Teaching whole novels or pieces of drama can be intimidating no matter the age or reading level of our students. Whether we’re reading a novel as a class or allowing student choice for independent reading, checking our students’ reading progress can be tricky and overwhelming. The old methods of plot-based assessments don’t help students achieve the level of depth needed to fully analyze literature, but how do we make sure they’re reading and understanding these texts? And how can we offer support when students struggle to understand what’s beneath the surface of what’s on the page?
Giving students a clear purpose for reading from the start provides structure without limiting opportunities for student-led learning while reading. We want them to track the plot and character development, but we also want them to analyze how these elements develop themes. We want them to identify literary and rhetorical devices, but we also want them to understand how those devices influence the reader. How do we provide this scaffolding without boxing students into a rigid novel study? Enter: the infographic.
These infographics provide the perfect amount of structure and flexibility for students regardless of reading level. They offer a framework for students to complete during and after reading, but they also provide a conversation starter. Many of my students want to know what to look for when reading, but not many understand how to take that information and turn it into a critical discussion. Students will track character development, plot development, and thematic development while keeping track of literary and rhetorical devices. These graphic organizers, in both print and digital form, give students the power to track their own learning while also generating commentary on their reading (anyone else tired of reading plot summaries when we should be grading a literary analysis?).
Some of the options for these infographics are tried and true literary pieces taught in many ELA classrooms across the country: 1984, The Crucible, Macbeth, The Great Gatsby…
Many cover more contemporary pieces many of us would like to incorporate into our curriculum, but we lack the resources or time to plan for a solid whole-novel or choice novel study. These resources provide a foundation for introducing diverse texts into our curricula without the stress of “How can we approach this?” Texts like The Handmaid’s Tale, The Song of Achilles, The House on Mango Street, The Invisible Man… Using these resources as a starting point, I’d feel more confident teaching a new-to-me text while fostering independent learning and analysis with my students.
And an added bonus, these resources come with suggested answers to guide you and your students! Even though I’ve taught The Great Gatsby and The Crucible DOZENS of times, it’s nice to see a new perspective or even have something concrete to give students who are struggling or when the unavoidable sub lesson is necessary.
If you’re planning a whole-novel unit, a choice reading study, or even just want to incorporate more independent reading into your weekly lessons, these infographics offer support to start or refresh your literary analysis units.
GUEST BLOG POST BY Casey Sigerman
Casey Sigerman has taught 11th and 12th grade English for over seven years, teaching both AP Language and Composition and AP Literature and Composition. She has a BA in English with a focus in Secondary Education from Texas State University, and an MA in English Literature with a certificate in Rhetoric and Composition from the University of Texas at San Antonio. She has two teaching certificates from the state of Texas, including an ESL certification as well as an ELAR 8-12 certification.
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