|About This Video Clip
"One thing I really liked... [was] the fact that all of the groups were working together, and that's really an important thing when you get in literature discussion groups. [They have to] appreciate and accept other people's opinions and ideas, and at this age that's a challenge. It helps us get closer... It builds community in the classroom and that's wonderful."
In this video, you will watch Latosha Rowley working with her fourth and fifth graders in a multiage setting as they discuss their novels all historical fiction in small groups. You will then join them as they decide on a culminating activity which they then present to others. Rich literature discussions such as those portrayed on this video don't happen automatically. Ms. Rowley notes that she has seen significant development since the beginning of the year in her students' abilities to handle the choices that she offers, in the books they decide to read, in the ways they approach discussion, and in how they choose to present their understandings for evaluation.
Latosha Rowley, 4th- and 5th-Grade Teacher
Indianapolis Public Schools Center for Inquiry
Often Ms. Rowley begins class with a whole-group discussion. She uses this time to model ways in which smaller groups might work as they ask questions, focus on meaningful passages, and tease out meanings from their books. Once students are in groups, she circulates, moving from group to group, monitoring conversations. In each group, she probes their understandings, asking questions that the students may not have thought of in an effort to help them take their discussion to another level.
The energy the students in this class bring to their reading and to their discussion groups is almost palpable. As you watch and listen, you may wish to observe how the students interact in their groups. You may notice how they work together to answer questions and resolve problems. You may be interested in what they have to say about the decisions they made as they worked together on a culminating project. Engagement with the project is unqualified; everybody in the group is involved in creating a satisfying final product. They are truly a community of learners working together in an envisionment-building classroom.
For resources that can help you use this clip for teacher professional development, preservice education, administrative and English/language arts content meetings, parent conferences, and back-to-school events, visit our Support Materials page. There you will find PDF files of our library guide, classroom lesson plan, student activity sheets, and other Teacher Tools.