In a departure from my normal focus on the history and geography curriculum, this post is about my approach to planning a novel study. It is similar to my other recent posts in the way it focuses on links between different areas of the curriculum, and how I prepare the children for reading the book so that it is as meaningful as possible, and hopefully they will remember what they have learnt from it.
This is not a comprehensive account of everything I do when teaching the unit; it focuses on the additional texts and knowledge input I use alongside reading the book to aid children’s understanding. I used these ideas when teaching the unit this year, and felt that the children enjoyed it even more than the previous year, when I hadn’t planned it in such a methodical way because I’d never taught it before.
When I use pre-teaching alongside novels, I’m sometimes worried that it will spoil the surprise when we read the book, but if anything I found that the children were more excited because they recognised how what we were reading related to the input I had given in the lesson before. The pre-teaching heightened the anticipation as the children were making predictions about how the information they were learning would translate into what happened next in the story.
I’ve created a document that provides a chronological summary of the pre-teaching I used, where in the book to use it, and the web links I used. Some of these points were brief paired discussions with feedback to the class, which I recorded on our curriculum concepts board which we add to throughout the year. Some of them were 10 – 15 minute teaching sessions, and some of them were full reading lessons in their own right.
Exactly how you use these ideas will depend on what your class have learnt before reading the book, and what they are going to learn afterwards. Some of the elements I chose to focus on because I knew that we were going to revisit the concept later in the year (we read the book in the second half of the autumn term, and our Christmas RE unit was based on the prophecy of Jesus’ birth in Isaiah, so I put a little extra focus on making sure the children knew what a prophecy was because I knew it would be good preparation for that learning).
Here’s the link to the document. I hope you find it useful.