April Raintree

THEMATIC UNIT APPROACH TO NOVEL STUDY

Developing multi-level novel study materials is a critical need in northern adult education programs. For the most part, classes are heterogeneous; instructors are expected to teach a wide variety of learners in one classroom. The challenge for instructors is not only to develop materials but also to implement a variety of techniques that will enhance the enjoyment of the reading process and to instil reading and writing skills.

Choosing a novel is the immediate challenge: what topic will interest a group of northern learners at the 110 to 130 level? Most students have had experience with aboriginal issues as they grow up: societal institutions (such as foster homes) and prevailing attitudes toward native peoples; moral dilemmas they face as adults; and the changes they perceive in themselves and in other people later in life. ABE students can make connections between the characters, events, and conflicts in April Raintree book with their personal experiences and, consequently, develop insight into themselves and other people.

April Raintree novel study focuses on learners at the upper 110 level and including the 120/130 level. Every chapter consists individualized assignments and evaluation tools.  

THEMATIC RATIONALE

Dividing this book into 3 units provides a basis to focus on distinct themes:

  • societal institutions (foster homes) and attitudes experienced by Metis as they grow up in a white world ( Unit 1)
  • dilemmas Metis face as adults ( Unit 2)
  • changes in a person's attitude and outlook brought about by maturity and tragedy (Unit 3)

Each unit is structured with the language skills, the reading abilities, interests and experiences of the students in mind. This novel will elicit some strong feelings as the story progresses; students will share experiences if they deem the classroom a safe place to share. It's important that the teacher not only provide a meaningful, challenging learning environment that will help students gain skills and confidence, but also a respectful atmosphere wherein all students feel free to talk and listen to each other.  

UNIT 1  

 introduces story elements: characters, setting, conflicts, and events. The student is encouraged to work with language in a meaningful way by writing, reading, listening, speaking, viewing and participating in class discussions/groups.
Chapters 1 to 6 are read aloud in class:

  • 110 students need to hear the main ideas brought up during discussion before they can be expected to write summaries and expository paragraphs; 110 students need to hear the information that is relevant to the handout questions before they can be expected to write comprehensive answers to factual, interpretive and open-ended
    questions.  

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