Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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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 Snapshot

Classroom Lesson Plan

Professional Reflection

Teacher Tools
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About This Video Clip

"I am excited. The kids are excited. I see what they've done and what they can do. I think it's important that we expect the best from these kids… and that [our] expectations are high because they can do it."
Flora Tyler
Picacho Middle School
Las Cruces, New Mexico

Flora Tyler says her classroom design is strongly influenced by the reading and writing workshop model described by Nanci Atwell in her first edition of In the Middle: Writing, Reading, and Learning With Adolescents (1987). The theory underpinning this model centers on the importance of students learning to make informed choices about what they read and what they write, and taking charge for both the planning and execution of their work in both areas. The role of the teacher is to suggest, guide, offer individual instruction through targeted mini-lessons, and keep track of student performances and progress. In addition, the teacher ensures that students have adequate time for silent, independent reading; reading is the central activity of the literature program.

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students working in a grouAlthough a reading workshop may seem disorderly to outsiders, clear rules govern its operation. Typically the period begins with a mini-lesson. After that, students must read (a book — no magazines or comics are allowed) for the entire period (they cannot do homework or work for other classes). They must have a book and be ready to read when the bell rings, and they may not disturb others. In addition, they are expected to offer written responses to their reading, either to the teacher or to other students.

In Ms. Tyler's class, we see a teacher working with 20 students who come to class with a wide range of educational experiences as well as diverse abilities. Students are taught how to locate, choose and read texts appropriate to their reading levels and areas of interest independetly. They then learn ways to share share those readings with others. Clearly, the organizational structures — and their skillful implementation — in such workshops provide the glue that holds the classroom together. Students have to be clear about their short- and long-term obligations and be willing to accept individual responsibility for meeting them. Teachers have to come to such workshops with a wide range of knowledge about both young adult literature and adolescent psychology. In addition, such workshop settings demand that both teachers and students are tolerant and accepting of occasional deadends as well as an atmosphere of creative commotion.

Both the online and print materials connected with this video will focus on the reading workshop, although it should be understood by viewers that within the classroom, reading and writing are integrated, and that the instruction in each workshop is grounded in the same theory.

For resources that can help you use this clip for teacher professional development, preservice education, administrative and English/language arts content meetings, parent conferences, and back-to-school events, visit our Support Materials page. There you will find PDF files of our library guide, classroom lesson plan, student activity sheets, and other Teacher Tools.



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