Builder: Discussion Guidelines
Here are some suggested guidelines to consider as you begin to build
your own literary community with your students. Paramount
to creating a viable classroom literary community is the opportunity
for students to take ownership of the classroom environment
they help to create. Consider the following ideas as you create
discussion guidelines in concert with your students:
- All contributions are valuable and deserving of respectful
- There is no such thing as a "bad idea." But some
ideas do not hold up. Help one another to explain, reflect,
and evaluate ideas to determine what works and what needs to
- There are many interpretations of literature and
hearing others' views helps us develop our own understandings.
- Questions are essential in the process of understanding literature.
- You may express opinions about a piece of literature as long
as you can also explain your reasons for your opinions.
of literature are constantly open to change, revision, and debate.
- It is O.K. to not like a piece of literature, as long as you
have reasons why.
is O.K. to not understand something, but you should also remain
open to possible understandings in the future, built through
discussion and further reading.
and think about the piece.
your book and any assigned writing.
your responses to classmates by using eye contact and
not necessarily to the teacher.
not put down another person's idea.
questions when you don't understand someone's viewpoint
and when you are curious about something.
politely, providing examples to back up your own opinion.
to raise questions about the text, related texts, experiences,
and possible interpretations.
to significant passages that confused you, inspired
you, or just struck you.
the author's craft and what about it worked or did not
- Respect each individual's idea by listening, responding
appropriately, and by thinking about what they have to say.
- Every time you think about the literature, discuss it
and interact with it. Expect that your interpretation is
going to change or evolve.
- There is no "right" or "single"
interpretation of a work of literature. But this does not
mean "anything goes."
- Questions are just as important
as answers and ideas. You can learn from your questions.
Good questions provoke discussion and exploration and can
lead to sharpened understanding.
- Examine what it might
be like to "walk in a character's shoes."
- Use examples
from your own life experiences, in order to connect to the
reading, as well as to explain your perspective.
about what you can learn from the reading or what the reading
has taught you about your own life. Share these ideas.
Refer to passages that you find significant.
about your reactions to the text. What about it inspired
you? Confused you?
- Consider how the style of the writing
affected your reading and your interpretation of it.
to raise new questions.