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Conversations in Literature
Conversations in Literature — Workshop
About CONVERSATIONS IN LITERATURE

Individual Program
Descriptions

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
Classroom

Support Materials
Teacher-Talk




HomeEnvisionment BuildingHelpful Hints for Site LeadersLesson BuilderSearch this SiteSite Map
Returning to the Classroom


Introduction

Key Points

Learning Objectives

Background Reading

Homework Assignment

Extension:
Classroom Connection


Ongoing Activity
Additional Reading


Introduction

Implementing the envisionment-building process in the classroom requires teachers to develop "new bones" or ways of planning for and interacting with students to draw out their understanding, ways to connect students to each other, and ways to guide students back to the text, or to question their own readings. By reshaping their approach to literature instruction, as well as rethinking how classroom meetings are utilized, teachers can create a true envisionment-building environment.

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Here, students' responses and questions are the focal points for learning, discussion, and exploration. By fostering the growth of a literary community, teachers serve as expert readers and facilitators, moving the process along with layers of questioning, while at the same time connecting students' ideas, as well as challenging them. Equally important in the process is the ability for students to recognize that their input is invaluable and that their unique perspectives are not only welcome, but also critical in moving the class thinking and learning along.

Envisionment-building classrooms invite students to share their multiple perspectives, stressing that diversity is a strength. Students are engaged in discussions where multiple vantage points are explored for the sake of building a rich understanding for each student. This learning environment creates the expectation that students are to challenge one another, as well as challenge their own ideas.

While not all envisionment-building classrooms have to look and feel the same, they are guided by some basic principles (from Judith Langer's Envisioning Literature):

Principles of Practice:

  • Students are treated as life-long envisionment builders.
  • Questions are treated as part of the literary experience.
  • Class meetings are a time to develop understandings.
  • Multiple perspectives are used to enrich interpretation.
The teacher's role in an envisionment-building classroom is to:
  • Serve as an expert reader, guide, resource and facilitator, bringing about complex discussion and questioning and lending the expertise of an experienced reader.
  • Provoke students to think, write, and talk about their ideas, their responses, questions, and their understandings of the text itself, and to listen to others' ideas and leave room for exploring other possibilities.
  • Validate as well as challenge students' responses and interpretations.
  • Pose complex questions to lead readers towards their own understanding of the text.
  • Introduce texts that are accessible for students and in a way that speaks to their interests and life experiences.
  • Assist students in making real-world connections between the literature and their own lives.
  • Create a classroom community where questions and responses from all students are valued as part of the learning process.
  • Encourage and facilitate participation from all community members.
  • Approach discussion without being married to previous understandings of the text.
  • Provide a variety of multi-text readings, which allows students to compare and contrast literature experiences in order to build complex understandings.
For a complete guide to the workshop session activities, download and print our support materials.

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