**This project can be used with any novel and will take place over the duration of the novel. It comes with an example of what the presentations can look like, reproducible worksheets to help your students understand, plan and organize their presentations, and a rubric for easy grading.
Theme is one of the most essential elements of literature, yet few people can articulate what theme actually is. When students reach a point where they truly understand the function of theme and why it’s important, they will find themselves reading in a different way. The short stories and novels they read, and even the films they watch, will become bigger than the plot; they reflect a world that exists outside of the bubble in which they live. Even students who don’t like to read (gasp!) will grow through this assignment, shaping their ideas and expectations of their world. This activity will not only help students explore various themes, it will also give them insight into the true value of relating to the literature they read. Connections will be made with societal issues, world events, other pieces of literature, and multiple forms of media. Truly, this project is as diverse as they get! As your students work, they will have a chance to flex their creative muscles while working with the peers and presenting to the class. How can you beat having team work, critical thinking skills, analysis, research, and public speaking all put into practice in one engaging assignment?
At first glance this performance assessment will seem time consuming and big. Don’t let your first impression deter you, though. It’s a project that will have a tremendous impact on your students and give them a strong sense of why literature is so essential. Just as important, it helps you keep your students focused on their novels being a window to the world that exists outside of their limited exposure, the life-experiences of people they’ve never met, and the basics of human nature.
Plan on allowing time for your students to meet as a group every four chapters (depending on your pacing for student reading, this will probably end up being one or two times a week). Each meeting will run approximately twenty to thirty minutes, and at the end of the novel students will need to be given one longer meeting time to make preparations and final adjustments on their presentations.
PowerPoint and Prezi are the most common methods used with this project because many find it easier to incorporate their visual aids through an organized technological process. However, their presentations can be made with posters, video or audio clips, skits, hand-outs, and speeches. Presentations should last eight to twelve minutes, although advanced students would be better challenged to produce fifteen to twenty minutes.