No Prep Whole-Class Novel Study Project

 Are you tired of the same old paper and pencil tests at the end of a text? Are your students struggling with remembering the details from a novel or play that you've studied in class? Are you searching for a fun, collaborative alternative? Look no further, I have the solution for you - check out this whole class novel study project!

While this project is quite informal in its presentation, the final outcome is very fulfilling! Below, you will find a detailed analysis of the project. This project is posted in my TpT store, so if you're looking for a no-prep project with all of the necessary and editable documents, you can click HERE. The information below, will give you an in-depth look into the project.

What is the whole-class novel study project all about?

The entire class will create a comic book-like outline of a text, so that anyone who may have not read the text, could read through it and gain an understanding of what took place in the book or play, in less than a few minutes.

The process:

1. Assign groups: Assign your students into small groups or have them choose their own groups. I have found that 5-6 students in a group has been an effective number, but it can definitely be done with more or less (there may just be more or less responsibilities for a group). In my classroom, I have found it helpful to create the groups myself; this ensures that productive students are a part of each group, while giving everyone an opportunity to work together in a fun and creative way.

2. Create sections: If you are using this for a whole-class novel study, divide your book into sections. I have found that 5 sections has been an effective number. For example, when I have used this project for a Shakespeare play, I divided the sections into the numbers within the acts of the play.

3. Prioritize scenes: Once students are within their assigned groups and the sections are in order, students can begin reviewing their specific sections (or chapters) and identify the key plot points. Their goal is to choose the scenes with the greatest importance (including those that will lead up to it).

Once they have their list created of the most important sections, parts or scenes, they can begin organizing them in consecutive order from least to most important. I have found that a list of 6 scenes has been a sufficient number, but that can definitely be changed to suit the needs of the class size and/or age of the students.

4. Select text: Once the scenes are in order, the students will come up with one or two sentences that best illustrate that scene or section. Students may need to review a page or two, in order to fully grasp what they are wanting to capture in that particular scene.

5. Paraphrase: This is where the students will truly need to understanding what they are reading. If they are using a Shakespeare play, students will need to identify the meaning of the original text and translate it to modern language.

6. Create scenes: Once students have a good understanding of what they have read and want to capture for their scenes, then the real FUN can begin!

(1) First, students need to brainstorm ideas on how they want to physically capture the scene.

(2) Next, they can plan out where they might like to take their photos. If you have the flexibility of extra supervision for the groups, you can send along someone to monitor the students, while they take their photos. (They may also need an extra person to take the photos, in the event all of the students need to be in the photograph!)

(3) Finally, take the photos! Cameras will be required to take the photos - cell phone cameras work just fine! This way, the photos can capture the variety of scenes, emotions and thoughts required for each scene.

7) Incorporate text: Once the students are finished taking their photos, they can use a variety of editing apps and software to enhance their images (although, this is not really necessary). I suppose it depends on how much time you have and the technology available, but I honestly prefer when students incorporate their own props with images that have not necessarily been enhanced. I think it adds to the authenticity of the final product. Students can then add the descriptions that they brainstormed (Step 4) and their respective speech and thought bubbles.

Here is an example from Act 4 of Macbeth:

(We added a bit of blood spatter clip art, which I think added to the overall effect!)

Here is an example from Act 3 of A Midsummer Night's Dream:

Why this whole-class novel study works:

This end-of-novel project is successful because students are responsible for both knowing and understanding the facts and information from a text that they have just read.

In addition, they have an opportunity to work collaboratively with their classmates, they get to use technology to re-create scenes, and they will likely have a better understanding of a text through this group process.

Lastly, I print out colored images of each group scene for every student in that particular group. It makes a great keepsake and a fun addition to and end-of-the-year portfolio, where reflection can take place.

Here are some photos of what these projects look like when they are complete!

Check out these other great alternative end-of-text ideas and assignments

Novel Projects for ANY Novel

3 Reasons to Use Multi-Genre Projects

Creative Book Reports for Any Novel or Short Story 

Creative Activities for Any Novel 

ELA Escape Room 

Literary Analysis Mini Flip Book


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