Most of us are required to teach both fiction and non-fiction reading and writing. One assignment that pulls the two kinds of reading and writing together is based on what could attract attention, reaction, and/or response from literary characters.
The strength of this assignment is the student choice within the confines of curriculum requirements while fulfilling several of the Common Core Standards.
Because the students must show they understand the characters in the fiction you’re teaching in order to know what current events would interest them, the students tend to read the assigned text a little more carefully. Because assignment requires students to locate a news article a week, they probably are closely reading more non-fiction than they would otherwise. The weekly journal entries have them drafting portions of the final product so that summative essay, multi-genre product or performance will not be an overwhelming last minute task.
This assignment does not necessarily require more reading on your part, however, it is important to monitor their progress weekly. It’s fine to give full credit for completing the steps by due dates. By the time the class has finished studying the literary work, the students will have accumulated enough news articles to write the final paper. As they read and learn more about the character they’ve chosen, they also will be staying alert to non-fiction articles on current events that may interest that character. Check out topics from on-line sources such as Room for Debate.
I’ve given this assignment in two contexts.
One was a unit in a senior English class during which the students were reading Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel. See that assignment at this link: A HANDMAID’S TALE ESSAY. There also is peer response guide and a rubric for grading this assignment: RUBRIC for A Handmaid’s Tale Essay.
Another is in Freshman English during which the yearlong theme addressed issues of prejudice, tolerance and intolerance. That assignment is CURRENT EVENTS AND ISSUES OF PREJUDICE.