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Teaching TEKS with a tearjerker: Charlotte’s Web

2013 April 11
by HISD Communications

Why did you do all this for me?’ he asked. ‘I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.’ ‘You have been my friend,’ replied Charlotte. ‘That in itself is a tremendous thing.”

Emily Makhlouf, left, and Runa Ghosh, both teachers at Walnut Bend Elementary School, use creative ways to teach TEKS.

Walnut Bend Elementary School teacher Emily Makhlouf read those familiar lines to her second-grade students recently, and couldn’t help but tear up at the point in E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web when the beloved spider dies. One of her students asked: “Why are your eyes watering?”

Before Makhlouf could answer, another student said: “Because it is very sad – she was a really good spider.”

These are the types of conversations and heartfelt observations teachers across HISD are facilitating through the use of reader-response journals. The second-grade team at Walnut Bend decided to incorporate the journal as every student studied Charlotte’s Web. Responses are displayed in the hallways, showing a range of questions and responses.

Teachers across HISD are using the HISD Curriculum to creatively link classroom activites to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, which are the state standards for what students should know.

Makhlouf used a creative approach and authentic literature – rather than a practice sheet – to teach a  TEKS-based lesson without once mentioning the STAAR test. Her lesson focused on developing her students’ inferencing ability (vital for STAAR) and tied the reading standard to a writing standard—allowing one standard to reinforce the other.  

Do you have a Breakthrough? Please share it in the comments section below, or email

One Response leave one →
  1. Laura Talley permalink
    April 14, 2013

    Ms. Wakhlof,

    I love to use this book for covering all the reading and writing objectives because it always captures the students’ imagination. You could use an extension by asking the students if they want to change the ending of the story. Thank you for sharing with us.


    Mrs. Laura Talley

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