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Making Meaning in Literature Grades 6-8
Conversations in Literature — Workshop

About Making Meaning in Literature: A Video Library, Grades 6-8

Individual Clip Descriptions

1. Introducing the Envisionment-Building Classroom
2. Building a Literary Community
3. Asking Questions
4. Facilitating Discussion
5. Seminar Discussion
6. Dramatic Tableaux
7. Readers as Individuals
8. The Teacher’s Role in a Literary Community
9. Whole Group Discussions

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Classroom Lesson Plan

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Classroom Lesson Plan: Whole-Class Literature Discussion

Teacher: Ana Hernandez, Howard Doolin Middle School, Miami, Florida

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

Grade Level: Seventh

Topic: Using student-generated questions for whole-class, critical literature discussions

Materials Needed:

  • Novel, Tears of a Tiger, by Sharon Draper
  • Student questions about text
    Before this lesson, students should prepare questions as a homework assignment or in pairs as a prior classroom activity, using the Question Guide student activity sheet.
  • Selected passages of text for student read-alouds (consider passages that focus on characters' dilemmas)
  • Student Activity Sheets

Background Information:
The students involved in this lesson are considered Gifted and Talented (GT) in their school. They are able to evaluate and synthesize information at a critical level. The students' reading of the novel Tears of a Tiger is in progress, and they have already generated their own questions about the text for this lesson's activities. Students have previously read the novel The Chocolate War, which deals with similar conflicts and themes as Tears of a Tiger.

Lesson Objectives:
Students will:

  • participate in critical literature discussions, focusing on conflict and characters' actions in the novel.
  • pose thought-provoking questions about the literature.
  • expand their own understanding of the literature by raising questions, challenging classmates and themselves, and by listening to multiple perspectives in the classroom community.

Expected Products From Lesson:
Expanded understanding of the text Tears of a Tiger through written answers to student-generated discussion questions

Instructional Strategies Implemented:

  • Teacher-facilitated discussion
  • Students generating and posing their own questions about the literature

students in a classroom discussionCollaborative Structure of Class:
Prior to this lesson, students worked in pairs to formulate thought-provoking, open-ended questions about the text. For the class discussion in this lesson, students participated individually, offering their interpretations, questions, and thoughts.

Lesson Procedures/Activities:
Prior to this Lesson:

  • Distribute Question Guide to help students form their own questions as they read the text.
  • Assign students to work in pairs to read the text, gathering their own questions about what they encounter there. Direct them to write down the questions and think about possible answers.


  • Students will read aloud significant passages from the novel. Passages should be pre-selected by the teacher, focusing on particular themes, conflicts, or characters' actions.
  • Teacher will facilitate discussion about conflicts presented in the novel, in order to solicit students' opinions and to help them make personal connections to the text. In particular, teachers will encourage students to analyze the characters' actions, choices, and consequences and to consider various changes across time in character, actions, and mood. Students' questions should drive the discussion.
  • Initial Assessment: If you have time to allow students to write in the same class period as the discussion, ask them to start these initial assessment activities:
    • Post the questions asked throughout the discussion. Ask students to respond in writing to the questions they posed in the discussion as well as two additional ones posed by classmates.
    • Ask students to reflect upon their understanding of the novel, how it has changed and expanded, and how the class discussion influenced their current interpretations of Tears of a Tiger. Students can respond in class journals, write a letter to their teacher or classmates, or turn in an individual answer and reflection sheet.

Follow-Up Activities or Culminating Activities:

  • Students will select a teen issue or conflict presented in the novel and create an informative brochure about Tears of a Tiger. Each brochure will include facts, interviews, and suggestions for dealing with problems.
  • Students will create a Venn diagram to compare and contrast the conflicts and themes presented in the books Tears of a Tiger and The Chocolate War.

Teacher will assess student participation in the class discussion and expected student reflection on the experience.

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