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Lesson Plan

Developing a Definition of Reading through Investigation in Middle School

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Developing a Definition of Reading through Investigation in Middle School

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Five 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Amy Mozombite

Largo, Florida


National Council of Teachers of English


Student Objectives

Session One

Session Two

Session Three

Session Four

Session Five


Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • analyze a variety of texts for audience, purpose, and strategies they might use to read them.

  • develop and continue to refine a definition of reading.

  • create and share a Reader's Profile that summarizes their habits and attitudes toward reading.

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Session One

  1. As you hand out one note card to each student in the class, tell students that today they will begin working on developing a definition of reading.

  2. Ask students to answer the question, ďWhat is reading?Ē on the note card.

  3. When students are finished, collect the note cards. Before the next session, compile the list of definitions on a handout, keeping each studentís work anonymous. Correct any errors in spelling or usage so students focus on the content of their classmatesí responses.

  4. Now distribute copies of the Reading Survey handout. Tell students that they will be continuing their definition of reading, but this time, theyíll be taking a more personal approach. The questions will ask them to think about their own habits, attitudes, and practices as readers.

  5. Students should use the remainder of the session to get started on their Reading Survey handout. Move around the room, encouraging student response and answering any questions students may have. If students finish during the session, collect the work for use in a future activity. If students do not finish during the session, ask them to have the survey complete for the next class, as it will be the basis for future work.

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Session Two

  1. Collect any completed Reading Survey handouts and remind students that in the previous session, they wrote individual definitions of reading. Tell them that they will be reviewing all of those definitions of reading and working in groups to write a definition of reading they can all agree upon.

  2. Present the compiled list of definitions you prepared from the individual student responses. Remind students that at this point, they are not responding to the definitions. They should be polite and respectful of their classmatesí work and ideas.

  3. Put students into groups of three or four and have them read through the list again, discussing which elements they feel are most needed in a concise, but relatively complete, definition of reading.

  4. Students will need to make notes on their papers as they discuss, because they will then rewrite a definition of reading that they agree upon as a group.

  5. Collect the new definition that each group has generated for analysis in the next session.

  6. At the end of the session, introduce the Readerís Profile activity by giving each student a copy of the Readerís Profile Directions and a Sample Readerís Profile (a two-sided handout would work well). Explain that after the class has worked through some more defining activities, they will make a Readerís Profile of their own using an online tool.

  7. Talk about how the Reading Survey handout from the previous session and the definition of reading they just developed will be useful in completing this task later in the lesson.

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Session Three

  1. Start this session by telling students they will work on refining their definitions by doing some hands-on investigation.

  2. Hand out copies of the many different types of texts you gathered in preparation for the lesson. Each student will have one text from which to work.

  3. After giving students a minute or two to look at their texts, distribute the Defining Reading: Hands-on Investigation sheet. Discuss how important it is to know how to read different types of texts, noting the variety that the students now have in their hands. The investigation sheet will help them start sorting ways that a variety of texts are similar and different from one another.

  4. Model what is expected of each student by going over the elements of the investigation sheet with a sample. Using the text of your choice, show students how one comes about deciding the intended audience, what skills are needed to read a specific text, etc. Examine the various parts of the text (depending on the text, of course) while asking students questions or by thinking aloud so that students can see how they complete the tasks asked of them.

  5. With this information, students will complete the Defining Reading Hands-on Investigation for their text.

  6. After they complete the independent task, they will then pair with a partner to go over what they identified and see if they together can come up with more ideas for each other. Ask them to begin focusing specifically on the various strategies that each text might call for.

  7. Finally, if time permits, students will get in a group of four and try to extend each analysis further.

  8. At this point, the class will come together and brainstorm on the board a large list of strategies from all the different types of books. Watch for teachable moments on issues such as

    • Length does not mean the book is better, worse, easier, or more difficult

    • Processes or strategies to use before, during, and after reading

    • The importance of being an active reader, and how ďactiveĒ varies depending on the text
  9. Display an overhead of the list of ideas and the definitions that the groups wrote during Session Two. Lead a discussion in which students compare, evaluate, and summarize the most important aspects of their definitions and write a class-generated definition of reading at the bottom of the overhead.

  10. Post the agreed-upon definition of reading in a prominent place in the classroom and referred back to throughout the year. As new insights emerge the definition can be revised.

  11. Ask students to keep this sessionís activities in mind as they work tomorrow on their individual Readerís Profiles using an online tool.

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Session Four

  1. Return studentsí Reading Survey handouts and ask them to get out the Readerís Profile Directions and a Sample Readerís Profile from a previous session. Review the directions and sample.

  2. Direct students to the ReadWriteThink Profile Publisher and have them complete a Readerís Profile following the Readerís Profile Directions and the directions from within the interactive tool.

  3. Have students print their profiles when they are finished, as they cannot save work within the tool.

  4. Give students time to draw a picture of themselves as readers (or a scene or character from a favorite book, etc.) in the box provided for an image.

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Session Five

  1. Before this session, put studentsí completed Readerís Profiles up around the room.

  2. Distribute copies of the Defining Reading Reflection Sheet and point out the section with squares at the top of the sheet.

  3. Inform students that they will have part of this session to go around the room looking at their classmatesí profiles. They should find four classmates who they feel are most similar to them as readers. They should then list those studentsí names in the spaces provided and reflect on why they are similar.

  4. When they have completed this part of the activity, they should complete the reflection on what they have learned in this lesson.

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  • Keep the Reading Survey Handout and the completed Readerís Profile for each student and have the class do them again at the end of the year. Students can then compare how they have grown and changed in their thoughts on reading over the course of the school year.

  • Students can group the texts used for investigation in class and discuss the different groups that they identify. These groups might include the following distinctions: non-fiction and fiction, varying reading levels, pictures and no pictures. This can allow for extended talk on the variety that literature within a certain format or genre can take. Students can also categorize texts according to the strategies needed to successfully read them.

  • Because of the wide variety of reading discussed here, you may wish to limit the discussion to Web-based reading, focusing on how the act of reading is different in a digital context.

  • After reviewing their profiles, ask students to write three goals for themselves, focusing on the processes they feel need the most work and/or will be the most beneficial to them.

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  • Students complete Defining Reading Reflection Sheet, which can be assessed in combination with their completed Readerís Profiles and participation in the creation of the group and class definitions of reading.

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