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

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Individual Program Descriptions

Workshop 1: Responding as Readers

In this workshop, you will meet the readers in this workshop series – including Dr. Langer – through their varied literary backgrounds. Dr. Langer also introduces the major concepts of her work in understanding the processes through which effective readers interact with literary texts.

Workshop 2: Envisioning

Dr. Langer presents a clear explanation of the four vantage points that effective readers take as they work to build their own envisionments and the research process through which she identified them. She explains how each stance – being outside and stepping into an envisionment, being in and moving through an envisionment, stepping out and rethinking what one knows, and stepping out and objectifying the experience – contributes to a constantly-evolving understanding of the text that is the hallmark of a successful reading experience. The community of readers demonstrates these stances as they discuss Gary Soto’s poem “Oranges.”

Workshop 3: Stepping In

In this workshop program, you will join readers who are outside of the text and stepping into it. While looking at James Dickey’s “The Lifeguard” and Frank O’Connor’s “First Confession,” the group talks about the impressions, intuitions, and hunches that help them gather information as they first start to read. They also talk through sticking points when the information they encounter in the text breaks apart their envisionments, and demonstrate how they work to rebuild them, sometimes with the help of other readers.

Along the way, Dr. Langer’s comments explain how readers work as they step into a text. She also suggests ways in which teachers can apply what they see to their work in the classroom.

Workshop 4: Moving Through

When readers are in and moving through a text, they interact very closely with the text, actually living within the world of its words. During this workshop, you will watch as readers weave a rich envisionment within the text, calling on all they have known or experienced before. The group works with two texts, Cathy Song's poem “Lost Sister” and Stephen Dixon’s short story “All Gone,” building on their initial impressions to examine motives, feelings, causes, interrelationships, and interactions as they create a more complete envisionment of these texts.

Dr. Langer’s comments during this workshop point to the diverse paths readers follow when they stand in this relationship to a text, and explain why their actions are an important part of the effective reader's arsenal.

Workshop 5: Rethinking

The community of readers demonstrate another important vantage point in which competent readers adopt: that of stepping outside the text and using what they find there to rethink their lives. You will observe them as they discuss Shakespeare's Hamlet, looking at the various parts of the text that talk about familial relationships, and learn about the places in their lives where these themes resonate and the ways it has made them rethink what they have known, said, or did.

Dr. Langer stresses that, while not all texts speak explicitly to readers in this way, seeking to find the places where their life intersects with the lessons of literature is important for all readers.

Workshop 6: Objectifying the Text

This workshop showcases the reader as critic, as the community of readers steps out of the text to reflect on what it all means, how it works, and why. Here, you will become part of the discussions that evolve as the readers look at Alice Walker’s “Revolutionary Petunias” and Langston Hughes’ “Theme for English B.” The readers examine the author’s craft, the structure of the text and its various literary elements, and choice of language in order to evaluate both works as pieces of literature. They also objectify and analyze their personal journeys through the texts

Dr. Langer’s comments throughout the piece remind readers of the importance of personal evaluation of the text. She also encourages teachers of readers by pointing out how the techniques readers used here can be explored in their classrooms.

Workshop 7: The Stances in Action

In order to show how readers move into and out of each of the stances as they build their envisionments, this workshop focuses on two extended discussions among the groups of readers. Individually and collectively, they enter and become immersed in their reading, step back and reflect on its lessons, and look at the piece as literary critics would. The texts the readers talk about include four poems that explore the Icarus myth (“To a Friend Whose Work Has Come to Triumph,” Anne Sexton; “Icarus,” Stephen Spender, “Icarus,” Edward Field, and “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus,” William Carlos Williams), as well as Sandra Cisneros' The House on Mango Street.

This workshop session can serve as your virtual workbook, helping you hone your understandings of the stances and how they contribute to rich and vital envisionments.

Workshop 8: Returning to the Classroom

In the concluding workshop session, you will observe the readers in this community talk about the ways in which Dr. Langer’s work – and their own expertise as readers – can truly affect the language arts classroom. In addition to sharing in their stories of successes, you will also eavesdrop on classrooms throughout the country to see how teachers are encouraging their students to become rich envisionment builders.



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