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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Helpful Hints for Using Making Meaning in Literature: A Video Library, Grades 6-8

We would suggest that you first read the Library Guide to select videos for viewing according to your purposes. You can watch each clip in the library individually, using its guide to delve into the individual teaching techniques and educational issues it illustrates. The nine programs in this series can also be used in an integrated fashion to demonstrate a wide array of instructive concepts and practices. In either case, you will probably want to pay particular attention to the "Before Watching" suggestions for each clip to focus your viewing.

After viewing the video, you may want to return to the Guide Book to complete some of the Suggested Activities and Discussion ideas. You may also want to look at Additional Resources available for each lesson, which provide a list of relevant Internet sites.

There are many ways in which this series can help classroom and preservice teachers, teacher educators, administrators, and educators reaching out to the community. The Guide Book contains discussion questions and activities specifically tailored for each group.

The Guide Book can also be used as a centerpiece in local professional development seminars. See Tips for Facilitators below for some practical suggestions about organizing and moderating these seminars.

Tips For Facilitators

Making Meaning in Literature: A Video Library, Grades 6-8 project components can be used to help plan professional development workshops for many different groups, including classroom and preservice teachers, team leaders or lead teachers, and supervisors.

You can use the checklist below to help you make these seminars as useful as possible for their participants.

Planning for a Professional Development Opportunity

  • Contact the people you would like to attend the workshop, offering several alternate dates for your meeting. Try not to pick dates that coincide with other activities or vacation days.
  • Think about what you hope to accomplish with the group. For example, are you interested in having them see another classroom to look for new ways to approach literature, or for classroom management techniques, or text selection? Try to make a mission statement to share with the group during your first meeting.
  • Review the materials related to each clip and select the ones your group will view. Plan a logical order for presenting the clips you have selected. Try to keep in mind the group's main interests in doing so.
  • Find and secure a place for your meeting. The location should be easily accessible to the group, with adequate seating, and appropriate outlets for a VCR and monitor.
  • Notify group members of the meeting time and place. Establish a system for notifying members in case of an emergency postponement.

Before Each Meeting

  • Review the clip you intend to view in conjunction with the print materials for the clip in the Guide Book.
  • Decide on a time frame for the workshop. We suggest that you consider 20 minutes of previewing discussion or other activities, 20 minutes to view the clip, and 20 minutes for a follow-up discussion or activity. The Guide Book lists suggested activities and discussions for pre- and post-viewing. You can select one of them, adapt them for your group's purposes, or create ones of your own.
  • Gather any other materials you will need for the discussions or activities you have planned. You may want to assemble notebooks or folders with blank pages for participants to use in taking notes or reacting to the discussions or activities in which they engage.
  • Familiarize yourself with the equipment in the room where you will be meeting.

During Each Meeting

  • Greet the group and explain why they have been assembled and give a brief overview of what they will do that session.
  • Set their purpose for viewing the video. This can be a selected question for discussion listed in the Guide Book, or one of your own choosing.
  • Encourage participants to note any comments they may have as they watch.
  • Show the video clip. Ask participants if they would like to review any parts of the clip.
  • Follow up the clip with a discussion point or activity in the Guide Book. You can adapt these or create your own, depending on the needs of the group. Try to present a mix of talking, watching, and doing during each session.
  • If you are having a problem starting discussions, ask the group to talk about the things they didn't understand in the video clip.
  • Watch the time carefully and adjourn on time. Talk about your next meeting, reminding the group about time, date, and place.

Materials needed

You will need to assemble the following materials to help you in using these video clips in a professional development workshop:

  • A VCR and viewer (television set or monitor) to show the video clips


    • Be sure to position the monitor at a place where all participants can view it easily.
    • Adjust the lighting to avoid reflections or glare.
    • Check the connections between the VCR and TV or monitor, and make sure they are both plugged into a working outlet.

  • Notebooks or paper, pencils or pens

  • Other materials may be needed for activities suggested for individual clips. Consult the Guide Book materials related to each video clip to find out the scope of these activities and plan your session accordingly.


    • Read the sections of the guide devoted to activities and discussion questions related to each clip several days before the workshop.
    • Note materials that are needed and gather them before your session begins.
    • A dry-erase board, flip chart, or large pieces of art paper will help in recording major points raised in session discussions.


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