I give them a list of general discussion questions to help them focus as they
meet each week with their novel group during a similar unit. (Each student
must respond in writing, but I don't demand that they respond differently
from others in the group.) I start simply during the exposition by asking
them to list 10 adjectives which describe the main character, write a
description of the most important setting so far and predict what is going to
happen next in the novel they are reading. I progress to more analytical
questions about theme and character development in the ensuing weeks as they
delve further into the books. I also ask each time what they learned from
talking to other people in the group that they hadn't thought about yet.
This also motivates them to read the book rather than appear to be a slacker
who is not contributing.