The Novel: Creating a World in Words
Teacher: Marjory Zaik
Subject Area: English

Topics to be included:
In this mid-level English course, we study the novel genre from the reader's point of view as well as the writer's, as we work with various strategies to appreciate and understand how a novelist creates a "world in words." The two novels we read together are, in order: Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat and The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. We also read at least one critical or journalistic essay about each of these writers and/or his/her novel.

Sustained reading is further emphasized in an independent reading component. For at least three twenty-minute in-class sessions per week students read literature of their own choosing and make a reading log entry for each session. Students write book reports on their independent
reading (or reading reports if full-length books are not read). In addition to classroom sharing of their work, students publish their book/reading reports, creative writing assignments and critical essays on the class website. We watch at least two films which treat themes common to the novels we are reading together.

Skills: listening and reading comprehension; sustained silent reading; critical thinking; discussion; critical writing; creative writing; computer literacy.

Assessment strategies: questionnaires; reading journals and logs; book reports on independent reading; reading and vocabulary quizzes; freewriting with thematic and conceptual links to the novels; visual representations of characters, scenes, chapters in the form of charts, drawings and posters; critical essays; creative writing (personal essays, characterization, setting, short stories, first chapter of an original novel); written exams.

Course alignment with State Standards:
  • E1b Reading: Read and comprehend books in the same genre.
  • E2b Writing: Produce a response to literature.
  • E2c Writing: Produce a narrative account (fictional).
  • E2e Writing: Produce a persuasive essay.
  • E2f Writing: Produce a reflective essay.
  • E3a Speaking, Listening and Viewing: Participate in one-to-one conferences with the teacher.
  • E3b Speaking, Listening and Viewing: participate in group meetings.
  • E3d Speaking, Listening and Viewing: Make informed judgments about TV, radio and/or film.
  • E4a Conventions, Grammar and Usage of the English Language: Independently and habitually demonstrate an understanding of the rules of the English language in written and oral work
  • E4b Conventions, Grammar and Usage of the English Language: Analyze and subsequently revise work to improve its clarity and effectiveness.
  • E5a Literature: Respond to literature using interpretive and critical processes.
  • E5b Literature: Produce work in at least one genre that follows the conventions of the genre.