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Into the Book: Evaluating
This 15-minute instructional television program is meant for use in K-3 classrooms. The video clips and teaching suggestions in this interactive teacher guide can help you preview the program and plan your lessons.

Program Synopsis
While students are doing research for a science project, Mrs. Pingel realizes they are ready for a new strategy. She introduces evaluating using class book reviews and examples from students' own lives. Malaika begins evaluating the books, Web sites and other resources she has gathered for her topic. She is drawn into a NASA web site, where she has to use the strategy to get out of a space emergency in her own rocket ship. She also manages to use the strategy to get a new dog from the Humane Society.

Featured text:
Solar System Trading Cards from the Amazing Space Web site from the Space Science Institute and NASA

Other texts mentioned:
Searching for Alien Life, by Dennis Fradin. New York: Twenty-First Century Books, 1997.

They Came From Center Field, by Dan Gutman. New York: Scholastic Inc., 1995.

Teaching Suggestions:

  • Think about how you want to use this program. How does it fit into your teaching plan?
    1. Use it to introduce evaluating.
    2. As a follow-up or review.
    3. As part of a research project unit to help students learn to evaluate non-fiction resources.

Before viewing:

  • Set a purpose for watching the video. Explain that students will be trying the strategy themselves after they watch the video.
  • Ask students to watch for something specific in the program, for example:
    1. How do different students in the video use evaluating?
    2. What does "criteria" mean?
    3. How do the students in the video use other strategies to help them evaluate?

During viewing:

  • Pause the video during teachable moments. For example:
    1. In the classroom, after Mrs. Pingel "What other criteria can you add to our list?"
      Pause to see if your students have additional items to add to the list.
    2. After Mrs. Pingel asks which book would be better to use and shows two books to the class.
      Let students answer the question and tell why. Then continue to see how the students in the video responded.
    3. In the epilogue, after Malaika's mother walks into her bedroom.
      Ask students to predict what Malaika will do. You can prompt students to use their prior knowledge from other episodes of Into the Book; students always use the strategy they just learned to help them solve a problem or get something they want.

After viewing:

  • If you posed questions before viewing, discuss the students' answers.
  • Discuss the differences between evaluating works of fiction and non-fiction, or evaluating for different purposes or based on different criteria.
  • Have students do the Evaluating activity in the student area of the Web site. Discuss students' evaluation choices and rationales.
  • If you are working on a research project, work together to come up with a list of criteria for evaluating non-fiction resources, and keep it posted in the room.
  • Have students evaluate texts they read during self-selected reading, and share their evaluations with the class. Download Mrs. Pingel's Evaluating Book Talk cards to use.
  • Model evaluating during your read-aloud. Focus on different aspects of text at different times (quality of writing, personal connections, usefulness for a purpose, aesthetic appeal...) Be sure to choose both fiction and non-fiction texts to read.
  • Try some of the lesson plans on this site.
  • Listen to the Evaluating song.

Preview Clips

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Notice how Mrs. Pingel is differentiating instruction by allowing students to read independently at their own level. Students are completing the same assignment (reports on space) using materials at widely different reading levels, including very simple trade books, and audio books for students with low reading ability.
Try it yourself:
Work with your library media specialist to collect books at appropriate reading levels for all your students.

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Notice how Mrs. Pingel asks probing questions; "Why did you give it two stars?" The important part of evaluating is explaining why.
Notice how the students are beginning to use strategies together independently. For example, Kamilah uses visualizing to justify her evaluation of the poem.
Notice how posted student book evaluations encourage sharing among students.
Try it yourself:
Download Mrs. Pingel's Booktalk Cards and ask your students to evaluate books, articles, and poems they have read. Then try posting them on a kiosk, bulletin board or other classroom location to share.

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Notice how Conlin and Malaika are using their evaluating skills as they read. This peek inside the heads of students who are actively using a strategy demonstrates to your students how proficient readers use strategies while they read.
Try it yourself:
When you are conferencing or checking in with students, ask them to verbalize what is going on in their heads and prompt them to use appropriate strategies if they are not. You can use video clips from Into the Book to remind them how to use strategies while they read.

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Notice how Malaika is using her evaluating skills in a different context.
Try it yourself:
Look for opportunities for your students to practice evaluating in other subjects, such as science or social studies. Help them use what they already know from reading in another context.

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Notice how these students ask each other for help rather than always going to the teacher.
Try it yourself:
Encourage your students to see themselves and their classmates as both learners and teachers.
Notice how Kamilah first tries to evaluate only on the superficial level. Evaluating by skimming and scanning is a valid first step, but evaluation on a deeper level is also important.
Try it yourself:
Make sure that your students understand that evaluating by looking at the cover, publication dates, table of contents and so forth is only the first step. The next step is to evaluate while you read.

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Notice how Malaika has now moved to the fourth stage of the gradual release of responsibility model — application.
Try it yourself:
Ask your students to be on the lookout for opportunities to use their strategies outside the classroom. Have students share their experiences with the class.

A production of Wisconsin Media Labs: wimedialab.org