Facilitating Literature Discussions in the English Classroom

Updated on January 16, 2019
Anne Carr profile image

Anne is a teacher and freelancer interested in helping others improve their writing skills.

The Value of Discussion

Classroom discussions allow students to think critically and evaluate what they read.
Classroom discussions allow students to think critically and evaluate what they read. | Source

Facilitating Discussions

When it comes to literature, it is often difficult for high school English teachers to facilitate meaningful discussions with students. Oftentimes, we find ourselves struggling to get basic comprehension skills from the students. However, there are ways for students to make deeper connections with the text that will help them analyze and critically evaluate what they read. Here are some tips on how to engage the students in what they are reading.

Making Connections

"Oftentimes, including this type of activity in the classroom helps students understand the theme and overall message of the story by making personal connections to what they read."

The Value of Literature Circles

Literature Circles are a great way to facilitate these types of discussions within the classroom. Whether you are thinking about having students read and discuss in literature circles, or you are deciding to read as a class and then break into small groups for discussions, this type of group setting in the classroom is invaluable to your needs.

1. Real Life Connections

In this assignment, the student delves deeply in the text to find common themes and ideas, and connects them with real life situations. These could be anything from something they have seen on TV or read about, or a situation that they have actually observed in real life. Oftentimes, including this type of activity in the classroom helps students understand the theme and overall message of the story by making personal connections to what they read.

2. Author's Craft

Another way for students to connect with the text is for them to examine how the author uses language to convey meaning. A great way of doing this is by having students pick out descriptive or interesting sentences from the text. You might just want to tell them to pick one sentence that surprised them from the story and have them explain why in their discussion. This is also an opportunity for students to examine and look at tone, literary devices, and imagery that authors use to add description and depth to their writing. Similar to the last assignment, students can ask the question, “What was the purpose of the author describing this scene/event in this way? How does it make us feel as readers?”

Thinking Deeper

"As students develop the skill of writing questions, they will also enhance their own critical thinking skills."

Asking Questions

Creating questions can be instrumental in helping students gain a deeper understanding of the text.
Creating questions can be instrumental in helping students gain a deeper understanding of the text. | Source

3. Open-Ended Questions

Creating questions is also a great way to see where students are with the comprehension and analysis of literature. You can teach a mini-lesson to students about open ended questions and how to create one. You can even have students create sample questions and post them on a board or wall. Then, other students can respond to questions on the board. As students develop the skill of writing questions, they will also enhance their own critical thinking skills. When students begin to write valuable questions about what they read, they will be thinking on a deeper level. In addition, you can have students keep a log of questions they have as they read. They can make a list of things that confused them, things they didn’t understand and need clarification on, and things that they would like to know more about.

4. The Power of Images

Sometimes, having students draw pictures of what they read will help aid in their comprehension of a text. This is also a great way to teach symbolism. You can have students pick an important scene from the story and draw that image, or maybe have them create a movie poster for the book, or just have them draw important symbols from the story. Once completed, you can post the pictures on the wall and have students do a gallery walk in which they can examine other students’ work, ask questions, and discuss what they have learned or gained insight from based on the pictures they see. Many students that are visual learners will truly benefit from this method of discussion.

5. Word Master

Oftentimes, students become frustrated with what they are reading because they don’t understand the words. Having students keep a running list of vocabulary words will help develop these skills. In the discussion format, students can come together and talk about why specific words are important in understanding the text. To have a deeper analytical discussion, ask students why it was important for the author to use that specific word in the text. Students can even be assigned words to be responsible for and be expected to share their findings with the class.

Modeling the Methods

"Before having classroom discussions, it is always best to model what good discussions look like, and what not to do during the discussion."

Ideas

How you decide to use literature discussions in your classroom is up to you. Be creative and explore different ideas and activities to engage students.
How you decide to use literature discussions in your classroom is up to you. Be creative and explore different ideas and activities to engage students. | Source

A Few Tips

With all of these activities, it is important to facilitate discussion by opening it up to the whole class or small groups. Once students have completed each assignment, they should share their ideas and insights into what they have done. Open up the floor for other students to ask questions or comment on something that another student said. Before having classroom discussions, it is always best to model what good discussions look like, and what not to do during the discussion. This will outline your expectations and help students understand what is appropriate and not appropriate in the discussions. Whatever you decide to do in your classroom, I urge you to think about engaging students further with the text; have them explore the text on their own; give them the opportunity to show what they know. More often than not, you will find that students will take something from the literature that they wouldn’t have otherwise gotten out of it. Self-exploration in literature is the key to creating successful discussions in the classroom environment, so remember to give students the freedom of choice. This will make learning more engaging and positive for everyone in the classroom.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, owlcation.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://owlcation.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)