I created these notes for students to record their thoughts about reading, as well as keep track of specific literary elements, and make connections with the text.
There is no one way of writing these; I tell students they should fill the pages, as if they were annotating a book or article—write all over them! These also double nicely as study pages for quizzes or essay writing.
How To Use with Discussion Groups:
The first thing is to set a date for the first meeting, and make sure students have their notes complete. Note that they should have the whole page complete except the very last item: an answer for their question. Remind them that their questions should not be level one, that is, they need to write a question that meets a level 4 or higher, in order to show understanding and analysis. I have included a handout on how to write such questions…
After practicing writing questions, reading, and taking notes, students are ready to meet.
In groups of 4 or 5, students should one-by-one read the question they developed on the bottom of their notes, and discuss possible answers for it with the group. Each student does this, and it usually takes about 10-15 mins. (You can choose to have them share any additional parts of their notes in this fashion. Maybe one meeting it’s one thing that stood out to them, or what they wrote about Steinbeck’s use of color.) Then, after all discussions have occurred, I refocus them for another 2-3 minutes as they each write responses to their own question.
Then, on the Group Response form included in this packet, have the group decide which question they think is the strongest (or best-written), write it down, and write a communal answer. This should take another 5-7 minutes. In total, each meeting should be about 20-25 minutes, and of course, different classes will need adjustments of a few minutes here and there.
I have also included a self/peer evaluation sheet (copy back-to-back), so after groups turn in their group response forms and go back to their seats, they can score how everyone did.
You may or may not want to actually grade these, but it’s nice to see what they think about how they are doing. Also, if you tell them ahead of time, it tends to keep them a little more focused throughout. In addition, timing everything helps, too!
I hope you enjoy using this system with your students.
To wrap up, you get the following:
How to Write Level 4+ Questions Handout
Notes pages for all chapters 1-6
Group Response 1/2 sheet
Self Evaluation 1/2 sheet
Peer Evaluation 1/2 sheet
Teacher in the Rye
Check out my other great resources for The Pearl in my store, including
The Pearl Task Cards