6th Grade ELA : Unit #6 - Multicultural Literature Circles : Lesson #6

Literature Circles: Examining Discussion Questions

Objective: SWBAT meet in small groups to discuss the next portion of their novel.
Standards: RL.6.1 RL.6.4 SL.6.1 SL.6.1a SL.6.1b SL.6.1c SL.6.1d
Subject(s): English / Language Arts
60 minutes
1 Presenting the Day's Small Group Task - 5 minutes

See the previous day's lesson to see the general format and insight on discussion groups.

Before kids return to their small group literature circles, I present the task. In the Discussion Boxes that kids worked on the day prior, there is a section entitled: TBA. The TBA is announced today.


Today in groups, your TBA is to compare all of your discussion questions:

Is there one question that all (or almost all) students in your small group are asking? Find a version of that question and write it on the lines in the TBA section.

Your task:

Decide why everyone is wondering the same thing and respond to the question after the discussion.

Reaching a Consensus

One of my favorite group activities revolves around "reaching a consensus." This is so much easier said than done! When I tell a group of sixth graders, they must reach a consensus, nine times out of ten I'll get the question: Does that mean everyone has to agree? I pause... yikes, I respond. Yes, that is the goal. But is that always possible? Not always... we try to have everyone agree, but sometimes that means someone will have to compromise.

2 Literature Circles in Action! - 30 minutes

For the literature circles I kept a similar format from the previous day's lesson. The only change I made was that the final task can be completed directly on the discussion box.

  1. Discuss terms you didn't know. See if you can figure them out using only context. (Other words around them). Write in definitions.
  2. STAR your two best discussion questions. Everyone will read two. If you find that someone else in your group has asked a similar question, try to choose a new one of your questions to present. EVERYONE must weigh in for each question.
  3. Complete the TBA activity written on the board.

Here is a literature circle group, using the novel A Little Piece of Ground, and coming to a consensus on a "common discussion question."

Students Discussing in a Small Group: Which question did you all have in common?

3 Read Aloud: "Iqbal" - 10 minutes

Today, I continue our read aloud Iqbal. The novel is short and sweet; I find in a perfect length for a chapter a day. Today, I read chapter two. Kids listen as I read aloud; we will be using the novel more later in the unit when I begin to model some of the signposts from Kyleen Beer's instructional book, Notice & Note.

For now, my goal is to simply get kids hooked on the story.

Read more about why I chose this novel in this lesson: Lets Prepare for Literature Circles.

4 Independent Work Time: Begin Working on Discussion Boxes, Set 3 - 25 minutes

Finally, we branch into independent work time for the next group meeting. I pass out the Discussion Boxes, Set 3, and kids begin working to complete their reading and boxes for the next group meeting.

I make sure to give students ample time for independent work. I can confer with students during this time about their reading, making sure they're keeping up with their group. I often get a sense from literature circles who isn't keeping up; they tend to be quieter and more reserved, hanging back and letting others discuss.