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.

  • Bring several of your favorite books to share with the class (including some that you enjoyed as a child). Spend several minutes telling about each and explaining why they were important in your life. Ask students what books are special to them and why.
  • Find an interesting poem or short story that is long enough that each student can have at least two lines (for a poem) or two sentences (for a story). Cut it into sections and mount each section on colored paper. As students arrive for the first class, hand each a piece of text. Give the class 10 minutes or so to get their pieces in order. Have them read it aloud.
  • Divide the class into five groups. Choose five different short poems, each on a different topic. Cut each poem into the same number of parts as you have students in a group. Give the class 10 minutes to find the others who share the parts of their poem and to arrange their parts in the proper order (humorous poems work very well for this activity).
  • Ask students to explore their course text (or the books in the classroom library) and read a poem or a story that looks intriguing. During the next class period or two, have each student identify what he or she read and give a thumbnail sketch of the reading.

Teacher as a Reflective Practitioner
Trust is a central component of an envisionment-building classroom. The students have to trust that their thoughts and feelings will be received with respect, both by the teacher and by their classmates. The teacher has to trust that students are capable of thoughtful, independent responses to the literature. How do you go about establishing an atmosphere of trust in your classroom? How do you encourage your students to participate fully in classroom conversations? How do you teach them to listen to one another carefully and respond respectfully?

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