Collaborative Booktalk: Sharing and Writing Development

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SWBAT use textual evidence to create booktalks and create an argumentative writing piece.

Big Idea

Are dark themes in young adult novels harmful or helpful to teens?

Preparation for Booktalk Presentations

5 minutes

Students have spent time drafting and revising booktalks. Since they will eventually present them, it is great to give them time to practice presentation skills but also to brainstorm ideas for their notes they can use as they present. They will not read off their final draft of their booktalk but will have an index card with notes and key phrases to remind themselves of what they want to present. This helps students focus on presenting rather than just reading. It is important to communicate purpose and expectations to students so they are focused and engaged.

I start the lesson by pulling up the Booktalk Presentation Smart Notebook File on the Smartboard (and here is Booktalk Presentation PDF File). The first slide gives specific directions as to what students will be doing. They will share their booktalks in their small groups. After they share, they will create an index card with suggestions from their group members. This index card will serve as a cue card for when they present their booktalk to the entire class. It serves to remind students what the main topics and points are that they want to cover when they present their booktalks to the entire class. It also helps them to think what areas to make sure they cover to appeal to their audience.

It is important to give students clear directions so they can stay on task when working in groups. I review the directions and students are following along. I answer any questions needed and then they get to work. Eighth graders need clear directions when working in groups, especially when they are sharing their work. There is such a tendency for them to go off track and lose focus but with clear directions there is no questioning what needs to be done. When they say, we don't know what do, I can easily just point to the board.



10 minutes

Students then spend the next part of the lesson applying Booktalk Presentation directions to their group work. The idea behind booktalks is that students are able to discuss and analyze books in ways that work for them. This helps them build up to the text complexity goals of the Common Core and also helps them build their skills and strategies to be life-long readers. While it may not be directly stated in the Common Core, a key shift is this idea of independence and I want students to build an independent reading life. One way to do that is allow students to use books in ways that match goals of the curriculum, in this case those goals are around text complexity and main ideas.

Students spend this part of the lesson sharing their booktalks with a small group. This serves as a precursor for when they share them with the class as a whole. After they share them, students will give them feedback for what they can include on their index card. This index card will serve as a cue card so students do not have to memorize the entire booktalk but the main ideas. Students will complete this index card during this time to use as a cue card.

As students are working on this I circulate around the class to keep students on track and offer suggestions when needed. Since this is group work, teachers need to be mindful of classroom management to ensure that students are on task. I choose not to model an example of this as I want to assess how students are able to determine main ideas of their booktalks on their own.

As students continue on to high school, one of the goals is for students to be ready for college and career. This skill of talking about books is one skill they will need to achieve that as they will be able to find ways to articulate what they understand and took away from a novel.

Explanation Of Graphic Organizer and Task

5 minutes

Students then transition from individual booktalks into collaborative thinking. I move from one topic to another in this lesson as a way to keep students engaged working together. If I keep them working in groups on their booktalks, they would lose interest. We also do need to spend much more class time working on booktalks so they need step is presentation.

Students focus their thinking for the rest of the lesson on how young adult literature can apply to their own work. There is some controversy around young adult literature being too dark. Since my students read young adult literature and always have an opinion, I want students to think and determine whether this idea is true. This kind of thinking gets them engaged in the topic as it is relevant to them. Higher engagement allows for students to work on the certain skills: in this case, argument writing and textual evidence. It is this idea of a very relevant topic that I choose the question: Are dark themes in young adult literature helpful or harmful to teens? This question will allow students to be engaged in the task of argument writing as they will need to stake a claim and use evidence to support it.

I pull up the Dark Themes In YA Literature Smart Notebook File on the Smarboard (we will be using the second slide). Here is a PDF version of that file: Dark Themes In YA Literature PDF File. Students follow along as I read the task out loud. There are three steps that students will be following for the rest of class and I explain each of these steps:

This graphic organizer serves as a way for students to focus their thinking about the young adult novel they needed to bring into class today. They will collaboratively fill it out with a partner. They will look at three main literary elements (character, plot, and theme) and how those elements answer the questions of whether or not dark themes in young adult literature are harmful or helpful to teens. This begins the process of determining textual evidence.

  • Step 2: Discuss the notes as a way to answer the question

Once they have filled out the graphic organizer they will work together to answer the question of whether or not dark themes in young adult literature harms or helps teens. They will also use their own knowledge. Since students may disagree, students can either decide to work independently or focus on one point of view in order to fully answer the question.

  • Step 3: Create an essay answering the question. Don't forget to use specific textual evidence from the novels.

Students will then work together to create an argumentative writing piece in which they answer the question. They will need to use textual evidence to support their ideas. Students will spend time drafting these pieces either in their notebooks or using technology.


Partner Work

22 minutes

Once students have an understanding of the expectations for the task, they will spend the rest of class time working on the graphic organizer and then drafting the essay. Throughout this time, students will work on their skills of using textual evidence as a way to defend a claim about the harms of benefits of young adult literature.

Throughout this time, I am looking for students to convey the comprehension and analysis of their independent reading novels. This can be done through their ability to recall information from their novel and also refer back to the text directly. If students are struggling to convey what their book was about, they may not have read it. I then have students refer back to a novel that they have read this year. If students are struggling to analyze the information, one strategy is to allow students to talk about their books and summarize. As students are doing so, the teacher can hint at whether or not those details would impact a reader in a good or bad way. This will serve as pre-writing for what the students are producing.

The rest of class will be devoted to groups filling out the graphic organizer and drafting the beginnings of the essay in which they answer the question "Are dark themes in young adult literature harmful or helpful to teens?"

My goal is for students to use this time to fill out the graphic organizer and work on the essay independently from me. If students are struggling on how to fill out the graphic organizer I can show them this Book Compare and Contrast Graphic Organizer Model as a way for students to see how I answered the question.

Here are two models of student work:

Dark Themes Student Work 1 and Dark Themes Student Work 2