** While this works well with any novel, contemporary independent reading novels, poems, and short stories are best suited for this because students will not be able to use already established study guides. It comes with screenshot examples and a reproducible worksheet to help your students plan and organize.
Let’s face it, students use Spark Notes. This is not to say they are avid cheaters and want to avoid any semblance of work; they are just fond of the path of least resistance. However, there is something to be said about the thought and work that goes into creating a study guide for a novel. After all, it’s never a simple case of plot summary. One must identify multiple themes and then offer analysis of those themes, create trivia questions, essay prompts, and even go as far as to address why the reader should even care about the book. The list goes on and on. Obviously, the people who create these pages must be intimately familiar with the work in order to create a comprehensive study guide.
So, what if your students were the ones creating the study guide pages? Who’s to say that secondary students cannot be qualified experts of a particular novel they’ve read thoroughly? Given the freedom to choose novels that are appealing enough to scrutinize on such a level, it’s amazing what students can invest in.
Plan on giving your students seven to ten days to complete this assignment. This is great for advanced readers, though it’s completely manageable for all skill levels. Students (and teachers) are always surprised to discover that the process of setting up the page isn’t complicated and doesn’t distract from the essential piece of the assignment: novel analysis.
Even if some students don’t have Internet access at home, this can be assigned as a home project if your city or school library offers computer access, or they can partner-up with other students who do have home access. You can also offer this as an optional project along with non-Internet choices so students can choose what works best for their resources, or you can simply have them produce this assignment on paper rather than a web page. Students can work in pairs or individually, depending on skill level and time allotted to complete the assignment.