Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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In Search of the Novel: Teachers & Lesson Plans

Pauline Moller

Pauline Moller has been a sixth-grade English teacher and team leader at Eastern Middle School in Silver Spring, Maryland, since 1995. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a Master’s degree in reading/writing/literacy. Ms. Moller has served as writer and editor for the development of Montgomery County's sixth-grade English curriculum. In addition, she has conducted workshops in Montgomery County on strategies for teaching reading and differentiating instruction. She has presented at the NECC conference and is her school's technology committee chairperson. Ms. Moller has been nominated for the Sallie Mae First Year Teacher Award and Teacher of the Year.

Lesson Plan for Bridge to Terabithia


To transform the text: help students “see” the setting and hear the dialogue.


Day 1, part 1: “Seeing” the setting

  1. Reading Aloud/Visualization—“Seeing Terabithia”
  2. How does the author paint a word picture?
  3. Students find example of words from Chapter 1 that paint a picture. They work independently and then share. Student recorders use chart paper to record words and phrases.
  4. Class discussion: How do these words and phrases enhance the story and make it more interesting?
  5. Teacher reads aloud from page 38 while students draw. Students list words and phrases that helped them "paint" their picture on their drawing.
  6. Gallery posting and walk; follow-up discussion about seeing the setting.

Day 1, part 2: “Hearing” the dialogue

  1. “Who Am I?” web for character development. Tteacher-directed; students work in groups.
  2. Locate words, actions, and dialogue that tell about your character’s personality. Students find examples using selected sections of the text.
  3. Develop “Who Am I?” profiles that present but do not give away the character. Students put sticky notes on paper to indicate their guesses.
  4. Students read aloud sections of text that reveal a character’s personality and discuss why.
  5. What can be revealed about a character through description? Through action or plot? Through dialogue?
  6. Students read in pairs, changing the tone and inflection and adding nonverbal expressions.
  7. “Feeling” (using prompts).
  8. Friendship: Write about a time a friend made you feel good about yourself. Paint a word picture.
  9. Write letters to Jess or Leslie commenting on the qualities they possess that make them good friends to each other. Share the letters.

Day 2

  1. Class discussion: Why do Jess and Leslie become such good friends? Why do they depend on each other? What makes Terabithia so special to them? Why do they work to keep it only to themselves?
  2. Seeing the setting by taking a field trip to Sligo Creek Park, a wooded area with a stream. Think about the questions above and hear the natural dialogue of people.

    Note: It is helpful to get the students up and active—creating pictures, recording observations, seeing connections, and actively hearing—all so they can feel the story more fully.

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