An appropriate choice of a writing strategy during the classroom activities seems to be a significant step to be taken. The way of how a teacher is able to check students’ knowledge and involve them into the education process (Ryder & Graves, 2003) influences considerably students’ activities and understanding of their skills and new material. This is why it is very important to focus on writing activities with the help of which students comprehend everything as well as are understood by the other (Vacca & Vacca, 2008).
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In this paper, the evaluation of one particular book will be developed and four different writing strategies will be integrated. These strategies are as follows: biopoems as a part of explorative writing, response journals and literature character journal as a significant part of journal writing, and RAFT writing assignment during which students are provided with some instructions to be followed and to rely. To make students more interested in the activities offered, it is better to integrate all the above-mentioned activities and suggest students to focus on one literature source that is The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger.
This novel was written in 1951 and caused a number of positive critics from the young readers. A template offered in this paper should help students take the most important lessons from the story and realize the truth that “life is a game that one plays according to the rules” (Salinger, 2001, p. 12). The order of the activities chosen should be considered as each activity promotes the correct understanding of the novel.
Templates to Be Used by Students and by Teachers
To help students start writing this type of work and get an idea on how cope with the assignment, it is better to make some prompts and suggest them interesting beginning.
My name is ____________. I am ____________. Among the variety of courses, I am more interested in ________________ because this subject makes me ________________ and _________________ and also helps to ___________.
My best experience in the subject is _______________________________.
The most interesting works during this course are ____________________.
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If I were a tutor, I would like to pay more attention to the following activities__________________________________________________________ because they _____________________________________________________.
I truly believe that the chosen subject has a number of positive effects on student life such as ________________________________________________. In case I get the necessary education, I would be eager to contribute this study in the following ways.
In fact, I cannot imagine student life without certain attention to this subject as it _________________________________________________________________. I think my background and my interests help me ____________________________. What I want to offer other students is to ___________________________________.
This kind of template should become a helpful tool for both teachers and students. Students are able to understand what kind of subject is their favorite and why, and teachers may define true intentions of their students and understand how it is better to use students’ activities.
Literature Character Journal
In this paper, my attention is paid to Literature classes and the possibility for students to study thoroughly the work by DJ Salinger The Catcher in the Rye. In fact, this story is interesting from a variety of perspectives. It is not only an educative source of information on how young people should behave and evaluate the situations but it is more about the choices which are made by different people under various conditions. And the way of how a single decision is made is crucial for every student. This is why to grasp the main message of the novel, it is possible to provide students with special literature character journals and make them use their background knowledge and personal attitude to the novel.
What is your favorite character in the novel? Introduce five interesting facts about him/her? How old is your character? (If the author did not focus on characters’ age, please, give your suggestions and explain why you make such choice).
What is the role of your character in the novel? Is it a major or minor character? How can you justify your choice and prove that this character is worth other readers’ attention?
What is your favorite scene with the character? Do you like the style chosen by the character? Do you find some similarities in his/her attitude to life and your own attitude?
If you get a chance to communicate with the character, what themes are you going to touch upon? Why? What do you want to know more about the life of the character?
Do you like the way of how the character communicates with people around? Do you want to learn something from him/her?
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What hints would you give to the character to make his/her life easier or, vice versa, more captivating? What kind of help would you be able to provide the character with?
Does the chosen character is the hero of his/her time? What period would be more appropriate for him/her? Be ready to give clear ideas and clear explanations.
Does the character have some beliefs? What are they? Do you support his/her choice? Explain your answer and connect it to your personal life and experience.
Do you like the way of how the author introduced the character in the novel? What additional traits would you add to him/her? Explain your choice and describe possible development of the events in the novel.
If you got a chance to perform the role of one of the characters in the novel, what role would you choose? Explain your answer and give clear description of your performance.
With the help of these questions and given questions, teachers are able to identify how creative students are, what their living principles are, and what captivates the reader the most in the book. In case students give interesting and illustrative answers, it is possible to evaluate how proper their understanding of the novel is. If students hesitate to give some answers, it is necessary to focus on the content of the book and help these students improve their knowledge and even personal attitude to life.
A biopoem is one of the writing strategies with the help of which students are able to reflect on the material learnt in the most creative way. This type of work is an interesting combination of background knowledge and rhyme. There is no need to demonstrate the extend level of knowledge about the story. It seems to be enough to choose a particular issue and focus on it properly.
It is possible to ask students develop their poems independently using their own ideas and skills. It is also possible to provide students with some hints so that they can start writing such poems and complete them in time.
(Name of the character) I want to introduce
He/she likes to _____________________ (three or four words)
His/her eyes are full of ______________ (your choice)
Still, his/her life is __________________ (your choice)
The way he/she ___________________ (your choice)
Makes me ________________________ (three words)
Because _________________________ (your choice)
And nothing else ___________________ (your choice)
This activity is a unique chance to develop creative skills of students, get involved into the story studied, and demonstrate personal understanding of the issue.
RAFT Writing Assignment
RAFT is probably one of the most serious and challenging assignments for students. This type of work allows teachers create certain requirements and make students follow them. And students have to use their best skills, meet the demands, and demonstrate their own styles and interests. To assist students, teachers may offer some ideas and hints. It is not necessary to give an assignment and think that students comprehend it correctly. Still, it is possible to give students a RAFT and show the right way.
To demonstrate your comprehend the main message of the novel by DJ Salinger The Catcher in the Rye, imagine that you are an additional character who has to communicate with the rest characters. You get a chance to hear and observe the situation when Spencer and Holden communicate and Spencer offers his own vision of life as a game, and “if you get on the side where all the hot-shots are, then it’s a game, all right” (Salinger, 2001, p. 12). Use this quote in your paper and develop a powerful scenario of the events.
This work presupposes the condition that students, as future essay writers, are aware of the context of the novel and ready to use their background knowledge to develop a powerful piece of work.
Ryder, R. & Graves, M. (2003). Reading and learning in content areas (3rd ed.). New York: John Wiley and Sons.
Salinger, J.D. (2001). The catcher in the rye. New York: Back Bay Books.
Vacca, R.T. & Vacca, A.J. (2008) Content area reading: literacy and learning across the curriculum. New York: Pearson Education.