|About This Video Clip
"My job is to circulate and re-motivate kids when they stall [and] challenge them to take further steps in the discussion. Hopefully...I can keep them discussing and enjoying a poem; it helps push them to a higher level of understanding."
Students often don't know how to discuss literature in interesting and productive ways in order to develop their understandings of a text with the help of conversations among peers. In such cases, teachers need to take steps to help students get started with such conversations; doing so not only helps students develop their comprehension and discussion skills, but also teaches them to appreciate the values of good literary conversations.
Jonathan Holden, 4th-Grade Teacher
Nathan Hale Elementary School
In this video, you will see how Jonathan Holden helps students make personal connections to poems while they enjoy the play of language and the experiences poems offer. By helping students focus on things they like and things they don't like about a poem, Mr. Holden helps them begin to make the personal connections that are an important means of literary engagement and meaning development. He also asks them to identify "puzzles" (questions) that the poems raise. This acknowledges that meanings in literature are not always immediately transparent and may take some working through in order for a reader to arrive at a satisfactory understanding. Asking students to complete a simple chart in response to a poem is one way to help them "get started" when they move into their discussion groups.
You will also see how Mr. Holden incorporates writing into his poetry class. For him the writing is an integral part of literature instruction, with each component informing the other. Mr. Holden believes that experiences with both writing and literary envisionment building help students develop deeper understandings in powerful and effective ways.
For resources that can help you use this clip for teacher professional development, preservice education, administrative and English/language arts content meetings, parent conferences, and back-to-school events, visit our Support Materials page. There you will find PDF files of our library guide, classroom lesson plan, student activity sheets, and other Teacher Tools.