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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Helpful Hints for Site Leaders

Successful Workshop Sessions
These guidelines will help you conduct successful workshop sessions, particularly the Getting Ready and Going Further segments. These 30-minute, pre- and post-video group discussions will help participants better understand the video programs and enhance the workshop experience. Getting Ready prepares participants for what to focus on during the video programs and Going Further provides the opportunity to analyze and reflect on what they saw.

Designate Responsibilities
Each week, someone should be responsible for facilitating the workshop sessions. This may be the registered "site leader" or another volunteer, or you may choose to divide and rotate duties among several participants. For the purposes of these instructions, we will refer to the site leader as facilitating the sessions.

Prepare for the Session and Bring the Necessary Materials
The site leader should review the entire session in this guide before arriving for the session, as well as reviewing the Materials Needed for that session. The site leader will be responsible for bringing enough materials for the participants. If you are viewing the video programs on videocassette/DVD, the site leader may want to preview the programs.

Before the First Session
You may want to photocopy this guide for all participants so they may follow along, refer back to ideas covered in the session, or have their homework assignments handy. Or, you may direct them to the workshop Web site to print the guide themselves (direct them to "Support Materials"). Either way, you will want participants to have the guide before the first session, so they will come prepared. Be sure participants know:

  • They should bring a journal and a pen or pencil to each workshop session, including the first;
  • There are suggested reading assignments prior to the first session; and
  • It would be helpful if they were to review the first session in the guide before arriving.

Keep an Eye on the Time
We have suggested the amount of time you should spend on each question or activity.

Record Your Discussions
We recommend that someone take notes during each discussion, or even better, that you tape-record the discussions. The notes or audiotapes can serve as make-up materials in case anyone misses a workshop.

Share Your Discussions on the Web
The workshop sessions serve as a starting point to share and think about the workshop ideas. Encourage participants to continue their discussions with participants from other sites on Teacher-Talk at the workshop Web site.

Materials needed

You will need to assemble the following materials to help you in using these video clips in a professional development workshop:

  • A VCR/DVD player and viewer (television set or monitor) to show the video clips


    • Be sure to position the monitor at a place where all participants can view it easily.
    • Adjust the lighting to avoid reflections or glare.
    • Check the connections between the VCR/DVD and TV or monitor, and make sure they are both plugged into a working outlet.

  • Notebooks or paper, pencils or pens

  • Other materials may be needed for activities suggested for individual clips. Consult the Guide Book materials related to each video clip to find out the scope of these activities and plan your session accordingly.

  • Note: A supplementary resource is Making Meaning in Literature: A Video Library, Grades 6-8. While not required for the workshop, viewing of the videos from the library can provide additional insight into envisionment-building classrooms. Visit the web site and select Making Meaning in Literature: A Video Library, Grades 6-8 for more information.


    • Read the sections of the guide devoted to activities and discussion questions related to each clip several days before the workshop.
    • Note materials that are needed and gather them before your session begins.
    • A dry-erase board, flip chart, or large pieces of art paper will help in recording major points raised in session discussions.


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