|About This Video Clip
"I see my role in two ways. One is as a reader,
responding just like the kids while having a watchful ear
on how their reading and thinking are going and how they
are growing through the story and learning. [While] I'm helping
kids make connections, at the same time I want to be involved
in that reading and thinking process myself in a natural
way. I don't want to come up with a 'teacher question'... I
want to show my own reactions and my own responses as a reader..."
Not every class is ready for independent participation in literature discussion groups. Assessing the needs of their particular student populations, some teachers find that taking a role as an active participant in literature discussions can help students learn some of the important components of good discussions: preparation, turn-taking, receptiveness to alternate views, posing (and trying to answer) authentic questions, and a willingness to accept ambiguity.
Rich Thompson, 4th-Grade Teacher
Canyon Elementary School
Hungry Horse, Montana
In this video, you will see Rich Thompson working with a small group in this fashion. The discussion you see is only one small aspect of literature study in Mr. Thompson's classroom. Typically such discussions are prefaced by a full-class read-aloud of a book other than the ones students are working on in their individual groups. Mr. Thompson customarily uses the whole-class meeting to introduce a focus lesson that has to do with the development of what he labels "Critical Reader Thoughts" in-depth or alternative ways to think about their reading. Students are encouraged to apply these lessons to the independent reading they discuss in small groups.
As students discuss the text in their literature groups, Mr. Thompson poses questions and helps them expand their answers. He reminds them of comments they made during previous discussions, and helps them connect those observations to their developing envisionments of the text. At the end of the session, he helps them reflect on their discussion processes, praising the thoughtfulness of their readings and their response logs and pointing out the effective discussion strategies they employed. Literature discussion group time is customarily followed by half an hour of independent reading. Mr. Thompson uses this time to meet with individual students.
As you watch the video, note how Mr. Thompson assumes the role of engaged reader, and how he uses the discussion not only to support student contributions, but to model additional ways they might approach the literature.
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.