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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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.

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, is done in order to inform instruction. Typically assessment is holistic, often recorded simply as "credit" or "no credit."

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.

Mini-Lesson Teacher Planning Tips

  • A mini-lesson can be short or might take up 15 to 20 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 of 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.

For suggested mini-lesson topics, see Suggested Mini-Lessons for Reading Workshop.

Reading Workshop Binder
In preparation for a reading workshop, teachers need to plan careful management strategies that will enable them to keep track of the goals set by each student and the daily progress toward meeting those goals. Keeping a loose-leaf binder just for reading workshop ensures that all records will be easily filed and located in one place. If you choose to follow the suggestions offered by Nanci Atwell in both editions of In the Middle, your binder will include the following forms: A Reading Survey for each student, a Student Reading Record, and a Status-of-the-Class sheet to record each student's daily reading progress. The Reading Survey is given at the beginning of the year to give the teacher an overview of the students' experiences as readers; the Student Reading Record provides a list of all the books begun and abandoned by a particular student during the year. The Status-of-the-Class, annotated daily, charts student names next to dates and allows space to note the title of the current reading and the page number. The second edition (1998) of In the Middle includes clear samples of these record sheets.

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. When students have discovered a book they particularly enjoy, offer them other titles by the same author. Alternately, help them find titles in a similar genre (adventure, fantasy, science fiction) or that deal with a similar topic (WWII, animals, dealing with siblings). Thematic connections (coming of age, death, fitting in) can also enrich literary experiences.

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