Monday, April 25, 2011

Two Reading Tools for Refining Discussion Skills

Flow of History book discussions are always rooted in the text. "Taking it Back to the Book" is a gentle reminder we give at the beginning of the first few sessions to remind everyone to keep the discussion rooted in the book. "Save the Last Word for Me" is a helpful tool to help build a discussion beyond a simple round-the-table sharing of favorite passages.

Refining Discussion Skills: “Take it Back to the Book”
In order for text-based book discussions to be rooted in the text, sometimes it is necessary to remind participants to "take it back to the book." Before offering an opinion, share the page # and paragraph of your quote. Wait until everyone has found the passage. Tying ideas to the text should become second nature.

Refining Discussion Skills: "Save the Last Word for Me"
The idea of this discussion skill technique is to encourage participants to gather ideas from all group members before the person who chose the passage explains his or her interpretations. It is a way to ensure that the discussion deepens and that several people have the opportunity to share their opinions.

How it works:
Group member shares a passage s/he particularly liked. The others in the group each then share why they think the reader thought the passage was important, how the passage relates to something else in the book, or just what they noticed or thought about as the passage was read. After a few people have shared, then have the original group member explain why he chose it.
from: Harvey Daniels & Nancy Steineke, ed., Mini-Lessons for Literature Circles (2004)

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