How To: Class Discussions {Freebie included!}

Monday, December 14, 2015
Organizing whole class, and small group discussions are always fun for me! I love when my students do the heavy lifting and talk to EACH OTHER instead of just talking to me.

I had my students read the book, "Smoky Night" by Eve Bunting and after reading it whole group, I had them get together and discuss the book. I gave them questions prior to the discussion and the rubric so that they are fully aware of the expectations.

Big Idea: "How do characters change?"
(This was our main question)
Using the book, "Smoky Night" by Eve Bunting.

I always like having my students have a copy of the text to refer back to, because after all we want them to REFER back to the text during their discussions. For this particular lesson, I was very lucky to find just the text for this book and hand that out to my students. Click here to download the text for this book.

Not only does this save paper, but it also puts the whole book on only a few pages! Sometimes, I just type out the story, or google the book to see if I can find just the text.

After reading the story, I broke my students into groups. Each group member had a different question prompt, to get each students thinking about a different character and how they changed throughout the story. My students had about 15 minutes to answer their prompt in their reading journals.

After their silent jot, I had the small groups discuss with each other their answers using the discussion rubric. This was really a practice round for the whole class discussion. The next day (since I only have 45 minute periods) my students reread their answers and had a whole class discussion about the characters in "Smoky Night" and how they changed throughout the story.

Click Here to Download this Freebie!

After the students talked about the characters in the story, they returned to their seats (I had them on the rug for this discussion). Each student had two stickies in their reading journals.

1. What is the most interesting thing someone said or mentioned?
2. Using the rubric, rate yourself 1, 2, 3, 4

For a copy of the sticky labels (printed on address labels) click here!

I love when my students reflect on their conversational skills, because sometimes they are brutally honest and other times they are very generous with their self scoring. I had a good variety of self assessment, from 1 through 4 with many of my students marking themselves a 3. 

There are many things I want to improve for our next conversation, including some exemplar videos or responses, but in the end I was so proud of my students and their higher level thinking skills! 


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