Rigorous Novel Review Idea: Using Geometry to Form Connections

You should have seen it! 

The students walked into my classroom and they see Geometry Review on the board.

“Ummm…aren’t we in language arts class?”

“YES! And we are going to play with shapes today!” Triangles, squares, and pentagons to be exact! 

How it works:

The overall idea: The students will put the names of the characters on the point of the shape. On the lines between the points, they will write how the characters connect. 

Prior to class, I made a set of cards of all the characters in our book. To make things interesting and rigorous, I also included a card for them to pick another character from a different novel. 

I had them set up their notebook with a triangle and square on one side, and a pentagon on the other side. I wanted them to make it fairly large since they needed room to write character names and connections between the points. 

1. Working with their groups, the students drew characters out of their box; one for each point on their shape plus one more.

2. Talking with their group, they decided which names to keep, and which one to put back in the box.

3. Then they placed the names on the point of their shapes. 

4. In between the points they wrote how the characters connected. Now this can be an event from the story that connects them, a conflict they faced, a trait that is similar, etc. 

5. As they moved on to their different shapes, I told them to put the character cards back in the box since they can be used again, but I did tell them not to have any repeating connections between the characters.   

I moved around to help and encourage students to think deeper about the connections. I ended up using the word impact a lot. Like, “how did this character impact the other character?” But mostly, I was so impressed to hear them talk about the characters, the events in the story, the problems the characters faced, and the personalities of each character. They took great care in selecting where each character went on their shape so they could make the best connections. It was a great review of our novel, Witness! 

If groups finish early, I had them work on the diagonals of the shapes. 

After every group finished, the students switched seats with another classmate at a different table. I set the timer for 5 minutes and they read through the connections on each shape, and provided feedback. I set the expectation that the feedback would go beyond, “good job.” It needed to be meaningful and thoughtful. Like, “wow! This is a great connection! I would have never thought about these two characters sharing this same characteristic.” Or, “This is a good start, but I also think the characters connected by…”

Then I had the students share out the great connections they read on their classmates paper. Some of them really impressed me, especially when they connected one of our characters to another character in a different novel. 

I hope this provides you with an idea to add to your review toolbox! It is something different and requires the students to think about the events of the story and how characters connect. If you give it a shot, let me know!

Sending Positive Teaching Vibes Your Way,

Savannah Kepley

Savannah Kepley