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.
Using Personal Writing To Extend Literary Envisionments
Go to this
page for an outline of several ways students can
use personal writing to develop their understandings of a
Assessment and Evaluation: Some
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.
Typically assessment is holistic, often recorded simply as
"credit" or "no credit."
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.
Supporting Whole-Class Discussion
for an article about ways to encourage productive literature
Developing Questions for Literature Discussion
Good questions can open up a discussion. Poor questions can
close it down. For suggestions on framing good discussion
questions, see Developing
Questions for Literature Discussion.
Responding Visually to Literature
Many language arts teachers have come intuitively to use visual
activities to support their literature instruction. Non-verbal
activities provide an opportunity for students to develop
and display their growing understanding and enjoyment of the
literature in informal ways as they develop visual representations
of their thinking.
his preface to Phyllis Whitin's Sketching Stories, Stretching
Minds: Responding Visually to Literature (for the complete
citation, see "Additional Resources" in the Library
Guide), Jerome Harste reminds us that "literacy is much
more than reading and writing" (x). He tells us that
literacy is "the process by which we mediate the world"
which "means to create sign systems mathematics,
art, music, dance, language" which "act as
lenses that permit us better to understand ourselves and our
we take what we know from one sign system and represent it
in another as when we take a written text and represent
it graphically we are using transmediation, a process
that "is both natural and basic to literacy" (x).
Such transmediation has enormous value in the classroom. As
students resee, they rethink. Rethinking, they understand
in fresh ways, and their pleasure grows with their developing
less able readers, the very act of focusing on a brief passage
or scene and doing what more skilled readers seem to do invisibly
helps them develop the visualization powers to process texts
effectively. Not only are they developing their understanding
of a specific text, they are expanding their skill as readers.
Using Reader's Theater in the Literature Classroom
Developed as a convenient and effective means to present literary
works in dramatic form, Reader's Theater is minimal theater
that supports literature and reading. It is a useful tool
in the literature classroom because of its simplicity and
ease of presentation. There is no memorization; readers use
the text during performance. Typically there is preparation,
however. Either individually or in groups, readers analyze
the text they will read, considering how to use verbal inflection
to convey their understandings of character development and
motivation. If used at all, costumes are partial and suggestive,
or neutral and uniform. An Internet search for Reader's Theater
sites identifies a number of sources for complete scripts
available for classroom use.
Supporting Less-Able Learners in an Integrated Classroom
Ms. Rief's classes are heterogeneously grouped and include
students with a wide range of abilities, interests, and levels
of preparation. In addition to ESL students and those identified
with learning disabilities, severely handicapped students
with disabilities such as autism and Down-Down syndrome are
mainstreamed into her classes. Her challenge is to find ways
to support the learning of less-able students while continuing
to challenge those with more developed abilities.
of the strategies Ms. Rief employs do just that. Reader's
Theater allows less-skilled readers the opportunity to participate
fully in a complex text that they might not be able to process
independently. At the same time, it offers better readers
practice in the oral presentation of language, forcing them
to develop interpretive reading skills and elocution.
students to focus on specific passages, either through written
response or artistic renderings, also supports weaker readers
by modeling the identification of key passages and allowing
them to concentrate their energies on explicit issues. More-skilled
readers are challenged to focus on particular passages, attending
to language use and the implicit issues such passages present.
way of offering support to students with a wide range of abilities
is by including children's picture books in the curriculum.
In Teaching With Picture Books in the Middle School,
Iris McClellan Tiedt includes stimulating thinking, promoting
reading development, appreciating diversity, and introducing
thematic studies as some ways picture books can enhance a
middle school language arts curriculum.
may also be interested in Ms. Rief's essay "Good
Children's Literature Is for Everyone,
Adolescents" in Beyond Words: Picture Books
for Older Readers and Writers, edited by Susan Benedict
and Lenore Carlisle. This collection offers a number of ideas
for using picture books with older students. (For the complete
citation, see "Additional Resources" in the Library
As you plan literature experiences for your students, consider
offering text pairings, so that students have a rich palette
of text background and reading experiences to draw upon in
their literary conversations. Some texts that may complement
the ones used in this lesson plan include:
Blue by Lois Lowry (this is a companion to The Giver;
see if students can find Jonas)
the Stars by Lois Lowry
Last Book in the Universe by Rodman Philbrick
edited by Michael Cart
Exchange Student by Kate Gilmore
Boy by Will Weaver
in the Sky by Pete Hautman
451 by Ray Bradbury
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
Not To Hear by Sandra Scoppetone
the Great by Rosa Guy
5 by Robert Westall