Now, I will share how I have utilized another gifted resources, William & Mary Language Arts units, and ways it can be used with balanced literacy. These units were written by the gifted education gurus, the Center for Gifted Education. The program contains complex texts, research based strategies for gifted readers, several different Teaching Models, extension activities, and suggestions for novels.
Interactive Read Aloud
I started by planning an interactive read aloud for the selection "Shells" by Cynthia Rylant. This selection is found in the older edition of Journeys & Destinations. Note: There is a newer, updated version of the unit available that does not include this selection.
This is a powerful realistic fiction selection with themes of change, loneliness, and relationships.
Like usual, I blended teacher think alouds and other student engagement methods, such as stopping & jotting, and turning & talk to maximize student interaction with the text. The pictures to the left show you how I marked the text with sticky notes to prepare.
Literature Webs to Analyze Text
I utilized two class periods to introduce students to the Literature Web, one Teaching Model within the William & Mary Language Arts Curriculum. Literature Webs can be used to help students think more deeply about a text and develop analytical skills and reasoning.
We spent quite a bit of time on each component and I gave them key questions to consider. They then had time to process by turning & talking with their partners before recording their ideas on the Web.
This slideshow presentation could be used to help guide your students through each component of the web.
--Mini-Lessons: Introduce each element in a series of mini-lessons in the beginning of the year. For example, you could conduct a mini-lesson on Feelings/Moods. The teacher can think aloud about feelings and moods conveyed by characters in the text or how the author intended for readers to feel. An anchor chart with key questions can be created. Then, the teacher can model identifying feelings and moods from a familiar text. Active engagement can consist of students identifying feelings and moods from a read aloud or shared reading selection. Then, students can be charged with identifying feelings & moods in their own self-selected text during independent reading time. During individual conferences, and strategy group sessions, teachers can confer with students on each section of the Literature Web.
Once students are introduced to Literature Webs, they can use them independently with any piece of text.
--Literature Web Job Cards: Similar to the way literature circles are set up, I created job cards for each section of the Literature Web. Students can work in small groups and each student has one "job" that focuses them on one area of the Web. They come back together to create a
You could also do it as a jigsaw type activity, where you have a small group of students working to be "experts" on one section of the web. For example, a small group could be the Super Symbolizer team while other groups are working on the other components. Then, you can form small groups consisting of one person from each expert group to discuss the selection and work collaboratively to create a Literature Web.
The Literature Web Job Cards are available for downloading below.
--Up-Level the Web: This idea is actually inspired by my students. I taught an incredibly creative group of third graders the Literature Web a few years ago. They actually "hacked" the web and took it to a whole new level. I had a few students divide the Feelings/Mood section into thirds and identify character and reader feelings in the beginning, middle, and end of the selection to show changes over time. There was one student who turned the Key Words into a Tree Map and categorized the key words (e.g. character names, words related to the setting, words essential to theme, etc..)
I am sure there are other ways for students to kick their webs up a notch too! Empower them to do so. You will be amazed at what they come up with!
What else can we do to incorporate proven gifted strategies and research-based curriculum with balanced literacy?
I would love to hear your thoughts!