Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Conversations in Literature
Conversations in Literature — Workshop

Individual Program

1. Responding
as Readers

2. Envisioning

3. Stepping In

4. Moving Through

5. Rethinking

6. Objectifying
the Text

7. The Stances
in Action

8. Returning to the

Support Materials

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Key Points

Learning Objectives

Background Reading

Homework Assignment

Classroom Connection

Ongoing Activity
Additional Reading

Extension: Classroom Connection

You may want to try these activities back in the classroom.

Activities: Build a Literary Community

Activity One: Discussion Guidelines
Begin to build your own literary community. Consider creating classroom discussion guidelines in collaboration with your students. Guide your students towards the concepts of mutual respect, the value of unique perspectives, and respect for the text. Help your students to consider what is appropriate to say in a discussion and what is not. How should students respond to one another? Try small brainstorming groups and then offer a "gallery walk." Here, groups of students can walk around the room and post their ideas on large pieces of poster paper.

As each group rotates to the next station, they can add to the ideas already posted by the previous group. Each key topic from the Sample Discussion Guidelines can be used for creating each station, including "Attitudes," "Behaviors: Come Prepared," "Behaviors: Respond Appropriately," and "Thinking." To wrap up the activity, review ideas posted, consult with the students about what is missing or what can be combined, and then collaboratively create a master list of guidelines for classroom posting. When creating the master list, encourage students to select the most essential points to keep the final guidelines manageable. Utilize the Sample Discussion Guidelines as a teacher resource for facilitating this activity. [Click here for a PDF version]

Activity Two: Literary Hunt
Create a literary hunt for the purpose of giving students an opportunity to get to know one another and their literary interests. Create pre-assigned heterogeneous groups of four students each. Ask students to pair up with someone in their group and interview one another, using the Literary Hunt Activity Sheet.[Click here for a PDF version.] Provide students with time to interview one another. Before the students begin, explain to them that they will be asked to introduce their partner to their group, so they should listen closely.

As an extension to this activity, the teacher may ask groups to focus on how they will share what they have learned about their group members. Members could consider the following: What experiences do members of the group have in common? What differences helped you to understand one another? What important things did you learn? As a culminating activity, ask students to reflect on their experiences in their classroom journals. Students might consider what they learned from the experience, what surprised them, and maybe something they learned about themselves from participating in the activities. Overall, these activities will allow students to learn about one another, beginning the foundation for mutual respect in the classroom literary community.

Activity Three: Think Aloud
A think aloud is an activity where the reader verbalizes their internal thoughts during the envisionment-building process. From the moment the reader approaches the text, they share their thoughts, questions, and hunches out loud. The teacher may want to model the process with a short poem or a small compact passage of fiction. Refer to the Activity Sheet: Think Aloud Teacher Resource [click here for a PDF version] and the Sample Think Aloud Response to Edgar Allan Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher" [click here for a PDF version.] to help you model the process.

After modeling the process, select an additional passage for modeling with student input. You may want to hand out copies of the Activity Sheet: Student Think Aloud [click here for a PDF version] for this purpose. In this activity, the teacher should ask students to jot down their thoughts and questions as the teacher pauses between sentences during a read aloud. It is ideal for the students to have a copy of the passage in front of them.

Encourage students to pose questions, connect personal experiences, and reflect on what the text initially means to them. Tell students that the think aloud process invites reader interruptions, giving them an opportunity to interact with the text. After the second think aloud model, share student responses and questions so that everyone can see how others react to the literature. Next, ask students to work in pairs. Again, select a think aloud passage for the students. Ask them to take turns reading a few lines and verbalizing their thoughts. Students should be encouraged to share the reading and verbalizing responsibilities.

As you observe the many pairs, you may need to coach the students by posing thought provoking questions to move their thinking along. These activities will give students an opportunity to become aware of what and how they and others think and how they have options for further enriching their ideas.

Think Aloud Resources:

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