Persepolis Star Seminar

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SWBAT demonstrate their ability to prepare for a seminar style discussion by participating in thoughtful and well-reasoned dialogue in small and large group settings.

Big Idea

How do you know when students get a text? Asking them to use it to lead their classmates through a seminar style discussion is a great place to start.


10 minutes

We will begin class with our normal ten minutes of SSR.

Sometimes it's tempting on days when you know you have a lot to get done to cut this time out of the schedule, but I feel like it is important to keep the pattern. It alerts kids to its importance on the schedule and allows them to get their minds into the normal flow of class to have it set.

Seminar Set Up

5 minutes

Students were supposed to do a close reading of one section of Persepolis on Friday and a more general analysis of the text as a whole as homework over the weekend. I will start the class in their common section groups so that they can compare their notes and ensure their details before entering the whole group discussion (SL.9-10.1a).

Once students have moved into their common section groups, I will post questions on the board to guide their discussions.

Common Section Group Discussions

15 minutes

Today's seminar will be what I call a star seminar. This basically means that there will be ten students sitting in an inner, or talking, circle with five to six students sitting behind each speaker in the outer, or listening, circle. 

Before we move into this complicated set up, I will have each group prepare their speaker by meeting together to strategize.

My goal in having them in these small groups first is to help them unify around a single idea or observation of the text. Their common section groups are 5-6 students big and will allow more students the chance to speak, thereby meeting a few of the CC standards I am hoping to hit today, mainly participating in collaboration (SL.9-10.1), and responding to various perspectives using support (SL.9-10.1d).

Once they have answered the posted questions, the students will need to choose a group speaker to represent them in the whole class conversation.

Star Seminar/Whole Group Discussion

30 minutes

Once students have had time to discuss ideas with their common section groups, I will pull them back together to share their statements with the whole class.

The structure for this will be a little more complicated. Each group will have their elected speaker sit in the smallest inner circle (there will be ten people in this circle). The remaining students will line their desk up behind their representative, making a star or wheel shape (speaker with a "spoke" of students behind). Given the physical constraints of my classroom, this is going to be challenging and crowded. Fingers crossed it will work.

Once they are organized, I will let each of the chosen speakers share their group statements. I will ask the others to listen quietly until each person has had a turn, then we will open it up to a more traditional discourse/discussion.

While the chosen speakers speak, the listeners will be responsible for taking notes so that they can either pass information up to their group's speaker or tap in to the conversation (tapping on the speaker and taking his or her spot). Each student should try to engage in the conversation somehow so that their voice is heard, either in writing or in their own presentation of ideas.


Wrap up and Next Steps

5 minutes

If there is time (I'm hoping that there will be a few minutes left after we have them move the desks back into rows), I will ask for thoughts on the discussion and/or any summative statements or observations to leave the class with. In the past, I have had them do this as an exit slip, but I am hoping today that I can just have them share verbally.

I will also need to collect their seminar planners to make sure they completed the written work and to see what kinds of notes they took during the seminar itself.