Classroom Lesson Plan: Independent
Ms. Teklu's lesson plan is also available as a PDF
Teacher: Bileni Teklu, Fair Oaks Elementary
School, Marietta, Georgia
Grade Level: Fifth
Topic: Choosing Books
- Classroom library and/or school library with a wide range
- A copy of Behind the Bedroom Wall
- Sticky notes for student use
When many of the students in Bileni Teklu's class arrive in
September, they lack the most basic experience with school
literacies. Even using sticky notes to track their responses
to literature is difficult to manage. As a result, Ms. Teklu
believes she must do whatever is necessary to help them develop
the patience to be students. In the process, she helps them
recognize that learning is something they do for themselves,
and something they can take with them, no matter how often
In this context, Ms. Teklu works to create a community of shared
values about literature. She hopes her students will come to
see that books provide ways of understanding their own lives.
She believes strongly that her students come to love reading
because she is not dictating what they must read and when they
must read it. These students have few choices in their personal
lives, and so are especially appreciative of being able to
choose what they read.
Because Ms. Teklu allows her students to choose their own books
for independent reading, she feels it is especially important
to teach them how to make good choices. In this lesson she
uses her own experiences with Behind the Bedroom Wall to model
the ways in which the book had personal meaning for her. Additionally
she encourages students to share some of the personal connections
they are making with books they are reading as additional models
for their classmates.
Expected Products From Lesson:
- Choose books for independent reading.
- Spend independent reading time (one hour each day) reading
and enjoying the literature, or conferencing with Ms. Teklu.
- Use sticky notes to identify connections, comments, and
reading strategies to share later during the "Buzz Session."
- Meet for five- to ten minutes with two- to three classmates
to "buzz" (talk about) their readings and their responses
to it. Students choose their own "buzz partners" who may
or may not be reading the same book they are reading.
- Confer with Ms. Teklu individually to discuss their reading.
- Develop increasing independence as envisionment-building
readers of literature.
Instructional Strategies Implemented:
- Sticky notes marking text passages and recording connections,
questions, and reading strategies.
- Effective conversation about reading.
Collaborative Structure of Class:
- Mini-lessons modeling effective envisionment-building
- Student discussion of their readings.
- Individual conferences.
Bookcases for the library and student desks for her 23 students
fill Ms. Teklu's classroom. Without the luxury of an area where
the whole group might meet, Ms. Teklu makes do by running discussions
while seated in front of a chart paper stand at the front of
the room. On this, she records key points. When students move
to their independent reading time, they grab pillows and scatter
around the room, nestling against the walls or between their
desks. When they regroup to "buzz" about their reading, they
typically remain on the floor clustered in small groups wherever
they find room.
- Students meet at their desks for a whole-class five-
to ten minute mini-lesson on choosing books and making
connections to the reading.
- Students move to quiet areas of the classroom and read
independently for 50 to 60 minutes.
- Students meet with two or three classmates and (using
their sticky notes to guide them) discuss their reading.
Students may be assessed on a daily basis through:
See the Reading Assessment
Checklist for a tool you might use for such daily assessments.
- Participation in class discussion.
- Informal observation of reading choices and discussion.
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).
- Individual reading interviews.