Classroom Lesson Plan: Envisionment
Building With Literature
This lesson plan is also available as a PDF
file. See Materials Needed, below, for links to student
activity sheets related to the lesson.
Grade Level: Third through fifth
Topic: Reading and appreciating literature
- Literature books for students; either a class set or
selected titles from which students can choose
- Writer's notebooks, literature folders, or other areas
for written responses
- Sticky note pads for student use
- Student Activity Sheet:
Comments, Questions, Connections (generic directions
for encouraging student responses to literary texts)
- Other materials as appropriate for specific titles (i.e.
handouts for specific extension activities, copies of topically
related poems or other short works, art materials, etc.)
This is a generic envisionment-building lesson that can be
adapted to and used with any literary text. Its design reflects
the key tenets of envisionment building: 1) students are
life-long envisionment builders whose ideas are at the center
of the classroom; 2) questions are essential to envisionment
building; 3) students come to class after reading equipped
with understandings about the literature. It is assumed that
they will develop those understandings during class discussions;
and 4) multiple interpretations of literary texts are to
be expected and are helpful, both to the individual and to
the class as a whole.
- read and enjoy literature.
- use writer's notebooks (or other forms of personal writing)
to record their responses to their reading.
- use sticky notes (or mark the text, if allowed) to indicate
passages of interest, or areas about which they have questions.
- participate in thoughtful discussions of the literature
(in small groups and as an entire class) where they listen
to and interact with one another about the interpretations
they are developing.
- develop fuller understandings of the literature through
reflective writing, discussion, and other support activities.
- use language to develop as a classroom community of thinkers
and learners, respectful of views other than their own.
- connect issues raised by the literature with their own
- create original products that demonstrate their understandings
of the literature.
Expected Products From Lesson:
- Regular written responses in writer's notebooks
- Regular use of sticky notes for comments, questions,
connections, and identification of specific passages
- Various extension and support activities as appropriate
(see other programs for specific suggestions)
- A final product designed to help the students and the
teacher evaluate the students' understandings of the literature
Instructional Strategies Implemented:
- Reading, either individually, with a Book Buddy, or as
- Class and small-group discussions
- Writing and talk as tools for making meaning
- Teacher facilitation, guidance, and feedback
Collaborative Structure of Class:
Envisionment-building classes work well when the physical
space is flexible and furniture can be rearranged to accommodate
changing activities. Teachers directing whole-class discussion
might favor circular arrangements so students can talk with
one another easily. Desk clusters of four or five serve small-group
discussions well. Linear rows of desks create an environment
where easy conversation among peers is more difficult and
where, as a result, a teacher has to overcome physical restrictions
to keep student questions and ideas at the center of the
- Reading independently and in groups
- Listening to oral reading
- Writing responses to, and/or questions about the literature
- Group discussion of the literature and the human issues
- Possible dramatic, poetic, and/or artistic presentation
- Vocabulary development within the context of developing
Follow-Up or Culminating Activities:
Teachers typically wish to give students some sort of closure
after extended engagement with a literary text. In addition,
they may need a tool for formal evaluation at this time.
Final projects, formal writing, and oral reports are all
possible means of addressing these needs. See the support
materials for the various programs in this library to observe
the choices these teachers made for their students.
Students may be assessed on a daily basis through:
- preparation and participation, and
- writer's notebook entries.
The following activities might receive holistic or scaled
evaluation (see Assessment and Evaluation:
Some Useful Principles for a detailed explanation of
holistic and scaled evaluation).
- Responses to specific passages
- Quality and quantity of response writing
- Visual, poetic, or dramatic representations of passage
- Vocabulary activities
- Formal writing in response to a literary work