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Engaging With Literature: A Video Library, Grades 3-5
Engaging With Literature

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Video Titles:

1. Signposts

2. Voices in the Conversation

3. Starting Out

4. Responding to

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5. Sharing
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6. Building Community

7. Book Buddies

8. Finding
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9. Discussion

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4. Responding to Literature

Classroom Lesson Plan: Literature Discussion Groups

Rich Thompson's lesson plan is also available as a PDF file. See Materials Needed, below, for links to student activity sheets related to the lesson.

Teacher: Rich Thompson, Canyon Elementary School, Hungry Horse, Montana
Grade Level: Fourth
Topic: Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

Materials Needed:

Background Information:

Small-group discussions, where students choose their texts from several possibilities, form a core component of Rich Thompson's envisionment-building classroom. In addition, during regular read-alouds, Mr. Thompson chooses high-interest literature that may be beyond the independent reading level of many of his students. He uses these literature experiences to frame discussion and sharing activities that help students expand their repertoire of textual responses. Student Response Logs and the formulation of what Mr. Thompson calls Critical Reader Thoughts, expand the range of possibilities students have available for individual response. One-on-one reading conferences allow Mr. Thompson to check individual student progress on a regular basis.

In preparation for the literature discussion groups, Mr. Thompson begins with book talks about the texts available. Students then list their first, second, and third choices. From these Mr. Thompson makes assignments, considering the number of students in each group while trying to give as many as possible their first or second choice. Once the groups are complete, he schedules the meeting dates and times for each group.

Students each receive a copy of their chosen book as well as copies of Critical Reader Thoughts for that book and Using Response Logs if they have not received it earlier.

During the discussion group meetings, Response Log sharing often begins discussion. Students discuss their responses, reflections, and materials from Critical Reader Thoughts, referring to the text as appropriate. Literature discussion groups end with the members determining a way of sharing their book with the rest of the class.

Lesson Objectives:

Students will:
  • Read and enjoy literature.
  • Read the assigned pages from the literature before each meeting.
  • Prepare for discussion by writing in their Response Logs and preparing Critical Reader Thoughts.
  • Participate in group discussions of the literature by sharing their thoughts and connections.
  • Participate in planning and presenting the book-sharing activity at the end of the reading.
Expected Products From Lesson:

  • Regular entries in Student Response Logs
  • Regular formulation of Critical Reader Thoughts
  • Presentation of a book-sharing activity to the class
Instructional Strategies Implemented:

  • Regular read-alouds
  • Modeling of response and discussion strategies
  • Small group discussions of shared texts
  • On-going assessment of student response and discussion strategies
Collaborative Structure of Class:

Students in this class chose a text from a selected list, and read them independently. Every other day they gather at a meeting table at the back of the classroom with Mr. Thompson for their literature discussion groups. Full-group activities often find the class seated on the floor in a carpeted area of the classroom. Independent reading and Response Log writing typically happen at individual student desks.

Lesson Procedures/Activities:

  • Independent reading of a shared text
  • Writing in Response Logs
  • Formulating Critical Reader Thoughts
  • Discussing shared texts
Follow-Up or Culminating Activities:

  • Discussion of readings and interpretive processes
  • Sharing text with classmates through a group presentation

Students may be assessed on a daily basis through:
  • Completion of assigned reading for discussion.
  • Response Log entries.
  • Preparation of Critical Reader Thoughts.
  • Discussion participation.
  • Individual and small-group meetings with the teacher.
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).

  • Quality of Response Logs
  • Quality of Critical Reader Thoughts
  • Book-Sharing Activity


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