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Learning Challenge Lessons, Secondary English Language Arts

20 Lessons to Guide Students Through the Learning Pit
First Edition
By: Jill Nottingham, James Andrew Nottingham, Mark Bollom, Joanne Nugent, Lorna Pringle

with Mark Bollom, Joanne Nugent, and Lorna Pringle

For fans of the The Learning Challenge, this book provides everything you need to run dialogue-driven challenges so that students develop literary skills critical to ELA standards.

Full description

Product Details
  • Grade Level: PreK-12
  • ISBN: 9781544330525
  • Published By: Corwin
  • Series: Corwin Teaching Essentials
  • Year: 2019
  • Page Count: 264
  • Publication date: March 28, 2019

Price: $26.95

Price: $26.95
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For Instructors

Request Review Copy

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Practical strategies for bringing The Learning Challenge to life in your secondary ELA classroom

The Learning Challenge has captured the imaginations of educators, students, and their parents by introducing the idea of Learning Pit”—a state of cognitive conflict that causes students to think more deeply, critically, and strategically until they discover their “eureka!” moment.

Now, fans of the The Learning Challenge who want practical examples and ready-to-use lessons for their secondary ELA classrooms need not look any further. This book provides teachers with everything they need to run thoughtful, dialogue-driven challenges so that students engage more deeply with the classics and develop literary skills critical to ELA standards. Students will analyze texts in lessons grounded in cognitive conflicts such as

  • We are all responsible for our own actions, and yet we sometimes act because we are following orders or instructions from others (Lesson 1: Who was responsible for the death of William in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein?)
  • To be successful you cannot fail, but most successful people have experienced many failures along the way (Lesson 7: Was Jay Gatsby a success?)
  • Love is impossible to define, and yet everyone knows what love is (Lesson 11: Is Romeo really in love?)

From detailed lesson plans and activities for running Learning Challenges in the classroom, to full-color activity cards that enhance each lesson, this must-have resource offers relevant and timely instructional strategies on topics that interest and engage secondary students.

Key features

Teachers will receive:
  • Learning Challenge lessons that are relevant and timely, on topics that interest and engage students
  • Detailed lesson plans and activities for running Learning Challenges in their classroom
  • Full-color activity cards to accompany each lesson


Jill Nottingham photo

Jill Nottingham

Jill Nottingham’s background is in teaching, leadership and consultancy. She has been a teacher and leader in kindergartens and schools in some of the more socially deprived areas of North East England. During that time, she developed many approaches to teaching children how to learn that are still being used in schools and taught in universities today.

Jill has also trained with Edward de Bono at the University of Malta, and has studied for a Masters degree in Education with the University of Newcastle.

Jill now leads Challenging Learning’s pre-school and primary school consultancy. She has written many of the Challenging Learning teaching materials, has edited the others, and is currently writing 3 books for schools and 2 books for pre-schools. In amongst this she finds time to be the mother of 3 gorgeous children!

James Andrew Nottingham photo

James Andrew Nottingham

James Nottingham is co-founder and director of Challenging Learning, a group of companies with 30 employees in 6 countries. His passion is in transforming the most up-to-date research into strategies that really work in the classroom. He is regarded by many as one of the most engaging, thought-provoking and inspirational speakers in education.

His first book, Challenging Learning, was published in 2010 and has received widespread critical acclaim. Since then, he has written 6 books for teachers, leaders, support staff, and parents. These books share the best research and practice connected with learning; dialogue; feedback; the learning pit; early years education; and growth mindset.

Before training to be a teacher, James worked on a pig farm, in the chemical industry, for the American Red Cross, and as a teaching assistant in a school for deaf children. At university, he gained a first-class honours degree in education (a major turnaround after having failed miserably at school). He then worked as a teacher and leader in primary and secondary schools in the UK before co-founding an award-winning, multi-million-pound regeneration project supporting education, public and voluntary organisations across north east England.

Skolvärlden (Swedish Teaching Union) describes James as “one of the most talked about names in the world of school development” and the Observer newspaper in the UK listed him among the Future 500 - a “definitive list of the UK's most forward-thinking and brightest innovators.”

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

List of Figures

Index of Concepts


About the Authors

About the Contributors

The Language of Learning

Part I: Setting the Scene

Chapter 1: Preparing to Use the Lesson Ideas

1.0 Introduction

1.1 The Learning Challenge

1.2 Learning Intentions

1.3 High-Quality Dialogue

1.4 Exploratory Talk

1.5 Underpinning Values

Chapter 2: The Lesson Activities

2.0 Overview

2.1 Mysteries

2.2 Ranking

2.3 Sorting and Classifying With Venn Diagrams

2.4 Opinion Lines

2.5 Opinion Corners

2.6 Fortune Lines

2.7 Living Graphs

2.8 Concept Lines

2.9 Odd One Out

2.10 Concept Target

2.11 Concept Corners

2.12 Concept Map

2.13 Jigsaw Groups

Part II: The Lesson Ideas

Lesson 1: Who Was Responsible for the Death of William in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein?

Lesson 2: Do We Feel Sympathy for Scrooge in Stave 1 of A Christmas Carol?

Lesson 3: How Are Dreams Presented in Jane Eyre?

Lesson 4: Does Heathcliff Become More or Less Monstrous Over the Course of the Novel Wuthering Heights?

Lesson 5: Does Louisa May Alcott’s Novel Little Women Accept or Challenge Gender Stereotypes?

Lesson 6: Was Toto Dorothy’s Only True Friend?

Lesson 7: Which Is the Most Important Symbol in The Great Gatsby?

Lesson 8: Which Example of Foreshadowing in Of Mice and Men Has the Most Impact on the Reader?

Lesson 9: Was It Acceptable for Liesel to Steal in The Book Thief?

Lesson 10: Was Macbeth Really a Tragic Hero?

Lesson 11: Is Romeo Really In Love?

Lesson 12: Who Has the Most Power in Romeo and Juliet?

Lesson 13: Is Tybalt a Villain or a Victim?

Lesson 14: Is Fame Important?

Lesson 15: Was Wilfred Owen a Patriot or a Pacifist?

Lesson 16: Does the Poem ‘The Road Not Taken’ Show Us How to Make the Right Choice?

Lesson 17: Was the Californian Gold Rush of 1848 the Main Cause of Conflict Between Native and European Americans?

Lesson 18: Did Anne Frank Experience Happiness?

Lesson 19: Why Was Winston Churchill’s Speech Effective?

Lesson 20: What Was the Intent of President Reagan’s Speech at Moscow State University in 1988?


Photocopiable Masters




Price: $26.95
Volume Discounts applied in Shopping Cart

For Instructors

Request Review Copy

When you select 'request review copy', you will be redirected to Sage Publishing (our parent site) to process your request.

Related Resources

  • Access to companion resources is available with the purchase of this book.