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Teaching long-form literature is a worthy endeavor.

If you are reading this, you probably agree that teaching novels, plays, memoirs, etc. is worthwhile, however, many teachers avoid teaching long-form literature.  With scripted programs, mandated curricula, pacing plans, standardized test prep., site-specific requirements, and changing teaching assignments, long-form literature study can get short shrift.

When a teacher undertakes this admirable challenge, they deserve some help.  If this is you, you should demand guides for literature teachers that actually help.

Do we really need new guides for literature teachers?

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Don’t literature teachers want to write their own, original units?

Aren’t there already enough resources out there?

In my opinion, the answers are no and no.  After fourteen years of teaching literature in middle and high schools, I wish that I had found the resources that I needed.  I love teaching long-form literature and have good ideas, but I don’t have the time or resources to design everything myself.  This is especially true when teaching assignments can change unexpectedly.

Over the years, I would buy several resources for a text but ultimately end up doing almost all of the preparation myself.

The problems with most guides for literature teachers

guides for literature teachers teacher at the board

I concluded that most of the guides out there are not very helpful. Some guides consist mainly of complicated project ideas.  Other guides are pages and pages of cute graphic organizers.  Still others are so full of questions and concepts that they lack focus and practicality.  I had the feeling that some of the publishers were out-of-touch with day-to-day teaching.

How my guides for literature teachers are different

​Guides for literature teachers must balance structure with flexibility.  Many guides for literature teachers are so flexible that they border on pointlessness.  I always wanted to be given a structure that I could customize rather than a collection of vague notions that I must structure.

My guides for literature teachers wish-list:

  • Clear reading schedule
  • Consistent lesson format
  • Focus on overarching elements like themes, purpose, and craft
  • Emphasis on citing and analyzing evidence from the text
  • Common Core lesson objectives
  • Methods for student accountability
  • Practical assessments and assignments
  • Collaborative learning opportunities
  • Assessment question banks so that you can make selections
  • Minimal photocopying / printing
  • Guidance for accommodation
  • Standards-based extension ideas
  • Providing a unit blueprint that you can customize

It is with this wish-list in mind that I am creating TeachNovels.com.

Guides for literature teachers students working

TeachNovels.com guides offer a playbook for teaching texts that you can follow carefully, follow selectively, adapt, or embellish.  I hope that these resources can aid you in delivering the expert instruction that all students deserve.

Sincerely,

M. Towle

Teaching long-form literature is a worthy and challenging endeavor.  TeachNovels provides literature teachers with resources that actually help.

The TeachNovels blog offers ideas that are free to all.  If you find the blog resources helpful, please consider purchasing one of my complete teacher guides and units.

TeachNovels blog

teachnovels man reading blog

There are some articles about teaching literature generally, but the blog is mainly organized by text so that you can easily find ideas for your instruction.

Blog posts offer ideas for lessons, discussion questions, extension tasks, and structuring your unit.

TeachNovels guides

The challenge of teaching long-form literature

Every literature teacher has experienced both disappointment with purchased resources and the challenge of designing literature units from scratch.  After fourteen years teaching literature in middle and high schools,  I decided to design units that I wish I had found.

students studying novels

Many teacher guides for novels have major shortcomings.  Some are simply endless lists of disconnected discussion questions and vocabulary words.  Others seem to be a part of a “crayola curriculum” where students are in engaged in interesting projects that have nothing to do with language arts standards.  Still others offer great ideas but no real structure, so you are left to organize everything.

TeachNovels guides are different by focusing on

  • A clear reading schedule
  • A consistent lesson format
  • Overarching elements like themes, purpose, and craft
  • Citing and analyzing evidence from the text
  • Common Core lesson objectives
  • Student accountability
  • Practical assessments and assignments
  • Collaborative learning opportunities
  • Assessment question banks so that you can make selections
  • Minimal photocopying / printing
  • Guidance for accommodation
  • Standards-based extension ideas
  • Providing a unit blueprint that you can customize

TeachNovels.com is a new project.

I only have resources for five texts at this time.  I sincerely hope that you will find something helpful, and I appreciate any feedback as I add resources.  Please feel free contact me with ideas for texts to include or changes to existing resources.

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