During this section of the lesson, I quickly review the expectations of small group time. I tell scholars what they need to bring with them to each station and we review the Weekly Checklist so that scholars are grounded in the work that they are getting ready to engage in. This helps scholars to be and remain focused. Also, it helps develop strong independent work habits (i.e. creating & checking off a to-do list).
Text talk groups are small groups of scholars (3-4 students per group) who read the same book and have student-led discussions regarding the content of the book. These groups are primarily student-driven with teacher-checkpoints throughout the cycle discussion. Steps are outlined below:
STEP 1: Students select a text that is on their highest instructional level (I usually give them a choice between 2 or 3 - this enhances their ownership & allows them to select what they are most interested in.)
STEP 2: Scholars decide on a section to read (i.e. chapters 1-2) and a focus question to be discussed (i.e. how does the narrator's point of view influence the way in which an event is told?)
STEP 3: Scholars prepare for the text talk group by completing the reading and organizing their thoughts to the question in some way (chosen by the students). Sometimes students use a graphic organizer, other times they use sticky notes to jot down ideas and place the stickies in the part of the text that they want to later reference.
STEP 4: Text talk group. Scholars actually engage in group discussion around the focus question selected in step 2. Scholars assign roles to group members (i.e. note taker, norms keeper, time keeper).
STEP 5: Scholars work together to create a written response to the focus question. This is handed in at the end of the week for a grade (each student gets an individual grade based on the groups response). The idea here is that scholars are accountable for the work & discussion. This is a way for me to hold them accountable even though I am not listening in on everyone's discussion. Moreover, its great writing practice!
STEP 6: Repeat steps 2-6 until the book is finished.
I check-in with each text talk group for about 5-10 minutes depending where they are in this cycle. Steps 1-2 and Step 4 usually take a bit longer to check-in around because I am helping scholars to select a text, create a reasonable focus question or assign roles for the discussion. To help make this time efficient I have a smattering of graphic organizers available for scholars to use or quickly sketch in their notebooks if needed (for step 3).
Check out these Notes For Text Talk Discussion Groups to help you set up your own text talk groups in your classroom! To increase accountability and to promote reflection and improvement, use these Self Reflection Forms for post-text talk reflection.
This is a more traditional small group. Scholars in the yellow and white groups are my on or below grade level scholars. They are grouped together for their lesson with the ELL teacher because there are so few in this class. During my small group instruction, they actually are separated because they are at different instructional levels in reading.
My small group lessons generally focus on pre-requisite skills need to master the current focus standard(s). These last two weeks, we've focused on RI and RL 6 - how the narrator's perspective influences the way in which events are told. Therefore, my small group objective with both of these groups is focusing on identifying the narrator, listing their characteristics and explaining how they tell important events. These are all skills that scholars need to hone and sharpen before they are able to explain how the narrator's perspective influences the way in which the event is told.
Scholars come to the back horseshoe table each day with a ziplock bag of books that are on their highest instructional level. We do a quick mini-cue set just to get everyone's brains wrapped around the objective, then scholars read a portion of the text and we practice the skill together. I usually give them a graphic organizer on which they record their thinking. Finally, we assign a portion of the text to read independently. Graphic organizers are due to me at the end of each week and scholars receive a grade for the independent work time. This helps hold scholars accountable to the work that they are doing in both whole and small groups.
Today, the closure is relatively short because tomorrow we are taking a test on RI/RL 6. Based on previous exit slips, I already know where everyone is with the skill, and since we are taking a test tomorrow, it doesn't make sense to see where they are now and first thing tomorrow. However, the closure is still a super important part of our lesson because it helps remind scholars what they did today and that will help them retain the information going into tomorrow.
Today, scholars turn and tell their friend how Katie's point of view regarding the Patriots entering her home influenced the way in which she described the event.