• Jenny Bell

Novel Choice

#homeschooling #mindfulparenting #readingathome #middleandhighschool

Here is a simple project for your middle or high school student to dive deep into a novel.


I was a middle and high school teacher and when I switched to an independent study teacher for our district, I was saddened by the curriculum. I created a version of the following lesson for the students who wanted to read something and dive deeply into what they read. I received some really great projects. In my GATE (gifted and talented education) training, I learned that allowing children choice and the ability to dive deep is one the best things we can do for kids. With the current emphasis on children staying home, I realize there is a lot out there for younger grades but not much for our secondary kids.

Here are the instructions:


  • Choose a novel.

  • Keep a dialectical journal while reading, you must have at least 50 full entries. These may be typed or handwritten (not familiar google it).

  • While keeping the journal, also jot down any unfamiliar words or terms and the definition you find either online or in a dictionary.

  • Also keep a list of main characters (no more than 6). Write the character’s name, their significance or role in the story and a list of their traits.

  • After you have finished the novel, create a higher level essay question for yourself to answer (Google Costa's Level of Questioning).

  • Good essay questions focus on theme, meaning and depth of understanding. You will then write the essay in two drafts. You will give the rough draft to be corrected by a peer, teacher or parent, you will work on your final on your own.

  • Choose something from the novel that has sparked your interest. This may be the historically time period, the theme, the author, a character, etc. Then research this topic you have selected.

  • You will then create a project of your choice based off of this research. The project is open but must gain approval. You cannot do a poster, simple drawing, poem or another essay. Think bigger and more interesting. You will also turn in an MLA Works Cited page of your research (you must have at least 5).

  • Finally, you will present your project and teach me what have learned. Your presentation needs to be at least 3 minutes but no longer than 10.


Novel Choice List:


Grade 7: The Giver, Esperanza Rising

Grade 8: Farewell to Manzanar, The Outsiders

Grade 9: Romeo and Juliet, To Kill a Mockingbird, Bless Me, Ultima

Grade 10: Their Eyes are Watching God, Night, Pygmalion

Grade 11: The Crucible, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass An American Slave, The Catcher in the Rye

Grade 12: Things Fall Apart, Othello, The Alchemist


The novels are what we had available at the school, but you may pick anything you think is age appropriate. Here is a good place to look.


If you have questions, please email me: Jenny@broken-better.com


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