Literature Circle Discussion Day: A Focus on In-Depth Questioning (Chapters 7-11)

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SWBAT work collaboratively to analyze how themes and other student-identified central ideas in the novel develop over the course of the text, through a small-group literature circle discussion.

Big Idea

Moving forward collaboratively, students reflect on their understanding of the first six chapters of the novel before moving into an investigation of the next five chapters in their literature circle discussions.

Introduction & Welcome: National Velociraptor Awareness Day!

18 minutes

I open class with a welcome to Velociraptor Awareness Day, posting the link to American Society for Velociraptor Awareness on the board. I ask students to interpret what they can see in the text of the website that clearly identifies humor, particularly satire and parody, and analyze the role satire and parody play here (L.9-10.5a). Students have studied satire and parody previously, and this serves to recall and reinforce their understanding. As always, Daily Holidays serve to break the ice at the start of class and build students ownership and engagement. We will be returning to satire and parody with a reading at the end of "To Kill a Mockingbird" as well. 

Literature Circle Discussion: Student Groups

30 minutes

Students pull their desks into pods of six with the members of their groups, and take the folder for the group. These folders are used to turn in their assignments and provide a place to hold their literature circle worksheets. I also return work to students in these folders with each group meeting.

Groups check to make sure each assignment is done, and take note of any absences (in case a member of another group needs to be "taken hostage" or borrowed to fill in). 

As students discuss today, I circulate the room, providing clarification and focus as needed, and especially listening for how students address the focus idea from yesterday: how and what Scout learns what true courage is and the students' own thoughts on bravery.

Literature Circle discussions begin with the factual, text-based review of the Quiz Maker. 

First, the Quiz Maker writes questions that require students to know strong, thorough, and specific evidence from the text that will be used to support analysis (RL.9-10.1). Members of the group answer the quiz on their Literature Circle Worksheet

Second, the Discussion Director asks his or her questions, and has the responsibility to be the "group leader." The Discussion Director conducts the in-depth conversation about these questions, and only shares his or her responses once the group's conversation has died out. The Discussion Director's questions and draw evidence from the text to support his or her reading analysis (W.9-10.9a), demonstrating and supporting how ideas develop over the course of the text (RL.9-10.2). I encourage in-depth discussion, including going "off topic" and exploring the novel. Students' practice provides the opportunity for addressing ideas such as communication and practicing communication and debate within their groups. For grades, each literature circle assignment is worth twenty points, divided between naming chapters by providing titles for each (five points) and completing the assignment itself (fifteen points). The points are divided among the parts of the assignment, so for the Discussion Director assignment, who provides five questions with the student's responses to each, the questions are worth one point each and the responses two for completeness and depth of thought, and for meeting the assigned length.  

Third, the Character Sorter shares the three significant characters he or she identified. These mini-character biographies explore how Scout interact with other characters, to demonstrate how those characters and interactions advance plot and develop the key themes of the novel (RL.9-10.3).

Fourth, the Connector shares his or her connections. The connector also encourages reaction to and discussion about the connections he or she made. gathers evidence to support their ideas from a multitude of sources in order to identify significant connections and comparisons between the novel, their own lives, other literary and artistic works, and the wider world (W.9-10.8), highlighting and explaining how key themes develop over the course of both the novel and their connections, summarizing the key events in the reading (RL.9-10.2). 

Fifth, the Illustrator shares how he or she visualized a scene in the novel, sharing their image and write-up on it. The Illustrator portrays a key scene in the novel in two different media, and then analyzes what they chose to emphasize or leave out (RL.9-10.7).

Sixth and finally, the Vocab Master locates the meaning of "new" words and phrases as Scout uses them and explains the impact of this diction on the text (RL.9-10.4). As with the Quiz Maker, the students in the groups write the terms, their part of speech, and definition on the Literature Circle Worksheet. 

In the event a member of the group is absent, or the assignment is incomplete, a group should ask a member of another group to cover that assignment for them. Students are all informed this is a possibility.

Students are working in literature circles because they are both student-driven and collaborative. Students shape meaning in their interactions, drawing from the novel. The assignments require students to discuss the novel with diverse (teacher-assigned) partners, building a sense of team identity, on a wide-range of novel related topics (SL.9-10.1), including specific details of plot events (RL.9-10.1), and how these details develop themes (RL.9-10.2), characterization (RL.9-10.3), and the narrator's point-of-view influences what we see in Scout's memory of 1932-1935 (RL.9-10.5). Literature circle assignment also require students to determine the meanings of unfamiliar words and their impact on the text (RL.9-10.4). In order to demonstrate and strengthen their own learning, students present their assignments clearly to their peers, in a manner that allows group members to take effective notes on the novel (SL.9-10.4). 

Two-Minute Warning: Wrap-Up & Reminders

2 minutes

With two minutes remaining, I ask students to wrap up any remaining elements of their conversation, and turn in their literature circle folders. I call on one or two students to share their thoughts on yesterday's  focus idea, how Scout learns bravery, and how their groups addressed it. Tomorrow, students will have time to work on the next section of the novel: reading chapters 12-16, completing their literature circle assignments, and working on their creative projects. Sample projects will also be presented.