How to get students TALKING about their reading!

A deep understanding of a text requires students to be engaged with their reading, and there's no better way for them to do that than to get them talking about their reading.

One way I get my students to discuss their reading in a meaningful way is through novel study units. Whether it's a whole group study, or a small literature circle, the objective is for students to think deeply about their reading, and then to have a meaningful discussion about their thinking. We model what having a "discussion" looks and sounds like first, and then I monitor and support them as needed. The goal with this activity is for the students to be able to start a discussion, and then to maintain it by responding to one another.  

One of the luxuries of being a specialist (ESOL), is that I have some liberty in where I work with students.  When the weather is nice, I love bringing my students outside for their novel study discussions.  Here we are at a picnic table, enjoying the sunshine, and discussing a good book:)

Students discuss "The Chocolate Touch"

Discussion group questions that require kids to "dig deep" are a great way to maintain discussions. I am not a fan of text based comprehension questions. That's just not real life reading, IMO. I want my students to be thinkers, asking questions, making connections, summarizing, inferring, and drawing conclusions.
Discussion group questions for The Chocolate Touch.

Any time I can add FUN into a lesson, it's a win-win!  This "Read and Roll" activity gets students talking about their reading, and it's FUN!  What is it about dice?  Kids just can't wait to take a turn at rolling them, especially the BIG dice! :)


Another favorite of my students...the Question Cubes! These big, squishy cubes have question starters that are perfect for getting students talking. Typically I start off modeling how to roll the cubes and create a question that relates to the book/passage we are reading. Then I hand it over to them, Student A rolls the cubes and creates a question, then Student B responds. They love it when the Question Cubes come out!  
Kagan Question Cubes

These are a few of the ways that I get my students talking about their reading in a meaningful way.  I'd love to hear about an activity you use, or have seen used, that gets students talking about their reading.

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