Discussion Connections during Guided Reading

Hi Friends…   Do you feel like the discussions you have during your Guided Reading groups are boring for your students and even for you?  Does the conversation just end abruptly and have only a little “meat” to it?  If so, I have a solution for you!!!!  Today I utilized a reading discussion strategy during my reading groups called Discussion Connections by Laura Candler.  This resource is one of the most well-designed and easy to follow resources that I have utilized to help my students learn to listen to each other and discuss our reading in a more cohesive and detailed way.  The purpose of this resource is for students to discuss the book or story they are reading by focusing in on a”meaty” question and learning to actively listen and connect their idea to another one of their peers’ ideas or directly to the question.  I have reading discussions with my students every day about their reading, connections they make while they are reading, and the types of strategies that they use when they are reading.  However, I rarely ask them what they “think” about another student’s “thinking.”
This Discussion Connections resource allowed me the opportunity to do just that….teach them to actively listen to each other and link their ideas together by elaborating and building on their peers’ ideas!   I read a wonderful book to my little ones recently titled Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli.  This book has a wonderful main character that possesses many character traits, so I knew this was a perfect book to begin this activity.
Before we began the lesson, I had a short mini-lesson on the carpet with my entire class to talk about what a “discussion” was.  We created a list of ideas on chart paper on “What makes a great discussion?” 
I gathered my on-level reading group on the carpet and gave each child a different colored post-it note pad.  I cut out a large speech bubble from poster board {because I like to add a little cuteness to my lessons} and added the “meaty question” in the center of the large speech bubble.   This activity can also be done on regular poster board or a piece of butcher paper.  All I can say is….AMAZING!!!  The discussion that my students had today was one of the best we have ever had…..they listened…actively… AND they responded appropriately even when they disagreed with what another child said.  Within this resource Laura also provides sentence starters for the students to help organize their thoughts and be able to easily connect their thought to another child’s idea.  

The discussion begins with one child answering the question and adds their name and one or two words to quickly summarize their idea on the post-it note, attach it to the large speech bubble and draw a line connecting it to the center question.  The next child that wants to share could use a sentence starter to help them begin their thought and connect to the first student’s idea and agree with that child and provide evidence to support their claim, or  they can disagree with what the student said and give their opinion.  I did this activity with two of my reading groups today and I will do the next two groups tomorrow.   My advanced level readers had to answer and discuss a more difficult question than my on-level group.  My advanced readers needed to make an inference about the character based on the character’s actions, thoughts, and/or what the character said.  It was a fabulous discussion and every child took part in the discussion.  Here is what the end result looked like for each group….BRILLIANT!  And they LOVED every minute of it!

I am so excited to have found this resource!  I plan on using it many times with my students to help facilitate worthy discussions about the stories and texts that we read during our guided reading groups.
If you want to check out Laura’s Discussion Connections resource, click the image below to check it out in her TPT Shop 🙂  You won’t be disappointed!
Thanks so much for stopping by tonight 🙂
Hugs,
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  • Sally
    March 21, 2014 at 12:47 am

    Great post! That's one of my favorite books, and always sparks discussion with my kids! And yes, I agree, Laura's resources are awesome!

    Sally from Elementary Matters

  • Kathy, PaperPumpkin
    March 22, 2014 at 5:03 pm

    Thank you for posting this! I am going now to check it out. I ordered that Mr. Hatch book a few weeks ago, and it is still backordered…soon…but now I will use it with my guided groups like you did, and give it a try. Thanks again, I love your shop, and my second graders LOved your FROGS flip flap book!!! KZbrzezny