Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Making Meaning in Literature Grades 6-8
Conversations in Literature — Workshop

About Making Meaning in Literature: A Video Library, Grades 6-8

Individual Clip Descriptions

1. Introducing the Envisionment-Building Classroom
2. Building a Literary Community
3. Asking Questions
4. Facilitating Discussion
5. Seminar Discussion
6. Dramatic Tableaux
7. Readers as Individuals
8. The Teacher’s Role in a Literary Community
9. Whole Group Discussions

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About This Video Clip

Featured Texts

Classroom Snapshot

Classroom Lesson Plan

Professional Reflection

Teacher Tools
Additional Resources

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.

Mini-Lesson: OWL Logs
Use this mini-lesson to prepare students to work with their OWL logs.

Mini-Lesson Teacher Planning Tips

  • A mini-lesson should take up no more than 10 to 15 minutes of class time.
  • Typically, mini-lessons are singular topics of whole-class instruction, meant to give students a brief overview of a concept, explore the author's craft, ponder a question, or hone a skill. Often the mini-lesson provides a segue into the application of new learning.
  • Mini-lessons can also be student-directed, in which students are given a guide, following the teacher's predetermined path of learning. Here, students are asked to define concepts and synthesize the information. Then students apply the information in a meaningful way.
  • Students should be given many opportunities to apply the new learning beyond their initial introduction.
  • Consider providing a mini-lesson in which students construct their own understanding of a concept, instead of directly defining terms for students. For instance, when teaching the concept mood, provide several sample passages with distinct moods. Ask students to describe the difference in the passages and how the authors crafted their meaning. They may arrive at the term mood on their own or you may suggest the term to them after they have identified the concept in their own terms.

Suggestions for Assessing OWL Logs
Mr. Bernhart assesses the OWL logs holistically. The logs provide a sampling of how the groups are processing the book and what kinds of connections they are making with the text. He suggests that teachers:

  • require one OWL log per group.
  • comment in the margins of the students' OWL logs, challenging them to go deeper into issues.
  • select key grammar errors for correction.
  • consider the OWL logs as an assessment tool in addition to observing group discussions.
  • communicate their expectations to the students:
    • complete all sections of the log.
    • explain and elaborate all viewpoints.
    • include significant points from the group discussion.

Building a Literary Community
These materials from the Conversations in Literature Web site can help you build a literary community within your classroom:

Tip Sheet: Supporting Your Child's Learning at Home
Use this tip sheet as a resource when encouraging parents to support learning in the classroom.

Text Pairings
As you begin to plan literature experiences for your students, consider offering text pairings, so that students have a rich palette of text background and reading experiences to draw upon in their literary conversations. Some texts that may complement the ones used in this classroom lesson plan include:

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Tar Baby by Toni Morrison
Sula by Toni Morrison
Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave by Frederick Douglass
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet A. Jacobs
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin


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