Junior Great Books in Park Forest–Chicago Heights, Illinois

Danielle Gladstone

Danielle Gladstone, instructional coach at Park Forest-Chicago Heights School District 163, has been in education for 25 years. She holds a master’s in education administration and reading. She has dedicated many years to gifted education and won Economic Educator of the Year in 2016.

Danielle was introduced to Junior Great Books® when she taught a pullout gifted program in the early 2000s. As their honors program developed, Danielle was able to design the curriculum, using Junior Great Books.

Danielle has taught Junior Great Books to fourth- through sixth- graders for over 15 years. She has used Junior Great Books Series 4 and 5, as well as piloted Junior Great Books Nonfiction Inquiry (now available for grades 2–5) at her school. When she became an instructional coach in 2017, she began training classroom teachers, interventionists, reading specialists, and her school’s afterschool program in the art of close reads and the Shared Inquiry™ method of learning.

Danielle Gladstone

One of my favorite stories and the best way to begin the JGB curriculum is with the story “Charles.”

“I couldn’t wait for the day when we would read ’Charles’ for the first time,” Gladstone says. “I would position myself in the classroom so that I could see all of the students’ faces at the same time when the ending of the story was revealed, and the students figured out who Laurie really was.

“Their expressions were priceless and so fun as a teacher! They were instantly hooked.

“We exercised the text multiple times, setting our purpose and participating in close reads. They prepared their focus questions with pride and tried to locate the best pieces of evidence to support their thinking.”

Students taking notes in their Junior Great Books

Thursdays were the students’ most favorite day because they knew it was time for Shared Inquiry.

Students get in a circle for their Junior Great Books Shared Inquiry discussion

Gladstone says of days when Shared Inquiry discussion was held, students “entered the room with huge smiles, seeing the furniture rearranged and ready for discussions. I had to get creative with the organization of Shared Inquiry due to class sizes. So, I would create inside and outside circles where the students were responsible for various roles during the process.

“All students were actively involved at all times, no matter where they sat. I created red/green cards where students would flip them back and forth to represent whether they agreed or disagreed with the comments stated during the discussion.

“Students were able to dig deeply into the text and express their thinking at impressive levels. They made connections and references to previous texts to support their interpretations or to analyze points of view. Students were respectful and built their answers off of one another. Shared Inquiry was a favorite day for other staff, too, as they often came to visit and witness the brilliant thinking of my students.”

Students were able to dig deeply into the text and express their thinking at impressive levels.

“Shared Inquiry is responsible for loving and respecting literature. Students learned how to consider and understand various points of view and how to build answers upon others’ thoughts and ideas. This process is the secret ingredient to reaching those levels of higher-level thinking, and it opens the doors to writing and response.”

Engage Students and Teachers

To get started with Junior Great Books and Shared Inquiry, contact your K–12 partnership manager today!

Marketing Coordinator Throughout her career, Misha has taught rising 9th grade ELA and creative writing and has tutored middle and high school students in reading comprehension, essay writing, and college applications. She has also worked in event planning, marketing, and social media management for social justice and arts nonprofits based in Philadelphia and New York. Now at the Great Books Foundation, Misha is able to synthesize her love for content creation with her deep admiration for equity-based educational practices and the power of literature through Shared Inquiry™ discussion.