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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: Small Literature Groups

Teacher: Joe Bernhart, Fondren Middle School, Houston, Texas

Mr. Bernhart'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: Response to Literature in Small Book Groups

Materials Needed:

Background Information:
Students will participate in book groups of four to five students each. Each group will select its own book to read from a list of ten young adult novels. Students are expected to read books aloud, discuss them, write letters to a "Book Buddy" — a student in another class who is reading the same text — and produce a culminating project representing the mini-lesson concepts, characters, and themes of the literature. Students will use their writer's notebooks to become focused for the day's lesson and to express themselves creatively.

Lesson Objectives:
Students will:

  • discuss and write about literature through peer interaction.
  • develop deeper understanding of the works they read.
  • enjoy and care about the literature they read.
  • support one another in peer groups, as they seek their own meaning of literature.
  • create original projects that demonstrate mastery of literate skills.
  • engage in critical literacies within a meaningful social context.

Expected Products From Lesson:

Instructional Strategies Implemented:

  • Peer support
  • Collaborative discussions
  • Student ownership of learning
  • Teacher facilitation, guidance, and feedback
  • Mini-lesson

students working in a groupCollaborative Structure of Class:
Student desks are arranged in small groups of four to five students each. Each heterogeneous group is student-centered, in which students are asked to monitor their own progress and learning throughout each process required in the book groups.

Lesson Procedures/Activities:
A variety of activities will take place over time, depending on where students and books groups are in the process. Some of the activities will include:

  • reading books aloud.
  • discussing literature.
  • writing about literature.
  • applying literary concepts learned in mini-lessons.
  • creating book projects.
  • presenting projects.

Follow-Up Activities or Culminating Activities:
Each group will create a book project representing their understanding of the literature. Upon completion, students will present their projects to the class.

On a daily basis, students may be evaluated through:

  • OWL logs.
  • participation.
  • Book Buddy letters.
  • projects.
  • application of mini-lesson literature concepts.

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