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Girls Read: Online Literature Circles
|Grades||6 – 8|
|Lesson Plan Type||Recurring Lesson|
|Estimated Time||Six 45-minute sessions|
Ridley Park, Pennsylvania
- Gain an understanding of the roles of women in diverse cultures by reading realistic fiction, set in a variety of times and places, that features strong female protagonists
- Develop skills in written expression by sharing their reactions to literature with an e-mail partner or with members of an online literature circle
- Develop skills in oral expression by sharing their reactions to literature with members of a classroom literature circle
- Participate as reflective members of an online literacy community by responding to questions and posting reviews
|1.||Ask students to name a memorable female character in literature. They might name heroines such as Anne of Green Gables, Anna in Sarah, Plain and Tall, or Hermione of Harry Potter fame. Invite students to name the qualities that make these heroines memorable. Why do they remember these characters?
|2.||Tell students that they will have an opportunity to select and read books with strong female characters. Display the five books you have chosen for your class from the Suggested Booklist and introduce each book by giving a tantalizing synopsis of the story.
|3.||Provide time for students to examine the five books and select one.
|4.||After students have selected their books, ask them to form groups with classmates who have selected the same book. These groups should then discuss their reasons for choosing their book and their perspectives on the culture or historical period portrayed in the book.
|5.||Tell students that as they are reading they will be discussing the book by e-mail with a partner. Help each student find a partner within the group.
Note: Another option is to create an e-mail mailing list for each group, so that everyone in the group receives all the messages sent by their fellow group members. In this scenario, the e-mail exchanges following each session would resemble a group discussion rather than a dialogue.
|6.||Give students a date by which they must read the entire book. Ask each group to divide their book into four sections and establish a schedule for reading. Since students are not familiar with the texts, you may want to suggest an appropriate division of each book.
Homework: Ask students to read the first section of the book before the next class session. As they are reading, they should select a paragraph or section that they find especially interesting and mark it with a posted note. When they have finished the first reading assignment, students should send an e-mail message to their partners (or the members of their group list) giving their reaction to the book and listing three adjectives that describe the main character. Upon receiving a message, students should send a response, stating whether they agree and expressing additional thoughts on the text. Responses should be 50 to 100 words. (This step may be given as an in-class assignment.)
Note: Students must be told that the teacher will be reading their e-mails. Students should be instructed to print out their e-mails and keep them in a folder to share with the teacher and their classmates. (Alternatively, the teacher can be added to each group’s mailing list, or copied on each message, and can monitor the exchanges electronically.) The e-mails should be written in standard English and should avoid the use of abbreviations and emoticons.
|1.||Ask students to meet in their groups. Group members should discuss the interesting passages that they marked while reading, and the adjectives they selected to describe the main characters.
|2.||Explain to students that in all the books they are reading a female character strives to overcome obstacles. Tell them that as they continue their reading they should look for a paragraph or section that describes an obstacle the main character is facing.
Homework: Before the next class session, students should read the second section of their book. When they find a passage describing an obstacle faced by the main character, they should mark the passage with a posted note. Ask students to send an e-mail message to their partners (or the members of their group list) answering the question, “How would I have reacted to these obstacles? Would I have reacted the same way as the character in this book?” Upon receiving an e-mail, students should send a response to express their thoughts on the sender’s message. (This step may be given as an in-class assignment.)
|1.||Ask students to meet in their groups to discuss the ways in which the main character in the book reacted to obstacles. Tell the groups to consider how these situations might have changed if the book’s main character were male.
|2.||To prepare for reading the third section, tell students that they should look for ways in which the main character showed courage.
Homework: Ask students to read the third section and use a posted note to mark a passage that demonstrates that the main character was courageous. Also ask students to send e-mail messages to their partners (or the members of their group list) answering the question, “How did the main character show courage?” Then students should include a personal connection by describing a time in their lives when they showed courage. Upon receiving an e-mail, students should send a response to express their thoughts on the sender’s message. (This step may be given as an in-class assignment.)
|1.||Ask students to meet in their groups to discuss the ways in which the characters in the book displayed courage. Encourage students to make personal connections by discussing situations in their lives in which they showed courage.
|2.||Tell students that as they read the fourth and final section, they should think about what they have learned by reading this book.
Homework: Ask each student to find a passage in the final section in which the main character’s feelings or experiences could be connected or contrasted with her own. Before the next class session (or in class), students should send an e-mail message to their partners (or the members of their group list) that answers the question, “What is an interesting idea or perspective I gained from reading this book?” Upon receiving an e-mail, students should send a response to express their thoughts on the sender’s message.
Ask students to meet in their groups to discuss what they learned by reading this book. Did it change their perspectives on the culture or the historical era depicted in the book? Which characters did they find memorable and why? What ideas and information did the author convey? Can they relate this book to their own lives? Would they recommend this book to others? How would they rate this book?
Invite students to share their reactions to the books they have read with a wider audience. Have students visit Teenreads.com. At the website, students should read about the Word of Mouth contest (contest rules are below the current month’s postings) and then go to the contest entry page to name and rate the book they have read.
- Form literature circles for the boys in the class using the ReadWriteThink.org lesson “Boys Read: Considering Courage in Novels.”
- Encourage students to visit the Teenreads.com website to find titles of other books they might enjoy. This website has reviews written by teens, interviews with authors, and suggested reading lists to motivate students to explore new titles.
- The Teenreads.com website poses monthly questions so that visitors can participate in polls related to adolescent literature. Students in your class may enjoy participating in these polls.
- Ask students to prepare and present brief book talks about other books with female protagonists that they have enjoyed, to encourage their classmates to explore these titles as well.
- Form literature circles for the boys in the class using ideas from To Be a Boy, To Be a Reader by William G. Brozo (International Reading Association, 2002) or suggested titles from the Guys Read website (see Guys' Picks for Middle Guys).
- Distribute copies of the Online Literature Circles: Self Assessment sheet included with this lesson. Ask students to use this sheet to reflect upon their experiences in the literature circles. When students have completed their sheets, invite them to share their responses with the class.
- Evaluate each student’s development of written skills by examining the printouts of their e-mail exchanges. Add corrections and commentary. (If monitoring the exchanges electronically, you can reply to individual students with corrections or commentary whenever appropriate.)
- Evaluate each student’s contribution to the group discussions by visiting each group and noting the frequency and content of each student’s participation.
- Use the Online Literature Circles: Teacher’s Assessment for the Lesson sheet included with this lesson to assess students’ growth and participation in the lesson.