Writers: First Novels

Lesson plans for third through twelfth grades on topics from understanding a novel to writing one.

Lesson Plans

Novel/Creative Writing Lesson Plans

Teaching Reading comprehension and Writing Skills with “Whodunits”

In this curriculum unit we will read books from four popular children's mystery series: Nate the Great, Meg Mackintosh, Sebastian Super-Sleuth and The Bloodhound Gang. As we explore the story elements we will note how well they follow the classic blueprint of the detective story. Our emphasis will be on improving reading comprehension skills and we will use a variety of oral and written retelling strategies to arrive at that end.

After immersing ourselves in these mystery stories, we will move on to writing a mystery story of our own, going through the writing workshop process of brainstorming, mapping out ideas, writing numerous drafts and conferencing regularly with the teacher. The final product will be a classroom-published mystery book.

Although designed for third-graders, this unit can easily be adapted to other grade levels


Grade 3


The Novel as Satire

This section of the curriculum focuses on Huck Finn as satire -- a lens through which most English teachers have traditionally looked at the novel.


Grades 6-12


Sentence Combining in Grade Eight

Sentence-combining is a process which all writers and other users of language employ either intuitively or upon review and revision. In the classroom, models are employed which enable students to move at their own rates. The program builds upon intuitive knowledge that the student already possesses. There are two general sentence-combining formats: open and signaled. Examples and explanations are discussed in detail. Exercises that can be used in the classroom are presented, with possible “solutions.” A teachers’ bibliography concludes the unit.


Grade 8


Using Detective Fiction to Raise Interest of High School Readers

Finding the right keys for ninth graders with reading problems can open the door to remediation. Lack of experiences with the world and shallow personal interests often cause the poor reader to push aside appropriate reading materials. In addition, if they are poor readers, they are often handed material that does not spark interest in people their age.


The goal of this unit is to increase the world of the students' experience, their interest in reading and, therefore, the number of books read by the students each year. A secondary goal is to identify ways to allow for specific reading instruction, decoding words, building vocabulary recognition and comprehension, finding meanings and inferences, and increasing speed.


Grades 9-10


History of the American Novel

In this lesson students will discover social themes and writing styles authors have used in American novels. They will consider the history of the American novel in terms of the literary movements that have occurred within the context of American history.


Grades 9-12


Major Regional Dialects

Most Americans are well aware that English sounds different in different parts of the country. They may assert that people in other places speak with a drawl or a twang or that they sound nasal. In some places, people are said to speak fast; in others, slowly. The existence of regional speech differences is indisputable, but the differences have contributed to widely held stereotypes, for instance, that Southerners are friendly, although perhaps not as intelligent as Northerners, but Northerners are rude. Why do these stereotypes persist despite evidence that they are inaccurate? Why are there so many regional varieties in the U.S.? This unit examines some of the major regional dialects in the U.S., the historical reasons for their existence, and some explanations for their persistence. Dialects examined include Eastern New England, Pennsylvania, Midland, Southern, and Western.


Grades 9-12


Writing from the heart: An Approach to Self-Expression through the Journal

“Writing from the Heart” introduces students to journal writing, the value of process, and the writing process. In its focus on the concerns and beliefs of the student, the unit is my attempt to guide students through an examination of their goals and values. During this process, they are learning to improve their thinking, listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills.


Grades 9-10


Approaches to Writing

Objectives: 1. To teach five pre-writing techniques which emphasize the writing process and help to overcome writing barriers. 2. To expand students’ ability to write by providing work on various stages of the writing process and on a variety of styles. 3. To help students achieve fluency, vividness, depth, and preciseness of expression. 4. To stimulate students to create original prose pieces and poems which express their own life experiences and are engaging to read. 5. To have students become familiar with a variety of writings in contemporary fiction and poetry. 6. To help students discover their own reality and their own distinct voice, through poetry and prose. 7. To help students prepare a portfolio of their best work—revised, rewritten, arranged, titled, and polished.


Grades 10-12


Chessboard Novel

This is for students who are independent creative writers who want to work on their own but need structure to stay on task.


Grades 11-12