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TeachNet NYC: Lesson Plans

Author in the Spotlight

Project URL: http://teachersnetwork.org/teachnet-lab/berkowitz/author_study.htm


How it works:
Author in the Spotlight is designed to promote literacy involvement for middle school/high school students by addressing most of the New York State English Language Arts Standards. It is a thorough examination of the works of a specific author or poet. After reading several novels or poems by one author, a good reader is able to compare and contrast characters, settings, plots, themes, and genres; examine the author's writing style and purpose in each novel; and discover things about the author's life that may shed light on his/her work. The project is done after reading a minimum of four books by one author. Each group is composed of two students who have read the books of the same author. The project is displayed on a tri-board, which is graded for neatness, content, penmanship, and eye-catching display. Students write expository and persuasive essays, compose responses to letters, and create tests for each novel read. They do Internet research and attempt to find parts of the author’s life that are woven into his/her novels. The project culminates in an oral presentation.

Standards addressed:  
The project addresses most of the New York State English Language Arts Standards. Students read at least four books by the same author; read and comprehend informational materials and documents; and produce a report of information, a response to literature, and a persuasive essay. Additionally, they participate in one-on-one conferences and group meetings, prepare and deliver individual presentations, and make an informed judgment about the novels. Students demonstrate an understanding of the rules of the English language in written and oral work; analyze and revise work for clarity and effectiveness; and respond to non-fiction, fiction, and poetry using interpretive and critical processes.

Materials used:
Students are encouraged to word-process their project materials. They do Internet research, and additional project enhancements using images and pictures are also computer-generated.

The students:
This project was designed for a basic-skills/average seventh-grade English Language Arts class. These students needed an incentive to read, as well as a vehicle to display their abilities in a positive and productive manner. You can adjust this project for both younger grades and high school classes.

Overall value:
The best feature of Author in the Spotlight is the completed project tri-board. When finished, they are quite colorful and display the literary work of each group. The children are thrilled to see their work displayed and have a tremendous feeling of accomplishment. These boards are a tribute to the class and can be used year after year for decorative purposes in the classroom as well as models for students who are working through the project. 
The lessons that are provided are
user-friendly. The students will find the worksheets to be a helpful tool for project implementation.


About the teacher:
Elissa Berkowitz is a part-time literacy coach and teaches reading at I.S.62 Ditmas in Brooklyn. She teaches on the high school and college levels as well. She enjoys reading and writing projects that promote literacy, and wishes there were more hours in the day to allow for additional creative writing.


Subject Areas: 

Grade Levels: 



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