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Fostering Collaborative Learning with Novel Study Task Cards

Are you looking for ways to turn your novel study unit into a more engaging and interactive learning experience? Try novel study task cards. They will not only spark motivation but will also enable students to take ownership of their learning. Novel study stations offer a fresh approach to learning and honing learners' reading skills. Sometimes, having students read and complete reading comprehension activities independently makes more sense. However, for students, picking up a book to be ready for next class could be more enticing if a genuine conversation with their peers is in prospect. Based on my experience in my high school ESL classes, I believe that using novel study task cards significantly encourages language learners to actively engage with the novels they are reading while deepening their comprehension and improving their speaking skills in a structured and meaningful way.

What Are the Benefits?

The benefits of novel study stations are numerous, but here are some worth highlighting.

Novel study stations:

  • provide a collaborative learning environment.

  • encourage student interaction.

  • help develop and strengthen social connections.

  • deepen learners’ understanding of the novel.

  • increase student motivation and engagement.

  • create a safe space for a more authentic language acquisition.

  • increase language production as students communicate their thoughts and opinions.

  • increase fluency and accuracy.

Novel study task cards help you transform your classroom into a collaborative and interactive learning environment. Working in small groups and actively participating in discussions both boost student engagement and foster the development of speaking and reading skills. While completing specific tasks related to the novel being studied, learners analyze, interpret, share opinions, and critically think about the plot, author's craft, character motive, conflict situations, themes, and they ways they can connect with the book. These activities allow them to express their viewpoints and to engage in respectful debates on issues raised by the text. In addition, learners not only have a chance to engage in meaningful conversations further deepening their understanding of the novel but to also practice expressing their ideas in a coherent manner; thus, improving their fluency and accuracy.

How to Use Novel Study Task Cards

One way to use novel study task cards in your English language class is to set up novel study stations around the classroom. Assign each station a different set of task cards and have students rotate through the stations, working collaboratively on the activities. Another way to use novel study task cards is to form teams of maximum four students. Provide each team with a set of task cards containing various activities related to the assigned chapters learners had to read for the class. Every time you host a novel study workshop on the assigned chapters, students need to regroup and team up with one or two new peers they have not yet had a chance to work with.

Although implementing a novel study station or workshop may sound exciting, careful preparation is a must. Not only will you need to design a reading schedule and the task cards, but you will also need to hold your learners' accountable to ensure they read the assigned chapters for the class. Of course, the point of using novel study stations is to motivate learners to be ready for peer-to-peer learning, but we are all familiar with the ones who often show up unprepared. Therefore, you might want students to keep a reading journal while reading, or you could assign a quick reading quiz before each group work, as no one wants to hear crickets during the interactive activities. If you can, include short reading periods each class in preparation for the station activity.

Using Novel Study Task Cards in the ESL Classroom – Concrete Examples

Let’s delve into how novel study task cards can be utilized to teach important issues and promote collaboration in your classroom. My ESL students have read many novels this school year, but I am going to focus on three of them: “Tuesdays with Morrie” by Mitch Albom, “Unwind” by Neal Shusterman, and “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Tuesdays with Morrie

The novel study task cards for this novel may include activities such as:

  • Analyzing the characteristics of a memoir.

  • Analyzing the similarities and differences between Mitch’s and Morrie’s worldviews.

  • Reflecting on the importance of family, love, personal fulfillment, and relationships.

  • Discussing the impact of one’s choices.

  • Discussing how teenagers relate to Morrie’s ideas and aphorisms.


The novel study task cards may cover the following types of activites:

  • Analyzing the characteristics of dystopian fiction.

  • Analyzing the elements of plot.

  • Identifying conflict situations.

  • Analyzing character motive.

  • Debating the moral and ethical implications of organ transplantation and the unwinding process.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

The novel study task cards could focus on:

  • Analyzing the features of Gothic fiction.

  • Analyzing imagery, similes, metaphors, and symbols.

  • Analyzing the elements of plot.

  • Identifying conflict situations.

  • Analyzing character motive.

  • Debating important concepts such as: good vs. evil, the limits of scientific experimentation, duality, addiction, reputation, and loyalty.

Final Thoughts

Overall, novel study task cards encourage students to interact with their peers and explore novels together in a supporting and interactive classroom environment. Novel study station activities grant teenagers agency to become active participants in their own learning.

What is Next?

If you are ready to dive into incorporating novel study task cards into your ESL curriculum, I have a ready-made resource in my TpT store: Novel Study Task Cards for Any Novel. These task cards feature prompts designed to get your students thinking about the text in-depth, from identifying the characters' motivations to analyzing the themes of the novel. With this resource, students will develop a deeper understanding of the novel and gain new skills in critical analysis.

You might also like these other novel study resources:

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Happy teaching!

Kynga C.


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