once all the pictures are up, students take post-it notes and walk around the room. While looking at the pictures, they must comment on them in the TL.  They love seeing each others’ work while also reviewing the reading. Sometimes we will draw one day and then do the gallery walk the next, without the story in hand.  Another great way to get sleepy kids up and moving or over energized kids worn out a bit!

  1.  Student written comprehension questions

This is just what it sounds like.  The kids write your worksheet for you.  They must write good, solid questions for the reading.  I then have them pass the questions around the room. Each student must answer 3 or 4 sets of questions, this way they have a good review of the facts of the story.  My instruction to them is to trade with whomever is done at the same time they are. Fast kids can move faster, slower kids can have more time (and I can lessen their load if needed)  Easy idea with no prep work.

  1.  Thumb ball

This is a new one for me and I like it!  This particular thumb ball comes with a sheet with each shape on it.  So I assigned a different type of question to each shape (ie: who, what, where, yes/no, why).  The kids throw the ball and whoever catches it, tells me where their thumb is. I ask a question about the story based on that shape and my chart.  I don’t have to prep questions, can repeat them if I want and we can review a story quickly. You can also have the kids divide into teams and pre-write questions to ask each other.  Again low to no prep for the teacher, but fun and interactive!

Have fun and be creative with reading comprehension, there are so many options that aren’t worksheets!

by: Lynne Hendrick

Want to learn more?  Sign up for our free conference in Chesapeake, Va on June 27!

Free Voluntary Reading in the World Language Classroom


70% of a literate person’s vocabulary in her first language comes from reading.  Do you want to increase SAT or ACT scores? Read. Do you want to increase your breadth of vocabulary and enable better writing?  Read. Do you want to increase grammar knowledge? Read. But does this transfer to second language learning? Can we increase our students’ vocabulary and innate understanding of the language just by allowing them time to read?  Alone and anything they want? According to many Comprehensible Input teachers and SLA experts, the answer is YES! The more time spent reading, the better. Here’s a great article that summarizes some research on the topic.

Knowing this, I’ve been building a library of books, magazines and readers for my classroom and until this year, I was trying to have my students read once a week (I had a hard time being consistent).  I didn’t have enough books to read more often and I still felt our time was better spent elsewhere. Over the course of the last 3 years, I discovered that children’s books in the L2 were to hard, as were children’s magazines.  What really captured my students’ interest were the novels and readers written for language learners. The kids were able to comprehend them and there was a plot to follow and hold their interest. So I began to focus on gathering more titles by turning to these great resources here, here, and here.  But consistency was an issue, I was not good at carving out that one time slot each week.

This semester I decided to commit 10 minutes of class to daily reading with my level 2+ classes.  The only way I can accomplish this is by starting each class with reading. So I set the expectation on day one; they would come in, get their books, and begin reading, EVERYDAY.  We are 6 weeks into our semester and here are my observations: 1. Beginning class with 10 minutes of reading is so calming for us and yes, I read too. 2. The kids have 10 minutes to get their heads into the language slowly and without stress.  3. I am starting to see new vocabulary creep into their writing and speaking. 4. They are writing much better. Their grammar is improving, their ability to express themselves is growing, as is their confidence and comfort levels. 5. My self-identified “non-readers” are reading and enjoying themselves!  6. Since I am reading with them, I am also growing in my confidence and comfort levels. I cherish this time each day, as do most of my students and I can’t wait to see where we end up in June!

The research that I have read emphasizes that reading is less enjoyable, when we place requirements on the students.  In order to keep requirements low and interest and enjoyment high, I ask the kids to do only one thing. When they finish a book, they rate the book (1-5) and write a 2-3 sentence review on a Post-It.  We then post these reviews on a chart in the room, so others can use them when choosing a new book. They are very willing to do this and use the chart more and more each week.

For more information, Bryce Hedstrom has some great information on reading here and here, scroll down about ¼ of the way down the page.   Happy reading!