We will spend the next several weeks getting the students prepared for literature circles. If we put them in a book club at this point and turned them loose, some good conversations would come. However, with the mini-lessons and activities that we will do in the weeks leading up to our literature circles, the students will be well-equipped to have meaningful conversations. We will study about the social skills necessary for effective small-group discussions, the cognitive strategies that help readers understand texts, and the literary sense that smart readers use to examine and appreciate what they read.
This week we have been focusing on asking thoughtful questions about our texts. I read aloud to the class a Japanese folktale from the Junior Great Books collection called "The Magic Listening Cap." We came up with bad questions that are off-topic, have a simple answer, have a yes or no answer, and are about factual information. Next, we worked to write thought-provoking questions that are analytical, have you looking back in the text, make everyone want to share their ideas, and really make you think. Ask your student about this story! As they are reading independently they are writing their "good" questions on sticky notes.