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Take Reading SERIESly

Students investigate the potential of a book's characters, plot and themes and develop a proposal for turning it into a series.

Take Reading SERIESly lesson plan

Task

Almost everyone has read a book series. Series are an enjoyable ay to join your favorite character on their next adventure and make it easy to find another title you will enjoy.

Book series aid in comprehension since they give the reader more time to learn about a character and understand the story better. Book series also aid in fluency because readers gain confidence as they predict patterns in speech and behavior.

In this project, students will explore ways writers turn a single title into a series. Using these methods, students will take a stand-alone book and propose how it might be developed into a series.

Engage

Launch this lesson by asking students to name some of their favorite book series. Develop a list where everyone can view it, such as on a white board or anchor chart in your room or digitally using a shared document or mind map. Many students will be able to name series like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, or The Chronicles of Narnia.

Ask students to think back to a series they have read, or had read to them, when they were younger. For example:

The Magic School Bus — Joanna Cole
If You Give a… (Mouse a Cookie) — Laura Numeroff
Pete the Cat — Eric Litwin
Mercy Watson by Kate DiCamillo
The Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne
Mary Poppins — P.L.Travers
Defenders Track Team — Jason Reynolds
Hazelwood Trilogy — Sharon M. Draper

You might also share examples of books that have been turned into television series, such as Wayside School originally written as a book by Louis Sachar or Big Little Lies originally written by Liane Moriarty. Ask your students to share an example many of their peers have seen and read or have them summarize the book and series for the class.

Challenge students to define what makes a series. As they explain what a series is, in either book or video context, post or record the elements for everyone to see and refer back to. Students might come up with components like:

Students will also likely identify that series can work in different ways. Some are sequential, like Harry Potter, and need to be read in order to make sense. Some are non-sequential, like Sherlock Holmes, and you can still get the benefits of reading a series without having to read every title and in order.

Let students know they will be tasked with choosing an appropriate title and working as a team to develop a proposal for an author, and their publisher, on ways they could transform the title into a series.

Start by brainstorming favorite titles as a whole class. Have students list titles at their current reading level, as well as books they read, or were read to, when they were younger.

Choose one of the titles from the list and work together as a class to come up with ideas for how it might be transformed into a series and why. Discuss as a group, building on ideas presented.

Explore the ideas you have developed as a group. What makes the ideas solid for their use as a series? Work together to identify key traits and components to guide the work of student teams.

Create

Ask students to review the list of titles and choose one that both interests them and has potential to be developed into a series. Have students form teams with other students who have chosen the same title. It isn’t likely this will work for everyone, so encourage students to compromise and join other teams or form new ones as they negotiate with other students.

If you do not think team composition will lend itself to success, form teams first and have the group choose a title to explore. Let students know in advance that you may change the groups around if you find some of the grouping are hindering their success.

Once students have chosen a title, they need to start brainstorming ways it might be expanded into a series using the same characters and similar settings or plot lines.

While it would be helpful if all students have read the story, this is not essential. Most publishers have pages dedicated to a book title that introduces the main characters and provides a plot summary. Many of these pages even include an excerpt from the book. If students are creating a series from a picture book, see if you can secure a copy from your site’s library media specialist or borrow from a local library or elementary school.

Once students have developed their ideas, they should decide how they want to publish or share them. For example, teams could:

Regardless of the format they choose, students should include a summary of the major plot and characters that would be the thrust of the series, along with reasons and examples (evidence) from the text that show why their ideas are justified.

Share

If you have a local author in your community, invite them to listen to student proposals and ask them to evaluate. Your site librarian or media specialist would also be able to offer insight as both an evaluator and process coach.

Have students present their series proposals to students in another class. Host a debate at the end to see which titles everyone would like to see made into a series.

Use Exit Tickets or digital survey tools to poll participants on their favorite series proposals. Include an opportunity for them to share additional ideas, feedback, and suggestions.

Share the data with students and analyze participant responses to further refine and imagine the potential for each idea and effectiveness of the proposal. Have students craft written or oral self-reflections on what they learned from the data.

While you aren't likely to hear back quickly, send student proposals in all formats to both authors and publishers of the respective title.

Assessment

This lesson focuses the students in the writer’s craft of developing characters who can carry reader fascination beyond a single work and imagining the plot for the next title, or titles, in a series. Assessment is based on how well-grounded students’ ideas and judgments are based on close reading of text and the text details students use as the basis for their proposals.

Evaluate each team’s observations after the initial close reading; identifying misconceptions, observing how students challenge team member’s thinking, and listening to how well each team member backs up their ideas and arguments with evidence from the text. Student’s individual paragraphs provide a learning artifact that you can evaluate for close reading, critical thinking based on text and digital evidence, collaboration and writing craft.

If you shared data from a presentation audience poll, evaluate student contributions to discussion and their written self-reflections.

Resources

International Literacy Association - The Power of Series Books for Struggling Readers

Educational Leadership - The Skill, Will, and Thrill of Reading Comprehension

Books by Fisher & Frey - Collected works including literacy and instruction

Now Novel - How to write a series

Imagination Soup - How Predictable Book Series Benefit Beginning Readers

Standards

Common Core Anchor Standards for English Language Arts - Grade 4-10

Writing Standards

Text Type and Purpose

2. Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.

Research to Build and Present Knowledge

7. Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

Speaking and Listening Standards

Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas

5. Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.

Reading Standards

Key Ideas and Details

1. Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

2. Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

ISTE Standards for Students 2016:

3. Knowledge Constructor
Students critically curate a variety of resources using digital tools to construct knowledge, produce creative artifacts and make meaningful learning experiences for themselves and others. Students:

b. evaluate the accuracy, perspective, credibility and relevance of information, media, data or other resources.

Dr. Rose Reissman

by Dr. Rose Reissman

Dr. Rose Reissman is a veteran ELA and literacy educator. She is the ISTE 2020 Spotlight Literacy Practice Winner. Dr. Reissman founded the Writing Institute at Ditmas IS 62, which serves as the Writing Institute Data Analysis Center with rubrics, polls, quantitative data review/reporting and sampling responses maintained for each project. Her work at Ditmas IS 62 is supported by Principal Marielena Santiago, AP Michelle Buitrago, Ditmas Writing Institute Site Director Amanda Xavier, Ditmas Life site supervisor Mr. Angelo Carideo, and Ditmas Publications Supervisor Mr. Michael Downes. The Writing Institute materials have been used at over 280 schools.

Melinda Kolk

by Melinda Kolk

Melinda Kolk (@melindak) is the Editor of Creative Educator and the author of Teaching with Clay Animation. She has been helping educators implement project-based learning and creative technologies like clay animation into classroom teaching and learning for the past 15 years.

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