The Learning Hub

Photo Prompts to Ignite Novel Discussion


Subject:  Language Arts
Grade(s):  9th-12th grades


Students will complete a targeted novel discussion sparked by visual prompts with members of another class.  Throughout the unit, students share contributions to the discussion to help guide student understanding of the literature.


Improving reading and writing outcomes for students at the high school level can be a difficult challenge.  The National Writing Project provides multiple resources, ideas, and strategies that can be a tremendous benefit to the high school student.  Many of which are well-suited for use with the Write About This app.  One example mentioned in NWP’s “30 Ideas for Teaching Writing” is the implementation of an email dialogue between students in different schools/classes reading the same novel.  In this lesson, students will engage in a written dialogue through the Write About This app to discuss a novel through prompts involving predication, clarification, analysis, and more.

The Activity

The teacher will need to find a class that is currently reading the same novel for literature studies.  Through this “buddy class”, students will participate in individual and group discussion on the current reading selection through responses created in the Write About This app.  There are a variety of ways the class dialogue can be conducted, but the key idea is to use visual prompts in order to share student reflections and ideas with each other.  To create a paired discussion, student responses can be shared via email, blog posts or through an LMS like Edmodo.

Facilitate the discussion:

1.  Start with a mutual prompt for both classes regarding the novel.  This can be inspired by a photograph or visual image found online and used for a Custom prompt.  Have students respond and share their responses to the “buddy teacher/partner”.  Received responses can be selected for group discussion the next day and/or have students respond to individual responses.

2.  Have students create ideas for writing prompts on the novel for the other class to answer.

3.  Challenge each student to respond to a Write About This gallery image using as many of the novel vocabulary words as possible.  Share these with the buddy class for response and reflection.  You can even involve peer editing at this point!

4.  Have buddy class partners collaborate on a single writing piece based on the novel.  Once the visual prompt has sparked their ideas, they can collaborate using Google Docs or Edmodo.

5.  Use the audio recording feature to have students complete an audio response to a student’s discussion contribution.  When a student receives a buddy class response, they can respond using both text and audio to share back!

Animal Farm Prompt


What’s Next?

Supplementary extension activities:

  • Have a Skype or other video-conferencing closing session with the other class to discuss whole group analysis of the novel.
  • Have students evaluate the differences in how they learned through this format and how it may have influenced their writing, reading comprehension, and or motivational level.

 We’d love to see how you use custom writing prompts to support literature discussions! 

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.1 Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.2 Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.3 Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.

Lani deGuia is a teacher, instructional technologist, and social media manager.  She has over 13 years of educational experience in traditional and online classroom settings for both K-12 and adult learners. She currently works in digital content and strategy for businesses and personally blogs at Rose Tinted Traveler.

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