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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Returning to the Classroom


Key Points

Learning Objectives

Background Reading

Homework Assignment

Classroom Connection

Ongoing Activity

Extension: Classroom Connection

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

Activity One

Ask your students to create three open-ended, thought-provoking questions related to the literature you are currently reading. A good time to do this is at the end of a segment of reading, where students are more likely to have thoughts, questions, and hunches about what they just read. Use these questions as the basis for classroom dialogue the following day. Consider organizing students into small literary discussion groups and then inviting whole class discussion afterwards. When organizing the literary discussion groups, you might implement ground rules, as well as specific roles for each student to take within the groups. Another variation of this activity is to place students' questions into a basket for drawing. Students can take turns posing questions and leading parts of the discussion, calling on classmates, as well as adding their own responses.

Literature Circles Online Resources:

For an introduction to Literature Circles, teacher resources, student resources, examples, role templates, and basic information about how Literature Circles work.

Education World's comprehensive article and resource links about Literature Circles.

For the Literature Circles Resource Center, which includes samples of classroom structuring, units, teacher resources, and more.

Activity Two

When thinking about your current unit of study, what instructional approaches can you immediately implement that would lead towards an envisionment-building classroom? Keep in mind the following student learning goals, based on Judith Langer's Envisioning Literature, as you consider immediate instructional strategies:

Students will be able to:
  • Share initial impressions after reading.
  • Ask relevant questions about the work being read.
  • Go beyond initial impressions in order to rethink, develop, and enrich understanding.
  • Make connections within and across texts.
  • Support interpretations with logical reasoning and with textual examples.
  • Consider multiple perspectives within the text and across groups of readers.
  • Reflect on alternative interpretations and critique or support them.
  • Use literature to gain understandings about self and life.
  • Engage in ways of reading that indicate sensitivity to other cultures and contexts.
  • Use writing as a way to reflect on and communicate literary understanding.
  • Talk and write about a piece in ways that are characteristic of discourse about literature.
Activity Three: Dramatic Variations

Use reader's theater to invite student interpretation of the text you are currently reading. Students should be given time to prepare their lines, as well as props and facial and voice expression.

Visit Reader's Theater Online Resources: A tablueau is a dramatic representation of a literary scene. As the actors move into position, they pose in a "freeze frame." The scene typically represents something meaningful, or at least an interpretation of the scene from the text.
  • Divide students into acting groups of 4-5.
  • From the literature the students are currently reading, ask each group to discuss a character's dilemma, actions, or choices. Students should discuss why they think a character acted a certain way and what they would have done in that character's situation.
  • Based on the discussions, each acting group will create a tableau that represents the character's dilemma or actions. Then, one student from the group may step outside of the tableau and provide commentary on the scene, as well as what the group would have done in the character's situation. This same activity can be adapted for use with poetry. Typically, this form of dramatics is impromptu, but if planning is allowed, students might consider using props.
  • A variation for organizing this activity is to ask student groups to draw scenes and characters out of a hat. Ask student groups to dramatically present their interpretation of the character or scene from the text they are reading. Invite the group and class to provide commentary.
Activity Four

Consider utilizing multiple texts in your classroom, based on student reading groups. Allow student groups to select their own text. Create response-based activities around broad themes or learning concepts, lending themselves to discussions about life and the human condition. Some possible themes you might consider include friendship, family relationships, death, romance, growing up, and a variety of adolescent conflicts. Create activities that provide opportunities to compare and contrast texts, considering how each one informs the other.

Activity Five

Visit the online Lesson Builder, which allows teachers to renew current instructional practices with envisionment building strategies.

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