When teaching a whole-class novel, or even during independent reading projects, focusing on an inquiry-based approach is a great way to help students engage with the text. Inquiry-based learning is a teaching method that encourages students to actively engage with a subject by asking questions, seeking answers, and exploring different perspectives. This approach is particularly well-suited for the high school English classroom, where students are often asked to read and analyze complex texts and make personal connections with the texts.
Here are some activities to use in your high school English classroom that will help you incorporate the inquiry process when reading a novel:
- Ask open-ended questions: Encourage students to ask questions about the novel as they read. These can be general questions about the plot, characters, themes, or setting, or more specific questions about a particular passage or event in the story.
- Create a class discussion: After students have had a chance to ask their own questions, lead a class discussion where students can share their questions and ideas with one another. Encourage students to listen actively, consider different perspectives, and build on each other’s ideas.
- Conduct research: Encourage students to conduct further research on topics related to the novel. This could involve looking up historical or cultural contexts, exploring the author’s other works, or finding additional sources on a particular theme or concept.
- Write a research paper: Have students write a research paper on a topic related to the novel. This could be a more in-depth exploration of a theme, character, or setting, or a comparison of the novel to other works or historical events.
Here are some specific inquiry-based questions that you can use with your students when reading a novel:
- What motivates the main character’s actions throughout the novel?
- How does the setting of the novel impact the characters and events of the story?
- What themes are present in the novel, and how do they relate to the real world?
- How do the characters change throughout the novel, and what events or experiences contribute to these changes?
- What message or insight does the author seem to be trying to convey through the novel?
By using these activities and inquiry-based questions, you can help your students become more engaged, curious, and analytical readers. They will begin to think more deeply about the text and explore the characters and the themes in a more natural way after practice with an inquiry-based approach.