Teacher resources and professional development 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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Envisioning


About This Video Clip

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Classroom Snapshot

Classroom Lesson Plan

Professional Reflection

Teacher Tools
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About This Video Clip

"Helping them to look at characters as people and try to personalize and make connections is something that I have found really is helpful and I know is an important thing to do."
Dr. Jan Currence
Stephen Decatur Middle School
Berlin, Maryland

Integrated language arts provides an interdisciplinary learning experience for Dr. Currence's inclusion students. Units are thematically planned, weaving social studies, science, and even math into the language arts experience. The lesson featured in this video clip is part of a historical fiction unit, where students read a novel as a class and select one of their own from the same genre.

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students working togetherDr. Currence creates a student-centered environment for her students, where meeting a range of students' needs is a priority. Because of this, it is nearly impossible to determine which students in her class have special needs and which ones do not. Dr. Currence wants her students to choose to learn, and this philosophy drives her work with them. She hopes to engage her students in literature through a variety of activities, including read-alouds, dramatics, writing, picture books, journaling, and creative culminating projects.

In this lesson, students participate in an activity Dr. Currence refers to as Tableaux With a Twist. A tableau is a dramatic activity where a group of students are asked to physically construct a significant scene from literature through body placement, facial expressions, and the use of a few props. This "freeze frame" invites students in the audience to identify the scene, its importance, and the significance of the characters, their actions, and reactions. Dr. Currence's Tableaux With a Twist invites students in the audience to tap a character in the scene, hearing what they have to say. The tapped characters in the scene explain what they are doing and why they are doing it. This activity focuses on characters' actions and motives, allowing students to walk in the characters' shoes. This is particularly important for the students' current unit of study, historical fiction, in which they are expected to see how realistic characters change when some element of history influences their lives. Tableaux helps kids become part of the book, create personal responses to the literature, and connect with the characters, conflicts, and plot in a meaningful way.

For resources that can help you use this clip for teacher professional development, preservice education, administrative and English/language arts content meetings, parent conferences, and back-to-school events, visit our Support Materials page. There, you will find PDF files of our library guide, classroom lesson plan, student activity sheets, and other Teacher Tools.

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