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Lesson Plan

Textmasters: Shaking Up Textbook Reading in Science Classrooms

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Textmasters: Shaking Up Textbook Reading in Science Classrooms

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Seven 60-minute lessons
Lesson Author

Lori Wilfong

North Canton, Ohio


International Literacy Association


Student Objectives

Session 1: What Is Textmasters?

Session 2: Letís Try a Meeting!

Sessions 3Ė6 (or however many sessions are necessary to complete a chapter of a textbook)

Session 7


Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • Demonstrate comprehension of chapter content by asking good questions (Discussion Director), writing a summary (Summarizer), analyzing words (Vocabulary Enricher), and creating a graphic organizer (Webmaster)

  • Monitor their individual participation within their groups by completing self-reflection forms after each session

  • Illustrate understanding by presenting information from the chapter in a creative format that aids the class's understanding of the textbook content

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Session 1: What Is Textmasters?

1. Post the following question on the board: What skills does someone need to be a master of a piece of text? Ask students to list the skills on a piece of paper.

2. Ask students to share their responses with a neighbor during a brief Think-Pair-Share.

3. Solicit responses from the whole class. Make a list in a prominent place for students to see. Introduce and incorporate the Textmasters roles with students' responses.

4. Highlight or underline the four Textmasters roles (Discussion Director, Summarizer, Vocabulary Enricher, and Webmaster) for the class and explain that the strategy they are about to learn will emphasize these skills.

5. Distribute the first prepared packet of materials. Briefly go through each role as a class.

6. Allow students time on the computer or interactive whiteboard to read the National Geographic article silently or with a partner. It may also be appropriate to read the article aloud to students.

7. Go through each role in more depth:

a. Discussion Director: Model for students how to create "thick" questions for this role. A sample question might be "Would you be willing to leave your family to work on the ISS? Why or why not?" Guide practice with students by having them create a second question. Explain to students the three kinds of text connections, and model making a text connection. A sample connection might be "This article reminds me of the movie Lost in Space because both sets of people are living and working in a space laboratory, although the movie was fictional!" Write this on the line for text-to-world connections. Have students add their questions and connections to the Textmasters Role Sheet-Discussion Director.

b. Summarizer: Model for students how to select a key point from this text. A sample key point might be "Many countries are working together to sustain the ISS." Guide practice with students by having them create a second key point and add it to the Textmasters Role Sheet-Summarizer. Explain that the key points will be used to create the summary.

c. Vocabulary Enricher: Model for students how to select an interesting word from the text and how to add it to the table in the Textmasters Role Sheet-Vocabulary Enricher. A sample word might be cosmonauts. Be sure to emphasize that the definition should be in "kid language." Guide practice with students by having them identify and define a second key word.

d. Webmaster: Model for students how to create a graphic organizer from the text. An example might be a web that they could draw on their Textmasters Role Sheet-Webmaster. Write ISS in a bubble in the center and have lines extending out from the web with important elements of the ISS. Alternatively, on an interactive whiteboard or computer, access the ReadWriteThink Webbing Tool and model how to create a graphic organizer using this online tool.

8. In their groups of four or five, have students select one role per student to finish what has been modeled in the whole-class session (or predetermine who will finish what role).

9. Once the role sheets are completed, select a group and use the fishbowl method to demonstrate a Textmasters meeting for the rest of the class. Gather the rest of the class around that group. Walk the fishbowl group through a meeting.

In a Textmasters meeting, the Discussion Director acts as the timekeeper and organizer. He or she begins the meeting by asking the Summarizer to refresh everyone's memory of the text by sharing either the key points or a complete summary. Then the Discussion Director continues the meeting by asking "thick" questions, giving time for group members to respond and discuss, and by sharing his or her text connections. Next, the Discussion Director invites the Vocabulary Enricher and Webmaster to share their findings. Throughout this process, emphasize that no role is static; group members are welcome to politely add to a fellow member's role, if needed.

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Session 2: Letís Try a Meeting!

1. Start this session by briefly reviewing the Textmasters role sheets. Allow students time to adjust their role sheets, if needed, after the previous session's sample demonstration.

2. Prompt students to hold a Textmasters meeting of their own. Debrief the meeting with the whole class: What went well? What was difficult?

3. End the session with students filling out a Textmasters Self-Reflection Sheet for that day's meeting.

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Sessions 3Ė6 (or however many sessions are necessary to complete a chapter of a textbook)

1. Begin this session by distributing the Textmasters packet for the entire chapter to be read, with a completed Textmasters Schedule, roles for each group member, and self-reflection sheets for each meeting.

2. Explain to students that unlike literature circles, where different groups read different books, in Textmasters all students read the same text. Each group will be following the prescribed schedule.

3. Introduce to students the idea of the culminating activity. Explain that each group will be responsible for a 5- to 10-minute creative presentation of the material presented in the chapter. Brainstorm ways student can present textual material to their classmates (e.g., Readers Theatre, news teams, Jeopardy games) and create a list of presentation ideas. Allow groups to choose their own presentation formats.

Tell them that each time they meet, they will be responsible for reading, holding a Textmasters meeting, and working on their culminating activity. These culminating activities serve as their review for the end of the chapter test (or could serve as the assessment if no test is to be given). Distribute the Culminating Activity Rubric to each group.

4. Depending on the set-up of your class periods, normal Textmasters sessions follow a set schedule:

a. 20 minutes of silent reading and role completion

b. 20 minutes of Textmasters meeting and culminating activity planning

c. 5 minutes to fill out the Textmasters Self-Reflection Sheet

If your students are able to take their textbooks home in the evenings, you could have them read and complete their roles for homework and devote time in class to only the meeting and reflection.

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Session 7

Culminating activities are presented. The rubric emphasizes a creative presentation so that students do not merely stand up and relate facts and information from the chapter. As the instructor, it would be beneficial to identify what information from the chapter you deem essential so that grading on the first criteria of the rubric is consistent.

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  • If space allows, give each group note cards to build a personal word wall relating to the chapter. Instead of filling out a role sheet, the Vocabulary Enricher could post note cards with the word, a short definition, and sketch on designated wall space. The note cards will serve as visual reminders of the important terms from the chapter.

  • Have students use a collaborative wiki to keep track of their learning. Use a site like PBworks to allow students to create free websites with important information from the chapter.

  • The Textmasters strategy lends itself well to online information and textbooks related to other content areas, such as history, economics, and politics.

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  • Observe student participation in their Textmasters groups. Students should be engaged during a Textmasters meeting, listening politely, asking questions where appropriate, and contributing during the culminating activity planning.

  • Collect the Textmasters Self-Reflection Sheet and use these to give students feedback and participation points for each meeting.

  • Assess studentsí understanding of the information by using the Culminating Activity Rubric.

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