Readers thrive in an environment that encourages them to interact with others because knowledge is built in social contexts (Mercer and others). Scaffolded opportunities for discussion allows readers to develop their own story schema, as well as learn from the contributions of others.give readers time to refine their interpretations and expand their understandings.
Literature Circles are one way of organising small group discussion. They are usually child led, especially after the teacher has modelled the process.
- Copies of What Do You Think?, one per child.
- Copies of Exploring Space, one per child if available.
- Sticky notes or strips of paper.
- Enlarged Question Quadrant.
Begin the session by either reading aloud any chapters that you haven’t yet read or by giving pairs time to revisit Exploring Space, focusing on any parts that they have not yet fully explored.
Organise the children into groups of between four and six. These can be self-selected or selected for pedagogical purposes.
Distribute copies of the What Do You Think? resource and Exploring Space. If the children are not familiar with the format, explain that it is a way of recording your personal response to a book. They should write notes for each section thinking about the whole book. Give around ten minutes for children to make their notes. It is important that they do not share ideas at this stage.
Once everyone has finished (including the teacher) each member of the group takes it in turns to share their responses. Model this with your own responses. The rest of the group will listen without making comments. Set the following rules before the groups begin to share:
- Each member of the group will have a chance to share their responses.
- Don’t interrupt or comment on what is said. Listen attentively.
Once each group member has shared their responses, open the discussion by inviting the children to comment on the differences and similarities in their likes and dislikes. Next focus attention on the connections and then the puzzles section and give time for discussion about these.
The final section to think about is the questions. Working collaboratively the children should write their questions on sticky notes or strips of paper. Distribute copies of the Question Quadrant which has two headings: Answer is in the book and Answer is not in the book. They will sort the questions into the two sections. As an extension use the quadrant with four headings to further sort the questions into those that have more than one answer and those that have one answer.
Once the questions have been sorted the group can refer to the book to try and answer them. Gather the class together and list any questions that the children found difficult to answer. These could be taken forward to another session and can support the idea of further reading around the subject.
- How did it feel to listen and not be allowed to make a comment?
- Did anyone else’s responses surprise you?
- Did something another person say make you change your thinking about the book?