Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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Engaging With Literature: A Video Library, Grades 3-5
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Engaging With Literature
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About This Video Library

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Video Titles:

1. Signposts

2. Voices in the Conversation

3. Starting Out

4. Responding
to Literature


5. Sharing
the Text

About This Video Clip »
Featured Texts »
Classroom Snapshot »
Classroom Lesson Plan »
Professional Reflection »
Teacher Tools
Additional Resources »

6. Building Community

7. Book Buddies

8. Finding
Common Ground


9. Discussion
Strategies
Site Map

5. Sharing the Text

Teacher Tools

Whether you are a classroom or preservice teacher, teacher educator, content leader, department chair, or administrator, the materials below can assist you in implementing the practices presented in the video clip.

Book Clubs
Book Clubs (Raphael) and Literature Circles (Daniels) have developed as effective ways to organize student discussion around multiple texts.

To learn more about book clubs, you may want to read "Book Club Plus: A Conceptual Framework To Organize Literacy Instruction" by Taffy E. Raphael, Susan Florio-Ruane, and MariAnne George, which appeared in Language Arts in 2001. You can read the full text of this article online. Permission to reprint this article came from the National Council of Teachers of English.

Using Bookmarks
Many teachers use bookmarks as a way of supporting student envisionment building. Ms. Namba uses a simple generic form that she hands out with each new novel, encouraging students to use it as a place to record observations.

Golden Lines
Ms. Namba has adopted the term "golden lines" to refer to powerful quotations from the literature that she asks students to identify for group discussion. As described in Katherine L. Schlick Noe and Nancy J. Johnson's Getting Started With Literature Circles (Norwood, MA: Christopher-Gordon, 1999. ISBN 0-926842-97-8) golden lines "automatically provide interesting discussion material. Many students find it much easier to select something the author said than to come up with their own reactions. Therefore, golden lines are an easy and effective strategy for gathering information to discuss" (48). To help students remember to bring such passages to their discussions, Ms. Namba has included golden lines on the bookmarks she gives them to guide their reading.

Consensus Board
The Consensus Board is a strategy to help students identify discussion issues for their next meeting. After one discussion meeting, they are given a blank Consensus Board form, and asked to spend 10 minutes recording their thoughts and personal connections to the novel. After sharing what they have written with their group members, the group reaches a consensus about the one issue they wish to discuss during their next meeting. They write this issue in the central rectangle on the Consensus Board for ready reference later.

Responding Visually to Literature Many language arts teachers have come intuitively to use visual activities to support their literature instruction. Non-verbal activities provide an opportunity for students to develop and display their growing understanding and enjoyment of the literature in informal ways as they develop visual representations of their thinking.

In his preface to Phyllis Whitin's Sketching Stories, Stretching Minds: Responding Visually to Literature (for the complete citation, see "Additional Resources" in the Library Guide), Jerome Harste reminds us that "literacy is much more than reading and writing" (x). He tells us that literacy is "the process by which we mediate the world" which "means to create sign systems-mathematics, art, music, dance, language"-which "act as lenses that permit us better to understand ourselves and our world" (x).

When we take what we know from one sign system and represent it in another-as when we take a written text and represent it graphically-we are using transmediation, a process that "is both natural and basic to literacy" (x). Such transmediation has enormous value in the classroom. As students resee, they rethink. Rethinking, they understand in fresh ways, and their pleasure grows with their developing insights.

For less-able readers, the very act of focusing on a brief passage or scene and doing what more skilled readers seem to do invisibly helps them develop the visualization powers to process texts effectively. Not only are they developing their understanding of a specific text, they are expanding their skill as readers.

Sketch to Stretch
Based on ideas developed by Phyllis Whitin and presented in her book Sketching Stories, Stretching Minds: Responding Visually to Literature, the basic premise behind Sketch to Stretch is that creating a visual based on a literary work stretches student thinking, helping them to see the text in new ways.

Sketch to Stretch Samples from Ms. Namba's students
A Sketch to Stretch is not meant to be a literal representation of a scene from the text, but rather a graphic interpretation of a connection the reader makes between text and self. Many of the Sketch to Stretch drawings presented here have no direct link to the text that inspired them. Only by reading (or listening to) the youngsters' explanation of his work can others understand the connection being made.

Assessment and Evaluation: Some Useful Principles
The terms assessment and evaluation are often used as synonyms. Distinguishing between them can be helpful as you plan instruction. Assessment means looking at what students can do in order to determine what they need to learn to do next. That is, assessment, whether of individual students or an entire group, occurs as students are engaged in the act of learning in order to inform instruction. Typically assessment is holistic, often recorded simply as "credit" or "no credit." Two assessment tools — Book Club Observation Notes and Book Club Participation Group Assessment — that Ms. Namba has developed illustrate how simple checklists can help busy teachers keep track of student performances.

Evaluation occurs after a concept or skill has been taught and practiced and is typically scaled, indicating the level of achievement or degree of competence a student has attained.

Many teachers ask students to complete self-assessment or self-evaluation forms as a way of foregrounding important concepts. Ms. Namba asks students to complete a Book Club Discussion Self-Assessment to help them think about their individual roles in the group discussion. Additionally, she has them assess themselves as a group, using the Book Club Discussion Group Self-Assessment. Completing the Book Club Project Self-assessment prepares students for their final evaluation conference with Ms. Namba.

Using Rubrics
A rubric is a set of criteria for assessment or evaluation. Rubrics can be designed to assess single tasks (such as a written assignment or a unit project) or several tasks collected in a portfolio. Teachers find that helping students become familiar with what it takes to do well on a task (the qualities included in the highest level of the rubric) improves their understanding of the components of a more sophisticated response. Student thinking and writing typically improves as a result. In addition to providing students with rubrics for self-assessment, Ms. Namba uses them herself when evaluating student work. Her Journal Response Rubric is an example of a rubric that she finds helpful.

Text Pairings
As you plan literature experiences for your students, consider offering text pairings. Some teachers like to introduce students to a number of books by the same author. Others try to find books with similarities in theme or content. Books that have received awards and appear to be developing into contemporary classics are also favored choices. No list of suggestions can be complete or can address every criterion. However, the following list of texts may help you choose titles to complement the ones used in this lesson plan:

For The Great Gilly Hopkins
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Jacob I Have Loved by Katherine Paterson

For Just Juice
Nory Ryan's Song by Patricia Reilly Giff
Letters from Rifka by Karen Hesse
The Music of Dolphins by Karen Hesse
Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
Witness by Karen Hesse

For Maniac Magee
Tangerine by Edward Bloor
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Holes by Louis Sachar
Knots in My Yo-Yo String: The Autobiography of a Kid by Jerry Spinelli
Crash by Jerry Spinelli
Fourth Grade Rats by Jerry Spinelli

For The Pinballs
In My Own Words: Moon and I by Betsy Byars
Coast to Coast by Betsy Byars
The Not-Just-Anybody Family by Betsy Byars
Summer of the Swans by Betsy Byars
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell

For War With Grandpa
Hello My Name Is Scrambled Eggs by Jamie Gilson
Kevin Corbett Eats Flies by Patricia Hermes
Chocolate Fever by Robert Kimmel Smith
Jelly Belly by Robert Kimmel Smith




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