One of the most important things that I want my students to do when starting a new novel is to become familiar with the characters and understand how they relate to each other. I started the second novel of the semester with my Spanish 2 students this week. (I'm one of several teachers piloting the book for the author.)
The author introduces the three main characters in the first chapter, providing a nice amount of preliminary knowledge about the characters, but leaving the reader curious to learn more. To help solidify the new information about the characters and the storyline, I had two post-reading activities for chapter 1.
1.I listed the 3 main characters on the board and students searched the text for information on each of them. I listed their answers on the board, saving the character I knew would be most intriguing to the students for last. The limited information on the 3rd character piqued the students' interest.
2. Then the students wrote the "backstory" of the 3rd characters, an idea suggested by the author. I read a few of the backstories to the class. Wow! They didn't hold back on their creative ideas. They wanted me to read all the stories, but I limited it to 4 or so per class.
3. The 3rd activity was to improve students' listening comprehension while helping to cement the storyline and information on the characters. I distributed the paper (on the right) and then I read 15 statements and/or questions from chapter 1. Students only needed to write the number of the statement in the appropriate block, which allowed the activity to flow smoothly.
We completed the reading and three activities in one class period with time to spare. The students now have a solid foundation of the storyline and are eager to learn more about the characters in the following chapters.