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 Workshop for Teachers, Grades 3-5

About This Workshop

Graduate Credit »

Getting the Materials »

Using the Materials »

More Details About This Workshop »

About the Individual Sessions
in This Workshop

Educational Basis for This Workshop »

About the Teachers Who Appear in This Workshop »

About the Advisors Who Guided This Project »

About the People Who Developed This Project »

Asking Questions: An Interactive Guide
1. Foundations

2. Looking at Literature

3. Starting Classroom Conversations

4. Classroom Dialogues

5. Using Art and Other Disciplines To Enrich Classroom Conversations

6. Beginning the Year

7. Many Students: Many Voices and Abilities

8. Reacting to Students' Work

9. The Professional Teacher

Site Map

Engaging With Literature

About This Workshop

About the Individual Sessions in This Workshop

Workshop 1. Foundations
In this introductory workshop session, you will meet the eight teachers who will be part of this workshop and find out what kinds of literary experiences have had the most meaning for them. The group talks about ways in which they have brought a love of literature to the students in their classes and the reasons and benefits for these kinds of experiences. You will see the teachers in their classrooms, where you can observe how this love of literature directly informs their work. They enumerate the kinds of books you would find in their classrooms, and the reasons they are there. In a think-aloud, the group shares their impressions of a selection from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, demonstrating the habits and processes that successful readers employ.

Workshop 2. Looking at Literature
A love of literature begins with a love of story, and teachers shown in this video start by talking about ways in which story affects their lives and the lives of their students. From this background, they move to talking about selecting texts that encourage students to interact with the stories there. Some issues that impact that choice include: age/interest appropriateness, text availability, reading texts online, working with basal readers, and presentations that span reading levels, including book read-alouds. Classroom visits punctuate the discussion, showing practical ways to implement the suggestions the teachers discuss.

Workshop 3. Starting Classroom Conversations
Since class discussion is such a vital part of a classroom that celebrates interacting with literature, two sessions in the workshop are devoted to this topic. This introductory session concentrates on the basics: defining "good" questions, identifying those who should have an opportunity to ask questions, and explaining the goals for this technique. The discussion continues to address ways in which teachers can evolve a classroom where everyone feels comfortable in contributing to a literary discussion, including classroom setup and expressed and implicit expectations. The group also talks about ways in which teachers can help students as they begin to discuss, and gives strategies for involving reluctant participants. Practical suggestions for bringing these ideas into the classroom are foregrounded by numerous classroom visits.

Workshop 4. Classroom Dialogues
In this session, you will see teachers further refine their impressions on issues of classroom discussion, including whole-class discussion vs. small-group discussion. Elements from traditional language arts curricula are incorporated seamlessly into the discussion, and, most important, the various roles open to a teacher as the class discusses a text are explored. . These roles are clearly demonstrated as you return to the teachers' classrooms to observe authentic discussions as they develop and proceed.

Workshop 5. Using Art and Other Disciplines To Enrich Classroom Conversations
In this workshop session, you will hear a discussion about using arts and other disciplines to enhance individual literary experiences for each student. Footage gathered in classrooms around the country show these strategies in practice. Teachers point out that the key to these experiences is a student's ability to transmediate information from one genre of expression to another. The group talks about drama, drawing, and music as adding depth and dimension to literature, as well as offering students alternative ways of expressing their understandings of the text. The group also talks about integrating writing into an ongoing literary conversation, and various ways to encourage students as writers

Workshop 6. Beginning the Year
The kind of literary community every teacher wants in his or her classroom begins with seeds sown from the first few days in which students meet together. The assembled teachers share their thoughts on specific ways to set the tone for the year, talking about text choices and ways they chose to first interact with them. They also share their goals as they begin, how they communicate these with their students, and how they get to know the people in their class in order to tailor literary experiences to meet their needs. You will visit classrooms throughout the nation on the first few days of school, to see how these theories come to life.

Workshop 7. Many Students: Many Voices and Abilities
Each student is an individual, with an individual perspective to share with the world. In this video, the teachers talk about ways to celebrate their uniqueness, providing an atmosphere in the classroom in which each plays a respected and respectful role in conversations surrounding literature. Validating the rich classroom that results, the group acknowledges background, reading levels, language acquisition levels, and other personal characteristics that allow for the formulation of multiple perspectives that add significantly to a group's interaction with literature. Interwoven with their thoughts are actual classroom examples of ways in which teachers invite many voices to participate in the ongoing literature discussions.

Workshop 8. Reacting to Students' Work
In this workshop session, the teachers talk about the various ways in which they evaluate their students and translate the information they gain to evaluate themselves and their work. They offer various suggestions for communicating their expectations to students and families. Other topics the assembled group touches on include dealing with high-stakes assessments, deciding when to assess and when to evaluate, and suggestions for helping students assess their own work and the work of their peers. Classroom visits present examples of a variety of situations where assessment and evaluation are taking place.

Workshop 9. The Professional Teacher
There are enormous benefits that teachers can draw from a rich and varied professional life. In this video, the teachers talk about the ways in which they nurture themselves as professionals: their mentors and heroes, their activities, and the ways they reach out to their peers as they all grow in their chosen career. They define what being a professional teacher means to them, and enumerate and showcase-through documentary-style footage-the myriad ways in which they maintain their professional edge-learning from their students as well as other professionals.

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