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

Key Points

  • Eight middle school language arts teachers are introduced in the video. These teachers will appear throughout the workshop series.
  • Dr. Judith Langer defines an envisionment as a dynamic set of thoughts you have about a text including your impressions, questions, judgments, and predictions. Envisionments constantly grow and evolve throughout your reading and interaction with a text.
  • Even though all students build envisionments in their daily lives, some of them have trouble applying it to the reading of literature. But there are ways to encourage this process in each student-ways to help them become better readers and better thinkers.
  • Teachers in a classroom that support this process encourage students to offer their opinions and raise questions.
  • There are four hallmarks of an envisionment-building classroom:
    • Students are treated as life-long envisionment builders. Teachers assume students can build envisionments, that they have done it throughout their lives, and can apply this to the reading of literature.
    • Questions are at the center of the literary experience. Students are encouraged to raise their own questions about the text or their own understandings during class discussions.
    • Students and teachers assume that multiple perspectives are useful. These perspectives are going to enhance interpretations and help build more complex understandings.
    • Class time is used to:
      • develop student understandings.
      • extend student understandings and interpretations based on the readings they did at home.
      • utilize students' initial understandings to start provocative discussions in class and build richer interpretations.
  • Middle school students bring many challenges and strengths to the literature classroom.
  • Processes that support envisionment building provide opportunities for students to develop as life-long critical thinkers and problem solvers, literate members of society, and individuals who can gain a sense of vision for what literature might mean for life and humanity.

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