10 Ways to Review a Novel or Short Story

10 Ways to Review a Novel or Short Story

You’ve come to the end of another novel or short story. Now what? If you’re looking to spice up your review activities with something fresh, unique, or just plain different than your average paper, read on! Here are ten ways to review a novel or short story.

Here are 10 Ways to Review a Novel or Short Story

1. Socratic Seminars

Why write when you can discuss? If you’re unfamiliar with a Socratic Seminar, it is a method to understand information by creating a dialogue in class. Students should find deeper understanding and discuss complex ideas. Works that are “heavy” or require your students to really think about issues are perfect for Socratic Seminars.

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Socratic Seminar for ANY text!

2. Create a Game

You can either have students create their own game with various templates they find online, or you can create a game that students will play in order to review. Either way, it’s a fun excuse to host a game day in your classroom and breaks up the monotony of review, papers, and tests. I really like having students create their own games, or put a creative spin on old classics.

3. Task Cards

Instead of a long project, try several smaller tasks that review the works. It’s also great if you want to have students work in small groups. Check out my Task Card Resource that can be used with any novel. It includes a pre-reading set of task cards, as well as a second set for review. There are four sets of student directions for differentiation.

10 Ways to Review a Novel or Short Story

4. Escape Room

I love escape rooms, and you can usually find one for just about any novel or short story. Or, if you’re particularly creative with puzzles, you can create your own. They don’t have to be super complicated or involve anything more than paper (though there are plenty of digital escape rooms that are very engaging). Try one for your next read and see how students respond.

5. Fan Fiction

This activity is especially engaging when students have read cliff-hanger or open-ended stories. I’ll have students continue the story, or re-write it from a different perspective. When I use this with short stories, students see it as more manageable than trying to write something for a longer novel. Alternatively, you may try having students write poetry based on the overall themes or major plot points.

6. Collaborative Review Poster

I love this for the beginning of the year with my freshmen and sophomores. It works as a review for my short story unit and, since they present their posters to the class, it helps all the students review for their unit test. Because I use this within my short story unit, each group will review a different story, though sometimes I will have duplicate groups. You can read more about this project specifically here or find my poster project here.

10 Ways to Review a Novel or Short Story

7. Be Artsy

There are many alternatives to writing projects, and you may have students who much prefer to express their thoughts artistically. Students might work on a collection of shape poems. You could also have them copy a few pages from the novel or short story and create blackout poems. I’ve had students create bookmarks using quotes, or students who drew scenes from period pieces. I have even seen collaborative projects where students created graphic novel-inspired projects. 

Blackout Poetry Teaching Unit

8. Take it to the Theater or Silver Screen

If you’ve read a novel or short story that has no film adaptation, this is a particularly excellent activity. Have students imagine who would play in the film, or who would act on stage. Students can create soundtracks for key plot points, design the stage, research film locations, create a film poster or playbill, and even write scenes as a script. This is another collaborative opportunity for students.

9. Write for Children

Have students think about the novel or short story from a different angle. There are a lot of ways to create a children’s story from longer works. Students can condense the story into a picture book, focusing on visual aspects and simple language structure. You can also bring in alphabet books to see how it is structured around a theme, and then have students create a version of the novel in alphabet form. I suggest having a plethora of examples from the library for students to lean on, and have students work in pairs or small groups. This is really a fun activity and having to simplify a story proves to make a great review.

10 Ways to Review a Novel or Short Story

10. Write a Little Bit

Instead of a full paper, think of something creative that involves a little bit of writing. Give students a short stack of post-its and require the answers to fit on the square. You can also collect mint tins and require the same thing. Their “review” notes must fit inside the mint tin. If you have class sets of whiteboards, students can write a summary and then work on condensing the story into the shortest sentence. You may have students write a tweet for a summary or write the “live tweet” of the short story. Any of these can be collected and copied for a class set of notes to study for a later test.

These are all great activities to use as a review for a novel or short story, but they also work as stand-alone projects as well. Put a creative spin on your review activities with any of these, and let me know in the comments what your favorite options are.


Take a look at this resource, Activities for ANY Novel.



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