Program Features That Move the Needle in ELA Instruction
High-Quality Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry
The Junior Great Books® program for grades 6-8 features outstanding literature by award-winning authors. Stories are selected for their engaging, vivid writing and for their ability to support multiple interpretations and thought-provoking discussions, as well as for their diversity of settings, genres, and writing styles.
In-Depth Reading, Critical Thinking, and Writing Activities
The sequence of Shared Inquiry activities encourages students to develop habits of effective readers and thinkers: to read closely, to think critically and write thoughtfully about what they have read, and to listen and respond to their classmates.
Students ask and answer questions about a text after an initial reading, then reread and take text-specific notes–both fundamental reading comprehension strategies. Then, in Shared Inquiry discussion, students practice three essential elements of critical thinking:
- Idea—Students develop and clarify ideas about a story’s meaning
- Evidence—Students support these ideas with evidence found in the story
- Response—Students listen to and consider the ideas of others
After the discussion, students continue their explanation of the story through expository writing, a creative response to the reading, cross-text activity, or a cross-curricular project.
Instructions for core activities are accompanied by support and challenge options to help leaders achieve the learning objectives with students of varying reading, critical thinking, and discussion levels. The instructions provided by these options are tied to a student learning spectrum, which presents the range of behaviors a teacher might expect to see in their students during the activities.
Linked to each student learning spectrum are modifications to aid the teacher in tailoring the activity to suit the learning needs of all students.
Striving readers and ELL students benefit from Great Books’ strong oral component and its focus on interpretation. Support options to accompany the Shared Inquiry sequence of activities are included with each Teacher’s Edition.
Our materials provide comprehensive support for teachers, including:
- Easy-to-use activity instructions and differentiation strategies
- Multiple note taking and discussion question options, including literary element and author’s craft suggestions
- Genre-specific activities and information for students
- Suggested academically relevant vocabulary words for each text
- Planning and implementation options
- Discussion tips, troubleshooting, and handouts
- Cross-curricular and related reading suggestions
Assessment and Reflection
Our 6-8 materials include a variety of assessment and reflection options for students and teachers.
- Point-of-use student learning objectives and learning spectrums to simplify informal assessment
- A range of formative and summative assessment options, including multiple choice comprehension tests, a critical thinking rubric, portfolio assessment templates, and essay writing materials
- Reflection forms for students and teachers that simplify goal-setting and make benchmarks concrete
The Great Books Foundation offers live and online professional development courses and consultation days, video coaching, and live and online planning sessions to introduce teachers to Shared Inquiry and to provide continuing assistance. Learning Forward has cited the Great Books Foundation’s professional development courses as effective in improving students’ learning results.