Students are already prepared for today's Do Now (so long as they did their reading log homework). After attendance, I ask a student from each book to share the courage they see (or lack of courage they see) in their novels. In this way, students get to hear about how a common theme appears in different ways across texts, from fighting a war to choosing to run away. A student from the My Antonia book shared a non-example--Jim never chose to do brave things but was rather thrust into the middle of situations requiring courage. The student argues that without making the choice to act, it's not true courage. My hope is that these differing perspectives will open up students' eyes to options they might share in their own discussions.
I explain that after two discussions, I've noticed that some groups are having awesome discussions and would like others to steal their tricks. One group in particular has mastered discussion rather than talking at one another.
To guide our study of this group, I ask students to take notes on three questions:
1. How does the group summarize the reading section?
2. How does the group analyze the reading section?
3. How does each member contribute to the discussion?
Students take notes on their SL1 Discussion Notes Guide, enabling them to look at the actual target as we listen and discuss our findings.
After viewing five minutes, I pause and ask what students observed. They respond:
The class notices the same elements I did in my previous viewing. We discuss why this format was effective (more engaging, more thorough, more conversation-like), and, since they know what I'm looking for, we move on.
Students break into their groups to discuss their novels. I circulate to see if they are making changes based on our example. More groups are pausing to analyze during the summary, but some still stick to reading from notes (I imagine because it feels more safe). For these groups, I will provide additional written feedback giving specific ideas of how to improve. If this does not result in change, I will sit in on a discussion and prompt them as they share.
I again give students time to read, knowing that many students won't read at home if they aren't engaged or at least nearly done from reading in class. Students get comfortable and push further into their novels.