Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Lesson Plan: Written Discussion

This lesson was originally taught to an undergraduate class at a university.  The lesson taught aspiring teachers how to use written discussion as a reading strategy.  The strategy can easily be used in any subject area or grade level. A Power Point and links to resources are attached.

Title: Mini-lesson: Written Discussion

Introduction of Lesson Goal/Objective: 

· Students will be able to respond to a text through written discussion by working independently & in small groups.
· Students will be able to discuss an article based off a written conversation started within a small group.

Start by asking, “Has anybody used an online forum or message board to respond to a reading?” to link the lesson to previous learning. Ask: “What site did you use and what were your experiences?”  Have a few students share their experiences to the class.  Then, explain that an online forum is very similar to a reading strategy called “written discussion.”  Explain that message boards are essentially an online version of the strategy.

State that students will learn about a reading strategy called “written discussion,” which they will use while reading a text. Explain that written discussion is important because it allows every student to read, write, think, and share. It improves comprehension because it lets students react to what they have read.  Mention that it is an alternative to a whole class discussion, as it enables all students to participate rather than a select few.

Model the Objective:  Read “Flappy Bird Will Fly Back to App Stores” aloud.  Using Microsoft Word, write a response to the text, labeled “Student #1.”  Then, “Student #2,” will write a response to “Student #1.” Explain that the class will be doing this activity on a regular piece of paper, which will be passed more than once.  Mention that students will discuss the conversations aloud.

Guided Practice:  Students will independently read “School Cancels Graduation for Cheaters” (p. 88).  Students will respond to the text on a blank sheet of paper.  In their writings, they will answer:  “What did you think about while reading this?”  “What reactions, thoughts, questions, or feelings did you have about the article?”  “What’s on your mind?”

Students will be given about 2 minutes to respond to the text.  Once time is up, they will get into small groups of 3-4.  Students will exchange papers with the person on their left.  They will read their partners’ response to the text.  Students will be given 2 minutes to respond to their partner.  They will: tell a reaction, make a comment, ask a question, share a connection, agree or disagree, or raise a whole new idea about the article.

Once the groups have responded to another group member’s response, they will pass the papers clockwise one more time.  They will read the person’s response, and then react to it.  After 2 more minutes have passed, students will return the paper to the original owner.  The owners will silently read what their group members have written to see the conversation that they started.  Next, the entire group will get together and discuss the article as a whole.  They may continue the conversations started in the written discussion.

Lesson Closing/Summary: The whole class will discuss the article together.  Students may share what they discussed in their small groups that may have sparked a lively discussion.

Students will then explain the “what” and “why” of the lesson.  Ask: “What are the benefits to students of using this scaffold/strategy?”  Have students raise their hands to answer the question.  Then, ask: “Why is a reading strategy like this important?”  Students will raise their hands to answer the question.

Assessment: While students work independently and in groups, the teacher will walk around, observe, and examine students’ work. The teacher will look for responses that relate to the text and the conversations within written discussion. For a real lesson, the papers may be collected as part of assessment.

Materials/Technology:  Mac computer with PowerPoint and Microsoft Word; Mac adapter/projector
· Daniels, Harvey and Nancy Steineke (2011). Texts and Lessons for Content-Area Reading. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
· Gross, Doug (2014). "'Flappy Bird' Will Fly Back to App Stores." CNN. Cable News Network. <>.

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