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Lesson Plan

Focusing Reader Response Through Vocabulary Analysis

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Focusing Reader Response Through Vocabulary Analysis

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

Jacqueline Podolski

Milwaukee, Wisconsin


National Council of Teachers of English



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



Adding one word at a time, students compile a list of words associated with a novel they have recently read, ranging from details about the plot to feelings about a character. Small groups of students then arrange the collected words into at least four categories using an online tool. Finally, students share their work by creating and presenting posters, which are discussed by the whole group. The discussion ranges from vocabulary and comprehension to literary analysis and reader response. Words from The Hobbit are used in the lesson as an example, but the lesson would work with any text students have read.

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ReadWriteThink Webbing Tool: Students use this online tool to create a variety of free-form graphic organizers including cluster, hierarchy, and cause and effect webs. Completed webs can be printed.

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Literary analysis can be intimidating to students who want to find the "correct" interpretation. When given the opportunity, however, "students are very capable of discovering a great deal . . . simply by exploring their thoughts, ideas, and feelings, instead of worrying about whether their analysis matches [the teacher's]" (Anzul, 30). Through reader-response activities, such as this one, students are guided by their own thoughts, experiences, and questions instead of those of the teacher or textbook. At all times, the focus is on the importance of students creating their own meaning, independent of their teachers, in order to see that analysis is an active process.

Further Reading

Anzul, John. "Searching for the Speaker." Voices from the Middle 4.1 (February 1997): 30-37.

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