Differentiated Reading of Literary Works

By: Rabbi Harry Sinoff
from Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy

Differentiated Instruction

Subject(s) of entry:
English/ Writing/ Language Arts, Philosophy/ Values/ Ethics/ Hashkafa, Tanach, literature

Constructivist, Experiential Education, Flipped Learning, PBL - project based learning, 21st Century Skills

Grade(s) to which this was taught:
9, 10, 11, 12, High school

Grade(s) for which this will be useful:
9, 10, 11, 12, High school

A learner based model for reading whole literary works, that affords unlimited possibilities for differentiation, using Google Classroom.

Entry Narrative

Educational Challenge: engaging students in the act of reading an entire literary work, relatively quickly, with attention to detail.

When a long book is taught episodically, over a long period of time, the students do not have the pleasure of discovering on their own:

  1. The arc of the narrative- they end up with unconnected episodes that exist outside of time.
  2. Foreshadowing- all connections are backwards in time, only.
  3. The satisfaction of reading the entire work.

Demonstration of Concept

II Kings was chunked into units that could be read during class, leaving enough time for students to do template work, a brief demonstration by the students of reading with attention to detail.

The template was a menu of tasks that correspond to the four upper levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Students selected one or more tasks and submitted the product for grading, as well as a reflection on the learning process that day, on Google Classroom.

In comments directly on the student submission the teacher recognized quality, corrected misunderstandings, commented, and asked probing questions.

Sample 1

Sample 2

Sample 3, and cartoon

Assessment of Student Work

Grades were based primarily on performance of the task, but higher grades were earned for quality work.

Evaluation of Demonstration


  • Students read the entire work in a relatively short amount of time.
  • Students discovered that they can read with insightfulness, without framing and/or pre-digesting by the teacher.
  • Students took risks to discover new capacities.


  • Students underperformed.
  • Students froze up when asked to do independent thinking without framing or pre-digesting of the content.
  • Students wrote summaries of events based on websites that summarized the work being read.

Changes for the future:

  • Require responses to teacher’s probing questions.
  • Supply a critical question for concrete learners, and for students in need of framing.
  • Limit summaries to three complete sentences that capture the big idea(s) in the text.
  • Direct specific students to do more or fewer tasks, at higher or lower levels of thinking.
  • Let students submit video, music, or oral presentation on the template via Google Classroom.

Entrant Bio(s)

Rabbi Harry Sinoff has worked in Jewish community day schools, modern orthodox day schools, supplementary Jewish enrichment programs, and Jewish summer camps. He has been a teacher, department head, dean of faculty, director of Judaic studies and head of school.