Literature Discussion Groups
As a teacher I know we are all always sleeping with one eye open so that we don’t miss out on something that will help our students excel. I have learned, seen and tried out a variety of different literacy methods, but my favorite is literature discussion groups. Now, I am in no way the most experienced teacher in town, but after two years of implementing this model and being so close to finishing my masters in literacy, I feel confident in saying literature discussion groups are effective and meaningful for students.
Where did Literature Discussion Groups Come From?
The idea fell from the sky….haha just kidding! No, the idea is part of Linda Dorn, and Carla Soffos Comprehensive Literacy program. I would highly recommend getting the books below if you want to learn about Comprehensive literacy as a whole!
What is a Literature Discussion Group?
The best way to describe an LDG is by having you picture a book club! Really! Kids sitting in a circle having a deep conversation with EACH OTHER about a book they are all reading. LDG are student lead! The kids lead the discussion, ask each other questions, comment, debate, and listen to each other. These groups should consist of no more than 5-6 kiddos! I taught third grade and honestly about half of my kids were apart of an LDG. The other half was still in guided reading. Why? Well because LDG take maturity and half of my sweeties were not ready for the responsibility of an LDG. They still needed a lot of scaffolding by me.
How do I Implement Literature Discussion Groups?
First, give yourself some grace! It feels weird and honestly, this does take a while until you and your students get the hang of it!
You can group students by interest or by level. I tended to go with level and then I take an interest inventory.
Pick out several appropriate books for your group and let your students vote on which they read first and second. Student choice plays right into motivation people!
Start by reading the back of the book, looking through the book and have students discuss predictions, questions, concerns, and connections.
Send your sweeties off to read! Yup Go, be free..Read! You can plan a stopping point if the book is long but I often waited to have our discussion until the whole book was read.
Wait?…that’s it? No more work for me?…haha yeah right! You… the teacher are going to go around and have the kids read to you one at a time. I used this time to make antidotal records on the students. I made sure the book was a good fit, challenged them, gave them something to think about, and made sure they were flagging (taking notes) for their discussion. (More on flagging in a later post!)
Once everyone is done with the book, or to the planned stopping point you schedule your discussion. I like to give at least 20 minutes for this. Have students sit in a circle and pick a student to start. They can share their flags (notes) which consist of questions, connections, unknown words, and funny parts!
You the teacher will join the circle, but be a passive participant. Meaning, you will take antidotal notes and help the conversation along if it goes off in a crazy direction or just needs some plumping.
Why do you like Literature Discussion Groups?
Welllllllll…..I didn’t like them at first! After trial and error, I actually loved them because my students loved them. Think about it….if you’re a teacher chances are you probably like to read. What sounds better to you…bringing your book to a table and having a high and mighty teacher ask all the questions like a quiz? OR…you sit with your friends and classmates and you get to talk, laugh, even cry about the book and characters? Yea…I like option number two better:)
I saw so much engagement during reading from even my most hesitant readers. I also saw great growth as far as district and state testing!
So talk to your literacy coach, read the books I mentioned above and give it a go!
Still want more? Check out these articles on teaching.
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