One of my favorite novels to teach at the middle grade level is Crash by Jerry Spinelli. In fact, it is the perfect text to begin the school year with because students will be able to make personal connections as the characters begin their school year as well.
The story begins with the narrator, John Coogan, explaining through flashback how he got his nickname, Crash. He then goes on to share how another major character, Penn Webb, came into his life.
Flash forward to the first day of seventh grade, and the story takes off for student readers. While I love this book as a read aloud, it is also a perfect literature circle text. Chapters are short, holding student attention, and each chapter ends with a bit of a cliffhanger, begging for readers to continue on. I can’t tell you how often I HAVE to stop reading due to needing to switch classes and students are shouting, “ONE MORE PAGE!” It is that good.
Over the years I have taught the novel in different ways, but I have utilized the same 67 questions for student response to check for understanding. I generated these questions with the idea that students would read them before reading the text, list page numbers where they could go into the text to find their answers, and respond in complete sentences with correct capitalization, grammar, and punctuation. In addition, I wanted my students to answer both literal, inferential, short answer, and extended response questions.
If you are looking for a novel to teach with common core based questions that go chapter by chapter, check out this Crash novey study unit in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.