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 Workshop for Teachers, Grades 6-8

Individual Workshop Descriptions

1. Introducing our Literary Community
2. Encouraging Discussion
3. Going Further in Discussion
4. Diversity in Texts
5. Student Diversity
6. Literature, Art, and Other Disciplines
7. Assessment
8. Planning and Professional Development
9. Starting in September...

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Key Points

Learning Objectives

Background Reading

Homework Assignment

Classroom Connection
Ongoing Activity

Additional Reading

Extension: Classroom Connection

Student Activities
Try these activities with your students:

  • Choose an activity — formal or informal — that your students do several times during the semester (e.g. read a novel, write a formal paper on an aspect of the reading, give a booktalk, etc.). As a class, discuss criteria that describe an excellent piece of work for that activity (work that would deserve an "A") listing them on chart paper or on an overhead slide. Then talk about what an inadequate performance (a "D") would look like, suggesting that a failing grade is reserved for no performance. Continue to work together until you have developed a rubric for evaluating that activity. Before students do the activity the next time, have them review the rubric. After they have completed their work, ask them to use the rubric for self-assessment, writing an explanation for the score they assign. You may wish to give them the option to revise their work to earn a higher mark.
  • With student help, create a check list that you could use to assess the quality of group discussion. You may wish to include things such as "connects response to earlier comments," "doesn't interrupt," "refers to passages in text to support a point."

Teacher as a Reflective Practitioner
Make a list of the tools you use to assess and/or evaluate students. Your list might include informal writing such as quick writes and literature logs; check sheets, quizzes and tests, formal, graded writing, presentations and performances, data from conferences, and portfolios. Chart your list items under the following categories: Tool, what the tool demonstrates about student learning, formal or informal assessment tool (or both).

As you review your chart, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I successfully tracking student learning with these tools?
  • Am I using a wide enough range of tools to allow students to fully demonstrate what they know and what they know how to do?
  • Am I using an appropriate balance of formal and informal assessment methods?
  • What might I do to improve the assessment/evaluation in my classroom?

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