Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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Teacher Resources/Literature
Overview
Making Meaning in Literature: A Workshop for Teachers, Grades 6-8
 

A video workshop for middle school teachers; 9 one-hour video programs, workshop guide, and Web site; graduate credit available

Now on DVD

Making Meaning in Literature: A Workshop for Teachers, Grades 6-8 offers teachers practical ways to help their students form rich and informed interactions with literature. Eight teachers from around the country talk about the ways in which they encourage students to become active and effective readers, building strong mental muscles as they place themselves in the world of a text, form impressions of the work, and pose questions that help push their understandings further. The on-screen teachers illustrate their ideas by bringing the viewer into their classrooms as they and their students work together to "make meaning." The video programs are augmented by commentary from noted educational researcher Dr. Judith Langer. Dr. Langer identified these habits of effective readers, calling them "envisionments," or ever-expanding landscapes of understanding that are formed as students read, write, and talk about texts. A Web site and print guide supplement the videos.

Produced by Maryland Public Television. 2003.

Closed Caption     ISBN: 1-57680-621-9
Linda Rief discusses strategies for exploring literature.
Linda Rief discusses strategies for exploring literature.

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Overview
Individual Program Descriptions
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Related Resources See all
Making Meaning in Literature: A Video Library, Grades 6-8
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Literature Discipline Page
Individual Program Descriptions

VODWorkshop 1. Introducing Our Literary Community
Meet the eight teachers and their schools featured in the video programs. Learn the guiding principles through which they form their classes into engaged literary communities. Dr. Langer weaves the framework, talking about the ways effective readers interact with text and the ways teachers can foster this kind of learner. Go to this unit.

VODWorkshop 2. Encouraging Discussion
Introduced by Dr. Langer, this program concentrates on discussion and its importance in helping engaged readers go further in the text. The on–screen teachers talk about ways to encourage whole–class and small–group discussion, the importance of asking the right questions to provoke thoughtful discussion, and making the discussion inclusive, including both talkative and reticent students. Their discussion is punctuated by visits to their classrooms, where discussion flourishes. Go to this unit.

VODWorkshop 3. Going Further in Discussion
Since discussion is so central to the growth and development of a literary community, this program also concentrates on this activity. The teachers talk about ways to recognize good discussion, adding personal anecdotes about ways in which they participate in or step out at various points in the discussion to help students go further in their understandings of the text. The group also looks at different stimuli they use to provoke and maintain good discussions in their classrooms. These principles are illustrated by classroom footage showing rich and involved student discussion. Go to this unit.

VODWorkshop 4. Diversity in Texts
In this program, the teachers talk about the importance of choosing rich texts for their students as a group or individuals, enumerating various criteria that they have developed for this initial classroom decision. Supported by commentary from Dr. Judith Langer, the group looks at the part student interests play in selecting the right text, building thematic study units using a variety of texts, and helping students select texts that meet their needs or help them go further in their experiences with literature. Go to this unit.

VODWorkshop 5. Student Diversity
The varied viewpoints necessary for valuable class discussions are celebrated in this program. The group talks about the diversity of their students and how their interactions with literature are shaped in part by their life experiences, unique thoughts, and previous reading experiences. They examine the worth of using the lens of multiple perspectives to examine a work of literature, and offer suggestions for ways to encourage each student to contribute to the ongoing classroom conversation. Dr. Langer offers her thoughts on involving students' diverse voices in a way that honors all of their contributions. Go to this unit.

VODWorkshop 6. Literature, Art, and Other Disciplines
In this program, teachers explore various ways in which students can use the fine arts to express their impressions of a text, and why this kind of activity should be encouraged to make sure that every voice in the classroom is heard. The group also looks at ways to expand meaning by interweaving literature with social studies and other disciplines, and the value of doing so. Several classroom projects demonstrate how learners expand their growing interactions with texts as they work in the fine arts. Go to this unit.

VODWorkshop 7. Assessment
In a classroom where students are actively engaged in literature, there is a need to find authentic assessment vehicles that measure their progress as readers and thinkers. In this program, teachers from around the country identify useful criteria that they have used in both formal and informal ongoing assessments. The group also talks about integrating their evaluation strategies in the milieu of traditional and high–stakes assessments, while maintaining an emphasis on the individual growth of the readers in their classrooms. Go to this unit.

VODWorkshop 8. Planning and Professional Development
In order to grow in their careers, teachers need a great deal of sustenance. In this program, the teachers talk about the ways in which they fulfill this need as they develop individually and as members of a professional community. The group invites us into their classrooms to look at the way they have grown professionally, stimulated by their peers, their membership in professional organizations, and their willingness to seek out new thinking on literature and teaching literature. Dr. Langer also describes the personal and professional benefits of an active professional life. Go to this unit.

VODWorkshop 9. Starting in September...
The concluding program takes a close look at the ways in which teachers get ready to help their students become successful and engaged readers. During the first few days of classes, the teachers talk about everything — from the mundane to the sublime — that enters their minds as they start another year and plan for success. Dr. Langer underscores their remarks with advice for teachers who want to recreate the kinds of classrooms they have seen featured in this workshop.

 

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