OK, so I read TFiOS and fell in love with the book ... just as I did when I first read "Looking for Alaska."
But, this time I decided to share the book with my students. I purchased a class set and began reading the book with the students. The trouble? I am not sure how to "teach" the book. (That may seem a bit crazy since I have been teaching for 10 years, but pioneering a new text for a class of teenagers can be a daunting task.)
We read "Romeo and Juliet" earlier this year, so the whole star-crossed lovers element can be explored ... but I think that may be a bit too obvious.
I am hoping for suggestions.
I am thinking about existential questions ...
Maybe journaling in response to specific questions ...
A paper on how reading informs who we are ...
If you have ideas, please share them here.
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So, first of all I am a high school senior, and while I absolutely love reading and I read constantly English has never been a strong subject for me. Something that has really helped me develop, and do much better in classes is when the teacher gives some choice in an assignment. Let's face it, everyone is smart in their own way, and projects shouldn't have to be one- size fits all. For example, any abstract writing I do is absolute rubbish only earning grade in the 60%'s however as soon as I can do something more concrete my marks in English shoot up to the 80-90%'s. So if possible, let your students have some leeway, let them go in their own direction with a project (with guidance and approval of course) you may end up with some outstanding projects, especially since you mentioned that students in your class are not avid readers, this may let them play off another skill they have.
Here are a few options you could give them for some idea's:
1. Compare and Contrast- whether they compare characters, compare it to another book, or compare it to an aspect of R&J.
2. Theme Essay
3. Alternate endings- we never find out what happens to Hazel and Issac, or what happens in An Imperial Affliction- this could be a great assignment for those creative students out there.
4. Some people really enjoy science and research, depending how close you want them to stick to the book they could look into one of the types of cancer mentioned.
5. Screen plays, short stories mimicking the theme or writing style of the author and so much more...
I am defiantly jealous of your class! I have never gotten to read a book I really and truly enjoy as part of high school English, there lucky to have an awesome teacher.
Anyways, I hope some of these suggestions help! DFTBA :)
OK ... so I love all of these ideas. We just finished the book, and the feedback has been amazing. My students LOVE this book. One student actually wrote a letter to the public library asking for TFiOS to be selected as the "One Book, One Town" selection this year. I also went to the committee meeting and argued for TFiOS.
Here's my 'assessment' idea. The students are going to write an essay on the book and John's thoughts on constructing meaning from literature. Here is is. (Any feedback will be greatly appreciated):
When asked to explain all of the meaningful elements--such as, does the color of the curtains in a certain scene mean anything?--of the novel The Fault in Our Stars, John Green offered the following insight:
All meaning is constructed meaning, so if we construct an association between blue and sadness, and then between the curtains and sadness, and that reading of the text allows us an interesting insight into the characters or the human condition or whatever, then we have done ourselves some good. It does not matter whether the author intended this connection between blue curtains and sadness (although the author may well have: Remember, I spent a decade writing TFiOS; you spend a few hours reading it. I had to find some way to keep myself interested during those thousands of days I was working on it).
Responding to this idea is the focus of your final essay this year. Please review your thoughts on TFiOS and many of the other texts we read this year. As you review your notes and ideas, think about those moments, characters, bits of dialogue, key symbols, and metaphors that have meaning for you. Look for common themes, both simple and complex. Simple: Growing up is not defined by a set number of experiences of a specific point in time (Catcher). More complex: Often the truths found in made-up stories can express more meaning than those stories simply explaining actual events; therefore, literature can help individuals find meaning in a complex and confusing world (The Things They Carried).
Next, synthesize your thoughts on what the texts have meant to you this year. You may want to return to some of the essential questions from the course: How can literature reveal truths about human nature and the human condition? What can a reader learn from the experiences of a fictional character?
Finally, plan an essay focused on combining your thoughts on the literature we read this year. What common idea will you take with you on your journey?
Complete the review sheet focusing on titles, authors, characters, subjects, themes, and literary elements.
Focus on TFiOS. Reflect on the characters and the major moments from the novel. Choose at least three quote to use in your essay. Some of mine use words and phrases such as “infinities,” wish-granting factory,” “grenade,” “o.k.”
Write a controlling statement or idea. And, yes, the idea can be something you already thought about this year. Remember my advice: ask a great question and I’m sure your answer will be great, too. The answer to your question is your thesis or controlling idea.
Plan your essay. (Note: there is no set paragraph limit. You may use the first person. You must use textual evidence. I suggest using a minimum of 5 quotes, chosen from a variety of texts. You may bring in your own experiences to help explain your thinking.)
Also ... if you would like to reread Gatsby with me, my blog is here: http://time4reading.blogspot.com/
i like it. i so don't miss writing these sorts of final essays, but i like it.