Young Adult Literature

Grant T. Smith, Ph. D.

Group Project:  A few suggestions


            The older I get, the fewer concrete, specific directions I give for class assignments.  However, perhaps you are one of those student types who does indeed need a bit more clarification of what is expected from a particular task. So here goes:


                In the YA Literature class, you have now been divided into groups of two, three, or four.  I assume each group has chosen some theme, issue, genre, or book to use as the focus of your presentation.  I will leave that choice flexible.  However, I do want you to inform the class which single YA text we should read to be prepared for your presentation.You should also present a list of supplemental works that we could read if we have the time.  Remember:You have two class periods for your presentation.

            Here are a few of the things I would expect from a good presentation:


1.     I hope you have a title for your presentation.


2.     You should consider seriously your objectives for this presentation.  These objectives will probably be in two categories:  (1) The objectives you have for the YA Literature class students, and (2) The objectives you have for the middle school or high school class students.  What do you want the students to learn?  What do you want them to feel?  Be very specific when you list your objectives, and perhaps you could categorize them under different headings: social values, understanding the text, communication skills, cultural insights, topical opportunities.  Will your in-class tasks help the students to meet these objectives?  You may want to give the class (and me) a copy of your objectives.


3.     What age group have you targeted for this text?


4.     What activities have you planned for the project?  These activities may include:

            field trips

            movies (include titles and a critique of the films)


            guest speakers


            simulation games

            lectures and class discussion

            individual reports

            group projects


            You should prepare very carefully how you will implement these activities in your plan.  How will the activity be assessed?  How will it be monitored?  You don’t have to perform these activities in class, but you may do one or two if that is appropriate. 


5.     List your resources, and include for everyone in the YA Literature class copies of everything you collect (sample tests, worksheets, discussion questions, quizzes, spelling lists, charts, biographical information). If the material becomes too expensive for you to copy, then perhaps you could make one copy and put it on reserve.  I must have my copy however.

6.     The group should provide me a written summary of the project.  This will include much of the material listed above and a bibliography.


7.     I’d like you to have done a bit of critical research on your topic.  For example, I found several critical essays on Lord of the Flies.  You may find them useful.  You should prepare a bibliography of resources on the topic or book(s) you choose to present.


Fitzgerald, John F., and John R. Kayser., Golding’s Lord of the Flies: Pride as Original Sin. Studies in the Novel, Spring, 1992, 78-85.

            Kinkead-Weekes, Mark, and Ian Gregor. William Golding: A Critical Study. New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1967, 15-64.

            Lederer, Richard. Student Reactions to Lord of the Flies. The English Journal 53.8, November 1964, 575-579.

            Veidemanis, Gladys. Lord of the Flies in the Classroom No Passing Fad. The English Journal 53.8, November 1964, 569-574.


8.  A major part of the project should include “technology.”  In other words, your presentation should be “interactive” or it should show the potential to be interactive.  Feel free to make computer games, simulate a teaching experience on video, create a blog page with links to different activities and sites.  See my unit plan for Firestorm to get a sense of what can be done.   


                Finally, you will of course wonder how you will be assessed as a group and as an individual in the group.  I will give a group grade that I will arrive at holistically.  I will send to each member of the group a written assessment of your project.  In that assessment I will address issues such as (1) clarity of purpose, (2) how the project contributed to professional development, (3) was group cooperation apparent, (4) was the research above average, (5) was the presentation itself enthusiastic and professional(spit out the chewing gum).I will also give an individual grade (the two grades carry equal value) that will be based upon two things: (1) your participation in the presentation, and (2) your personal typed evaluation of the project.  In this essay (two to four typed pages) I would encourage you to consider the following:


·         What was enjoyable about working on this project?

·         How did my group project promote learning?

·         Recommendations for improving the project?

·         What was my contribution in the group project?

·         How effectively did the other group members work?



Note: You do not have to give a presentation that is pedagogy oriented.  If you are not an education major, you may give a presentation of the book that is directed toward a more mature audience.  If you choose this type of project, then you should consider themes, characters, setting, literary criticisms, literary strategies and conventions, social issues, political issues, gender issues, racial issues, and personal connections to the text.  Art majors may want to do something connected to their media.  Music or theatre majors may want to create something original that comes from the texts we are assigned.  Science majors may want to design a project that focuses on “science” theme and text.  Be creative, but keep in mind that you must connect your presentation to the book(s) that we are assigned to read.

Click here for a description of the service component of your project.


For the assigned reading component, each student is expected to read the highlighted text for each week.  Those students who are teaching a specific text one week should read all of the texts listed for that week.  To receive an "A" for the class the student should read 25 texts and keep a log of the texts; for a "B" the student should read 20 texts and keep a log of the texts.