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Instructional Resources

Series Info

Episodes: 8

Length: 60 min.

Grade Levels:
Professional Development

Language Arts and Literature

Video on Demand
Teacher's Guide
Web Resources


Conversations in Literature

In this video workshop, teachers, academics, and authors gather as a “community of readers,” immersing themselves in classic and contemporary literature from Hamlet to works by Langston Hughes, James Dickey, and Alice Walker.

These participants, led by Dr. Judith Langer, model the habits of effective readers in an approach known as “envisionment building.” The readers develop interpretations by stepping into and moving through the text using their own unique perspectives.

Develop your own reading community using these video programs with coordinated Web site and print guide, and learn how intuition, background experiences, and personal involvement construct meaning for readers. Return to the classroom with inspiration to guide your students toward engaging with literature in the same way.

Episode Guide

1. Responding As Readers —In this session, the audience meets the readers in this workshop — including Dr. Langer — and their varied literary backgrounds. Dr. Langer introduces the major concepts of her work in understanding the processes through which effective readers interact with literary texts.

2. Envisioning Dr. Langer explains the four vantage points that effective readers take as they build “envisionments,” and the research process through which she identified them. She explains how each vantage point, or “stance” contributes to an evolving and expansive understanding of the text.

3. Stepping In —In a discussion of James Dickey’s “The Lifeguard” and Frank O’Connor’s “First Confession,” the group talks about their impressions, intuitions, and hunches that help them gather information as they first enter a text. Throughout, Dr. Langer clarifies and explains content and suggests ways to apply techniques in the classroom.

4. Moving Through — The community of readers shows how they create an envisionment as they are in and moving through a text, a time of great personal involvement in the action and character motivation. The group works with two texts, Cathy Song’s poem “Lost Sister” and Stephen Dixon’s short story “All Gone.”

5. Rethinking —As they discuss Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the group demonstrates another important vantage point that competent readers adopt: that of stepping outside the text and using what they find there to rethink what they know.

6. Objectifying the Text Using Alice Walker’s “Revolutionary Petunias” and Langston Hughes’s “Theme for English B,” this session showcases the reader as critic, as the readers step out of the text to reflect on what it all means, how it works, and why.

7. The Stances in Action —This session shows how readers move into and out of each of the stances as they build their envisionments. Viewers will learn to discern the various stances used and how they can influence work with students.

8. Returning to the Classroom —In the concluding session, the readers in this community talk about the ways in which these processes can affect the language arts classroom, sharing their success stories.

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