Program Features That Move the Needle in ELA Instruction
The Junior Great Books® program features outstanding literature by award-winning authors. Stories are selected for their 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 read along as a story is read aloud, ask questions about the story, and then reread and respond to the story—all fundamental reading comprehension strategies. Then through a 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 written responses, creative responses, related fiction readings, and projects linking the story to other subject areas.
Instructions for core activities are accompanied by 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.
ELL students and less-proficient readers will benefit from Junior 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.
The Teacher’s Editions contain a range of support materials including:
- Activities that build understanding and mastery of language arts skills and concepts
- Reading comprehension strategies
- Vocabulary and fluency activities, phonics and sight-word suggestions, and strategies to reinforce and supplement students’ reading comprehension
- Discussion troubleshooting, tips, and handouts
- Suggested cross-curricular activities to encourage transference of critical thinking skills
- Planning and implementation suggestions
Assessment and Reflection
Included with Junior Great Books programs are variety of assessment and reflection options for both students and teachers.
- Student learning objectives and learning spectrums to provide a simple framework for ongoing informal assessment
- A formal assessment suite that includes comprehension tests for each story, a critical thinking rubric, activity scoring instructions, and portfolio assessment tools
- Reflection forms for students and teachers to make goal setting simple and benchmarks for improvement more 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.