Classroom Lesson Plan: Literature
Latosha Rowley's lesson plan is also available as a PDF
file. See Materials Needed, below, for links to student
activity sheets and Teacher Tools related to the lesson.
Teacher: Latosha Rowley, IPS Center for Inquiry,
Grade Level: Fourth and Fifth
Topic: Let Freedom Ring
Ms. Rowley believes that having choices of what to read helps
students really engage with the literature and enjoy what
they are reading. Within the curricular focus of American
history with the theme, "Let Freedom Ring," she offers her
students a range of titles designed to help them experience
various historical events and expand their thinking on what
freedom is and what it looks like while acquainting them
with historical examples of struggles for individual and
During this lesson, students make comparisons between life
in the 1800s, during the Civil Rights movement, and today
in order to explore how things change and how they remain
the same. Ms. Rowley encourages her students to make personal
connections while they are developing their understandings
of both geography and American history. In addition to the
core texts that the students read with their literature circles,
Ms. Rowley often reads topically relevant picture books such
as Patricia Palacco's Pink and Say, Marcia Vaughan's
The Secret to Freedom, or Eve Bunting's Smoky Night
to expand their background of the issues and events foregrounded
by a particular area of study.
If you are interested in learning more about ways in which
Latosha Rowley integrates history and literature study, you
may wish to read her co-authored article "Plan
for Making Meaning" that originally appeared in Primary
- Read, enjoy, and discuss the literature.
- Understand the concept of freedom as it relates to American
history and to their own lives.
- Use language effectively to make meanings, challenge
thinking, and expand their literary envisionments as they
discuss concepts, issues, opinions, and ideas related to
- Use language effectively to develop as a classroom community
of thinkers and learners, respectful of views other than
- Increase their literary understandings and appreciation
during collaborative discussions.
- Use questions as a way to expand their understandings
of the literature and of the issues it raises.
- Use informal writing to respond to their reading as a
way to prepare for literature discussions.
- Complete each of the four literature discussion roles
(Discussion Director, Word Wizard, Artful Artist, and Passage
Master) and record the appropriate information for each.
Expected Products From Lesson:
- Informal personal written responses.
- Written records of facts and information.
- Exploratory discussions about the literature.
- Map connecting to the text.
- Reflective evaluations of both individual understandings
and group processes.
- Culminating activity.
Instructional Strategies Implemented:
- Read-alouds and guided discussion of content.
- Mini-lessons modeling discussion strategies.
- Literature circle discussions of readings.
- Reflective evaluations.
- Culminating activity.
Collaborative Structure of Class:
Ms. Rowley's class reflects the ethnic and academic mix of
the school as a whole. The Resource Special Education teacher
works with a few students outside the classroom for one to
two hours a week and visits the classroom daily for an hour
to help with classroom assignments.
Although the physical space of the classroom is limited,
the learning environment is free; students can move about
to read and write in places comfortable for them. Typically
they sit at circular tables in groups of four and share a
crate on each table to store class work. Students have a
strong sense of community developed in part by regular Town
Meetings where they share developing issues and concerns.
Respect and consideration for others is the fundamental expectation
for student behavior.
- Students choose books using Reading
- The class day begins with DEAR (Drop Everything And Read)
for 15 minutes to give everybody a chance to read.
- Ms. Rowley presents a mini-lesson designed to highlight
a particular kind of discussion about literature or discussion
strategies. During one lesson, for example, students created
the "What Does a Literature
Discussion Group Look Like?" handout to remind
them how to act.
- Students meet in literature circles to discuss the novel
they are reading. They refer to their texts and their written
response to guide their discussion.
Follow-Up or Culminating Activities:
- As a group, students complete a map showing locations
of the story, journeys of the characters, etc.
- When a group has completed reading and discussing their
book, they plan a culminating activity and share it with
the class. This might be visual presentations such as a
poster, mural, illustrations for the story, a collage,
cartoon, or a storyboard; it might be a piece of written
work such as a newspaper or a new ending for the story;
it might be a dramatic presentation such as a play or skit,
a mock trial, a puppet show, or a newscast report; it might
even be musical such as an original song or a dance routine
presented to the class.
Students may be assessed on a daily basis through:
- Their written responses in their literature logs.
- Completion of a Reading
Assessment Sheet either in the middle of their reading
or just before they prepare and present their culminating
- Participation in literature circle discussions.
The following activities might receive holistic or scaled
evaluation (see Assessment and Evaluation:
Some Useful Principles for a detailed explanation of
holistic and scaled evaluation).
- Group map of text.
- Culminating activity and its presentation to the class.