The class is ready to read chapter four in our Number the Stars book. Instead of doing this as a whole class, I want them to do this in partners. The class is very excited to read the next chapter because they now realize that the author has given us more rising actions and details leading us closer to the climax.
I start by telling them that they will be reading a bit differently today. They will be reading with a partner. This gets them all very excited, and then I break the news that I will be choosing their partners for them. Bummer!
Before I can do this they need to understand that I will be creating a reading and understanding team, not just reading buddies. They will read together, but most of all will stop at the bottom of each page at least to discuss what they have read together. I remind them that this is what we do all the time to check for understanding, they will just be completing this step together. It is to make sure they both understand what they just read and try to help each other make connections or infer if possible.
They can choose how to read the chapter, but they both have to discuss at the end of the page together. I also let them know that they can stop at anytime to clarify or talk about what they just read. I make sure they understand the directions and then select their partners.
Once everyone has a partner, I remind them about good partner reading. I have taught my class previously that they need to sit EEKK (elbow, elbow, knee, knee) so that they can hear the person read and be close enough to talk and not be disruptive. I remind them also that they need to find a good spot, and that is not next to a group you will distract or disturb. I then let them move to a "good" spot in the room and give them time to read.
Once all of the groups are finished, I ask them to get ready to talk. I start by asking them to just give a detail they remember from their reading. This is a "popcorn" style approach. One student gives their detail and then calls on the next student. Each student calls on another until there are zero to a few hands left up. I have found that being called on by their peers has value and that almost all of my students will participate this way.
I then begin asking them questions that relate to the chapter and require some deeper thinking. Many of the questions I ask require students to infer what is happening or connect to their prior knowledge. Questions I might include range to characters feelings, the observations that can be made about a situation, or asking why they think the author put that into the book. In one place the author informs us that the Danish people blew up their own navy to keep the Nazis from taking them over. I ask my students why do they think the Danes would have done this and would be sad and proud about it? We continue to have a discussion until we have covered the information needed to have a clear understanding of what is happening in chapter four.