Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Engaging With Literature: A Video Library, Grades 3-5
Engaging With Literature

About This Video Library

Lesson Builder

Hints for Site Leaders
Video Titles:

1. Signposts

2. Voices in the Conversation

3. Starting Out

4. Responding to

About This Video Clip »
Featured Texts »
Classroom Snapshot »
Classroom Lesson Plan »
Professional Reflection »
Teacher Tools
Additional Resources »

5. Sharing
the Text

6. Building Community

7. Book Buddies

8. Finding
Common Ground

9. Discussion
Site Map

4. Responding to Literature

Teacher Tools

Whether you are a classroom or preservice teacher, teacher educator, content leader, department chair, or administrator, the materials below can assist you in implementing the practices presented in the video clip.

Assessment and Evaluation: Some Useful Principles
The terms assessment and evaluation are often used as synonyms. Distinguishing between them can be helpful as you plan instruction. Assessment means looking at what students can do in order to determine what they need to learn to do next. That is, assessment, whether of individual students or an entire group, is done in order to inform instruction and is a critical teaching tool. Typically assessment is holistic, often recorded simply as "credit" or "no credit."

Evaluation occurs after a concept or skill has been taught and practiced and is typically scaled, indicating the level of achievement or degree of competence a student has attained.

Choosing Good Books for Literature Discussion Groups
Books that provide for successful discussion are those that are meaty enough to provide students with plenty to talk about. While students may enjoy reading a number of the series books, many teachers have found it difficult to initiate and sustain conversations about such titles. Here are some things to think about as you select books for your students to choose:

  • Is the reading level appropriate? Teach students the "three finger rule" to help you identify those books which are too challenging for your readers.
  • Does the book arouse an emotional response?
  • Does the book offer insights into individuals, time periods, or cultures different from those your students have experienced personally?
  • Are the characters believable and worth knowing?
  • Is the content compelling? Is there action, suspense, good dialogue, humor, or controversy?
If you are unsure where to begin, consult the many booklists published by professional organizations such as the National Council of Teachers of English. Begin with award winners such as the Newbery Award books. Another useful starting point might be the Librarians Index to the Internet (www.lii.org) which has useful sections on children's and young adult literature.

The Three-Finger Rule
Teach students the "three-finger rule" for determining if a book is too hard: Ask them to choose a page in the middle of the book to read. When they encounter a word they don't know, instruct them to raise a finger. If they have raised three fingers by the end of the page, the book may be too difficult for easy reading. They can then decide if they are willing to continue.

Sharing Instruction With Other Teachers
Mr. Thompson and a colleague who also teaches fourth grade share their literature discussion groups. Students from the two classes are offered choices of the same books. Each teacher then assumes responsibility for leading two or three discussion groups, comprised of students from the two classes. Not only does this help the two teachers target their instructional efforts, but both students and their parents appreciate the value and flexibility of such exchanges.

Text Pairings
As you plan literature experiences for your students, consider offering text pairings. Some teachers like to introduce students to a number of books by the same author. Others try to find books with similarities in theme or content. Books that have received awards and appear to be developing into contemporary classics are also favored choices. No list of suggestions can be complete or can address every criterion. However, the following list of texts may help you choose titles to complement the ones used in this lesson plan:

For Because of Winn-Dixie
When Zachary Beaver Came to Town by Kimberly Willis Hold
A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck

For Just Juice
Nory Ryan's Song by Patricia Reilly Giff
Letters from Rifka by Karen Hesse
The Music of Dolphins by Karen Hesse
Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
Witness by Karen Hesse

For Midnight Fox
The Summer of the Swans by Betsy Byars
Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
Gentle Ben by Walt Morey
Kavik the Wolf Dog by Walt Morey
Rascal by Sterling North
The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden

For Pigs Might Fly
Racso and the Rats of NIMH by Jane Leslie Conly
Love That Dog by Sharon Creech
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien
The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden
Harry Kitten and Tucker Mouse by George Selden

For Sounder
Old Yeller by Fred Gipson
Savage Sam by Fred Gipson
Star in the Storm by Joan Hiatt Harlow
Gentle Ben by Walt Morey
Kavik the Wolf Dog by Walt Morey
Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Rascal by Sterling North
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls


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