Middle School Readers Make Literary Connections

Middle School Readers Make Literary Connections photo
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The shades were closed, the lights were off and the sound of a beating heart echoed through the classroom. That was the scene in Katie Rosario and Christina Romeo’s eighth-grade English language arts classroom at Edmund W. Miles Middle School on Oct. 30.

Ms. Rosario read Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell Tale Heart” to her students with her classroom resembling the book’s dark setting. Students only had light from flashlights to jot down their observations. 

The reading culminated a comparative literature unit, in which students read “The Tell Tale Heart” and “Lamb to the Slaughter” by Roald Dahl. They noted similarities in setting, character actions and conflict. Students took their jots and wrote longer responses.

“It gets the students to compare text and come up with their own original ideas,” Ms. Rosario said. “They had to use evidence from the books to support their ideas.”  

The lesson was part of the Columbia University Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, a literacy initiative adopted several years ago by the district. Since September, middle school students have been involved in numerous hands-on literacy activities in their ELA classes including book tastings, reader conferences, publishing parties and author videoconferences.