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Whenever I introduce a piece of literature to my students, I like to supply them with background information about the author, the literature, and the genre. I call this Author and Novel Background Information. I think this helps give students a basis for understanding the text which they might otherwise not have. An appreciation of the author, the world in which he/she lived, and his/her motivation for writing the piece of literature all give students context for the events that occur and the theme(s) the author advances.
I like to do this in the form of Guided Notes. Guided Notes are handouts that contain the background information for the students with blanks for the students to fill in. Students receive the handouts and fill them in as I go through the accompanying PowerPoint presentation. You will find the answers to fill in the blanks at the end of the packet as well as in the PowerPoint. There is also a short open-notebook quiz that accompanies this activity.