Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Engaging With Literature: A Workshop for Teachers, Grades 3-5

About This Workshop

Asking Questions: An Interactive Guide

2. Looking at Literature

3. Starting Classroom Conversations

4. Classroom Dialogues

5. Using Art and Other Disciplines To Enrich Classroom Conversations

6. Beginning the Year

7. Many Students: Many Voices and Abilities

8. Reacting to Students' Work


Key Points »

Learning Objectives »

Background Reading »

Homework »

Classroom Connection »

Teacher Reflection »

Ongoing Activity »

Additional Reading »

9. The Professional Teacher

Site Map

Workshop 8. Reacting to Students' Work


Latosha Rowley
"Success looks different to me with each student. For some students, just being able to talk about a book at all is a plus. And then other students are able to come up with questions that go beyond the book.  They are able to talk about meanings, about interpretations...and that's success."

-Latosha Rowley, 4th- and 5th -Grade Teacher,
Indianapolis Public Schools Center for Inquiry, Indianapolis, Indiana

Identifying appropriate and useful assessment tools is a complicated task in any classroom. In envisionment-building classrooms finding relevant means of assessment becomes even more complex. How do teachers fully assess students' understandings of literary texts or students' abilities to participate in discussions about those texts? How do they judge the richness of student thinking? Clearly many quantifiable paper and pencil tools—true/false or multiple-choice tests, for example—provide inadequate representations of the intricate and nuanced web of knowledge and skills that students bring to literary discussion. Out of necessity, teachers devise other means of representing student progress and identifying directions for further instruction.

Focused as much on students' developing understandings and interpretations of texts as on their understanding of any single text, teachers in envisionment-building classrooms rely heavily on ongoing means of recording student progress. Habitual note-taking, focusing on developments in student performance, areas of difficulty, and ideas for later discussion; checklists; anecdotal records; informal conferences; and portfolio collections of student work all contribute to building a richly refined portrait of each student's abilities as a reader of literature. By and large, the activities commonly a part of envisionment-building classrooms and instruction help students perform well on state standardized tests with only a modicum of explicit test preparation.

Additionally, in this video you will listen as the workshop teachers describe ways in which they have developed procedures that involve students and parents in their assessment processes. Appreciating the power of authentic assessment and valuing their own on-going professional development, several of these teachers reverse conventional patterns and ask students for feedback on their teaching as well.

For a complete guide to the workshop session activities, download and print our support materials.


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