Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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In Search of the Novel: Teachers & Lesson Plans

Dirk Detlefsen

Dirk Detlefsen teaches sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade English in Gaviota, California, and he is presently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of California at Santa Barbara. In 1998–1999 he taught in a middle school in Cairo, Egypt. A theater major in college and an experienced actor, Mr. Detlefsen directs his school’s yearly plays and brings his skills in teaching drama into his literature classes.

Lesson Plan for
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone


To encourage students to find the voice in the novel and to allow them to find their own individual ways into the experience through various projects.


(Sixth grade, four weeks)

Daily: We begin each lesson with a discussion of the previous chapter, especially if it was finished for homework. We then read together 5-7 pages. I usually have each student take a paragraph. When we finish our reading, we find five new vocabulary words to add to our personal dictionaries. The students are required to look them up and use them in a meaningful sentence for homework. We save the last 20 minutes for project time.


  • Author parody: Rewrite a chapter of the book in the author's style, but with a personal touch and plot twist.
  • Butcher-paper illustrations: The students choose a favorite character and create a painted poster-sized illustration with a quote the character is known for.
  • Newspaper: Students make a two- to three-page newspaper from the setting of the story, i.e., “The Hogwarts Gazette.”
  • Newscast: Students simulate a television news program with events from the novel.
  • Dramatic reading/reader's theater: Students take a passage from the book and present it orally to the class.
  • Students are responsible typically for two or three of the above projects. One must be done individually, the others in a small group. I assess the class's knowledge of the novel with a combination of projects and written work. I usually have a weekly quiz on the vocabulary and a short paper on character, plot, and theme toward the conclusion of the book.


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